New sign language manual launched – complete with dialect words

A new manual to help children and adults with communication difficulties has been launched for the isles.

With the new Signalong Shetland manual at Bell’s Brae Primary School are (from left): quality improvement officer Lesley Simpson, ASN teacher Susie Fox, Tiffany Silcott, who designed the front cover; Shetland ForWirds vice-convener Irene Smith and deputy head teacher Julia McGinlay. Photo courtesy of SIC

“Signalong” is a key word-signing system, based on British Sign Language, in which adapted signs are used alongside speech to support communication.

This new manual has been developed to provide an image bank of over 250 signs, many of which have a Shetland flavour, including new signs for puffin, ferry, knitting, fiddle and Up-Helly-A’.

The manual has been developed by Signalong tutor Susie Fox, an additional support needs (ASN) teacher at Bell’s Brae Primary School in Lerwick, who has worked closely with the national communications charity.

The Shetland ForWirds group have also been involved to incorporate dialect words wherever possible in the manual. The front cover of the manual was developed by Tiffany Silcott, a former pupil at Bell’s Brae.

The manual will be shared with early years settings and schools across Shetland, and a team of assistant tutors are being trained to deliver and promote more use of Signalong.

Poppy Nield, a teacher with the council’s education outreach (ASN) service, who specialises in hearing impairments and communication, will also help share the use of Signalong across Shetland.

Nearly 100 people locally have already received training in the use of Signalong over the last two years. A group of Anderson High School pupils have also recently committed to a “Signalong for Learners” course to work towards a qualification in the use of signing.

SIC education and families committee chairman George Smith said: “I’d like to congratulate our staff and partners for creating a local version of this excellent resource produced by the Signalong charity.

“I hope that our schools and early years settings will find this useful to help learners, their families and teachers to learn new communication skills.

“I also hope that manual will help many of us to expand our abilities to communicate with others in our community who have communication difficulties now or later in their lives.”


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