Belfast City Council has given its support for an Alliance motion calling for sign languages to be added to the school curriculum in Northern Ireland.
East Belfast Councillor Ross McMullan, who brought the motion, said the Council’s unanimous support was an “important show of solidarity and support” to the local deaf community.
“An accessible and inclusive Belfast will only be achieved if there is greater learning of sign languages and awareness and celebration of deaf culture,” he said.
“This should start as early as possible and that’s why we agreed the learning of sign languages should be added to school curricula to ensure all children learn from the earliest opportunity.”
As a result of the motion, the Council agreed to write to the Communities Minister to ask when the New Decade, New Approach commitment to a Sign Language Act will be brought forward. It also agreed to write to the Communities and Education Ministers to ensure the legislation includes provision for sign languages to be added to the Key Stage 1 and 2 curriculum, as well as the introduction of sign languages as a GCSE for secondary school pupils.
“Recognition of the deaf community as a cultural and linguistic minority in a long awaited and much needed Sign Language Act, and provision of the resources to equip schools to be able to deliver sign language training, is vital,” added Councillor McMullan.
“It would be the most effective way to ensure as many people as possible can communicate in a sign language.”