Hatfield woman gets animated for BSL school

The animated version of Maria Pycio, who lives in Hatfield.

The animated version of Maria Pycio, who lives in Hatfield. - Credit: Sense

A deaf Hatfield woman has been animated as part of a new initiative aimed at helping people learn British Sign Language while raising money for charity.

Maria Pycio, 22, appears in animated form in ‘Sense Sign School’, a new monthly subscription product by the disability charity, Sense, which aims to teach people of all ages basic British Sign Language in a fun way.

Subscribers receive a monthly lesson pack in the post, which includes illustrated flash cards, a conversation guide leaflet as well as access to digital lesson pages and sign animations to aid learning.

Maria, who has no peripheral vision as well as being deaf, receives support from Sense, attending Sense TouchBase South East, a day service designed for adults who are deafblind or have multisensory impairment.

Maria stars in Sense Sign School alongside five other teachers, and a mix of children and adults supported by Sense.

She said: “I like teaching BSL and the signs that I have learned from school. I like to be able to contribute. It would be a lot better if other people could sign so then I could talk to other people. BSL gives me freedom to communicate and without it I would be very isolated. I would have felt so much better if everyone else could sign.”

Sense chief executive Richard Kramer said: “Maria was the perfect choice to star in Sense Sign School – she’s a wonderful, fun personality - someone who is proud to be deaf and a BSL user.”

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"People across the country use BSL as their first language, and if more people are able to use it, we can ensure that less people are excluded.”

In 2020, Sense launched a series of free online BSL tutorials, starring 15-year-old Tyrese Dibba. Released in lockdown, the videos became a huge success, with more than 80,000 people taking the lessons. Now Tyrese, and friends - such as Teegan - feature in animated form in Sense Sign School.

You can sign up to Sense Sign School at: sense.org.uk/sensesignschool