Sainsbury’s has unveiled the UK’s first signing store in Bath, as part of its 150 Days of Community initiative. The iconic 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. This follows over a hundred colleagues in the store taking 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 Brook and Rachel Shenton, the Oscar winning screenwriter who famously signed her 2018 acceptance speech.
Signsbury’s was open for four days in July and saw colleagues sign in 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 the store, helpful screens were also installed which demonstrated how to sign different words and phrases, including ‘milk’, ‘trolley’ and ‘bananas’, with the hope to encourage customers to get involved in the initiative and walk away from store with some newly learned phrases in sign language.
What’s more, children were able to Sign for a Snack: upon mastering how to sign basic words, they will be given a free fruit snack.
The move comes as part of Sainsbury’s 150 Days of Community scheme, launched as part of its 150th anniversary celebrations. The initiative saw its 185,000 colleagues 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 deaf colleague Sam Book, heard about the initiative, they suggested making the Bath store more deaf-friendly to help the deaf and hard of hearing community – and so Signsbury’s was born.
It is estimated that around 11 million people in the UK live with hearing loss– approximately 35,000 of whom live in Bath. It is hoped that 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.
Sainsbury’s has long been committed to being the most inclusive retailer and helping to support all colleagues and customers in their shopping experience. Three years ago, the retailer launched the 2016 film ‘Life Doesn’t Come Without Subtitles’ to teach colleagues and the public how to sign.
“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,”said Tim Fallowfield, Company Secretary & Corporate Services Director for Sainsbury’s, is Board Sponsor for Disability and Carers across Sainsbury’s and Argos.
“We’re really proud of Paul and the team at Bath who thought up this wonderful idea as part of our 150 Days of Community celebrations.”
“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,” said Paul Robertson, Store Manager, at Sainsbury’s. “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.”