A new kind of spelling challenge is being launched this October to break down barriers in communication for deaf children.
The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) is calling on parents of children at primary schools to encourage their child’s school to take part in the charity’s 2012 Fingerspellathon.
Now in its fifth year, the Fingerspellathon challenge gives children at primary schools a fun way to learn fingerspelling and an introduction to British Sign Language (BSL), breaking down communication barriers for deaf children whilst raising money to fund NDCS’s work.
With the Government currently placing ever greater emphasis on spelling, Fingerspellathon offers a different way for children to learn to spell, improving their literacy skills and academic achievement. Earlier this year, NDCS published research showing that more than three quarters (77%) of young people have no idea how to communicate with their deaf classmates, who can feel isolated and left out as a result.
Clare Salter, Community, Corporate and Events Manager, said: “The deaf children and young people we work with have told us that they want other children to understand better what it’s like to be deaf, and so we’ve made deaf awareness a key aim for the next six years.
“Thousands of children across the UK took part in our Fingerspellathon last year, and many have told us how much they enjoyed fingerspelling competitions and learning about how some deaf people communicate. Their fantastic efforts raised more than £26,000, which will help us to provide essential services to deaf children and their families. We hope Fingerspellathon will be even bigger and better this year and are calling on schools to sign up now.”
Anne Keena has three children, nine-year-old twins Mae and Ruby and 11-year-old Kitty. Both Mae and Kitty are deaf and the whole family use sign language at home. All three children go to the James Wolfe Primary School with Centre for the Deaf in Greenwich, which took part in the 2011 Fingerspellathon.
Mrs Keena, of Greenwich, said: “Mae, Ruby and Kitty all absolutely loved the finger spelling challenge and were often practising at home. As a parent of two deaf children and a hearing child at James Wolfe School, it was fantastic to see all the children involved in the Fingerspellathon, raising money for a good cause and at the same time improving their spelling and signing skills.
“I would definitely encourage other schools to take part in the Fingerspellathon. It is fun and the children enjoy it.”
NDCS is calling on parents to make sure their child’s school signs up to the Fingerspellathon so other children like Mae, Ruby and Kitty can get involved and communicate with children with hearing loss while developing their spelling and learning a new skill. Teachers who register their school can access a free Fingerspellathon teaching resource packed with word lists, fingerspelling alphabet posters, lesson plans and supporting materials.
NDCS helps deaf children thrive by providing practical and emotional support to them and their families. For example, raising just £100 for NDCS enables a child to borrow and test a radio aid, helping them hear better in their classroom, feel more involved in lessons and less isolated.
Teachers organising a Fingerspellathon have used a variety of activities and games to get their pupils involved in learning the BSL alphabet:
- Registration: fingerspell pupils’ names at morning registration
- Level challenge: pupils progress through levels of difficulty of words to fingerspell throughout the month
- Simon Says: fingerspell one or two-word instructions
- Eye Spy: fingerspell clues and guesses
Fingerspellathon takes place throughout the month of October. Schools can sign up now at www.ndcs.org.uk/fingerspell to access free resources and information.