The spike in sign language on search engines occurred alongside Ridloff’s stellar performance as a deaf superhero in Marvel’s “Eternals” and Ayling-Ellis’s spellbinding rise as a deaf contestant on “Strictly Come Dancing” unfolded simultaneously.
This sudden surge of interest in learning sign language may well be one of the year’s biggest news for the hearing loss community. It is inspiring to have more deaf idols. This is also a great boost for sign language’s reach and popularity.
Lauren Ridloff had predicted a similar outcome. As reported in our last update on Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Eternals,” she had spoken passionately about the scale of awareness that the film would generate: “It’s going to make a massive impact…The MCU has a global audience, and I can’t even start to imagine how this is going to affect other communities throughout the world.”
It panned out beautifully. Watching Ridloff’s character – the superfast Makkari – interact with the other Eternals characters in American Sign Language had a strong impact on the audience. Since the film’s long-awaited release in November, there has been a 250 percent increase in online searches in the U.S. for “learn sign language for beginners.”
Given Marvel’s wide reach, starring a deaf actress as an unusual superhero – a deaf woman of color – does wonders for representation within Hollywood. Ridloff’s hopes for a more inclusive film space and its impact on other communities have more than come true. Her Twitter post sums it up in encouraging words: “This is great. Do learn sign language from Deaf/HoH teachers/content creators…”
In the UK, Rose Ayling-Ellis’s hopes have come equally true. The “EastEnders” actress was part-surprised, part-excited when she found out that she would be in the British TV competition, “Strictly Come Dancing.” She was quoted saying that she hopes to “do the deaf community proud and break down more barriers.” That’s exactly what happened.
According to the British Sign Language Courses (BSL) website, they witnessed a surge of 2,844 percent in signups for their free trial training programs. The enrollments rose in tandem with Ayling-Ellis’s performances on the show.
“[There was] a surge of 2,844 percent in signups for their free trial training programs.”
Her success on “Strictly Come Dancing” informs the audiences of the way the deaf community experiences music. It also propagates the use of British Sign Language. The show’s production team has been learning sign language. This says volumes about her efforts to start a conversation.
Rose Ayling-Ellis’ Twitter post expresses her gratitude: “Hi everyone, thank you so much for all of your interest in learning BSL. I cannot believe the Google search for learning sign language has increased by 488%. AMAZING”
Sign language is a gateway into the hearing loss community. It is also a powerful tool of communication for anyone with an interest. Every country has its variant. Each has developed organically over time. Curious? Here’s where to get started!
Read more: Learn some things about sign language