General Education Classrooms are becoming more varied with each passing day and are gradually giving way to inclusive classrooms. Children from varied cultural and economic backgrounds, with a variety of disabilities are being put into the General Education Environment. Therefore, naturally it becomes difficult for the teacher to reach out to all the students using a single type of learning and teaching style. It makes teachers to be on a continuous look-out for new techniques to connect with the students and grab their attention in the learning process. In such a situation, Sign Languages can add to the learning process by incorporating visual, auditory and physical feedback and aids in reaching out to all the students.
Such scenarios are generally contributing to the rising popularity of the Sign Language which enables those with disabilities to express themselves properly and to connect and interact with their family, teachers, peers and friends. Sign Languages are used most often in classroom settings consisting of studentshaving hearing impairment or students with non-verbal/ speaking disabilities – they may benefit from using sign language. It is found quite often that students with special needs have difficulty while communicating and expressing their feelings or emotions in a verbal way to others and communication via sign language may be theirbest option available.
Sign language for Teachers is mainly used:
1. To manage students’ behaviour
2. To keep the students actively engaged
3. To assist the students in developing literacy in phonics, reading, and spelling
4. To assist the students in the process of speech development
5. To assist the students in the process of language development
6. To promote positive communication and interactions within their peer circle
Some other benefits of Sign Language for Teachers are as follows:
• Growing popularity:
Sign language is slowly gaining pace in terms of learning. This is resulting in the rising numbers of SEN educators being able to cater to the needs of children in an inclusive classroom.
• Bilingualism enhances the brain:
Bilingualism of any language be it in signed or spoken, is a great way to enhance the brain. It develops and enhances a person’s cognitive processes resulting in higher abstract and creative thinking, better problem-solving, greater cognitive flexibility, better listening skills, greater academic achievement etc. other than that, it also promotes cultural awareness, literacy, and other intellectual benefits.
• Communication with deaf children:
Learning sign language serves the most important function, i.e. communicating with deaf children. Rather than being just a language, it’s a medium that supports the connection between those with hearing impairments and those willing to connect to them. In due course of time, with a competent teaching, a toddler with hearing impairment can learn a language, at ease.
Use of sign language in various professions:
Having the basic knowledge of Sign Language can be beneficial way of communication for fire-fighters, police officers and other professional civic servants, as well as scuba divers, stock traders, and more. Logically, cultural awareness and skills in language is a must while working with hearing impaired or deaf people in any environment or situation.