Petition For All Schools To Teach Sign Language To ‘Make The World More Inclusive’ Reaches Almost 100,000 Signatures
A petition calling for all schools to teach basic sign language has been signed by nearly 100,000 people.
Jade Kilduff, 18, launched the campaign approximately one month ago after witnessing sign language transform her younger brother’s life.
Christian, four, has brain damage, cerebral palsy, and visual impairment after problems at birth meant he took his first breath 24 minutes after he was born. His family were told he would never be able to communicate.
However, Jade didn’t want to give up on him and so started teaching him sign language in the hope they would be able to communicate that way.
And it worked, with the teenager saying on the Change.org petition that learning sign language has ‘opened up a whole new word for Christian’.
She told Sky News:
A lot of people when talking to Christian would have to talk through me, and I thought it was unfair that he could only communicate to me and a few of our family members. I thought if everybody just knew a little bit of sign then it would make the world more inclusive.
Her petition, which at the time of writing has 96,508 signatures, could help the hundreds of thousands of children in the UK alone who use sign language or signing systems to aid communication.
Very few mainstream schools teach British sign language, something Jade says needs to change urgently because ‘nobody should be socially isolated due to communication barriers’.
Lyndhurst Primary School in Oldham introduced signing five months ago, incorporating sign language into lessons, assemblies and conversation each day. While it was initially introduced to help three pupils with hearing impairments, the school has seen the positive impact it’s had on other children too.
Education Communicator Amy Scoltock told Sky News:
We’ve got many children in here who have got autism and for the first time since introducing sign language we’ve had them communicate with us for the first time.
And you’ve got the quieter children who would quietly just say good morning in sign to each other. As a school we are just all communicating better.
A Department for Education spokesperson responded to the petition, saying they are ‘firmly committed to ensuring that children with SEND (special educational needs and disability), including hearing impairments, receive the support they need in early years, at school and at college’.
The spokesperson continued:
Schools have the freedom to include British Sign Language (BSL) in their curriculum if they wish to do so, and we are working towards a BSL GCSE which will be introduced as soon as it possible, subject to meeting GCSE requirements.
Hopefully more schools will follow Lyndhurst’s lead and Jade’s petition will have the impact required to get this off the ground.
You can sign the petition here.
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