Festive Special: Sense Sign School

Mr Tyrese on set, surrounded bi wrapped parcels and Christmas decorations. Text reads: Sense Sign School Festive Special

Sense’s mission is, and always has been, to remove barriers to communication so that no one is left out of life.

Everyone can and wants to communicate and connect with other people –  but how do you communicate with someone who is deafblind or has complex disabilities?

And so, the idea of Sense Sign School emerged, with the goal to engage and motivate people to communicate with others in new ways and get involved in Sense’s vital work.

Top of the class

The real star of the show was the teacher, 15-year-old Tyrese. It wasn’t long before his funny jokes and cheeky demeanour inspired thousands to learn and connect. During the summer, Tyrese (Ty for his friends – but it’s Mr Tyrese for students!) taught nearly 50,000 people simple signs on topics like family, food and drink, and entertainment.

Tyrese on set. He's sitting on a leather chair, wearing an orange bow-tie which matches his orange Christmas paper crown. He's smiling and giving us two thumbs up.
Sense Sign School gets two thumbs up from Mr. Tyrese!

When asked about his motivation behind leading Sense Sign School with such enthusiasm, Tyrese said:

“I want more people to learn to sign, so Deaf people like me don’t get excluded. You should be able to chat to someone, whatever their disability might be. After all, no one likes feeling left out.”

Tyrese and his family have been supported by Sense since he was six months old. Ty was born with CHARGE Syndrome, which affects him in many ways. He is Deaf and only has sight in one eye. Tyrese communicates through British Sign Language (BSL), gesture and writing.

Tyrese on the holiday-themed set. On the left, just outside of the video frame, you can see his BSL interpreter, sitting on a green chair looking at him while he signs.
Mr. Tyrese, ready to deliver a holiday-themed BSL lesson!

Four penguins apart

Filming these new classes was no ordinary feat, as we had to ensure production was safe during the age of Covid-19. On set, everyone kept at least two meters apart (or the equivalent of four penguins, to put it in more festive terms).

Yule love these new signs

Sense Sign School is back for a winter term! Mr Tyrese will be teaching us a multitude of merry signs, from simple wishes like “Happy Christmas” and “Happy Hannukkah ”, to delicious dinner favourites such as “pigs in blankets”.

Tyrese on set with his mum Vicky. He's giving us two thumbs up while she smiles to the camera.
Tyrese on set with his mum Vicky

Don’t miss class!

Sense Sign School is completely free! Sign up to receive Tyrese’s classes directly into your inbox.

We’d love to see how you get on with your new signs: share your festive signing videos on social media and tag us at @sensecharity!