I work in a team with deaf and hearing colleagues. We learn a lot from each other, and from the people who get involved in the workshops we run – be that deaf young people, medical or educational professionals, parents . . . all sorts.

One of the things we often talk about is how to communicate sensitive or potentially embarrassing topics or words using sign language. And this is where we need your opinions and examples.

In this blog series, we’ll have contributions from deaf and hearing members of the Deafax team, specialists and professionals, and from the people in our workshops. Let’s see if we can expand our vocabulary, influence the debate, and build awareness at the same time.

Sometimes there simply isn’t a sign for a word, or a concept, or a thing! I know we can fingerspell it, but that doesn’t always help and in fact, sometimes it can make matters worse!

Take, for example, the tricky topic of sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs. It’s one which often comes up, quite rightly, in our workshops and young people need to be aware of what they are, how they can be prevented, how to talk about them, and where support is available. But what’s the sign for ‘STD’? And does it mean the same as in spoken and written English – can it be used in the same context?

Another thing which always comes up when we cover puberty, health, change and related subjects is ‘periods’. Working with mixed groups of young deaf people, it’s fascinating and a little worrying how naive some are, and it’s not only the young men. I must have come across more than 20 different signs for this normal bodily function, ranging from the graphic to the really old fashioned. Have a look at the video and that will explain a bit better!

In this blog series, we’ll have to talk about lots of sensitive and difficult issues like contraception, being gay, consent, respect, learning the facts of life, and sexual health. It’s important that these are discussed and shared so please get involved and let us have your comments, criticisms and other contributions. If you want to comment in sign language, just upload it to a video sharing site, send us the link and we’ll add it to the threaded discussion.

Check out one of our other blogs and join in.

Blogs will include:

  • Periods
  • Consent
  • Contraception
  • LGBT
  • Learning about sex - Sally’s Story Part 1 and Part 2