Sam Book works at a Sainsbury’s superstore in Bath, England, and is hearing-impaired. When the U.K. supermarket chain announced an initiative giving employees the opportunity to volunteer for a cause they feel passionately about in their local community, Book and his store manager Paul Robertson suggested making their store more friendly to the hearing-impaired.
Not only did Sainsbury’s like the idea, it decided to transform the Bath store into a “Signsbury’s” from July 18 to 21, teaching employees some common sign language to interact with customers, installing dynamic video screens to help teach customers sign language as they shop, featuring common words and phrases like “milk,” “trolley,” and “bananas.”
More than a hundred Sainsbury’s store employees took part in British Sign Language (BSL) lessons at a local signing school. The effort also features a series of promotional videos starring Book, and actor Rachel Shenton, who won a 2018 Oscar for her short film The Silent Child and signed her acceptance speech.
In a statement, Shenton said, “It’s been brilliant to see the colleagues of Sainsbury’s be 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.”
It’s not the first time Sainsbury’s has tried teaching people how to sign. Three years ago, the brand created a video called “Life Doesn’t Come With Subtitles” to encourage both employees and the public to learn sign language.