Sainsbury's becomes Signsbury's to promote use of sign language

UK grocer Sainsbury’s has renamed its Bath store ‘Signsbury’s’ for the weekend, as part of a community inclusion initiative to encourage people to learn and use sign language.

Opening under the new fascia yesterday, the store has deployed digital screens in its aisles allowing customers to learn the sign language for common groceries such as ‘milk’, ‘trolley’, and ‘bananas’. In-store staff will also sign several common words and phrases when interacting with customers, including when greeting them at the door, asking if they have a Nectar Card, and when discussing the weather. 

The four-day initiative comes after over 100 colleagues in the store took part in British Sign Language (BSL) lessons, delivered by local signing school I Can Sign. The lessons were supported by member of staff Sam Book, who is deaf, and Rachel Shenton, the Oscar winning screenwriter who famously signed her 2018 acceptance speech.

The two have helped put together a selection of handy YouTube videos that customers and staff can access to learn key interactions using BSL.

Children will also be able to ‘Sign for a Snack’, and given a free fruit snack once they have mastered basic sign communication.

Sainsbury’s said it hopes the initiative will help to encourage better communication with those who are hard of hearing by creating a supportive environment for both staff and the local community. The idea was generated as part of a range of community activities planned to mark Sainsbury’s 150th anniversary.

Paul Robertson, store manager at Sainsbury’s in Bath, said: “When I heard about our ‘150 Days of Community’ scheme, I thought it was the perfect time to use the opportunity to explore new ways to make our store more deaf-friendly.

“We have many hard of hearing customers in Bath and always want to make their experience as brilliant as possible, and we hope Signsbury’s will help better their time in store even more.”

Shenton, who is an ambassador of the National Deaf Children's Society, added: “This feels like the start of something exciting and I hope it encourages more people to get involved.”