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Sign language on the agenda at Redbank Plains

Goodstart centres

When a student with a hearing impairment joined the children at Goodstart Redbank Plains, the educators made sure he would feel comfortable and safe from day one.

The team started Auslan sign language lessons on Wednesday nights and are teaching the centre’s children the basics.

“The week before the child started with us at Redbank Plains, we researched Auslan and began discussing with the children how we would need to talk with our hands to help include our friend who could not hear,” centre director Melissa Beacock said.

“Over the past two months we have seen such a wonderful change in all the children of the centre.  All rooms have successfully implemented the start of Auslan sign which supports not only the child in our care but also helps with communication skills within our toddler room with children who are not quite verbal.”   

The rooms practice sign language with all the children daily and parents have also joined in, teaching their children at home.

“We have also networked with Goodstart’s speech therapists, occupational therapists, ECDP unit and Hear and Say Australia,” Ms Beacock said.

Ms Beacock said the commitment to learning sign language was part of the centre’s goal to ensure all children had access to early learning. It is part of Goodstart’s commitment to inclusion – where all children have the right to an education that lays a foundation for the rest of their lives.

“We feel as a service this strengthens our goal of giving all children the best possible start to education and allowing them to feel empowered in situations where they cannot verbally express themselves.”

“Whenever we have relief educators at the service, the children identify to them that we have someone who does not listen with their ears but talks with their hands and hears with their eyes,” Ms Beacock said.

 “This has been very humbling and highlights the inclusive practices that all educators are implementing on a daily basis to reach our goal.”

Assistant centre director Katherine Bell said all of the educators were pleased to be learning sign language.

“It’s actually not too hard to learn,” Ms Bell said. “Inclusion is so important to us and we have a lot of children who require bit of extra support here. Having extra skills really helps.”

Ten educators are taking part in the eight-week course and since starting, a number of families have said Auslan was also helping children communicate with extended members of their families who are hearing impaired.

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