A sign language teacher from the Fylde coast has been named the best in the North West – and now hopes to scoop the national crown.
Janice Crossland-Jones, who was born deaf, won the North West Teacher of the Year Award at the 2014 Signature Annual Awards.
It is the second time the 48-year-old has won the accolade at the awards, which are organised by Signature, a charity specialising in communications with deaf people.
The awards honour individuals, organisations and community groups striving to break down the barriers of communication between deaf and hearing people.
In 2007 Janice founded the Fylde Coast British Sign Language (BSL) Centre in Red Bank Road, Bispham, after fighting back to fitness following a motorbike accident in Greece, which left her with multiple injuries, including a broken arm.
The centre teaches students the basics of sign language and offers courses, including deaf awareness courses, which have been attended by fire fighters, lawyers, police officers and NHS workers.
Janice, who has spent 18 years teaching BSL in schools and universities all over the country, said: “British Sign Language is my main form of communication, so having a broken arm and not being able to sign really had a negative effect on me.
“I lost all confidence in myself and my teaching, forcing me to give up my job. In 2006, my partner encouraged me to set up a basic six-week BSL introductory course in order to gain some confidence back.
“After successfully running a few of those courses, I felt ready to start my own business, so set up the BSL Centre.”
Janice added: “I’m thrilled to have won this award. It’s fantastic to be recognised.
“There are lots of things I still want to accomplish, such as setting up an interpreter agency and developing the courses I established last year in Yorkshire and Birmingham.
“I’m also keen to do more through my charity, Signing in the Community, to raise deaf awareness locally and run social events and drop-in sessions for the deaf community.”
Signature chief executive, Jim Edwards, said: “She is an excellent teacher and very deserving of this award – her commitment is exemplary and her record of results outstanding.”
Janice will now go up against 11 other regional winners from across the UK.