By Terri Bacon
Holly Tyrrell, 18, manages to reach out to over 5,000,000 people online without saying a word.
She suffers with dyslexia, and has done all her life. It is a learning difficulty that affects around 10-20% of the population in some way, and causes trouble with spelling, reading and writing: spelling being the way that it affects Holly.
There are lots of solutions that can help people with dyslexia, and the solution that Holly found was Sign Language. She has become a sensation on YouTube, where she posts her videos.
Holly is from a small town in Spalding, Lincolnshire, and is a student at Lincoln University where she studies Health and Social Care.
“I started learning sign language at the age of 16 while doing my GCSEs” Holly said. “It interested me, and I wanted to learn a new language.”
“I had help with my GCSEs, and I got extra time in exams, but I don’t really like the fact that I have dyslexia.”
Holly thinks that dyslexia has hindered her educational life, and people often underestimated her academic achievements. She was put in low groups at school, with people who hadn’t chosen to be academic, which caused personality clashes.
“Having dyslexia troubles me with spelling of words, so what better language to learn that a signing one with no pens or writing.”
Holly met a personal tutor through a college taster course, who then came to her house to teach her British Sign Language for 3 hours a week.
“Sign Language is hard to learn but once you know the basics to conversational pieces, the more you practice the more you pick up.”
Holly has completed her level 1 in British Sign Language, in which she had to take three exams, and now teaches herself on and off while she is at university.
“The hardest thing about learning it is stringing sentences together, as sometimes phrases are communicated in different orders.” She explained. “For example ‘my name is’ would be signed as ‘name me what.’”
Even though Holly received help with her GCSEs, she has chosen to decline support from university.
“I don’t receive any help at university, even though I’ve been advised to, and I have been achieving high 2:1’s in each essay and presentation I have handed in so far.”
“I ‘revise’ my signing by learning lyrics to songs which can be used in day to day life. I decided to put them on a video and see where that took me.”
An example of Holly’s latest YouTube videos:
Holly posts video blogs of herself signing to songs to her YouTube account, which you can see here. She has 384 subscribers and her videos have had over 5,000,000 hits.
“I get nervous doing my videos, but I feel the adrenalin of doing them and that keeps me passionate.”
“It gets hard when there’s a lot of rap, but if it’s a song about normal things then I just apply the signs that I know. If there are harder words I have a dictionary that has common phrases.”
“I’ll definitely do more videos in the future. I like contemporary music the best so people can enjoy them more.”
The general opinion of people watching Holly’s videos is positive, which can be seen by the number of hits and subscribers on her YouTube account. She has had emails and tweets about her videos and from people that are interested in her work.
“Friends and family both enjoy my videos” Holly said. “But I always get nervous that maybe some of my signing is wrong, but no one has bought me up on any mistakes as of yet so it’s been all positive.”
“The subscribers and hits are amazing! I really enjoy seeing them go up and progressing, I really didn’t expect my videos to take off like that.”