Civil servants complete sign language course

Juliet Garricks and Bouvia Ferguson use their newly acquired sign language skills.

Staff at the Department of Children and Family Services have been learning sign language to help them communicate with deaf children.

Fourteen staffers from the department recently graduated from its new Level 1 American Sign Language course.

“This initiative is another aspect of the improvements being made in our child welfare system to reduce barriers and make our services more accessible to all families, and to build awareness around safeguarding children with disabilities,” said Felicia Robinson, the department’s director.

“We recognize that deaf children have special communication, language and cultural needs and are equally entitled to protection. Having these specialist skills will enable us to communicate directly with these children and their families and to provide support to them during the child protection and police joint investigation, the family service plan intervention and court proceedings,” she said.

The six-month course was attended by civil servants likely to liaise with the hearing impaired. A Cayman Brac parent with a hearing-impaired child also graduated.

Certificates were presented to recipients by Dorine Whittaker, chief officer of Children and Family Services.

The course, taught by Norma Ferryman, included the alphabet and finger spelling, family signs, feelings, professions, verbs and key nouns. By the end of the course, students were able to demonstrate a short story in sign language.

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