There was a time when sign language users had to go to a local club to shoot the breeze, share advice or have any kind of conversation. It’s not as if you could just pick up the phone for a chat. Deaf clubs were a real community hub full of friends, families, board games and a barman.
In recent years, though, social media sites have started to replace the deaf club, with Facebook leading the way. Videos on newsfeed pages can be viewed for long periods and groups are easy to set up and join.
Last year, the importance of Facebook as an outlet for the sign language community was acknowledged at a high level when the Scottish Parliament set up a group on the site to gain supporting evidence for the groundbreaking British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill, which was passed in September, and aims to promote usage of the language.
When social media first became popular, the novelty for a sign language user was that they could appear just the same as anyone else via text. Many deaf people enjoyed being able to communicate more easily with their network of hearing colleagues, old school friends or family members for the first time.