The BBC have published a short article asking "should hearing children be taught sign language?", accompanied by a video featuring hearing impaired and hearing children.
Some of the startling facts from the video includes Department of Health statistics that say "40% of deaf children experience mental health problems, compared to 25% of hearing children". The suggestion made in the video is that these mental health problems could be attributed, at least in part, to the additional isolation felt by hearing impaired children who have communication difficulties with their peers.
Having worked with a number of sign language interpreters since our inception as a company, we here in Zakon definitely support the idea of teaching sign language to hearing children in mainstream schools. As we are sure all parents will agree, learning more than one language as a child has to be a great asset for later in life.
Sign language was recognised by the UK Government as a language in its own right back in 2003, and we would see it as no different to learning a foreign spoken language; except in one crucial respect. The more people that can understand and communicate in sign language, the less isolation hearing impaired people who rely on this form of communication, are likely to experience. When those people are children, how much better would it be for them to be able to properly communicate with classmates?
We would ask anyone reading this to sign the petition started by Wayne Barrow. At time of writing this petition has over 22,000 signatures. If we can get it to 100,000 then it will be considered for debate in Parliament. Please also like and share the update about the petition on Wayne's Facebook page and spread the word.