My university experience took a slightly different tack today as I attended an explosive science show, all done in sign language. The show was run by the Scottish Sensory Centre, which has been working hard using innovative methods to make science more accessible to the deaf.
The afternoon began with an experiment that suitably set the tone of the day – adding dry ice to apple juice to create an eruption of flowing smoke. This was followed by a similarly impressive experiment, with explanations provided by the most engaging sign language; we hardly needed the Spoken translator.
To calm nerves following all the explosions we then were treated to a presentation in sign language on some famous scientists throughout history who were deaf, (including Thomas Edison, inventor of the telephone – could be useful in a pub quiz). The SSC stressed the importance of teaching deaf children about this kind of thing to remind them of their potential, and illustrate that such disabilities needn’t hold them back in success.
We then learned together the recently invented sign language symbols for the planets, which was interesting in demonstrating how sign language symbols are determined ( for example Mars has 2 moons, so the symbol for that is a fist with 2 fingers orbiting it).
Energised with some delicious cake, we then embarked on more experiments of the kind that you’re not allowed to do at school, and with chemicals all over the ceiling we left with smiles on our faces, 10 more words to add to our sign language glossary, and an interesting insight into the hard work that people are doing to inspire budding scientists.