For those unfamiliar with sign language, it is not uncommon to assume that there is only one universal signing system. However, this is not the case. It is believed that anywhere between 138 to 300 distinct forms of sign language are currently used worldwide.
Here at Calvert Exmoor, we understand how vital different forms of communication are for human connection in general. No matter your level of ability, learning about sign languages could be life-changing for many people.
Why is Sign Language Important?
Sign language is a language system used mainly by those who have hearing impairments or are deaf. It is essential that this form of communication exists as people with hearing impairments can experience social isolation due to their disability.
Unlike the spoken word, where verbal speech is the main form of interaction, sign language uses the below as the primary ways of communicating:
- Body language
- Facial expressions
Other Ways of Including People With Hearing Impairments
As mentioned above, people with hearing impairments often experience significant isolation. Communication through touch and sight are key aspects of inclusion and can be explored in other ways than sign language.
For example, at Calvert Exmoor, we offer many accessible activities for deaf and hard of hearing guests that provide excellent opportunities for interacting with sense of sight or touch. Some of these opportunities include:
- Adaptive cycling
- Horse riding
- Zip wiring
Guests can expect a focused, attentive approach from our fully-qualified instructors during their stay. Many more exhilarating and deaf-friendly activities are available to encourage social inclusion for a loved one.
Why Are There So Many Forms of Sign Language?
Similar to verbal language, ways of accessible communication develop within cultures and groups of people unique to the area they live in. Therefore, these interactions will be different between communities.
Most sign language systems don’t align with the spoken languages of the environment and tend to be separate language systems.
A good example is the difference between American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL). Both the spoken languages of these communities are the same in that they verbally speak in English, although minute differences exist, for example, the difference between sidewalk and pavement.
However, ASL and BSL share some significant differences as they are in different areas of the world.
How Sign Language is Developed
It is not unusual for sign language to advance from a ‘parent sign language’. An example that highlights this can be found in the similarities between ASL and French Sign Language (LSF).
Despite the geographical distance, they bear resemblance due to the introduction of the ‘methodical sign system’ produced in France during the 18th century. Laurent Clerc, a French teacher who was deaf, shared this system with American deaf education and created what is now known as the American School for the Deaf.
Regional Variations of Sign Language
Similar to accents in spoken language, accents and dialects also exist within sign language. As sign language is more of a secluded form of communication, there tends to be a considerable variation between regions. This is especially prevalent in Britain, where sign language varies between towns and cities across the country.
What Forms of Sign Language Are Used in the UK?
Below are the most common forms of sign language used in the UK. As previously mentioned, different regions will slightly differ according to their dialects.
- British Sign Language (BSL)
- BSL taught through spoken Welsh
- Irish Sign Language (ISL)
- Sign Supported English (SSE)
We go into more detail about these variations below.
British Sign Language (BSL)
The type of sign language used the most in Britain is British Sign Language, also known as BSL. Research in 2011 suggested that BSL is used by around 151,000 people in favour of other sign languages.
According to the BSL website, BSL has its own syntax and grammatical structure unrelated to the English spoken language.
In 2003, the government officially regarded BSL as a minority language after a thorough campaign. As a result, according to the BSL website, awareness of deaf communications has increased, and BSL is recognised in the same way other minority languages are, such as Welsh and Gaelic.
If you want more information about British Sign Language, the BSL website provides further guidance and support. You can also discover how you can take a course in BSL.
Influence in Wales
A more recent advancement is a project by Mudiad Meithrin in Wales, which is prepared to teach young students BSL through the spoken language of Welsh as opposed to English.
Irish Sign Language
Also known as ISL, Irish Sign Language is mainly used in the Republic of Ireland but is also exercised in Northern Ireland. BSL is also commonly used in Northern Ireland.
ISL tends to have similarities to French Sign Language but has a bit of inspiration from BSL too. Like BSL, it doesn’t bear a resemblance to spoken English or Irish.
However, an intriguing aspect of ISL is its gendered sign language. Due to some male and female schools being separate in Ireland, ISL has diverged into two different sign languages.
There is heavy debate within Irish deaf communities regarding the dominance of men’s sign language, and, like with most forms of language, it is likely to evolve.
Sign Supported English (SSE)
Sign Supported English (SSE) is not a language on its own. The signs used are the same as those used in BSL. However, the signs are expressed in the same grammatical order as spoken English.
The key use of SSE is to accompany the learning process of those who have hearing impairments and are learning English grammar as well as sign language.
Why is Makaton Important?
Makaton makes use of graphic symbols, hand signs and spoken language as support for those who may need assistance with communication or have learning difficulties. It could assist the learning development of someone who has down syndrome, a neurological disorder or language impairment, for example.
We actually have more guests who use Makaton than we do BSL at Calvert Exmoor, so our staff have training in and experience with this unique method of communication.
If you require more information about the adventure breaks we offer and are interested in our holidays for deaf adults, please feel free to contact us on 01598 763221 or email us at email@example.com.
Learning outside the classroom allows children to acknowledge skills that they may not know they have. It is the opportunity to try something new, in a safe and exciting environment. The world opens out beyond the classroom, and concepts and learning processes become literal.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we provide a range of accessible holidays, including residential school trips as well as charity holidays for the disabled in Devon. We believe that outdoor learning and activities can liberate people and has the possibility of improving their well-being.
In this article, we will discuss why learning outside the classroom is essential to help in the development of children.
Children Can Experience Resilience
Being outside the classroom is a whole new experience. Children have to adapt to the outdoor conditions and absorb further instructions which directly apply to the outdoor environment. Their brains are engaged in a different way and the understanding of new safety instructions have to be processed.
It is a new kind of challenge, and depending on the activity, may feel slightly nerve-wracking. While this may sound negative, overcoming these difficulties may be their first taste of resilience, which is considered a crucial part of developing self-confidence.
By conquering their fears outdoors, learning to persevere and believing in one’s ability can be taken back to the classroom and applied to academic learning.
It Gives Children a Sense of Responsibility and Independence
A break from the school environment may feel like an exciting experience and give children a sense of independence by being away from home, if on a residential trip. Children can have the chance to take responsibility for their belongings, for example.
In effect, this will build on their sense of independence because they may become more self-aware, taking into account and preparing for their own needs and requirements for the activities.
If your child feels anxious about a residential trip, our news piece on How to Get Your Child Excited for a Residential Trip has some handy hints and tips which may help!
It Offers a Different, Engaging Space
A repetitive week inside the classroom for the duration of the school year can become a bit tedious. By experiencing challenges outside the academic setting, it may reset the attention and engagement of pupils.
It firstly gives students something to look forward to and is a way to break up the work in the classroom. Secondly, it offers a range of activities they may not have tried before, freshly testing their brains as previously mentioned.
It Helps to Form Relationships
Experiencing new activities outside brings the class or group together as everyone will tend to be in a similar situation of trying something new. As a result, outdoor classrooms are a platform for children to support one another and offer advice from their experience of the activity.
As a result, these relationships may be taken back to the classroom as the experience acts as a point of reference for children to think back to, and ultimately cherish. Not only does this affect peers, but also the teacher to student relationship.
Seeing the teacher in a similar circumstance, learning and engaging with a qualified instructor, may help children relate to the teacher and understand it is ok to embrace the new situation with whatever feelings accompany it.
Being Outdoors is Healthy
There have been numerous studies about the effects of the great outdoors on humans.
One of the health benefits which sticks out the most is related to the mental impact for humans to be outdoors. A study completed by the UEA’s Norwich Medical School revealed that when we see the greenery of nature, stress levels reduced significantly. See our article on How an Adventure Break Can Improve Mental Health for more information on this.
Furthermore, blood pressure and heart rate also both decreased.
The activities at Calvert Trust Exmoor all involve some sort of basic exercise, which means that the body gets a workout alongside mental wellbeing.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we are dedicated to providing exciting opportunities for all residents at our accessible site in Devon.
We would love to hear your thoughts about the advantages of learning outside the classroom. Let us know on our social media channels!