Anthony Sinclair quickly turned to social media to spread his message as Covid-19 closed down most close contacts.
His company Sign Source, winner of the award for Best Use of Digital and/or Social Media, offers sign language and deaf awareness courses.
Anthony’s mission is to bring awareness of his “wonderful” language to everyone across the community. An Oscar winner has helped.
The former teacher, who founded the Belfast-based company in 2016. said the social media drive began with the first wave of the pandemic. It has taken off.
“When Covid first started access to classes in sign language went way down and I was getting asked how do you even access sign language,” said Anthony through an interpreter.
“I am passionate about accessing the deaf community and the incredible language that we have, how beautiful it is, how wonderful it is. I thought I needed to use social media to get the message out about the language.
“The message has ended up going out, not only across Northern Ireland, but across the UK and across the globe.
“The vision that I have is that we will have children in primary and secondary schools learning sign language and my vision is that everybody should have the opportunity to learn.
“I do deliver in the community, in the workplaces, in hospitality, retail sectors, sport coaches, so I am everywhere. I just think it is so important that our community has access to this.”
His company used all the social media outlets but particularly Facebook. But it has also developed its own online model to drive numbers accessing the services.
The film CODA, an acronym for child of deaf adults, has helped spread the message that sign language can be learned by many people outside the immediate circle of deaf people.
“Absolutely. The film CODA really did get a great message out there, such a positive message.
As deaf people ourselves the only thing we cannot do is hear. The reality is for us life is often wonderful and we just want other people to get access to the language that we have. It is an amazing language and it is such a natural form of communication.”