A Blackpool teacher is helping more people to communicate with the deaf community, thanks to help from Blackpool Council.
Frances Thorpe’s Welcome Deaf Awareness company was set up with support from Blackpool Council’s Get Started service, which helps budding entrepreneurs become their own boss.
Mrs Thorpe, who is trained up to Level 3 in British Sign Language, now teaches deaf awareness skills and basic sign language to local businesses, hoteliers and schools.
Her passion for British Sign Language began from a young age.
She said: “I visited the fair with my family and saw a couple signing to each other.
“I was fascinated by the flowing hand and finger movements and all the lovely shapes and signs they made. I asked my Dad what they were doing and he explained they were talking to each other with their hands because they were deaf.
“Ever since that day signing has always interested me.
“When the language was made official in 2003 I decided to learn British Sign Language (BSL) and have studied the subject for many years.
“Many students find that even a basic understanding of BSL has helped them to communicate better with everyone.
“BSL makes you think in a more inclusive way.
“Teaching this subject is my passion and the motto for my business is ‘Inclusivity is our aim’.
“With the help of Blackpool Council’s Get Started service I planned my business idea out and set up as self-employed.
“I have now launched a website inviting businesses to get involved and help their staff and customers alike.
Coun Mark Smith, Blackpool Council’s Cabinet Member for Business and Economic Development, said: “It’s really inspiring to see Frances take a hobby of hers and turn it into a successful business.
“Not only is this a good business success but it also is a positive service that improves the local community – which is a fantastic thing to see.
“Some 88 per cent of the businesses that Get Started has helped in the last two years are still operating and in some cases, doing very well indeed. That’s because businesses can still benefit from our expert advice and support even after they are up and running.”