16 Oct 2015, Katy Morton
Launched today (16 October), the 'Fingerspellathon' challenge aims to raise deaf awareness among children by calling on nurseries and schools to learn how to sign the alphabet using British Sign Language (BSL) and get sponsored to fingerspell certain key words, such as 'cat', 'dog' or 'milk'.
According to the National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS), which is behind the campaign, there are more than 45,000 deaf children in the UK.
Nearly 80 per cent of deaf children in England attend mainstream schools where they may be the only deaf child enrolled. Without good deaf awareness, the charity warns that these children can miss out on important social development and lead them to feel isolated and lonely.
Already 130 schools and nurseries have signed up to run sponsored Fingerspellathons throughout October, raising funds for NDCS. Just £100 will allow a deaf child to borrow and test radio aids and other equipment in their own home.
Susan Daniels, chief executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society, said, 'It is so important that deaf children and young people do not miss out on conversations, activities and opportunities to make new friends.
'Raising deaf awareness is key to this and the Fingerspellathon is an excellent way of showing support, learning a new skill and raising vital funds to support deaf children and their families.'
According to a survey of 1,155 people, carried out by NDCS to mark the launch of the Fingerspellathon challenge, 61 per cent feel embarrassed that they can't communicate well with deaf people and wish they could do better.
A quarter said they would like to learn sign language, with 'thank you' being the phrase they would most like to learn in sign language, closely followed by 'can I help?' and 'sorry'.