Sound Friends sign language classes benefit from £1k grant

Paul Keenan (front right) pictured with Sound Friends members and Level 1 sign language students.
Paul Keenan (front right) pictured with Sound Friends members and Level 1 sign language students.

A Portadown mother has praised a local sign language group which offers peer support, education and social opportunities for children with hearing loss.

Mum of four, Sara Gilpin has just been successful in securing a Power NI’s Brighter Communities Fund grant of £1,000 for Sound Friends.

Sara said: “Our youngest child was born profoundly deaf and we joined Sound Friends in 2014 to help her take up the best opportunities in life as well as helping us chat and support our daughter at home, in school and in the wider community.

“Sound Friends had already embarked on a fundraising project to generate additional sign language classes and this £1000 grant from Power NI really makes a huge difference in helping us reach our target. Sign language classes are so important as they help people communicate with their children in school, at home and while liaising with all the different service teams in hospitals and in education.“

Sound Friends tutor Paul Keenan is profoundly deaf and has been a sign language user for many years.

“It’s a massive benefit for everyone in our classes to learn sign language so that they can fully communicate with their children or school pupils. As well as mums, dads, brothers and sisters, we have teachers, teaching assistants and activities coaches who are sign language students, all undertaking a Level One qualification. Once competent with signing, I notice that everyone is so much happier as communication is much easier and more enjoyable,” he said.