The power of visual communication

When we built Skype, our goal was simple — to bring people closer together. Since then, Skype has been used in truly amazing ways to help people stay connected. We’ve seen it used to train doctors remotely in Botswana, for an explorer to connect with students from the top of Mount Everest and even as a tool for people to stay connected with their loved ones during natural disasters.

There’s pretty much nothing we enjoy more than discovering new ways Skype is being used to help people communicate and stay connected. This is why we were so excited to discover Hedleys College, an independent specialist college for young adults aged 19-25 who have a range of physical and learning disabilities. The college helps those with profound learning difficulties make the transition into adulthood and instills the value that they should all ‘Achieve, Believe and Succeed.’

One of the ways they encourage this is through work experience placements for their students. In this film we follow Ryan, a student at Hedleys College, who is on a work placement at a local electronics company. We see how he uses sign language on a Skype group video call to communicate with his support team. Skype makes it easy for them to check in, show support and offer encouragement. This means Ryan can rest assured that he is always near to those he trusts, even when he is away at work.

Head of College, Joanne Rees-Proud told us how Skype is used by teachers to keep track of students’ development:

“We use Skype to link the college to the work placement to communicate with the student when they are there. We can check on progress and discuss achievement at the end of each day despite the physical distance from college. This feedback is invaluable.”

Joanne goes on to explain how Skype aids communication beyond just words:

“It allows us to communicate directly through the use of British sign language, but also allows students to pick up — and us to read the body language in a conversation and other social cues that are just as important when developing communication skills.”

We are sharing this video today, on April 15th, in recognition and celebration of National American Sign Language (ASL) Day. On this date in 1817 the first school for the deaf was opened in the United States.

Needless to say, we love to hear of stories like this — it makes what we do very rewarding and inspires us to find even more innovative ways for people to get together with anyone, anytime and anywhere.

To learn more about group video calling visit here. And for all the latest features, always make sure you’re on the latest version of Skype.

Got a Skype story? We’d love to hear it. Just tag us @Skype on social media.