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Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has visited Sign Language classes at Jordanstown School. The classes, which are funded by the department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), are for parents of children who are deaf. The courses offer parents the opportunity to study British Sign Language (BSL) Levels 1 and 2.


The Minister said: “As 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents, I am delighted that my Department has been able to assist with providing these vital classes.


“It is widely accepted that the key years for language acquisition for all children is 0-2 years and early intervention to teach sign language in this time span is fundamental to improving educational prospects.”


“After meeting with Emma Rogers, whose son is deaf, I felt it was necessary to help these parents to be able to communicate with their children.”


Parents have previously raised concerns, aside from costs of classes, that Further Education Sign Language classes are not always appropriate as they preclude parents from attending due to the difficulties with childcare.


The Minister added: “The DCAL funding also helps to provide crèche facilities for all of the parents’ children to enable both parents, where applicable, to attend the classes. The crèche includes specialist one-to-one care where their deaf child has other special needs.


“I hope all the parents completing these courses have enjoyed them and have no doubt that they will benefit immensely from them.”


Anne Magee, School Principal said: “I am delighted that Jordanstown has been able to host these DCAL funded Sign Language classes for parents. I should particularly like to thank the Minister for her personal interest and support. It is so important that parents are equipped to communicate with their deaf child from as early an age as possible. I am also proud that both qualified tutors of the Level 1 and 2 classes are former pupils of this school. They are a source of inspiration to our current pupils.”