Thursday, August 27, 2009

British 9-year-old becomes the youngest person there to receive sign language qualification

From The Telegraph in the UK:

A nine year-old girl, Tayla Reynolds (pictured), has become one of the youngest in Britain to gain a sign language qualification so she could communicate better with her hearing impaired mother.

The youngster successfully learnt more than 600 gestures in British Sign Language because she wanted to communicate better with her mother Debbie.

It is thought she has become the youngest person in Britain to complete the Level 1 British Sign Language tests.

The youngster, who does not have any deaf friends at school, undertook lessons with 14 adults during a 23 week course.

Tayla asked to study it after watching her mother, 35, practise it in the mirror.

Mrs Reynolds, who is hearing impaired, has difficulty hearing Tayla and younger daughter Natasha, eight, who is due to start a similar course next week.

Tayla has appeared on 'This Morning', voiced a character in ITV animated show 'Creature Comforts' and finished in sixth place in the international Linguist of the Year competition.

Tayla, who attends St. Paul's primary pupil in Blackburn, Lancs, said: "I saw my mum practising in the mirror one day and it looked like something really fun to do.

''The lessons were really hard but it's a good feeling to know I can help people chat with each other.

"My favourite sign is the one for blue where you point towards the veins on your wrist due to their colour. I think that's really clever."

Lessons will begin again next month for the Level 2 certificate which could make Tayla fluent enough to become an interpreter.

Her mother, who operates the School of Sign Language in Blackburn, said: "I'm extremely proud of my daughter and its wonderful to see her saying 'I love you' in sign language.

"I only wish I'd started learning at her age. If I had begun then I'd have been fully trained by the time I was 20.

"When I was a young girl I was hard of hearing but there was no way that I would admit or except it. I didn't want to be different so I would try to cover it up.

"Now with every person who passes the tests, we get closer to getting rid of the horrible label I had to live with, growing up deaf and dumb."

She said for children such as her daughter learning sign language helps with their school work because they learn how to finger spell.

''She has been coming home with 10/10 for her spelling exams," she said.

"I have a lot of deaf friends, I am hard of hearing but not deaf. When the girls shout to me from upstairs I can't hear them so they have to come down to me.

British Sign Language was recognised by the government as an official language in 2004.

The language in its modern form, however, can be traced back to Charles-Michel de Epée, who founded the first public school for deaf children in Paris.

A spokesman for society the British Deaf Association said: "We would like to congratulate Tayla on achieving her BSL level 1 at such a young age."

British Sign Language, used by the majority of Britain's deaf population, has between seventy thousand and a quarter of a million speakers.