Oxford University replaces clapping with sign language clapping

People clapping
Silent clapping is being encouraged at Oxford University. Photo credit: Getty

The University of Oxford is about to become a lot quieter.

The prestigious English college's student union has voted to allow students to show their appreciation by using sign language alternative to clapping. 

A motion to "mandate the encouragement of silent clapping" was passed at a union meeting on Tuesday (local time). Instead, students have been told they can use British Sign Language (BSL) clapping - waving their hands in the air to signify applause better known as jazz hands.

The change will at first only apply to union meetings and events, but will be rolled out to the rest of the university if deemed a success.  

Jazz hands is an official sign in British Sign Language, which is an official language in Scotland, England and the European Union.

The move away from conventional applause is intended to make events less overwhelming for people who are prone to anxiety or overstimulation from loud noises, as is often the case for those with autism. 

Student union officer Róisín McCallion said the change will make the Oxford experience "more accessible and inclusive for all".

"Inclusivity is one of Oxford Students' Union's founding principles," she said. 

The University of Manchester passed a similar motion in 2018. Former presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, whose request for an audience to "please clap" went viral in 2016, was unimpressed.

"Not cool, University of Manchester," he tweeted at the time. "Not cool."


This article was amended on October 31 to reflect clapping was not banned by Oxford University, a mandate was passed to allow the British Sign Language version to be used instead. 

Contact Newshub with your story tips: