Sign-language is used by and with those with Learning Disabilities and certain neurological conditions such as dementia, to support their communication.
In 2018 and 2019 Louise Stewart, Olivia Sparkhall and Jane Ebel worked with local music festival Celebrate Voice, children and staff at the John McNeill Opportunity Centre, Exeter house Special School and several local Primary schools, to develop inclusive sing-and-sign workshops with the support of Makaton trainer Sonia Sansom. We explored and learned about the use of sign-language and its potential within church worship.
As a result of those pilot projects a team is currently being put together including staff and service users from Alabare and Advisors from further afield, and funds are being sought to commission and create a set of multi-media resources for use by churches, schools, care-homes and other supported-living situations.
Using our planned multi-media resource pack, children and adults with Learning Disabilities, their families, friends and worshipping communities, will be able to sing and sign a specially-devised inclusive service with new music commissioned from, and adapted by, multiple composers with some special signs for church use created for our project.
This project will be complex and costly, involving clergy, adults and children with Learning Disabilities and other needs, schools (including special schools), music therapists, composers, theologians, teachers, social workers and sign-language experts, and will necessarily take time to build so that it is really beneficial for those we wish to support.
If you or your organisation would like to support our work please email email@example.com to discuss the various ways in which help could be provided. This might be through making a financial donation to help us pay the composers or to pay for the new signs to be created; offering free use of a church hall or community room (in the Salisbury area) for development workshops and meetings; offering support and advice on risk assessments and Covid-secure practice for intergenerational learning; discussing the project with your school, care-home or other supported-living environment; offering your time to try out the new music and words with your family and providing feedback etc.
Signed-singing workshop with Makaton trainer Sonia Sansom, December 2018
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