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Deaf Thunder: 999 BSL to the Rescue – With a short introduction from James Watson-O’Neill, SignHealth Chief Executive

We are the Deaf health charity working for a future where there are no barriers to good health and wellbeing for all Deaf people, which is why, on 17 June 2022, we are celebrating a barrier being removed.   

For the first time, Deaf people will be able to contact emergency services in British Sign Language through 999 BSL. This service isn’t just important for the Deaf community – it is a service that will benefit everyone. Deaf people can now contact emergency services directly and assist anyone in need of help. This is a huge breakthrough in terms of access and a moment worth celebrating. 

We want to thank everyone who campaigned for this service with the support of RNID and SignHealth. And of course Ofcom for coordinating and Sign Language Interactions who are now delivering the service. 

Contacting 999 in an emergency can save the day, so we thought we need a Deaf superhero to help raise awareness of the service and remind everyone that the power is in your hands.  

A BIG thank you to everyone involved; students, teachers, Deaf clubs hosting 999 BSL celebrations, and everyone watching. 999 BSL would not have happened without you, thank you.  

James Watson-O’Neill, Chief Executive

Superhero Competition

We asked deaf schools and youth groups to design a costume for the superhero. The response was fantastic and as you can see we received lots of amazing designs!

Thank you to everyone who took part.

The winning design, Deaf Thunder, was created by 16-year-old Kimberley Michael from Deaf Active. It has been brought to life and starred in the short film that premiered online and at 999 BSL celebrations across the country on 17 June.

Kimberley Michael holding her winning design, Deaf Thunder
Some of the drawings from our superhero competition

Behind the scenes of Deaf Thunder

Thank you to Nadia Nadarajah, Noah Holdsworth and Kieran Clarke for taking part in the film, NRG Digital for producing it, and Claire Parry for transforming the winning design into a real superhero costume. We couldn’t have done it without all of you!

Two people looking at a paper while sitting on a bed.
Photo taken during the filming of Deaf Thunder