More than 15,000 people have signed up for British Sign Language (BSL) lessons from Birmingham boy Tyrese Dibba.
Tyrese, 15, who is Deaf and partially sighted, is fronting the virtual classes organised by disability charity Sense to get more people learning sign language while tackling pandemic loneliness at the same time.
The free video lessons have proved to be a smash-hit already with thousands getting involved since just last week.
Tyrese has CHARGE Syndrome, a disorder which affects many areas of the body, and has been supported by Sense since he was six months old – meaning having access to specialist support workers, events and holidays with the charity.
The classes cover everything from speaking about family to discussing holidays.
The teenage BSL star said: “I want more people to learn to sign, so Deaf people don’t get excluded. You should be able to chat to someone, whatever their disability might be. After all, no one likes feeling left out.”
His mum, Vicky, said she was “very proud” of how her son got on with filming, pleased to see he was “not hiding any of his personality”.
She added: “Tyrese is proud to be Deaf and feels more people should treat everybody equally and I’m happy to support him.”
Sense research found that one in four Brits admit to having avoided conversations with disabled people.
The study also showed that half of all disabled people surveyed feel lonely, rocketing to three-quarters for young disabled people.
Richard Kramer, Sense chief executive, said: “BSL is the first language for hundreds of thousands of people who are Deaf, and if more people are able to use it we can ensure that less people are left out, helping to tackle loneliness and social isolation amongst disabled people. It’s really fun to learn and an ideal time to learn, with so many of us stuck at home looking for new things to do.”
The BSL lessons with Tyrese are free and available now.