My interest in sign language was born over 20 years ago when I was first introduced to Makaton when working as care worker in a school within a hospital setting. Despite the children having varying degrees of disabilities, sign language offered them a way of communicating their needs at a time when speech was not a viable means of communication. A little later on, after qualifying as a teacher, again both Makaton and British sign Language became an integral and valuable part of my working life as I began teaching children with additional needs and I undertook the training for the first level in British sign Language.
After taking a year’s break to travel and embark on a fundraising cycle ride across Cuba for the NDCS (National Deaf Children’s Society), I trained to become a Teacher of the Deaf , and then worked the next few years in Deaf education within Deaf schools, as well an Hearing Impaired units within mainstream schools. These roles also included raising the deaf awareness of colleagues and pupils within the mainstream setting to strive for a fully inclusive environment for the deaf and hearing impaired pupils.
Since having children, I became a teacher with ‘Signing Babies’, giving me the opportunity to show parents how sign language can support the communication, language and learning of babies and children, both hearing or otherwise.
At the other end of the education spectrum, my role in higher education as a freelance support worker at Hertfordshire University, involves supporting Hearing Impaired students in their study skills and ensuring they have full access to their degree course.