Sign language video helps everyone feel welcome

July 28 2022

A BOY who communicates using sign language was delighted to be welcomed to a supermarket with a video he could understand.

Ernie Conway, 10, from Hanham, was visiting Asda Longwell Green with his mother, Helen, to buy ingredients to make chocolate brownies.

However, he didn’t make it further than the doorway for five minutes because he was so enchanted by the video welcome sign at the store.

Ernie, who has Down’s Syndrome and began signing when he was one, spotted a large video screen showing a man welcoming customers using sign language.

Helen, 42, a data analyst, said: “He was just over the moon to see someone signing just like he does. He watched it over and over.

“He began copying the signs and talking back to the man in the video. It brought a smile to the face of other people watching him too.

“The man was welcoming people to Asda and saying that if they needed any help they could visit the customer service desk.”

Helen posted the video on Twitter to thank Asda for being inclusive and making Ernie’s day. The Tweet soon had more than 100 comments, likes and retweets and Asda got in touch to write about Ernie on their website and social media pages.

Ernie, a pupil at Hanham Abbots school with twin brother Ted, is now enjoying repeat viewings of the video of him talking to the sign, and laughing at his performance along with dad Rich, 52, a tennis coach.

Helen said: “A small moment like this can have a really big impact for someone by making them feel included.

“And the brownies tasted really good!”

Asda said the video was brought in in March to coincide with British Sign Language Week and has been kept because of its popularity.

Fran Greenwood, who was part of the team at Asda who created the video, said: “It’s wonderful to see Ernie’s big smile and that sort of response is exactly why we’ve made the message a permanent feature.

“We are continuously looking at ways to make the shopping experience as personal, engaging and inclusive as possible.”

Helen’s Tweet was even spotted by Ishtiaq Hussain from Deafscope Link, who performed the sign language for the video.

He said: “This is so nice to see! I love how it has put a smile on Ernie’s face – you can see how happy he is, bless his heart! This just shows how small changes can make a BIG difference.”