Between 6th and 12th February over 120,000 children will be taking part in sign2sing, an innovative, engaging, sign-language based singing event that takes places across the UK. Every year over 500 schools take part in Sign2Sing, learning basic sign language and improving their deaf awareness in hundreds of schools across the UK.
Developed by SignHealth, the healthcare charity for deaf people, the event “inspires a generation to sign” and emphasises the importance of deaf awareness, inclusivity and equality. During the event children UK-wide are introduced to British Sign Language (BSL) and are taught to sing and sign a song that has been specially written for us called ‘Together’. Any funds raised by the event go towards funding SignHealth’s nationwide services.
Most people are unaware of what it really means to be profoundly deaf and do not realise how isolating it is to live in a silent world or how this isolation can lead to increased vulnerability and victimisation. Deaf children are nearly 3 and a half times more likely to experience domestic abuse, and deaf women twice as likely, than their hearing peers. Shockingly 60% of deaf children go on to experience mental health issues in later life.
Deafness is not a disability, but not being able to communicate effectively is. People born deaf or deafened in early childhood have great difficulty in learning to speak and understanding spoken language, which leads to problems with literacy and written material. A deaf person’s quality of life depends on communication that is clear, concise and accessible and their most effective form of communication is through sign language. However, because of the lack of knowledge of it within society, sign language is not always a viable option and Deaf people are often unable to communicate meaningfully.
This lack of communication has resulted in a health service that cannot effectively support Deaf people, consequently causing them to suffer poorer health and shortened lives. They are often left feeling lonely, isolated, victimised and at risk of abuse. Deaf people face prejudice and intolerance every single day and are often a neglected and severely disadvantaged group in our society.
SignHealth’s goal is to end the inequalities that exist for Deaf people. Through sign2sing we raise awareness of the issues surrounding deafness in an enjoyable and memorable way, helping to increase teacher and pupil understanding. Positive messages are conveyed through a specially written song, which is exclusively composed for us every year. The song lyrics and supporting videos focus on inclusivity, understanding and accepting differences, friendship, sharing and empowerment.
We recognise that today’s children are tomorrow’s policy makers, lawyers, health professionals and social workers. If we can educate children about the difficulties that Deaf people face, then the discrimination and marginalisation that Deaf people experience will be improved. By participating in Sign2Sing, hearing pupils increase their knowledge of deafness and sign language, learning how they can communicate effectively and helping to facilitate the social inclusion of Deaf people.
Schools can find out more about sign2sing, and register to take part in the event at: www.sign2sing.org.uk