Participants in the Ministry of Labour’s sign language training course proudly display their certificates while at left Chief Labour Officer, Victor Felix; Moreen Bowen of the Human Resource Development Strategy Implementation Unit and Bonnie Leonce of Signature Interpretations look on. (Photo credit: H.Reece)

The Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development will soon be implementing its National Human Resource Development Policy with a key focus on dealing with persons who are “differently able”.

Human Resource Development Specialist in the Ministry’s Human Resource Development Strategy Implementation Unit, Orville Lynch, made this announcement recently while addressing the closing ceremony for a sign language training course at the Warrens Office Complex.

He told the audience it was necessary to equip persons, especially those working in customer service areas, with the skills to deal with this segment of the population.

“In the next five years, we will spend more time ensuring that those in society who are “differently able” have the same capacity and the same opportunities as the able-bodied,” he stated.

Mr. Lynch commended the participants for taking the course and urged them to pursue further training in the area and to put their instruction to good use.

Meanwhile, Bonnie Leonce, Chief Interpretation Consultant with Signature Interpretations, the facilitator of the six-week course themed: Equality through the Power of Language, reminded participants about the importance of sign language as a means of communicating with the hearing impaired community.

She said many persons have expressed an interest in learning sign language even though they did not fully understand its importance.  “People see the deaf community as just people who are there, who use their hands…but it is a language.  It [sign language] has a structure… [and] grammar, and it is literally learning another language,” Mrs. Leonce emphasised.

She expressed disappointment about the lack of respect for persons in the “differently abled community” and pointed out that a hindrance to their full integration into society was communication.

The consultant reminded participants that acquiring sign language training was not only about learning a new language but they were now “embracing a people”.

“I expect you to sign properly and to value persons [in the deaf community]. By doing this, we can then begin to progress as a society even better,” she maintained.

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