Senior Lecturer in BSL and Deaf Studies
School of Languages & Linguistics
Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (York St John), Postgraduate Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring (York St John), Postgraduate Diploma in Health Practice (Northumbria), Level 6 British Sign Language (Signature), CMI Leadership and Management (Level 5), FHEA, SFHEA
I am a Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) user. I have taught British Sign Language (BSL) for twenty years, fifteen of which have been here at York St John University. During my time here I am proud to see that the BSL team has grown, and that we now offer new modules in deaf studies.
As a Senior Lecturer at York St John, I teach on all levels of BSL modules, facilitating learning for students who may never have signed a word to those who have some fluency in BSL. I am keen to include aspects of the deaf lived experience into my teaching, to help raise awareness of deaf people as a cultural as well as linguistic minority.
In 2011, I was awarded National Teacher of the Year by Signature and, in 2012, York Adult Tutor of the Year by City of York Council’s “York 800”. I was shortlisted Signature teacher of the year in 2013 by students, Staff Excellence Award in 2015 by Programme Rep Award at YSJ, Excellence teacher at YSJSU in 2017 and finalist for Signature’s Leadership award in 2017. In addition to these I have also more recently (2019) been nominated for the ‘inspirational teaching’ and ‘most supportive staff member’ of the year awards by YSJSU.
I also teach both basic and more advanced deaf awareness at the University, as well as to organisations and businesses in the surrounding area. I aim to encourage equal access for d/Deaf people within the community and workplaces.
I support the student-led Sign Language Society in getting BSL out of the classroom, and developing confidence and inspiring wider involvement in BSL around the university.
I am the module director and teach on the following:
- Beginners British Sign Language 1
- Beginners British Sign Language 2
- Intermediate BSL Part 1
- Intermediate BSL Part 2
- Intermediate BSL Part 3
- Joint honours Languages & “other” Programmes
- Staff Development at the university - d/Deaf awareness and basic BSL
- Teaching BSL/Deaf awareness to other organisations
- Coach and Mentor
- First aid mental health champion
I am a Qualified A1 Assessor for British Sign Language which allows me to teach and assess students at an advanced qualification level. I have achieved my Signature Level 6 NVQ Certificate in British Sign Language.
I hold a Senior Teaching Fellowship (HEA) here at York St John University, and mentor and assess colleagues who apply for the range of fellowships within the HEA. I am involved in the research and development of BSL.
I am a member of Signature, the awarding body of BSL qualifications, and engaged in developing communication with d/Deaf people.
I am the external examiner for The Institute of Technology - TRALEE , Ireland (2020-2025) for Perspectives on Deaf Culture/History and the Certificate in Irish Sign Language. I am also an examiner and marker for the Institute of British Sign Language (iBSL) at all levels of BSL.
Research & Publications
Smith, A. and O’Brien, D. (2018). 'Use of Videos in Teaching and Learning: Creating Language Video Resources for British Sign Language (BSL)' in C. H. Xiang (ed.), Cases on Audio-Visual Media in Language Education. IGI Global.
Smith, A. (2016). Blurb for Rachel Sutton-Spence and Michiko Kaneko, Introducing Sign Language Literature: folklore & creativity, London: Palgrave.
Making the university inclusive for students and staff: a BSL teacher’s perspective with Dr Dai O’Brien. Invited keynote for Talking About Teaching conference, York St John University, 2015.
Thumbs up to BSL. The Independent Schools’ Modern Language Association (ISMLA) National Conference, St Peters School, York, February 2013.
Queen Margaret School, York, September 2015 and 2016.
What do you think you’re doing?! Avoiding client/interpreter conflict through discussion of unvoiced assumptions, Visual Language Professionals annual conference, York St John University, September 2016.