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Language: English / Gàidhlig


Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Meeting of the Parliament 09 May 2017

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Forensic Examination, Literacy, Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1, Point of Order, Business Motion, Decision Time, Food Banks


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Good afternoon. Our first item of business is time for reflection, for which our leader is Jemma Skelding, who is a pupil at Falkirk high school and a British Sign Language user.

Jemma Skelding

(simultaneous interpretation from British Sign Language) Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament, thank you very much for your kind invitation. My name is Jemma Skelding. I am 12 years old and I am profoundly deaf. As you can see, I use British Sign Language, and Mary McDevitt will translate into English for you all.

I am especially happy to be here for time for reflection today because next week is deaf awareness week, which will run from 15 to 21 May.

My mum and dad are both deaf and I have an older sister who is deaf and has special needs. At home, I grew up using sign language. In fact, I thought that everyone could sign. It was not until I went to Olivebank nursery that I met people who could not sign. At the nursery, people used gesture, which was fine.

I then went to Wallyford nursery, where for half a day every week everyone learned some sign language. That was a really happy time for me. I was with my friends and I just felt like everyone else. We joked and we laughed a lot. We even had special sign names for each other. When the time came, we all moved on to Wallyford primary school together.

It was not until I was in primary 3 that I noticed things change. My friends would all talk with each other, but I felt left out. I do not think that that was because they did not like me; I think that it was just too difficult for them to communicate with me. I remember one girl in my class having a birthday party, and all my friends were invited. However, I did not get an invite. The girl’s mum had said that she would not know what to do with a deaf girl in her house overnight. By primary 4, I was really unhappy and I was very lonely.

My mum and dad could see that that was really hard for me and how sad I was. It had been completely different for them, as they both went to a deaf school and had lots of friends. That is when they decided that I should go and live with my dad. That was in 2014. I moved to Windsor Park school and I met other deaf children. When I got there, all the teachers and children could sign. I was really pleased to meet them, and that is where I met my best friend.

I now go to Falkirk high school, which has full-time communication support workers, and I enjoy school very much. We did a project on the Scottish Parliament and even came for a visit.

Thank you for reflecting on my school experiences.