Teen YouTuber launches petition for sign language to be taught in Welsh schools

A 13-year-old from Bridgend who learnt sign language to communicate with her younger brother who has Downs Syndrome has launched a petition calling for it to be taught in all Welsh schools.

Isabella Evans teaches sign language using YouTube videos. She is self-taught and started it all to help her brother Lucas.

Isabella has found success through teaching people sign language on her YouTube channel and through her social media accounts.

In March she showed ITV Wales ten simple signs that everyone can learn.

The petition specifically calls on the Welsh Government to consider the teaching of Makaton, a form of sign language, in all Welsh schools.

Makaton differs from British Sign Language (BSL) in that it is designed to help support spoken language. BSL is a language in itself, with its own grammar, and is used by the deaf community.

Isabella posts her videos to YouTube. Credit: Isabella Signs/YouTube

The Makaton Charity says using the language helps people avoid "the frustration of being unable to communicate".

With Makaton, children and adults can communicate straight away using signs and symbols. Many people then drop the signs or symbols naturally at their own pace, as they develop speech. For those who have experienced the frustration of being unable to communicate meaningfully or effectively, Makaton really can help.

The Makaton Charity

Isabella launched her petition last week and it has gained over 500 signatures so far.

In the petition, she says she Makaton can "break down barriers".

I believe it should be included in all schools in Wales alongside the everyday teaching to give every child the ability to learn to communicate via this method. I am passionate to achieve this and believe it is the fundamental right for all children in Wales to be taught Makaton in order to break down barriers, misconceptions and achieve true inclusion within Wales.

Isabella Evans

Isabella also highlights other benefits of learning to sign. She says some research has suggested sign language can improve language and literacy skills and can also help people to retain foreign languages.

Isabella's petition has had over 500 signatures so far.

Responding to the petition, a Welsh Government spokesperson said:

“Languages, Literacy and Communication is one of six areas of learning and experience in the new curriculum for Wales. All schools and settings can choose to teach and use Makaton with their learners. Where appropriate schools can introduce British Sign Language as their international language.”

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