‘Strictly Come Signing’ came to Redbridge on Tuesday, 2 July, with a competition for sign language choirs at Hawkey Hall in Woodford Green.
The competition, sponsored by the National Deaf Children’s Society and hearing technology manufacturer Oticon, invited schools from across the Borough of Redbridge to perform their favourite songs using signing, singing and dancing.
Pupils from 14 different schools have been practicing since January for the competition, using British Sign Language, Makaton and Sign Supported English.
The ‘Strictly Come Signing’ competition was organised by Roding Primary School and the specialist team for deaf children at Redbridge Council.
TV presenter and sign language campaigner Wayne Barrow hosted the event. Wayne is the founder of the Wayne Barrow Academy, which works to teach people sign language through music.
The event was also attended by the Mayor of Redbridge, Councillor Zulfiqar Hussain, who gave a speech and helped award the prizes.
The competition’s judges were Liz Hunt, Head of Access and Inclusion at Redbridge Council’s Advisory Service for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Children, Lizzie Cordwell, a deaf teaching assistant at Roding Primary School, Steven Gardiner, a deaf staff member of the National Deaf Children’s Society, and Ceri Molyneux, who is the parent of a deaf child and a former Roding Primary School pupil.
Sue McMahon and Johanna Man of Roding Primary School, who led the team organising the event, said:
“The aim of our competition was to promote the value of sign as a way of enhancing communication.
“Through using sign in a creative way, we hope people will see what a beautiful and rich language it is and how important it is to the Deaf community. We hoped to show how easy it is to learn and use sign and how just a few signs with a person who finds communicating through speech difficult, can help them to understand.
“The event went really well. It was really inspiring watching the choirs perform, knowing that the deaf audience members were getting as much from it as the hearing people. I think we have proved that not only can signing be fun, but it can also make people feel valued and included.”