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Welsh Bac pupils urged to take fingerspelling challenge

Published Date: 13 Mar 2017

Our Cymru team is urging students across Wales to take up a new signing challenge as part of Sign Language Week (13-19 March).

We've worked with Welsh exam board WJEC to create a community challenge module in the Foundation Level Welsh Baccalaureate, which asks pupils to learn the fingerspelling alphabet and share this knowledge with others.

Fingerspelling, in which hand movements represent letters, is a key part of British Sign Language (BSL).  The ‘I Can Fingerspell!’ challenge was developed after our Youth Advisory Board highlighted a lack of opportunities for young people, both hearing and deaf, to learn BSL.

Jayne Dulson, Director of the National Deaf Children’s Society Cymru, explained: “The fingerspelling alphabet forms a crucial part of communication for all sign language users and is a great introduction to BSL.

“It is clear that many young people are keen to sign, so as part of our mission to create a world without barriers, we call on the Welsh Government to further improve opportunities to learn BSL.”

Vicki Pitman, Regional Support Officer for the Welsh Baccalaureate at WJEC, added: “We are delighted to have worked with NDCS Cymru on this important and exciting challenge. We hope that it will interest many of our learners and help to raise awareness of sign language.”

Ryan Payne, 16, and Leam Tucker, 17, who are both deaf and attend St Cyres School in Penarth, created fingerspelling videos for those taking the challenge.

Ryan said: “Sometimes when people meet a deaf person who uses BSL, they don't know how to communicate with them and they panic or ignore them. If we can encourage people to learn some basic sign language it will be a good start.”

To find out more, go to ndcs.org.uk/Icanfingerspell.