Deaf sign language tutor from Ashington launches training start-up

Debbie Jervis decided to go it alone after a career hiatus to care for her terminally ill mother

Debbie Jervis
Debbie Jervis

A sign language tutor who has been deaf since birth has successfully launched a training business, thanks in part to the wishes of her late mother.

Debbie Jervis established Hands On, a sign language training business that has so far worked with schools, social services and youth groups.

Employing two part-time assistants, the business offers courses at British Sign Language levels 1 and 2, as well as deaf awareness courses, family sign language and taster sessions across the North East.

With help from enterprise agency Pinetree, Ms Jervis also plans to produce video clips, brochures and DVDs of the British Sign Language curriculum.

The Ashington-based entrepreneur decided to launch a business last year following a three-month hiatus from her career to take care of her terminally ill mother.

She said: “It was her request that I set up my business again because she really wanted me to go back into teaching as she knew that’s what I was most passionate about.”

She added: “I want to expand my business to make sign language training more accessible in the North East. I would like to focus my attention on providing the best quality teaching by using technology to make classes interactive.

“I also have my PA with me during the sessions to support communication between myself and the students.”

Ms Jervis has also recently gained the Regional Teacher of the Year Award from Signature, which led to a nomination for the national award, as well as a nomination for the Deaf Business of the Year Award.

Pinetree business adviser Eddie Dickinson, who supported Debbie through setting up her business last year, said: “Debbie is a fantastic client to work with, she is focussed and dedicated and has a clear passion for sign language, which has been reflected in the success of her new business.

“We help a range of people in the North East set up their own business with expert guidance and access to finance.”

Pinetree operate from a Birtley base offering business advice and funding for a diverse range of would-be entrepreneurs.

Their clients include students, unemployed individuals, ex-offenders, people with physical and sensory disabilities, ex-service personnel, people aged 50+ and those individuals and businesses who have been refused mainstream finance, offering loans of up to £25,000.

Ms Jervis added: “I would definitely recommend Pinetree to anyone who wants to set up their own business. I have friends who have asked about my experience with the organisation and I couldn’t fault them. “The company as a whole is very supportive and helpful, and Eddie was fantastic throughout and continues to be committed to helping me with Hands On.”


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