Marketing and Communications Co-Ordinator, Becki Lilley joined Canon UK on a student placement eight months ago and immediately made a big impression on her team for her creativity, great ideas and enthusiasm. Growing up as the child of Deaf parents, Becki loves the power, grace, beauty and expression of her own visual first language, BSL. But she also is keenly aware of how easy it is to take communication for granted and is thrilled to see sign language beginning to be adopted more generally and that Deaf people and users of BSL are being represented in popular culture.
Growing up with Deaf parents has given me access to a beautiful culture and a visual form of communication that is expressive and bold. My parents were both born profoundly Deaf and grew up during a time when sign language wasn’t permitted to be used in Deaf schools. Instead, Deaf children were forced to learn to speak and lip read, with the belief that this would help them to fit into the ‘hearing world’. In reality, this was an act of oppression. Although teachers restricted it, my mum always tells me that she and her friends would still use sign language to communicate while they were in their dorm rooms, as it was their opportunity to be themselves and feel understood.
There are 11 million people in the UK who are Deaf or hard of hearing, but just 151,000 British Sign Language users. BSL is my first language, and it’s granted me access to a whole other world, the ‘Deaf world’. As CODAs (Children of Deaf Adults), my sister and I have grown up communicating with our parents and their friends, using sign language. We’ve witnessed the daily struggles that they and all Deaf people face in a society that is full of barriers.