September 17 at 08:00
A five-year-old girl who recently became one of the youngest people in the country to receive an official certificate for her British Sign Language skills has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award -
Evie Gavin, from Bacup in Lancashire, is one of this year’s shortlisted nominees for the Young Learner of the Year award, in the 2013 Signature Annual Awards.
Each year charity and leading awarding body for deaf communications, Signature, honours those who are striving to break down barriers between deaf and hearing people.
This year Evie will be the youngest nominee in Signature Annual Awards history, joining nominees in other categories including Teacher of the Year, Learner of the Year, Community Spirit, Organisational Achievement, Communication Professional of the Year and the Joseph Maitland Robinson Award for Outstanding Contribution.
Evie, who signed her first word, milk, aged only 10 weeks, was nominated for passing the first unit of the Signature Level 1 Award in British Sign Language (BSL) at only five-years-old.
Initially taught to sign by her mother, Ayesha Gavin - who was born profoundly deaf and specialises in BSL/academic English translation to degree level across a range of disciplines - Evie is looking forward to continuing her BSL education.
Evie worked hard to pass her first assessment, and her family are incredibly proud that she has passed at such a young age. She was presented with her first Signature certificate by her headmaster, at a special assembly in front of the school.
Ayesha said: “We’re so proud of Evie, she’s so happy that she’s passed, this is a fantastic achievement.
“Her deaf awareness is also very good and she is a great help to me when we are out of the house. She’s also a very inquisitive girl and is often asking what I will be teaching in my classes so she can try it herself.
“There is really no difference between Evie and a child growing up in a bi-lingual home. BSL is a hugely expressive and creative language; the only difference is that BSL is tactile and visual, rather than auditory.”
Studies have shown that children up to the age of seven find it easier to grasp new concepts such as language. It is widely recognised that this period of time in an individual’s life offers the highest potential to successfully learn a new language, and that as the brain further develops its linguistic pathways become more rigid, making the learning of new languages more difficult.
Jim Edwards, Signature Chief Executive, said: “It’s brilliant to see young children learning BSL, it was a great moment for Evie and for Signature when she passed her first assessment, and Evie is a great role model for children across the country.
“It’s always encouraging when children take up BSL, to create an open society and improved communication between deaf and hearing people.”