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Oscar winning film demonstrates the importance of Communication for Life

Seashell Trust was delighted to see The Silent Child named best live action short film at last night’s Oscars. The British film tells the story of Libby, a profoundly deaf four year old who struggles to communicate until she is taught sign language by a social worker.  It features Maisie Sly in the title role, a six year old from Swindon who is also profoundly deaf.

The Silent Child highlights the barriers to education that deaf children can face and how learning to communicate can transform lives. These are themes that resonate with our charity and ethos of teaching ‘Communication for Life’.  As the film depicts, being unable to communicate can be intensely frustrating and isolating, limiting interactions with other people as well as the wider world. 

Seashell Trust was originally founded as a school for the deaf. The majority of our children and young people have a hearing impairment, in addition to blindness, autism, physical disabilities, multiple learning difficulties or significant brain damage.  Most arrive at the charity with little or no communication ability, but learn how to express themselves to others with the support of our hard-working, dedicated staff team.

Specialist staff including a team of therapists work with each individual to develop their preferred choice of communication. Being able to communicate enables our children and young people to interact with their families and the environment, often for the first time. This in turn enables much greater control of their lives and independence.

All Seashell Trust staff, whether they have contact with our students or not, are required to learn British Sign Language (BSL), the first or preferred language of thousands of deaf people in the UK.  The charity delivers a range of signing courses for external participants which include Makaton and Signalong, in addition to BSL.

The Silent Child was written by former Hollyoaks actress Rachel Shenton who used sign language in her acceptance speech. Shenton was inspired to write the film by her father, who went deaf after receiving treatment for chemotherapy when she was 12.  She has become a qualified BSL Interpreter and ambassador for the National Deaf Children's Society.

Shenton said: "Our movie is about a deaf child being born into a world of silence. It's not exaggerated or sensationalised for the movie.

"This is happening. Millions of children all over the world live in silence and face communication barriers, and particularly access to education.

"Deafness is a silent disability. You can't see it and it's not life threatening so I want to say the biggest of thank yous to the Academy for allowing us to put this in front of a mainstream audience."

Find out more about how Seashell Trust supports children and young people with complex needs to develop communication skills for life.

View upcoming signing training courses at Seashell Trust.