BI students reinvigorated by sign language

  • Expressing themselves: Silent Praise, the Bermuda Institute sign language group, posed for a photograph before distancing practices for Covid-19 were put into place (Photograph supplied)

    Expressing themselves: Silent Praise, the Bermuda Institute sign language group, posed for a photograph before distancing practices for Covid-19 were put into place (Photograph supplied)


A group of pupils stuck at home because of the coronavirus crisis have used sign language lessons to cope with their isolation.

LaToya Tull, a Bermuda Institute teacher, said that the children had been able to bond with each other and former pupils through the extracurricular class “Silent Praise”.

She added that the youngsters from the Southampton school used sign language to express their feelings and strengthen their religious faith.

Ms Tull said: “I can’t even put the feeling into words because it’s just been so great for them.

“They have experienced the same hardships from this pandemic that have affected every single person, so just by them being able to call they’re finding that it helps them to address what they’re going through, and to talk and express themselves with this group.”

Ms Tull said that many pupils from the sign language class admitted that they were “cut off” from their friends and social life after the Covid-19 pandemic forced the closure of schools.

She added connection with their friends was important because they were still mourning classmate Kijani Burgess, who was 16 when he was killed in a road accident in January.

Ms Tull said: “For a lot of the students who are a part of this group, Kijani was their classmate and a very close friend.

She added that the sign language class had also been able to connect with former pupils in the class who have returned to the island because of the pandemic.

She explained: “The other students that had to return to the island also found out the Silent Praise was getting together, and they were invited into the Zoom classes.

“They are now looked upon as the leaders, so I as a teacher can take a little bit more of a backseat position.”

Ms Tull said Silent Praise used music to teach Bermuda Institute students lessons in American Sign Language.

The extracurricular class was designed to highlight the difficulties faced by people with hearing problems.

She added that the class used music to help pupils match the sign language with song lyrics.

She explained: “We find that they don’t forget the words of songs and so they never forget their signs.”

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Published May 29, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated May 29, 2020 at 8:19 am)

BI students reinvigorated by sign language

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