Teaching and using Signalong in Romania
I have been involved with disabled people in Romania for many years. While the provision of some types of aids and interventions, provided by state authorities, has gradually become more available the needs of the majority of learning disabled children and adults with speech and language problems has, as far as my research showed, remained unmet. Familiar with Signalong from my time working in a special school here in the UK I realised that it could be used equally effectively in Romania.
At first Romanians who attended the introductions to Signalong run by the registered charity of which I am honorary UK co-ordinator just showed a polite interest and it remained untaught and unused in Bucharest on our return to the UK.
Then two years ago a Romanian speech therapist and a special needs teacher working in a Day Centre for children with special needs attended one of our introductory sessions. After our return to the UK she continued using Signalong with two autistic boys. They reported a significant improvement in the boys’ ability to make themselves understood and to express their own needs and choices. One of the boys, previously mute, also began to speak as he signed.
In April 2008 I completed a Signalong tutors course and discussed the pros and cons of offering Foundation courses in Romania with the Signalong team, who were very supportive and encouraging and, with written permission, I set about having the “yellow pages” from the Phase 1 manual translated into Romanian.
So far I have run four Foundation courses in Bucharest using the English manual 1, the dictionary and an additional manual in Romanian containing the translated “yellow pages” (background information, hand shapes etc.
Feedback from course participants has been very positive.
Lidia, a special needs teacher wrote „Participating in this course I effectively entered a different world. And what I learned! For sure everything I learned I will use with the students I am working with.”
Although the majority of young educated Romanians understand English I want to make Signalong accessible to more Romanian people.
I am now trying to raise the funding required to have at least a Phase 1 manual complete with signing instructions produced in Romanian. If I can raise enough money I will have the dictionary translated too!
In addition to running Signalong courses in Bucharest I have been using Signalong with a teacher, Cristina Dumitru and pupils with speech and language problems in a special school near the city of Pitești. I have had huge personal satisfaction working with these children and seeing them absorb signing like a sponge.
Recently Cristina ( who I had met when she attended one of my Signalong courses) wrote to tell me that Luigi ( seen above with me) with whom she had been signing had instigated a “conversation” with another member of staff entirely of his own accord. What better news could I have received than that?