Primary Pupils Become Deaf Aware

ALL 203 pupils from a Baxenden primary school learnt about deaf issues and finger spelling at a special Deaf Awareness Day.

Five-year-old Alex Gibson is in the Reception class at St John’s CE School and although he had glue ear as a baby and had two operations to fit grommets, it was not until November last year that his family had it confirmed he was deaf and needed hearing aids.

His parents Daniel and Debbie and older sister Abigail, six, along with Alex are all learning British Sign Language Level 1. Their tutor and friend is Ayesha Gavin, from Ayesha Communications, based in Weir, and as part of Deaf Awareness Week, Debbie sought funding from seven local businesses so the special day could be held at her children’s school.

Ayesha spoke to each class to make them more aware of deaf issues and let them hear what sounds are like through a hearing aid and she was accompanied by her personal communications assistant Mark Gavin who signed the children’s responses.

Debbie taught the pupils about sign language, how to finger spell and how to spell their name and the pupils also used special stamps to create their own bookmarks with their name spelt out in signs.

Alex loved being able to teach his ‘special language’ to his friends.

Debbie said: “I completed my Level 1 British Sign Language 20 years ago when I worked in customer service because a deaf man came in and I couldn’t communicate with him. I then learnt it so I could communicate with all customers.

“When we found out Alex would be wearing hearing aids, I said he also needed to learn sign language because I want him to be able to live in both worlds.”

She sourced sponsorship from the Bay Horse in Baxenden, the Dog and Partridge, Clearview, Scott Clean Services, M Neal Builders, Tiger Lounge and The Beauty Emporium to pay for the day.

Ayesha said: “It has been a very busy day and the pupils have responded brilliantly. They asked good questions and they really thought about the subject.

“We had one child say that if you shout at a deaf person you can make them really anxious because they didn’t understand you and when I asked what they can do to support someone who is deaf one child said that you should just, ‘be loving’.”

Headteacher Julie Green said: “Debbie organised funding for the day and I thought it was a fantastic opportunity for all the pupils in the school to learn more about sign language and be more aware about deaf issues.”

Ayesha Communications will be holding special family evening British Sign Language classes to learn the basics of British Sign Language and help to break down barriers. These are open to all, deaf and hearing, school children and home schooled.

The company will be hiring venues in Burnley, Bolton, Halifax, Littleborough and Rossendale to run the sessions and from September, Debbie will be delivering the evening class for children aged 6-13 and families in the Hyndburn area.

For more information visit http://www.ayeshacommunications.com/

by Catherine Smyth Media

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