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Young people 'believe sign language should be taught in schools'

16/05/2017 Joanna

An overwhelming majority of young people believe British Sign Language should be taught in schools, according to a new survey.

The National Deaf Children's Society surveyed more than 2,000 deaf and hearing people aged between eight and 25, finding that 97 per cent believe the discipline should be taught in school in some way, while 92 per cent think it should be offered as a GCSE.

It was also shown that 91 per cent of those polled would be interested in learning BSL themselves, with those with hearing actually more keen to receive lessons than deaf respondents. While 85 per cent of deaf people said they wanted to learn more sign language, the percentage rose to 94 per cent among those with unimpaired hearing.

When asked about their reasons for wanting to learn BSL, some cited concerns pertaining to social inclusion and awareness of deaf issues, while others said learning the subject would enhance their employability and communication skills.

It was also argued that people with low literacy skills could benefit from studying a language that does not require reading and writing, as well as those who speak English as a second language.

The publication of these survey findings coincide with the launch of the society's Right to Sign campaign, which is calling for BSL to be included on the National Curriculum.

Susan Daniels, chief executive of the National Deaf Children's Society, said: "Everyone in the UK, deaf or hearing, should have the opportunity to learn BSL - but most people miss out as it’s rarely taught in schools and private lessons are expensive.

"If we are to break down barriers to learning BSL, it must be included on the National Curriculum."

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