An overwhelming 97% of young people think British Sign Language (BSL) should be taught in schools, according to new research by the National Deaf Children’s Society.
The charity surveyed more than 2,000 deaf and hearing people aged 8-25 across the UK, after its Youth Advisory Board said lack of access to BSL was a key concern.
Findings highlight significant interest in BSL among young people, with 91% keen to study it and 92% calling for it to be offered as a GCSE (or National 4/5 in Scotland). They also suggest this is not only a deaf issue; hearing respondents actually showed more interest in learning BSL than deaf respondents.
In light of the survey results, the charity has launched a Right to Sign campaign, calling for BSL to be included on the National Curriculum.
Susan Daniels, Chief Executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society, commented: “Everyone in the UK, deaf or hearing, should have the opportunity to learn BSL – but most people miss out as it’s rarely taught in schools and private lessons are expensive.
“If we are to break down barriers to learning BSL, it must be included on the National Curriculum. This survey shows that children and young people really want to learn BSL, so we urge the Department for Education to respond to this demand.”
Below, members of the NDCS Youth Advisory Board explain why they think sign language should be taught in schools:
A detailed Right to Sign report sheds light on the varied reasons young people gave for wanting to learn BSL, ranging from social inclusion and deaf awareness to employability and communication skills.
Some argued that people with low literacy skills could benefit from studying a language that doesn’t require reading and writing, as could those who speak English as a second language. With GCSE and A-level exam entries for languages falling every year, it was raised that schools may have greater success engaging students with BSL.
Youth Advisory Board member Erin, 16, added: “BSL is one of the languages of the UK so it’s important that, as well as knowing other languages to communicate with people across seas, we can communicate with people in our own country.”
To find out more about Right to Sign and support the campaign, go to ndcs.org.uk.
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