Teaching sign language in schools would end isolation for others like my sister, says Dereham woman

Laura Chapman with her older sister Jade who runs the Let Sign Shine campaign.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Laura Chapman with her older sister Jade who runs the Let Sign Shine campaign.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

People say that a siblings' bond is unbreakable – and that is certainly true for Jade and Laura Chapman.

Laura Chapman with her older sister Jade who runs the Let Sign Shine campaign.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Laura Chapman with her older sister Jade who runs the Let Sign Shine campaign.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Laura Chapman, 12, from Dereham, is profoundly deaf. After seeing the isolation and communication barriers her younger sister faced, Jade Chapman, 18, a psychology and sociology student at the University of East Anglia, launched a campaign to help make the world a friendlier place for the deaf community.

Let Sign Shine was founded two years ago and aims to have British sign language taught in schools across the country.

It has been a recognised language since 2003, and Miss Chapman says it would benefit more than just deaf people.

She said: 'It is very important to end the isolation of everyone who uses sign, it's not just deaf people. Sign language is used for disabled people who struggle when speaking and elderly people who find it hard to communicate.


You may also want to watch:


'If people could sign I think it would benefit my sister. It becomes a communication barrier going to the shop and asking for something, meeting new people and even answering the front door.'

Since the campaign launched, Miss Chapman has seen a huge change

Most Read

in the attitudes towards sign language.

She has been asked to attend public speaking events, to teach sign language to neighbours and local organisations and has seen her peition to get British Sign Language onto school curriculums pass 5,400.

In October 2014, she was given the Bernard Matthews Youth Award in celebration of her dedication to education.

Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington handed her the award and £1,000 prize money. Miss Chapman donated this to Neatherd High School, which funded sign language classes.

Due to the popularity and success of the classes, in September, the school will launch a new course – British Sign Language Level 1.

She said: 'I hope that many more schools will follow this example. If the government can't fund the course, I would like to fundraise in my own way and pay for it.'

Laura has attended many of Jade's events and said that the campaign was 'really good'.

The sisters' mother, Jo, said: 'I think it's amazing. Laura is very bright, she is really interested in languages and is learning French, because she has a photographic memory she can spell out French words, even if she can't say them. It is amazing.'

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus