Sainsbury’s unveils UK’s first signing store

Sainsbury’s has today (Thursday July 18) unveiled the UK’s first signing store in Bath, as part of its 150 Days of Community initiative.

The sign above the superstore’s door changed to Signsbury’s overnight, in a move to ‘celebrate community inclusivity and encourage all colleagues and customers to sign with one another’.

More than 100 staff in the store recently took part in British Sign Language (BSL) lessons delivered by local signing school I Can Sign. The lessons were supported by a colleague who is deaf, Sam Book, and Rachel Shenton, the Oscar winning screenwriter who famously signed her 2018 acceptance speech.

Signsbury’s will be open for four days from today to July 21. During this period, staff will sign several common words and phrases when interacting with customers – from greeting them at the door, asking if they have a Nectar Card to even discussing the weather.

Elsewhere in-store, screens have been installed which demonstrate how to sign different words and phrases including ‘milk’, ‘trolley’ and ‘bananas’, to encourage customers to get involved. Children will also be able to Sign for a Snack: upon mastering how to sign basic words, they will be given a free fruit snack.

The initiative is part of Sainsbury’s 150 Days of Community scheme, launched as part of its 150th anniversary celebrations, with 185,000 staff across the UK given the opportunity to volunteer for a cause they feel passionately about in their local community.

When store manager Paul Robertson and his team (including Sam) heard about the scheme, they suggested making the Bath store more deaf-friendly to help the deaf and hard of hearing community –- and so Signsbury’s was born.

The supermarket chain said an estimated 11 million people in the UK live with hearing loss – of which approximately 35,000 live in Bath. It hopes this initiative will help to encourage better communication with those who are hard of hearing by creating a supportive environment for both colleagues and the local community.

Tim Fallowfield, company secretary & corporate services director for Sainsbury’s, said: “We’re really excited to be launching this Signsbury’s initiative at our store in Bath. We want to be the most inclusive retailer where people love to work and shop and it’s really important to us that we support both customers and colleagues with hearing difficulties to feel as comfortable as possible in our stores wherever we can. We are really proud of Paul and the team at Bath who thought up this wonderful idea as part of our 150 Days of Community celebrations.”

Paul added: “When I heard about our 150 Days of Community scheme, I thought it was the perfect time to use the opportunity to explore new ways to make our store more deaf-friendly. We have many hard of hearing customers in Bath and always want to make their experience as brilliant as possible, and we hope Signsbury’s will help better their time in-store even more.”

Rachel Shenton, ambassador of National Deaf Children’s Society, commented: “This is a fantastic initiative to be involved in. It’s been brilliant to see the colleagues of Sainsbury’s so engaged in the idea and it’s a great step towards inclusivity for the deaf community. This feels like the start of something exciting and I hope it encourages more people to get involved.”

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