Staffordshire and Keele Universities to consider BSL clapping at union events

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Staffordshire and Keele Universities say they would consider introducing British Sign Language clapping at their union events if students asked for it.

It comes after the University of Manchester made headlines for introducing BSL clapping, commonly referred to as  “jazz hands”, at their union democratic events.

BSL clapping sees the person wave their hands in the air, instead of audibly clapping.

The use of “jazz hands” aims to make events more inclusive for some disabled students.

It is feared that loud noise created by traditional clapping can have an impact on those with sensory issues, autism and anxiety.

The University of Manchester says they have already received positive responses from those students.

The National Union of Students (NUS) have been encouraging student unions, groups and societies to swap audible applause for BSL clapping since 2015.

Tom Snape, Student Union Development and Democracy Officer at Keele University, said: “If our disabled students were telling us other events were not accessible to them due to frequent applause, we might think about it.”

Although Keele University’s Student Union are not using a policy of BSL clapping, they do take other measures to ensure meetings are as inclusive as possible.

These include offering to read motions aloud for visually impaired students and using a microphone for those with hearing difficulties.

Mr Snape added: “It’s a bit odd how clapping is banned in Parliament and that’s considered totally normal, but when a student union asks its students to consider BSL applause it’s considered really strange.”

Staffordshire University Student Union President Tash Crump believes student union events should be as inclusive as possible.

She said: “If those attending are happy with clapping and noise, then that can be included in events, if those attending would prefer BSL clapping, then that can be included.

“Everyone’s needs should be addressed and thought of.”

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