A sign for change in UK schools?

National charity urges teachers to take fifteen minutes out of their day to teach pupils basic British Sign Language phrases

Signature, the UK’s leading awarding body in deaf communication qualifications, has created a video to help thousands of children learn 11 basic phrases in British Sign Language (BSL) to celebrate the 11th anniversary of its official recognition as a language in its own right.

On March 18th 2014, the charity is calling for teachers to take fifteen minutes out of their day to teach the basic BSL signs. The short video demonstrating the 11 key words and phrases has been freely distributed to schools across the UK.

Signature says that with one in every six people in the UK experiencing some form of hearing loss it is vital that more children learn basic BSL at school to bring about social inclusion within our communities.

Jim Edwards, chief executive of Signature, said: “Many teachers feel that BSL is only important to teach if they have deaf students in their class or school, but what about encouraging students to communicate with deaf people or children in their local and wider community?

“BSL is not only a language for deaf people. It is an important communication tool for those who are able to hear too. Learning BSL is a journey into another culture and has a positive social and economic impact on both hearing and deaf people as everyone is able to freely communicate with each other and no one is isolated.”

Signature say their BSL video is intended to be fun and informative and that they hope it makes educational providers realise their responsibility to encourage students to engage with deaf people, currently one of the UK’s largest disability groups.

Edwards said: “At this time of year, schools are deciding which courses to run in the following academic year and we are calling for them to offer BSL as part of their curriculum in order to make a positive difference in society.”

BSL enables deaf children to study a formal qualification in their native language and studies have shown that a physical learning approach helps children across the board to learn together.

With more than 30 years’ experience, Signature offers schools and colleges guidance on how to begin delivering their Signature Level 1 and Level 2 qualifications in BSL, and provides information on deaf awareness and other methods of deaf communication.

They also provide a training programme to support continuing professional development, which includes free assessment and curriculum training and a wealth of free teacher resources. Signature works with both deaf and hearing people to ensure their qualifications meet the standard for Ofqual accreditation, and many of their qualifications are eligible for funding.

Signature’s 11 BSL phrases video is available to stream at www.signature.org.uk/eleven-signs


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