Preston Christmas light switch on uses a British Sign Language interpreter for the first time

Crowd cheers as the Christmas lights come on in Preston City centre - Photo by Rebecca Thompson

The Christmas light switch on became more accessible than ever by having a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter there for the first time.

Hundreds of people gathered in Preston’s Flag Market to see the Christmas lights in the city centre and to watch the performances; most of which were translated live into BSL. 

Sarah Jacobs, 22, who is hard of hearing said: “The inclusion of a BSL interpreter meant I knew what the hosts were saying, and meant I could take part in the show. It made me feel really included.”

She also explained how happy she was to see her friends dancing all night and having a good time. 

Mike Pixton from Preston BID, who held the event, said: “It was great to have an interpreter at Saturday’s event, thanks to a partnership with Disability Equality North West, who arranged for Donna to sign the performances, making the event even more accessible.”

The Christmas Lights switch-on in Preston (credit: Rebecca Thompson)

The use of BSL is becoming more common in entertainment such as Rose Ayling-Ellis’ appearance on Strictly Come Dancing using BSL and a translator to interpret what others were saying.

For the lights switch on, the stage was set up in front of the Harris Museum and held performances by S Club 7 star Jo O’Meara, Lee Ryan from Blue, and Since September who are opening for the Little Mix tour next year. 

Gem & Cook from CBeebies Swashbuckle also took to the stage to entertain the children through their pirate dances. There were even some special appearances from The Grinch and of course the man in red himself.