A Kilmacrennan schoolgirl and her mum are teaching an online community how to sign – one word at a time!
Ten-year-old TaylorBeth and her mum Alison McFadden have attracted the attention of some of Ireland’s top celebrities with their unique Instagram page ‘SignToHear’.
The page features daily videos where TaylorBeth teaches followers a new word in ISL. More recently she has been getting a helping hand from well-known celebs such as Laura Whitmore, Amy Huberman, Aisling Bea and Donegal’s own Noel Cunningham. Irish stars have been eager to appear as guest signers and pick up some new skills.
TaylorBeth was born with profound deafness and now has a cochlear implant, but ‘SignToHear’ has become her way to brush up on her signing skills.
For her mum Alison, the page is an accessible way for everyone to gain a little more deaf awareness.
Alison tells DW: “We decided to do a word a day for Deaf Awareness Month in September and we were shocked by the response. We’ve been getting so many messages from people who say they always wanted to learn sign language and this makes it easy for them every day.
“We want to get the word out there so, on a whim, I messaged local people in Donegal and celebrities, we were shocked by who we got replies from right away. Having the support of people like Laura Whitmore and Amy Huberman really spurred us on.”
The project was supposed to last for 30 days, but Alison and TaylorBeth have been asked to keep going and they are already planning to demonstrate Christmas words!
“We have teachers in America logging on everyday and signing the sign and even local pre-schools are joining in. From children in pre-school learning at such an early age is unbelievable,” Alison said.
The page has also become a place of support for new parents after their baby is diagnosed with deafness.
Alison and her husband John have been happy to share knowledge from their own experiences. They had never met anyone with hearing loss before they had TaylorBeth.
“She was 18 months before we found out she was officially deaf,” Alison explained. “She was given hearing aids but because she was profoundly deaf they were never going to work for her. So we had to go down the route of sign language to communicate with her because we knew it would be a year to a year and a half before we could get the cochlear implant. She took to sign language really well and we were learning too.”
“Over the lockdown I was getting a lot more messages from parents from people who had just had babies this year and found out their baby was deaf. They couldn’t meet people so they came to us. The page lets them know it’s not as bad as what it might first seem,” Alison said.
TaylorBeth is now enjoying rediscovering ISL as she shares signing with others. Her brother Flynn, who is five, is also enjoying helping with the demonstrations.
TaylorBeth isn’t getting phased by her newfound fame either, Alison says, even after they appeared on Ireland AM last week.
“She takes it all in her stride. I don’t think it’s dawned on her yet how big it has actually gotten.”
If you would like to learn some ISL with TaylorBeth, make sure to follow and share the SigntoHear page on Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/signtohear/