Falkirk pupils to star in television documentary

Teacher Gillian Bennie and pupil use sign language to communicate
Teacher Gillian Bennie and pupil use sign language to communicate

Pupils are about to become stars of the small screen.

Youngsters at Windsor Park School in Falkirk feature in a television documementary on Thursday promoting the importance of sign language.

The Battle for BSL to be broadcast on The Community Channel at 7.30pm tells the story of how British Sign Language has developed since the 15th Century when it was used by Princess Joanna, the deaf daughter of King James 1 of Scotland, to the ground breaking Act passed last year by the Scottish Parliament which has given BSL legal status.

Under the terms of the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act, it and public bodies must now draw up national and local plans to promote the use of BSL in areas ranging from education to public services.

The 30-minute programme commissioned by the British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust will also feature on Film4 on Monday and be repeated on the BSL Zone website.

The term ‘BSL’ was coined by Mary Brennan, a lecturer at Moray House College in Edinburgh, in 1975.

Windsor Park headteacher Cathie Finestone was one of her students. In the programme she says: “At that time the children using sign language were classed as ‘oral failures’. These were children really that the system was failing. From then I quickly realised how important sign language was for them.”

Kirsty Craig, one of the parents who took part in the programme, said: “Sign language is the only way for us to communicate properly with our deaf son.”