Tayside and Central Scotland

Pupil's sign language address to Scottish Parliament

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Media captionFalkirk High School pupil's sign language address to MSPs

A profoundly deaf Falkirk High School pupil has delivered the Scottish Parliament's Time for Reflection in sign language.

Jemma Skelding, 12, is the youngest person to deliver the address, which is the parliament's first item of business of the week in the chamber.

Miss Skelding said she was pleased be at Holyrood ahead of next week's Deaf Awareness Week.

She told MSPs her parents and an older sister were also deaf.

Miss Skelding shared her experiences of using sign language in the address, which was translated by Mary McDevitt.

She said she grew up using sign language at home and thought everyone could use it, until she attended her first nursery.

'Really happy time'

Miss Skelding said that her next nursery taught everyone sign language half a day a week.

She said: "This was a really happy time for me.

"I was with my friends and I just felt like everyone else, we played together and we laughed a lot, we even had special sign names for each other."

Miss Skelding said things changed in P3, and by the following year she was "unhappy and felt very lonely."

She said: "My friends would all be talking but I would be left out.

"I don't think it was because they didn't like me, I think trying to communicate was just too difficult for them.

"I remember one girl in my class having a birthday party and all my friends were invited to sleep over at her house.

"I wasn't invited, the girl's mum didn't know what to do with a deaf girl overnight."

Miss Skelding said she became much happier after moving to a school where all the teachers and pupils used sign language.

She said: "I now go to Falkirk High School, they have full time communication support workers and I enjoy school very much."

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