The pupils take three assessments throughout the year as part of the BSL1 exam which on passing gives them a recognised qualification which they can go on to use while at school, through visiting deaf hosts and deaf children in schools, as well as in later life.
Currently, 10 million people in the UK have some form of hearing loss. More than 800,000 of this population are either severely or profoundly deaf but the number of people able to communicate with them does not reflect this.
National charity and the UK’s leading awarding body in deaf communication qualifications, Signature, claims that, in order to offer a better service for deaf people, more schools and businesses, whether in the public, private or voluntary sector, need to employ staff who can communicate with them and encourage pupils to learn Sign Language.
Jim Edwards, chief executive of Signature, said: “The number of people with hearing loss is set to grow substantially over the next ten years due to an ageing population and we need to encourage more people to actively learn how to communicate with deaf people.
“BSL is a life skill for both deaf and hearing people and can open up opportunities for integration into a whole new language and culture. Our vision is to create a fully open and accessible society for deaf and deafblind people.”
Pupil Alex Wallitt (16), who passed the BSL1 last year, commented: “It has benefitted me because I can now talk to deaf people – a skill that I think is particularly useful as the number of deaf people is rising. At the end of the year we could all successfully talk about ourselves, our families, our friends, our school, our homes, what we liked and different foods.
“Anything that improves your ability to communicate with a huge diversity of people from different walks of life it a worthwhile skill. I would encourage those who are thinking about it to sign up for a course.”
Signature’s Ofqual accredited qualifications are available at over 500 education centres across the UK. Signature offers new BSL learners a wealth of support materials, including an online homework package so students can easily continue their studies outside the classroom.
Further information about Signature can be found at www.signature.org.uk/