My name is Joanna and I have a son named Luca who is just 3 and he has a severe speech delay and he has bilatarel conductive hearing loss ( which in English means he has a hearing loss in both ears due to permanant glue - since birth - not due to damage) His loss fluctuates from mild to moderate. He wears aids in both ears.
We have been using BSL as SSE for over a year and can't tell you how amazing it has been to finally have a conversation with my little man ( hmmm i'm sorry i prob can tell you guys as you have very similar experiences - so know how fantastic that is ). I am taking BSL classes and am ready for my BSL level 1, I can also hold a very simple conversation, I love learning it and feel so passionate that Luca needs me to be 1 step ahead of him. I tell you this as Luca's SALT has just told me that the school he will go to in January have recommended that he start to use signalong, as he is going to a unit which specialises in speech and language problems. My SALT has explained that unlike Makaton Signalong is based on a much more updated version of BSL. My question is this ( and i really apologise that it has taken long to get to the question i just wanted you to understand where i am coming from ) how much does signalong differ from BSL? I mean by this not the actual grammer as of course BSL is a language in its own right. But how the signs differ? I am worried about my little man being confused
Thank you for your time Many best wishes Joanna Luca's Mummy x x
Post by mikekennard on Mar 17, 2008 6:08:08 GMT -5
Well done for getting into BSL. Signalong is based on BSL - we don't invent new signs if there's already something suitable - and is in fact a form of SSE where we also look at the language processing ability of our communication partner. You might find a few differences in the actual signs, as BSL varies a lot from place to place, but most of them will be the same or similar. If you stick to the signs that you have been using Luca is not likely to become confused but you will need to work closely with the unit so that they understand what vocabulary you and Luca have in common. There is one significant difference between Signalong and BSL, in that we keep to one sign per concept and one concept per sign. If you look at the British Deaf Association dictionary you will find that most words can be represented by several signs, and in the sign section of the dictionary nearly every sign has a range of meanings. This is too difficult for our users, so we stick to one at a time. I refer to "concept", because we look at the meaning, not necessarily the word - you are Luca's Mum, mother, Mummy, Ma, and when he's a bit older, his "old dear", but you're still the same person.
Signalong has published more signs than any other organisation in Britain, so you have plenty of scope for developing communication.
I hope that this helps, and if you have any other questions please don't hesitate to ask.
Hiya Mike Thank you so much for your reply. I'm sorry for the lateness getting back to you i only just spotted your reply. I was very apprehensive at the thought of changing over from the BSL/SSE. But how you have explained this makes a lot of sense. Knowing that Luca has a communication disorder this system seems to make much more sense. I will now have a better look around your web site with less trepidation. Many thanks for your time Many best wishes Joanna x
Sign along is not a language, it is a communication aid. BSL is a full language. My son too has learning disability and is deaf (and uses hearing aids), he is a BSL user too. If you use sign along you will miss all the intricacies of a full language and, more worryingly, he will not be able to access the deaf community as a deaf adult and miss out on this rich culture. Deaf people with learning disability are members of the Deaf community too but educators, social workers, SALT have invested a lot of time and money into sign along because they have so little understanding of the deaf community. Once a child goes into learning disability services deaf awareness goes out the window. I urge you to continue with BSL; talk to deaf adults, the RNID, Sense and ask them whet they think of sign along. My son has been in a BSL deaf supported school for 13 years, now he's an adult social services want him to switch to sign along!
We have never claimed that Signalong is a language - it is, as you say a communication aid, and one which give access to the largest published illustrated vocabulary of BSL-based signs in the UK. We see it as a tool to be used as appropriate.
It's not true that Luca would be missing out on the intricacies and range of language - as a partially hearing person, using Signalong as a sign-supporting system gives him access to the full range of the English language, which is presumably what his family and social circle will be using.
This is not to deny the nature of BSL as a language which gives access to Deaf culture and society. I can't comment on the question of whether or not your son would benefit from Signalong rather than BSL - it depends entirely on context, and if he's able to communicate well wth BSL and is fully integrated into Deaf society I would have some misgivings about changing.
Having a Total Communication approach means beiong ready to support someone with a difficulty or disability to function with a communication system appropriate to them, whatever it may be