We’ve teamed up with Women in Sport to celebrate Deaf Awareness Week from 6-12 May 2019. We’ll be sharing case studies from female sporting role models, who are doing great work in their communities to improve opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people to be more active.
First up is Jane Cosgrove, a Level 3 British Gymnastics coach from Maidenhead. Jane teaches women’s artistic gymnastics, pre-school gymnastics and trampolining, she works at Phoenix Gymnastics Club.
“Deaf Awareness week means a lot to me. Now that I have first hand experience of teaching a young deaf child it has shown me how much of a difference we can make. While teaching at one particular school I was glad to see that the children are now learning Makaton as part of their year 2 studies. I believe learning sign language should be more widely promoted within the curriculum.
“Just over a year ago a parent of one of our squad members expressed her sadness at the fact that her youngest child couldn’t take part in our pre school gym classes due to a profound hearing impairment. Although Ellie has cochlear implants, they make little difference to her hearing as she also suffers with auditory neuropathy. Ellie had just turned 3 and seeing how talented her sister is, I felt that it would be such a shame to not give Ellie a try in our classes.
“Initially I asked her mother to be our interpreter during classes. However it quickly became evident that we really didn’t need her. Ellie is very good at watching and copying, which is they key to picking up those basic skills in a pre school environment. Then using the Sign BSL mobile application I began to learn basic sign language. Delighted that I had started to sign with her, Ellie started to sign back and rapidly exhausted my BSL vocabulary!
“Ellie came along for a trampolining trial with me, which she loved. Knowing that she would be having classes with me made me realise that using an app for ad hoc words was not going to be enough. I felt that I owed it to Ellie to take things a little further so I signed up for the BSL level 1 course. My colleague Sarah, who also coaches Ellie, decided that she would like to do the same. We have both started the course. It is tough, especially when the only person we can really practice on is Ellie and we only see her once a week.
“In the gym we have the BSL alphabet on the wall along with laminates showing common words. For trampolining I have laminates with some of the basic trampolining moves that I can use in conjunction with signing.
“Teaching someone a hearing impairment can be a challenge, but I’m so pleased that we have chosen to do so. Making a difference to someone’s life, who would have been otherwise excluded. That’s job satisfaction.
“You never know when a deaf child/individual will enter our lives. See it as an opportunity to enhance not just their lives but also your own. By learning even just a few simple sign language words, that individual will know that you care.”