I am 19 and have recently started a campaign, Let Sign Shine, aimed at ending the isolation of the deaf in society. My aim is to get sign language taught in schools, with the same respect and importance as languages such as French and Spanish. I have started a paper and online petition to get sign language into schools and have just over 5,000 signatures since beginning the campaign in June 2014.
My goal is to reach 10,000 signatories, so that it has a chance of being discussed in parliament. This is something that concerns me a great deal because my 13-year-old sister Laura is unable to speak: she is deaf and has verbal dyspraxia. Her only means of communication is through sign language.
Even going shopping is a major difficulty for her without the ability to talk to a cashier or sales assistant. The simple tasks of life, including going to the doctor and answering the door become impossible with this massive communication barrier.
Sign language was made an official language in 2003 but still is not taught in the majority of schools. Our society would benefit greatly if it was. It would enable a large group of people to be included in everyday life.
A bond between the deaf and hearing would be created. The mental wellbeing of the deaf would also improve, with fewer people feeling isolated. The hearing would find fulfilment in the knowledge they have gained.
I urge head teachers, governors and all others in the education system to get schools teaching sign language. I hope there is enough support for this idea to change society and end the isolation encountered by people like my sister Laura.
Please sign the petition.