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Signs of the times in Highland

15th May 2018

To mark Deaf Awareness Week (14 - 20 May 2018), The Highland Council has launched an innovative pack for learning British Sign Language in Primary Schools.

The number of pupils taking languages to exam stages in schools has dropped significantly. In an effort to reverse this, the Scottish Government launched their 1 + 2 Policy approach where the mother tongue plus 2 other languages are introduced at Primary.

Highland Council agreed that one of the languages introduced from Primary 5 on could be British Sign Language (BSL) which is an official language of Scotland.

The Council asked its Highland Deaf Education Service to produce a pack for teaching BSL to Primary age pupils. After a great deal of work, a pack has been produced which is believed to be the first of its kind in Britain. As well as covering basic vocabulary, the pack covers many of the unique features of BSL which make it so different from a spoken language.

BSL is a visual, spatial, directional language which is based on context and meaning rather than vocabulary. This visual side to the language has meant that video clips have been produced to back up the lesson plans and resource sheets in the pack.

27 schools across Highland have already signed up to deliver BSL and a training programme will be rolled out in the autumn.

Cllr Andrew Baxter, Chair of Highland Council's Care, Learning and Housing Committee welcomed the introduction of the new pack, he said: "Hopefully it will lead to pupils across Highland getting a good grounding in BSL while having fun at the same time."

Mrs Sheila Lundberg, Co-ordinator of the Highland Deaf Education Service said: "We are very excited about the BSL Introductory Pack. The 1+2 Language policy, in conjunction with the piloting of National 3 BSL and the National BSL Plan means that BSL is finally beginning to get the recognition it so richly deserves."

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