It is National Storytelling week (January 30th - February 6th) and See Hear looks at ways in which deaf and hard of hearing children are being introduced to the joys of stories and reading. Deaf children can often struggle to develop basic levels of literacy and numeracy, and research shows that children who interact with books from an early age do better at school.
We met Taffy Thomas, storyteller in residence at Grasmere in the Lake District, who explained the tradition of storytelling. Some schools regularly have storytellers visit them and we dropped in on story time at Glebe Primary in Rayleigh, Essex, where Lorraine Barfoot was enthralling both hearing and deaf children.
Bookstart is a national programme that encourages parents and carers to enjoy books with their children from as early an age as possible and show that books are fun. It aims to provide a free pack of books to every baby in the UK to inspire, stimulate and create a love of reading. The National Deaf Children's Society, in partnership with Bookstart, want to make books accessible for deaf children too. They're keen that books include pictures of deaf children to help develop a child's own identity. Some books also have key words signed so a parent, sibling or grandparent can learn simple signs alongside their child.
If you wish to get hold of a Bookstart or Bookshine pack, then log onto www.bookstart.org.uk or ask your health visitor.
In a very different arena Radha Manjeshwar tries her own hand at storytelling... She takes up the challenge of being a tour guide at Hampton Court Palace in Surrey. This historic palace, one of Henry VIII's many royal residences, has a wealth of stories and it offers BSL tours on a regular basis. The next ones are Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th February 2010, and Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th March 2010. These must be pre-booked, but if you want to arrange a tour, just get in touch and they can set one up for you. More details at:
If you fancy getting out and about a number of tourist attractions around the UK offer British sign language tours. Here's a selection:
Canterbury Cathedral, seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, offers signed guided tours on a regular basis, including some signed Evensong services. The next one is the Saturday before Easter. They'll provide extra BSL tours if visitors request them.
At the Scottish Parliament buidling in Edinburgh each deaf visitor can be provided with a hand-held device with a BSL guide on the screen which can be used anytime during scheduled tours. Live tours can be arranged if booked in advance.
At the other end of the UK, the Royal Pavilion in Brighton also offers signed tours. Any deaf visitors wishing to revel in the opulence of this distinctive landmark, can simply contact the bookings department to arrange.