Minister of Social Care, Christopher Sinckler greets students of the Garrison Secondary School who attended the sign language programme, while Principal Matthew Farley looks on.

The exposure of Barbadian children to sign language augurs well for the overall development of this country.

That is the observation of the Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment, Urban and Rural Development, Christopher Sinckler. He was speaking at the Sign Language Programme End of Series Presentation for Children at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre last weekend.

He said: “I am really pleased about this (191 children graduated from the course), for when a nation’s children have been exposed to such methods of communication, to allow them to interact with the hearing impaired, then it augurs well for the democratic, social and economic development of Barbados.”

Stating that as a caring and humane society our goal was to allow all citizens to contribute to its development, he remarked: “Then the use of sign language will therefore bridge the communication gap between those who can and those who cannot hear.  For it is well known that the ability to speak and communicate depends to a large extent upon the sense of one’s hearing. Therefore, hearing loss or hearing impairment will negatively affect ones communication through speaking.” 

Minister Sinckler urged the children to see the acquisition of sign language not only as a celebration of personal achievement, but as a contribution to the development of society as a whole. 

He said: “Indeed, your newly acquired skills will allow you to interact with children with learning disabilities and to help advance the integration of these children in the school system.  You are the future of this country – our tomorrow- and it gives me great hope in the future of persons with disabilities to see so many of you graduating this evening.”

Minister Sinckler called on the students to influence their peers and relatives to be trained, “for it is through this training that Government will achieve its goal for the full integration of persons with a hearing disability into the mainstream of society”.       

The Sign Language Programme is sponsored by the National Disabilities Unit, in partnership with the Irving Wilson School, the National Union of Public Workers and the Barbados Workers’ Union.

Since its inception, 1,739 adults and 966 children have completed training.

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