SU adopts BSL clapping to replace traditional applause

The first Student Council meeting of the academic year, yesterday, passed the motion to mandate the Sabbatical Officers to encourage the use of British Sign Language (BSL) clapping, otherwise known as ‘silent jazz hands’ at Student Council meetings and other official SU events.

The motion was presented to Council last year by Ellie Macdonald (former VP Welfare and Equal Opportunities) and Ebie Edwards Cole (Chair for Oxford SU Disabilities Campaign), presented again this year by Ebie and Roisin McCallion (VP Welfare & Equal Opportunity).

BSL clapping is used by the National Union of Students since loud noises, including whooping and traditional applause, are argued to present an access issue for some disabled students who have anxiety disorders, sensory sensitivity, and/or those who use hearing impairment aids.

The proposers pointed out that alternatives to traditional clapping have been in place to aid accessibility in some organisations since 2015, when The New York Times for instance declared snapping is the new clapping.

Manchester Students Union made headlines when they led the way in passing a motion in September 2018 to use BSL clapping at their own student council.

As well as mandating the Sabbatical Officers to encourage the use of jazz hands at Student Council, the motion also mandates Sabbatical Officers to ‘lobby the University’ to use jazz hands in place of applause at University and college level events, with an explanation of why the change is important.

Image credit: Oxford University Student Union