Children of deaf adults have come together at the Armagh Planetarium to celebrate their achievement of completing a 30 week Homework Support Club programme
Known as CODAS to the deaf community, this special group of Primary School age children have parents who are deaf and whose first language is a signed language. This means that they can struggle to help their children with homework such as maths and particularly English where there is a heavy emphasis on phonics – the sounding of letters to formulate words and sentences.
Many CODAS’ first exposure to language is a signed language of which there are two in Northern Ireland – BSL and ISL – and which are the first or preferred means of communication for people who are profoundly deaf and are used by a significant number of their families and friends.
The Department for Communities which has the policy remit of promoting British Sign Language (BSL) and Irish Sign Language (ISL) funds the programme which is managed by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust’s (SHSCT) Sensory Disability Team.
One of the star achievers, Cara McCartan, regularly interprets for her deaf parents Sandra and Hugh. Sandra said: "This project has really helped my family. I am deaf and my first language is BSL not English. I am not good at English, Maths and other subjects because of the language so I could not help Cara. This homework support has given her the same opportunities as other families who are hearing. "
CODAS can become interpreters and intermediaries for their Deaf parents to help them overcome the language barriers they encounter daily. This can be both a difficult and a rewarding situation.
Maeve Walls, Director of Culture, Department for Communities, said: “A lot of planning, dedication and hard work has gone in to the preparation and delivery of the Homework Support Club. It is a great example of partnership working between the Department and the Southern Trust and delivers the practical support for their children that the Deaf parents present today have asked for.”
“I want to acknowledge the efforts of both the parents and children. It is humbling to learn at first hand the difference the Homework Club has made to your families’ lives.”
Congratulating the Parents and Children on completing the 30 week Homework Club, Pat McAteer, Specialist Services Manager for the Southern Trust said: “The Trust is committed to supporting the best start and opportunities in life for children and young people to promote future wellbeing, relationships, educational attainment and capacity to engage in the world of work.
“By facilitating this unique Homework Support Club we have offered support in communication and gave children the opportunity to develop their skills and focus on their ability.
“I am extremely pleased, like their parents, to have witnessed the development and achievements the children have made in Maths and English since joining the club earlier this year. I would like to take this opportunity to finally thank the Department for Communities for funding this very valuable Club and to congratulate all of our ‘graduates’ here today”
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