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Ten-year-old Ernie is all smiles after spotting our sign language greeting

July 15, 2022 10:46am
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Ten-year-old Ernie Conway was all smiles when he joined his mum Helen on a visit to our Longwell Green store in Bristol after spotting an inclusive British Sign Language message welcoming him to the store.

Sign language welcome at Asda Longwell Green makes Ernie Conway smile

Ernie, who has Down's Syndrome, has used sign language since he was little as one of his ways of communicating with Helen, his dad Rich and twin brother Ted.

Helen and Ernie were visiting the store to buy ingredients to make him some gluten-free chocolate brownies, as Ernie also has Coeliac Disease, when Ernie saw the video on his way in.

It caught his attention straight away and he stopped to watch it, copying the sign language used on the screen.

Helen said: "It was really sweet, and Ernie loved it! I guess the main reason for having screens like that in the store is to make things accessible and inclusive ... and it worked!"

Helen was so delighted to see how much Ernie's loved the message that she took a video of him performing the sign language, which she tweeted:

Helen said: "It's a big interactive screen, with a film of a man signing along to say welcome to the store, we hope you enjoy your visit, and if you need help just ask one of our colleagues.

"It was at my son's eye level so caught his attention and he was copying it – you can see on the video how happy it made him; he was beaming.

"It's a big screen, and Ernie is a visual learner. He's visually impaired as well, so for him it was perfect. He can struggle to see things on a smaller screen, but this was lovely.

Helen and Ernie Conway

"His face just lit up and that realisation that there was somebody signing like he does made his day. There were lots of people walking by who loved seeing his reaction. We were there for about five minutes and he was happy watching it over and over so he was familiar with what the man did in the video."

The greeting was introduced to screens in 298 of our larger stores to coincide with British Sign Language Week in March, and has proved so popular that it's still in the stores.

Fran Greenwood from the Asda Media Partnerships team behind the screens said she was delighted to see Ernie's response to the video's message.

She said: "It's wonderful to see Ernie's big smile – and that sort of response is exactly why we've made the message a permanent feature. We always put our customers first and in the AMP we are continuously looking at ways to make the shopping experience as personal, engaging and inclusive as possible."

The man performing the sign language in the video is Ishtiaq Hussain, from Deafscope Link. Ishtiaq, who lives in Stourbridge, saw Helen's tweet and says he was thrilled to see Ernie's reaction.

He said: "This is so nice to see! I love how it has put a smile on Ernie's face – you can see how happy he is, bless his heart! This just shows how small changes can make a BIG difference."

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