Last week we were joined at a special BSL Signing Day for the Deaf by over 200 deaf visitors and their families. Our idea was to bring our flying displays to life for the profoundly hard of hearing who often miss out on the interesting facts & figures given in the commenteries by our falconers during the dramatic demonstrations.
Our visitors had travelled from Ipswich, Colchester, Bury St. Edmunds, Lowestoft and West Norfolk for the event and for the majority, this was their first trip to the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary, but hopefully not their last!
Groups were met on arrival by our fabulous, highly experienced BSL interpreter, Natalie, who was on hand to offer signing support throughout the day, in all corners of the sanctuary! She did a great job too, not only signing the display commentaries, interpreting the various other activities at S.O.S. and answering a myriad of questions but also in helping our event organiser Catherine reach out to interested groups and societies and encouraging them to come along.
Visitors were able to enjoy signed commentaries for two meerkat feeding sessions as well as all three spectacular flying displays .
During the latter, a selection of our resident birds thrilled the crowds, flying extremely close and fast. For many visitors, this was the first experience of large owls and other birds of prey flying at such close quarters and will be remembered for many weeks to come.
Acting for the centre, falconer Liz provided Natalie with details of the lifestyles, habitats and conservation status of our birds for her signing sessions, whilst falconers Rufus and Steve enabled the birds to demonstrate their aerial dexterity over the flying ground.
Magician in residence, Neil, also entertained a rapt audience with tricks, illusions and comical fun as well as painting many young faces throughout the day - all, again with invaluable assistance from Natalie.
Finally, Jenny’s Ark Nature Centre also played host to many of the visitors who were able to watch guinea pigs, goats, chinchillas and field mice at play and observe the busy bees at work in the observational bee hive at the new attraction.
We hope to offer more fully signed days in the future - watch our website for details and to all our deaf visitors, thanks for coming and we hope you enjoyed your day!