Why everyone should learn some sign language

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Simone Rotella

Not so long ago, deaf children were punished in the UK for using sign language in the classroom. Recounting his experience in the 1960s, one deaf person told one of my colleagues many years later: “I had a lot of punishments for signing in classrooms… One morning at assembly, I was caught again, then ordered to stand at the front of the class. The headmistress announced that I looked like a monkey [and that she would] put me in a cage in the zoo so the people will laugh at a stupid boy in the cage.”

Thankfully, experiences like this are no longer as common. Sign languages have not only survived, but are now flourishing – so much so that many more people are getting the chance to learn them, which should be celebrated.

British Sign Language (BSL) is used by tens of thousands of people in the UK,…

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