Staff at a Trowbridge store are giving customers a helping hand by learning sign language to improve the shopping experience for deaf people.

Four employees of the Wilkinson store, at the Castle Place Shopping Centre, have enlisted the help of five Wiltshire College students to teach them basic British Sign Language.

The idea came about after the workers wanted to be able to communicate better with the deaf customers who use the store on regularly.

One worker, Dan Evans, said: “We put learning sign language forward as a suggestion of what we could do as staff members and it was taken up.

“It was something we all wanted to do, because we have a lot of deaf customers.”

He added: “At the moment, we are only doing basic-level signs, but we are hoping to join a level one course to take it further.

“We are hoping that it is going to be picked up by other Wilkinson stores nationally.”

Colleague Carrie Cable said: “I really love it because it is something different and, wherever you go, if you see two deaf people signing, people are always fascinated by it. I had one gentleman come in recently and he signed ‘Have a good day’ to me, but he did it so quickly that I missed it. But practice makes perfect.”

The staff, who have been learning about numbers, colours, basic questions, health and safety and signs for products, will soon be wearing badges which say they can use basic sign language.

So far, they have been carrying out role play exercises with the students.

Level one British sign language student Berni Crow-ley, who is a mental health worker, said: “There isn’t much in the way of a deaf club here in Trowbridge, so people can often feel somewhat isolated.

“We hope that, by doing this, deaf people can come into the store and feel more at ease, knowing that some of the staff can do some basic communication with them.

“Maybe other shops will catch on to the idea too. It could start a trend in Trowbridge. Who knows?”

Fellow student Joan Baptiste said: “They are all doing really well learning the signs. They are very keen and learning quickly.

“They have been quite bold with it and aren’t afraid to use what they have learned.”