People living in the Magherafelt District Council area will have the opportunity to take a course in sign language starting in January.
Thanks to a grant by Council to Hands That Talk, a charity for the Deaf community, the accredited course in BSL (British Sign Language) Level 1 will be offered free of charge to encourage people to learn sign language and therefore decrease the isolation felt by the Deaf community.
Chair of Magherafelt District Council Councillor Kathleen McEldowney said: “With almost one in 20 people in the Council area suffering from Deafness or hearing loss, we wanted to be proactive in ensuring that we afford every communication support we can to that part of our community.
“No-one who saw the Hands That Talk Signing Choir perform at the switch-on of the Christmas Lights can fail to appreciate how beautiful and expressive sign language is to watch.
“Our goal in supporting this training is to make sign language more accessible.”
Hands That Talk Chairman James McKernan was equally enthusiastic about the new class.
He explained that the organisation was providing Deaf awareness and Basic Sign Language classes to Council employees and Council members and this public class was an extension of the support council is putting in place for the Deaf community. He said:
“This Sign Language Level 1 qualification will appeal to a lot of people. Firstly, many Deaf people have few qualifications and a formal recognition of their sign language skills can help them on their way to becoming teachers themselves in future.
Family members of Deaf people will be able to learn or improve their sign.
Maybe there’s a Deaf person in your street or your school, in your church or who comes into your place of work and you want to be able to communicate more effectively with them. The course will allow you to do that. It’s also a great way for younger people to enhance their skills.”
The course will begin on 22nd January 2015 and will run each Thursday evening in The Bridewell in Magherafelt for 35 weeks with breaks at Easter and the summer.
Participants will gain a Level 1 Qualification in BSL accredited by the Awards Body, Signature, and will have an opportunity to progress to Level 2 courses in future.
Numbers are limited so anyone interested in enrolling should contact Hands That Talk via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone 028 7774 2776 or text to 079 1221 0803. You can also contact Hands That Talk via Facebook or Twitter.