Hartlepool woman brings British Sign Language classes to the town for free

A woman’s sign language lessons are proving a hit as they reach their first anniversary.

Monday, 17th January 2022, 4:45 am
Imogen Morley is running free sign language classes at the Ye Olde Durham Social Club every Tuesday.

When Imogen Morley, 22, launched Hartlepool Learning to Sign back in January 2021, she had around 10 people attend her first teaching session over Zoom.

The group has since expanded to over 300 members on Facebook and Imogen, who is now delivering the lessons in person at the back room at the Ye Olde Durhams Social Club, sometimes has to turn people down because of capacity.

Imogen, who works with deaf children and children with additional needs, said: "I did not think it would be as big as it is now. We grew, and grew, grew.”

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The group has grown a lot since launching in January 2021.

She continued: "It’s an absolutely gorgeous language.

"Sign language is just one of many ways we can be a bit more accessible for the deaf people. Even if you are able to help in an emergency. I think everybody should be able to know what’s happening.”

Imogen doesn’t charge for the classes and is hoping not having to pay will make the lessons accessible to more people.

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The speech and language therapist for children said: “Everybody is learning for different reasons. Some people are coming because they’ve got children that are deaf. Some people are learning because they are working in clubs and bars and they want to be able to help.”

Imogen started teaching herself sign language on YouTube when she was 12 and has said she was inspired to by her younger brother, Jack Morley, 16, who has special needs and uses sign language as well.

"He inspired the journey,” said Imogen, from the Clavering area of the town.

She added: “I love the language.

"Sign language is more than just for deaf people now. Sign language can help people with autism, it can help children with censory needs, it can help adults after they’ve had a stroke.

"It has so many uses. It’s growing.”

After the success of the group, Imogen says she is hoping to expand and potentially offer classes to children, as well as be able to teach from a bigger space.

The class runs every Tuesday from 6pm until 7pm. To find out more, join the Hartlepool Learning to Sign group on Facebook or message the Facebook page.

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