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March 22, 2003

MP urges greater command of sign language

From: Belfast Telegraph, UK - Mar 22, 2003

By Gary Grattan

SINN Féin Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew MLA has urged a greater understanding and acceptance of the challenges facing the deaf community.

Speaking after a meeting of the Assembly All Party working group on Disability, Ms Gildernew said: "We need to recognise that communication is essential to full participation in society.

"It is not limited to verbal communication, non-verbal communication is an essential part of how we all relate to one another. Visual and tactile communication should not be undervalued.

"Current developments such as the 'Baby Talk' methods of non-verbal communication, based on progress in America, provide not just invaluable mechanisms for breaking down barriers, but also useful tools in the development of communication in every young child.

"There are many areas of public life where we need to see greater use of non-verbal methods of communication to enable greater access. This includes such daily areas of life as the doctor's surgery where people with hearing impediments can be left waiting while their name is called for appointment.

"Throughout public life we need to encourage not just greater use of sign language but also a wider recognition of the importance of all forms of non-verbal communication," added the South Tyrone MP.

© 2003 Belfast Telegraph