Simple signs

Fostering communication in children with hearing loss.

Hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is at epidemic levels, particularly in children.

Staggeringly, there are ten times more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with hearing loss and disease than non-Indigenous persons. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have one of the highest rates of otitis media – or middle ear disease – in the world. This can lead to a lifetime of problems, as hearing loss impacts on the way they interact with the world around them and how they communicate.

Cathy Clun is a Churches of Christ Care foster carer in Townsville. Cathy and her husband care for eight children, two of whom suffer from hearing loss. Their birth families were unable to communicate with sign-language, and there is no access to signing classes in remote communities.

“The shocking fact is that in some areas 70-93 per cent of children have hearing loss. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children suffer the highest degree of ear disease and hearing loss in the world. More than that, they don’t have a voice because nobody can communicate with them,” Cathy said.

“The children were learning signing at school, but were unable to ‘speak’ at home,” she said. “I want deaf kids to be able to be in their community, with family and able to communicate. So I wrote a book called ‘Simple Signs’.

“The book is designed so that our kids can teach their families and communities (how to sign). It depicts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children signing and even has a space to put the words into language.

“I really hope it helps the children.”

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Posted May 15, 2017 in Our blog