Members of the public who are interested in learning a sign language will be able to do so from January 25, next year.

The National Disabilities Unit (NDU), in collaboration with the Irving Wilson School, will again offer its January to June series of courses at the school at Pine Plantation, St. Michael.

Classes for adults will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays, or Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and will last for 14 weeks.

Children living in nearby communities or beyond may attend classes on Saturdays only from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. These classes will commence on February 6, 2010.

Further information may be obtained by contacting the NDU at 310-1650.??

The Sign Language Programme commenced in 2001 as a collaborative venture between the National Disabilities Unit and the Irving Wilson School.?? It started with one course for relatives/carers of students attending the school.?? The principle objective was to teach the language of signing, so as to enable them to effectively communicate with their children/wards.

According to the Programme’s Co-ordinator, Stevenson Evelyn, apart from its main objective, it also "seeks to facilitate the integration and inclusion of the hearing impaired in all aspects of community living, promote the equalisation of opportunities for the hearing impaired, and to make Barbados an enabling environment for persons with disabilities."

At present, three levels of courses are offered: Basic I, Basic II and Intermediate and are available to the general public, members of the National Union of Public Workers employed in the public service and to members of the Barbados Workers’ Union.??

Instruction in sign language is also available to school children at 35 primary schools, including one private primary school, and two secondary schools.?? Individuals may also complete the courses in their own communities by making a request to the NDU.

The NDU’s Sign Language Programme is now entering its ninth year. To date, 1,906 adults have graduated from the varying levels of the programme, while 1,308 children have completed the two available levels.??

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