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University research helps develop first official guide for British Sign Language and the menopause



  • Research reveals that 90% of D/deaf women have no awareness of menopause treatment options and how they work
  • There is no agreed guidance on the signs to describe menopause in the UK yet there are roughly 188,000 people who use British Sign Language (BSL) as their first language
  • The Holland & Barrett Menopause Hub now hosts an online resource guide including, videos explaining different terms, common symptoms, healthcare and lifestyle advice, using aligned set of signs for the menopause 

9 May 2024: Holland & Barrett, the UK’s leading health and wellness retailer, has worked with My Menopause Centre and BID Services, a charity specialising in enabling and empowering people with sensory impairments, to create the first agreed British Sign Language resource for women experiencing the menopause. The resources have been developed by the D/deaf community, for the Deaf community, helping them to better understand the menopause, symptoms and treatment options and to communicate even more effectively with their healthcare providers. 

The partnership comes following a study by the University of Wolverhampton that revealed a majority of D/deaf women (60%) do not have sufficient access to menopause health information in British Sign Language (BSL). More than half of D/deaf women (55%) are not aware that the symptoms they are experiencing could be attributed to the menopause, and 90% of D/deaf women have revealed they have no awareness of treatment options.1 

An image of a woman holding up a website showing the new BSL menopause resources

There are around 188,000 people who use BSL as their first language in the UK, with the majority being under 55, and 49% female.2 Women whose first or preferred language is BSL often experience health inequalities and due to inaccessible services and information, many lack access to help and support. Until now D/deaf women only had access to secondary interpreted content which often does not come with explainers of the signs and terms associated with the menopause. 

In response, Holland & Barrett, My Menopause Centre and BID Services have developed an online accessible resources guide which will be hosted on the H&B Menopause Hub. The uniquely curated resources provide BSL signs that explain the menopause, the symptoms and meaning behind them. These also include Frequently Asked Questions and a suite of videos explaining the many different terms people will come across when they start their menopause journey, as well as common symptoms, healthcare and lifestyle advice, all using an aligned set of signs to explain the terms. 


Sarah Bown, Senior Lecturer in Interpreting/BSL English at the University of Wolverhampton, said: "In 2018/19 seeing a growing menopause narrative in mainstream media and with a long established career in the profession of deaf studies and interpreting, I approached BID Services Birmingham, to propose a pilot research enquiry to ascertain the understanding and experiences of menopause information access, care and treatment, for people whose first or preferred language is British Sign Language and those people who identify as Hard of Hearing.   The response was overwhelming, and within a short period of time, approximately 100 people had participated with enquiry workshops and surveys.  The data showed clear evidence of need and the requirements to be implemented going forward.  The resulting developments with BID Services, My Menopause Centre and Holland & Barrett are tremendous steps forward in the work to bridge the menopause health literacy gap, and empower deaf and hard of hearing people to self-determine their health and lifestyle choices. I am delighted to have been able to continue this work with BID Services via menopause educational workshop surveys together with my colleague Kristiaan Dekesel, and to be able to support the development of accessible digital BSL menopause resources for deaf people, professionals and sign language interpreters." 

Debbie Lang, Sensory Services Manager for BID Services, says: “BSL isn’t a direct translation of English and for many D/deaf women, English is their second language. Many women told us that when they were given medical leaflets and websites to look at, they reported difficulty in understanding them. English terminology used to describe menopause and its symptoms doesn’t always have corresponding signs and words are spelt out using individual letters, where there are signs, these can vary from region to region or even person to person, meaning it is a difficult landscape to navigate. By creating these resources in collaboration with the Deaf community, D/deaf women have told us they will help empower them to have these conversations and will improve their health outcomes by increasing understanding around the menopause and bringing together commonly used signs and their meanings.”

Helen Normoyle, co-founder My Menopause Centre says, “The menopause transition can be a positive but also challenging time – even more so if you’re D/deaf or hard of hearing. Our work with BID, in particular the series of face to face workshops we ran with D/deaf and hard of hearing women in their community, brought to life the challenges that women in this community face in awareness and understanding of menopause symptoms and the ways to manage them. The goal of our partnership with BID and Holland & Barrett is to address this inequality by empowering women who are D/deaf or hard of hearing with accessible, evidence-based resources to help them on their menopause journey, and GPs with the knowledge and tools they need to deliver high-quality, inclusive care to all their patients navigating menopause.”

Lina Chan, Director of Women’s Health, Holland & Barrett says: “One of our key missions at Holland & Barrett is to support women and their individual health journeys. Through our recently launched Women’s Wellness Commitment we are committed to increasing equity of access to information and services to all women. After focus groups with D/deaf women it was clear that it wasn’t enough to have interpreted content and there needed to be a deeper and tailored glossary of BSL signs around menopause that explain the signs and meaning. We are delighted to be working with My Menopause Centre and BID Services to be able to provide this guidance and to continue our work to increase accessibility for all women to support their unique menopause needs.”

This will sit alongside Holland & Barrett’s menopause information which is available in five other additional languages including Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati and Hindi.

- ENDS - 

1 University of Wolverhampton, Menopause Drop in Forums for D/deaf and hard of hearing women, November 2018 & March 2019

2 Traverse Research, D/deaf audience in the UK, 2019 

Notes to Editors: 

The online resources were developed in collaboration with the D/deaf community, BID Services, BSL interpreters from BID Services, medical experts from My Menopause Centre and Sarah Bown and Kristiaan Dekesel, specialists in Interpreting and D/deaf Studies from the Faculty of Business, Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Wolverhampton

For further information, contact 

About Holland & Barrett:

For 150 years, Holland & Barrett has been at the forefront of wellness. We never tire of seeking out new ways to improve our offering, and use our 150 years’ expertise to innovate, curate, invest, partner and train our colleagues to bring the very best and latest in wellness to our customers. You could say we are the ultimate wellness champions, empowering people to take control of their health & wellness.

Holland & Barrett is the UK’s leading wellness retailer and one of the largest in Europe. We make health and wellness a way of life for everyone, with a leading range of own brand, innovative vitamins, supplements, specialist foods, sports nutrition, and conscious beauty brands. Established in 1870, Holland & Barrett has been trusted for wellness for over 150 years. Holland & Barrett has a retail presence of more than 1000 stores across 19 countries worldwide, including 785 in the UK  and Ireland, as well as a rapidly expanding e-commerce business. Holland & Barrett’s colleagues are “qualified to advise” with in depth training in nutrition and supplements to give accessible personalised advice to customers on their individual needs. 

About BID Services

BID Services is a charity working to remove barriers and deliver services which enable and empower those who are D/deaf, hard of hearing, sight impaired, deafblind or have other disabilities to live full lives. BID Services supports around 6,000 people each year, specialising in working with children, young people and adults with sensory impairments and their families and carers. Through delivery of ever evolving services, BID Services’ staff and volunteers work in partnership with clients to maximise independence, remove barriers and support clients to make informed choices, ensuring they have access to information, advice, support and activities in the right place, at the right time. BID Services works with organisations across all sectors to increase awareness and understanding of sensory impairments, breaking down barriers and creating a more inclusive society. This includes delivery of sensory impairment awareness and British Sign Language (BSL) training. BID Services also provides communication support, including BSL interpreting, facilitating smooth communication between those who are D/deaf/hard of hearing and hearing.

BID Services’ Menopause Resources, including recordings of the workshops delivered in collaboration with My Menopause Centre, are available at

To find out more about BID Services, please visit or contact 

About My Menopause Centre 

My Menopause Centre was co-founded by Dr Clare Spencer and Helen Normoyle. My Menopause Centre’s private online menopause clinic is the only menopause clinic in the UK to be rated ‘outstanding’ by the CQC. Dr Spencer and her team of expert menopause doctors provide a holistic, evidence-based, and personalised approach to menopause care via video or telephone appointments.

My Menopause Centre’s purpose-led website also offers a wealth of free, evidence-based information and advice on all stages of the menopause transition, forty symptoms of the menopause and a questionnaire that results in a free, personalised menopause assessment while it’s pause. community offers a space for women to come together and share stories about their menopause experience, ask questions at one of their free events, and find support and inspiration as well as receive the latest news and updates on the menopause from its experts. The website also has a dedicated area with menopause resources for GPs and their patients. 

About the University of Wolverhampton

The University of Wolverhampton’s roots go back to the 19th century Wolverhampton Mechanics’ Institutes and School of Art. It offers a broad range of subjects at foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate level – many accredited by prestigious professional bodies. 

Over 21,000 students studying at three main teaching campuses in the Midlands and partners nationwide benefit from innovative and excellent teaching from a QAA-commended university listed in the top ten universities for social mobility in a paper published by the Higher Education Policy Institute, with world-class research and a 90% graduate employability rate (Graduate Outcomes report 2023).

For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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