First Ever British Sign Language Try Curling Session

Saturday 8th December saw the first session on ice of our British Sign Language (BSL)/Deaf-friendly curling project at Murrayfield Curling Rink, Edinburgh.

This venture is a partnership with Scottish Curling and Heriot-Watt Department of Languages & Intercultural Studies. A group of BSL users, deaf curlers and staff from Heriot-Watt University have been collaborating to propose new signs to use in curling for the many technical terms which did not exist in British Sign Language, such as ‘hogline’ and ‘gripper’. Videos explaining the use of each new sign can be found here. This work has bee partly funded by the British Paralympic Association, through the Disability Sport Trust.

The first session was attended by 13 people, with a mixture of Deaf and hearing BSL users. The desire to curl with other BSL users led people to come from as far as London, Lincolnshire and Aberdeen, as well as more locally. A Scottish Curling keyring was awarded to the furthest travelled curler, Mike!

Coaches Cron and Robert led a short classroom session, ably interpreted for everyone by the interpreting team of Marian and Jenny. This included lively discussion about the Scottish origins of the game and the popular Discover Curling teaching videos, before we headed out onto the ice to have a go.

Despite some initial trepidation from some, everyone was soon enthusiastically throwing stones. Sliding initially proved tricky; however, everyone’s balance improved dramatically over the session. The coaches rose to the new challenge of working with an interpreter and were soon demonstrating just how visual a sport curling is as the interpreters were able to take some breaks to warm up and let everyone get on with it. Experienced curlers were able to help the novices and the friendly, supportive atmosphere was commented on – that is, until a game was underway and then everyone became super competitive! The shot of the day was thrown by the youngest participant as he led for his team, earning him the other Scottish Curling keyring.

Everyone agreed they would love to do it again and have regular sessions. The sessions had generated lots of interest on social media and lots of other people have indicated they would like to come to further sessions. We will look to run more events in different areas, so are looking for coaches to come forward to help. Coaches do not need to know any British Sign Language as interpreters will be provided at least initially, although we hope that over time there will be a desire to communicate with each other and people will begin to pick up and use some of the curling signs, as well as others. There is certainly a desire amongst BSL users to be able to take part in this great sport and we have big plans for the future. We would welcome current curlers with significant hearing loss to join us as we formulate these plans. Please contact helen@scottishcurling.org for more information on any aspect of this project.

Huge thanks to Murrayfield Curling Rink for their hospitality and to everyone involved.

It's a hive of activity here at @DewarsCentre in Perth for our final @AshamCurling Under 14 Slam! A bumper field of… https://t.co/CidTocA71O

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