Jade Chapman: My deaf sister has shown me why sign language should be taught in schools

Posted on September 15, 2014

I am a 17 year old student and live in Norfolk, along with my profoundly deaf 10 year old sister and the rest of my family.

Unfortunately, my sister Laura is unable to talk due to being profoundly deaf, along with having verbal dyspraxia.

Due to being unable to speak, her only communication method is through sign language, leaving very restricted and limited as to who can understand her.

This has already affected my sister’s aspirations for life, with her already deciding working and socialising is not what she wants, but rather to stay at home for her whole life.

We both share a strong sisterly bond, and because of this I am worried about her future and what will happen, if for whatever reason I am not around.

Consequently, I have come to realise that not only to help my sister, but also those who have similar problems, sign language is needed to be taught in schools.

Deaf people should be included and respected. Our society would benefit greatly if deaf people were able to communicate and be included in the everyday running of society, with their lives being made much easier.

Sign language needs to be taught with the same respect, if not more as foreign languages, such as French, German and Spanish, which are consistently taught in schools nationally.

Sign language was recognised by the government in 2003, yet it is not taught in most schools.

If sign language was taught in schools, a bond in society between the deaf and the hearing would be created, bringing all sections in society much closer.

Furthermore, the mental wellbeing of deaf people will improve, with reduced numbers feeling alone and isolated.

Future generations of hearing people would be able to communicate with deaf people, and sign language would become a social norm and a way of communicating with ease.

To try and help achieve this, I have started a campaign called ‘Let Sign Shine.’ I have lobbied Parliament and received two official letters in response, however, I was not too happy with these, due to the avoidance of the issue.

Due to this, I have started a paper and online petition in order to get this campaign further. As it stands, I have gained 2,080 signatures in the last two months which I have been running this campaign.

However, I need to get 10,000 signatures to get this discussed in parliament, where hopefully changes can be made.

As part of this campaign I have also started a Facebook page and group called Let Sign Shine and welcome any members who wish to join, there are regular updates on the campaign, the link to the petition and any relevant news stories.

I sincerely hope that there is the support out there for this change that society needs and for my campaign, this isolation needs to end, without any hesitation.

Here is the link to sign the online petition: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/schools-to-teach-sign-language

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