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10 May 2024

#DeafAwarenessWeek - Jemma hopes her experience will encourage more young deaf people into further education

As part of Deaf Awareness Week, which runs from 6-12 May, it’s important to celebrate and show support for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

This week, we caught up with nineteen-year-old HND Illustration student Jemma Skelding, who is deaf, to find out about her experience at College, see what barriers she has faced, if any, during her studies so far, and get feedback on the College’s new British Sign Language (BSL) Plan:

Why did you choose to come to Edinburgh College?

When I finished high school, one of my teachers helped me to apply for college. We looked into a number of different courses and this particular course at Edinburgh College caught my eye. I felt it was a good place for me to start as I wanted to study Art. So, I applied and began the course roughly 20 weeks ago.


How has your experience at College been so far? Has there been any highlights, or have you faced any particular barriers?

This year has been great because my class has been learning a bit of BSL. It's meant that I feel a bit more included and I feel much more confident communicating with the rest of the class. And that’s never happened before.

When I was in my first year at College on a different course, I struggled as it was during COVID and because it was through online classes, there was no face-to-face and it really felt like you're talking to a brick wall. Now that I'm on a new course that is in person, the rest of the class are learning a bit of sign language and it’s been really positive.

Recently, we started making what you call a ‘zeen’, which is little booklet of artwork. The whole class has created one of illustrative BSL signs. So that’s really good experience. It makes me feel much more connected with the class and the lectures as well.


I know that you've been consulting with the College’s Equalities team on the new BSL Plan. What’s your thoughts on the new plan?

The College working on its BSL plan is a really positive thing. It’s important for future deaf students and hopefully it will encourage them to get involved in college life, and get more people to want to attend and learn here. At the moment a lot of young deaf people might feel like they can’t go to college or into further education, because ‘it’s not right place for them’. That’s not true! So, I hope the BSL Plan will encourage more deaf people to come to College and improve accessibility to education.


Would you recommend the College to someone who is deaf or hard of hearing as a place to come and study? 

Yes, I definitely would recommend the College to other deaf students. I feel that the education I have had here has been so valuable. There are so many different courses on offer here. You also have access to interpreters and a lot of support is available. So yes, I would definitely recommend the College. 100%!


What’s your plans for after College? Do you have any big dreams you want to achieve in future?

After this course, I hope to apply to the University of Edinburgh to study architecture and design. That's my dream, my big dream and hopefully I achieve it in the future.