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Students at Abbey College Manchester have been learning sign language as part of an initiative to promote equal access and to improve the lives of deaf and hard of hearing people.
A select group of students have undertaken this course to give them additional skills as they aspire to secure places on the most competitive degree courses at top universities. They have also expressed a genuine interest in learning and experiencing what those living a silent life go through.
British Sign Language is now a recognised official language, however many BSL users do not have full access to information and services, including education, health and employment.
The course is being run by DEAF which stands for Deaf Education Advocacy Fellowship which is working to change this by providing deaf awareness, accredited sign language qualifications and equality and diversity training.
The enrichment programme which is being run for nine weeks at Abbey College Manchester will offer the opportunity to gain knowledge and acquire the skills necessary to communicate effectively with deaf people. The students will be taught basic sign language and finger spelling and will be given an overview of deaf awareness which will show an insight into the barriers faced by deaf people.
Each week the students will learn signs based on everyday topics such as greetings, introductions, family, food and home. A-Level Mathematics and Chemistry student Alisha Kumar, 19, has enrolled on the course to develop her understanding of the British Sign Language.
Kumar, who hopes to study Optometry, commented: “It is fantastic that Abbey College Manchester is giving us the opportunity to learn this vital life skill. It will really help give us an insight into the struggles of many people and help us to understand it.”
Principal at Abbey College Manchester, Liz Elam added: “I am so pleased we are able to offer this enrichment programme to some of the students as they will really benefit from this. It will help them to stand out on their applications for higher education.
“At Abbey College we try to instil the importance of equality into our students and learning sign language is a great way of doing that.”