Cheryl Dowd is a HGV Driver at Wincanton (Wilko) in Magor and is currently on the British Sign Language course delivered online by Adult Learning Wales.

Cheryl said: “I found out about the course via an email from the URTU WULF Project. URTU Union members quite often receive updates regarding learning opportunities. The reason behind choosing this particular course is the most obvious: communication with non-hearing people. I am an employee of a company which is an equal opportunity employer. Several times I have met with non-hearing people and have been frustrated that I cannot communicate.

So far I have learnt to hold a basic conversation using sign language. This includes the alphabet, numbers, colours, transport, directions, greetings, weather and much more. Aside from BSL I am also able to use the Microsoft Teams application which I couldn’t do before. On this App I am able to access the tutor’s files for my homework and have video meetings with the tutor and fellow students. The students are from a wide variety of backgrounds from football coach to social worker and to me as a HGV driver. We have a rapport together and meet up outside of course hours to practice together.

The course is once a week for a 2 hour duration which fitted in before I went to work.

The most challenging about the course was knowing we had an exam on the 10th week, hence the reason we, the students, meet up outside of class hours.

I would encourage anyone to learn BSL. I am learning a new language, have learnt new computer skills and met with new people. We hope to be able to meet face to face soon and intend to go onto the next course”.