Having taken a gap year before attending university, I enrolled on a British Sign Language (BSL) course and continued my part-time work in a local chip shop.
Both experiences have strengthened my belief that British Sign Language should be taught as an optional second language in our schools alongside French and Spanish.
My tutor, who was deaf, frequently encountered problems making himself understood at banks and a customer where I worked was forced to write down what he wanted to eat in order to make himself understood.
These everyday tasks that we take for granted, such as banking and ordering at a restaurant, can become an ordeal for members of the deaf community.
However if BSL were to be introduced as part of the curriculum I believe it would create a more supportive atmosphere for deaf and hard of hearing people as well as go a long way to alleviating some of the prejudice they face.
According to fdp.org.uk there are as many as nine million people in the UK who have some degree of hearing loss and a significant proportion use sign language to communicate.
Allowing British Sign Language to become an option for schoolchildren will, I believe, promote equality and encourage more people to learn about deaf culture.
I enjoyed learning French at school and while, along with Spanish, it remains a popular choice, adding BSL would provide another excellent language option, particularly for students who struggle with learning a new language verbally.
There is also a shortage of qualified BSL interpreters in Britain today and introducing it early to children may encourage them to pursue it as a career, alleviating the shortage as well as creating more employment opportunities for young people.