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Meet the tour guide learning sign language during lockdown

Riviera Travel tour guide Becky Cato has decided to upskill by learning sign language while she isn’t working due to lockdown. She tells Abra Dunsby her story

When lockdown began in March and tour guide Becky Cato’s tours were cancelled, she decided to use some of the extra time she had while at home in North Yorkshire to learn sign language.

Becky, who has worked as a self-employed guide for Riviera Travel for 11 years and usually escorts tours in Andalucía for the operator’s Classical Spain trip, said she’d been thinking about learning sign language for years, after meeting disability awareness trainer Stacey Stockwell on a tour five years ago. The pair became good friends and still stay in touch.

“I’d thought about learning sign language in the past but never got round to it,” explains Becky. “Then in March when I put on Facebook that I was going to be at home for the foreseeable future because my tours were cancelled, Stacey messaged me and asked me if I’d like to do her online sign language course for free.”

The interactive online course on comprises 85 three to four-minute video lessons, and Becky has completed around 20 of them so far. “It’s harder than I thought it would be but I’m really enjoying it,” she says.

“You start off by learning the alphabet, then numbers, and now I can put sentences together, such as: ‘Hello, my name is Becky, I live in Yorkshire. Where do you live? What’s your favourite colour’?”

Becky then sends videos of her practising sign language to Stacey, who gets back to her with comments and feedback. “I’d highly recommend it to anyone else stuck at home,” she says. “The course is at a reduced rate during lockdown too.”

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