Sign language bridges communication

2015-11-17 06:00
Staff members of Alexandra Hospital in Maitland learnt the basics of South African sign language recently.

Staff members of Alexandra Hospital in Maitland learnt the basics of South African sign language recently.

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Sign language was originally developed for people with hearing problems, but it has evolved to now also benefit people with intellectual disabilities who have difficulty communicating verbally.

This is according to Dr Nashareen Morris, clinical functional business unit manager at Alexandra Hospital in Maitland, who says that sign language provides a bridge to support not only intellectually disabled individuals, but also hearing individuals whose ability to communicate verbally have been compromised due to health-related issues such as a stroke and those with special needs.

Identifying the unique benefits of sign language, a group of staff members from both the clinical and non-clinical departments of Alexandra Hospital participated in a two day Basic South African Sign Language workshop to help them in communicating with their colleagues and patients.

Apart from the communication benefits, sign language has many advantages.

“Sign language will enable our personnel to engage with our patients and colleagues more easily. This will undoubtedly reduce negative social behaviours, increase social interaction, create and maintain favourable relationships, while stimulating speech and language development,” says Morris.

Hosted by Tiny Hands, a qualified sign language training agency, staff members were informed about the advantages of Sign Language and were give guidelines on the learning and teaching of sign language in different environments such as at home, school or the workplace.

Over the two day workshop, more than 250 signs were taught to the participants, who also had an opportunity to identify key challenges while engaging in interactive group sessions. Each employee received a certificate upon completion of the workshop.

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