WHO ARE YA? Cath Smith, Deaf Books

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Cath Smith, DeafBooks

1) Who are ya?

I’m Cath Smith and run DeafBooks, publisher of British Sign Language (BSL) teaching and learning materials and the Let’s Sign Series of dictionaries, guides, posters, flashcards, downloads, apps and kindles – you can see the range on www.DeafBooks.co.uk

Let’s just say I go a long way back and my career in the Deaf community began at the start of the 70’s!

2) Who do you support?

My local team is Middlesbrough – ‘the Boro’

3) What was your first game?

No idea, as it’s lost in the mists of time I’m afraid, but possibly Rochdale as that’s where I’m from originally.

4) What do you do for a job?

I set up and run DeafBooks and have been involved in illustrating, writing and publishing the BSL materials for many years now.  My background is social work with deaf people; I also worked in a deaf school for 18 years and qualified as a BSL/English interpreter.

It was due to this background that the need for such materials became obvious, because there simply wasn’t anything available early in my career.

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

I haven’t been involved in that work, no – it was Lorri Wilson from Sign4Sport who made the connection for Football Signs.  She works in this field and has specialist knowledge of the subject and the sign vocabulary needed.  She and her colleague recognised the need and contacted me to suggest creating the Flashcards and an accompanying book and we set about doing it.

The sign graphics I’ve developed are very simplistic so that the important information of the handshapes, location and movement are clearly displayed without unnecessary background details or distractions.

The faces are also user-friendly and minimalistic with the ability to convey appropriate basic facial expressions – a crucial factor for clear communication and differentiating meaning.

I have plain line drawing versions which will be in the book but we wanted the flashcards to be in colour to be more visually appealing.  Each card has a single sign and a short and simple description beneath it to help learners understand how to form the sign – they are laminated for protection.

The card set also includes the Fingerspelling alphabet and Handshape Key for the terms we use when describing BSL handshapes in the descriptions.

The cards are designed to appeal to all ages and abilities – not only for Deaf players and those working in that area, but BSL signs are also now widely used to support spoken communication for children and adults who are not deaf but  may have additional speech and language difficulties or who have special educational needs.

6) How did you get into it?

I enjoy creating materials when there is a recognised need and it’s good to work with people who clearly know their stuff.

7) What do you get out of it?

New materials are always exciting and obviously it’s what I do for a living.

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

Listen to other people but be clear in your own mind about what can and can’t be done.

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

Impossible to say, things just develop and go where they will.

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

The one and only George Best.

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