With around 85 per cent of deaf children attending a mainstream school in England [National Deaf Children’s Society], the country’s leading awarding body for qualifications in deaf communication,Signature, is urging families to learn British Sign Language (BSL) to ensure their children are equipped with the skills needed to communicate with deaf peers.
Figures from the Consortium for Research into Deaf Education (CRIDE) show that there are around 38,000 deaf children in England, which is an increase of 9% in just two years.
Signature chief executive, Jim Edwards, said: “School children are now more likely than ever to come into contact with deaf peers on a daily basis. It’s important for teachers and parents to recognise that we all have a responsibility to ensure that the younger generation are equipped with the skills needed to communicate with deaf children.”
Signature is encouraging schools to teach BSL to children in Key Stages one to four, and has created a short introductory video demonstrating 11 BSL words and phrases including ‘hello’, ‘friend’ and ‘please’ so that teachers can take 15 minutes out of their day to introduce pupils to basic sign languages. You can find the video at www.signatureannualawards.org.uk/11-signs.
Edwards said: “BSL is more than just a communication tool; it is a life skill which has a positive social impact, ensuring that deaf and hearing people are able to communicate freely, creating an opening and welcoming society for all.
“Children are naturally very adept at learning new languages – we have children as young as four and five who have achieved a Signature Level 1 certificate.”
Independent research studies have shown that learning BSL has been proven to improve children’s development from a young age, improving their understanding of literacy and aiding spelling as children have to ‘see’, ‘feel’ and ‘do’ words when learning BSL.
Edwards added: “It has been demonstrated that children who learn BSL have increased concentration and motivation in the classroom, as well as high levels of confidence, better spoken communication skills and behaviour.
“It is great fun for families to learn BSL together, ensuring that both parents and children are able to communicate with an ever increasing deaf, population.”
Parents interested in finding a Signature course near them can visit: http://www.signature.org.uk/where-can-i-learn
Schools interested in running a Signature course can find out more information athttp://www.signature.org.uk