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Signs of the times . . . Pembroke School year 1 and 2 pupils enjoy learn ing sign language. PHOTO: SALLY BROOKER

Today is Loud Shirt Day and people across the country are committing fashion crimes to help raise awareness of, and funds for, deaf children learning to listen and speak.

It is the annual appeal of The Hearing House and the Southern Cochlear Implant Paediatric Programme, two charities dedicated to enabling deaf children with cochlear implants or hearing aids to listen and speak like their hearing peers.

Deaf pupils at Oamaru’s Pembroke School are being supported in multiple ways, in keeping with the school’s focus on inclusiveness, principal Brent Godfery said.

All pupils learn some sign language, and the classmates and teachers of the deaf pupils get extra tuition in it.

Sign language, a combination of hand shapes, facial expressions and body movements, became New Zealand’s third official language in 2006.

At Pembroke assemblies, songs, including the national anthem, are accompanied by signing.

The singing has become quieter as the pupils concentrate on their signing, Mr Godfery said.

Each deaf pupil is entitled to Ministry of Education funding, which is topped up by the van Asch Deaf Education Centre according to need, he said.

Pembroke has a teacher of the deaf and two teacher aides who provide classroom information to the deaf pupils throughout each school day.

The aides are also furthering their own sign language skills through distance learning.

Mr Godfery said they were very dedicated to their role and to the pupils they worked with.

Year 1 and 2 teacher Louise Fleming, whose class includes a deaf pupil, said the rest of her pupils had picked up sign language very quickly.

“The children fully embrace it.”

The school was pleased to promote sign language and proud that its pupils would continue to use it to the end of their schooling with their deaf peers and each other, she said.