The deaf community today paid tribute to ITV sign language translator Alex Duguid, who died aged 79.
Alex, from South Tyneside, worked for ITV SignPost Productions for almost 25 years, translating popular programs on the channel such as Emmerdale and Coronation Street.
Her work went viral among deaf and hearing audiences in 2015, when her appearance on an episode of Corrie seemed to scare the character of Liz McDonald (Beverly Callard).
Alex said of the viral moment: “I was really at a loss for words. I just hope this ad will raise awareness about sign language and the issues facing deaf people.
Two years later he received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Royal Television Society and in 2019 he received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honors List for his services to the deaf and the teaching British Sign Language (BSL).
After receiving the award, Alex said ITV Tyne Tees“I read and it was from the Cabinet Service, and I was like, ‘oh, what is this? Did I do something wrong?’
“I took a peek, opened it all up, and was so shocked to read it, I had to read it twice.
“I received an MBE and I couldn’t believe it.”
When he received the award the following year, the Duke of Cambridge used sign language to sign “Congratulations Alex” during the ceremony.
Congratulations Alex Duguid MBE, honored by the Duke of Cambridge for his services to deaf people and teaching British Sign Language 🎖️ pic.twitter.com/7jr7xDSPPN
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) January 14, 2020
Paying tribute to Alex, SignPost managing director Kenny Toal described the presenter as a “one-off”.
“He was so supportive of all his colleagues and loved being able to translate content from English to British Sign Language. He was truly proud to play a key role in providing this service to his community.
“Alex was very passionate about our signed stories, which saw books translated into BSL for young deaf children. It was something he never had access to growing up and he was so glad he was able to during his time with us.
“There aren’t many people who have the influence he had in his lifetime, and his recognition a few years ago when he was awarded the MBE was fitting.
“He will be missed by all of us.”
BSLBT added that they were “saddened” by the passing of “the avid user of BSL”.
“He has certainly contributed a great deal to the deaf community and his achievements were recognized when he was awarded an MBE.
“We send our condolences to Alex’s family and friends,” they said.
Sign language certification body Signature said on Twitter that it was “incredibly saddened” by the news.
“As a Signature teacher and assessor, he has inspired so many people to learn BSL. alexander always had time to chat and share his experience and knowledge with others, helping where he could,” wrote.
Others also took to Twitter to share their memories of Alex:
Such sad news. I am truly sorry to hear this and send you our condolences.
— NRCPD (@NRCPD) January 20, 2022
It’s so sad. He was adorable to watch 🙁
— SarahCassandro (@sazcass) January 20, 2022
Sad to hear this news. Sending our condolences to the Duguid family and friends… https://t.co/wvCubvuI19
— CEO of Action Deafness (@CEOActionDeafns) January 20, 2022
My deepest condolences. He was my sign language teacher. A charming, kind, pleasant and inspiring man. Thank you. RIP Alex
– Eleanor (@Eleanor0405) January 20, 2022
ITV Tynes Tees reports that Alex was recently hospitalized and has been unwell for some time.
According to his family, he died peacefully at home.
A documentary on Alex’s life is available online at BSL Zone.
By Liam O’Dell. Liam is an award-winning deaf freelance journalist and campaigner from Bedfordshire. He can be found talking about disability, drama, politics and more on Twitter and on its website.
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