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Web users get a finger language class

Say more with your fingers than just 'Up yours!'

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Fancy learning a new language - with no need to go abroad to use it? And no, it's not Welsh...

Sense, a charity for the deafblind, is using YouTube and its own Website to encourage others to learn the "manual alphabet" that it calls Finger Lingo, and which works by spelling words out on the hand. It has put an instructional video on-line, claiming it's so easy to use that you could learn Finger Lingo in your lunch break.

The charity has done a study on public attitudes to the deafblind, and says 83 percent of the people it questioned believed it would be difficult for a person who is both deaf and blind to do things such as go to work, play a musical instrument, or produce art - yet they may be quite capable of any or all of these.

Tony Best, Sense's CEO, said that the blocking factor is that most people simply don't know how to communicate with someone who is both deaf and blind.

"We want to challenge the perceptions the public has of deafblind people, and by encouraging them to learn how to communicate with them, find out just how they get on with their lives," he said.

According to Sense, there are more than 27,000 deafblind people in the UK, and many thousands more who have a combination of sight and hearing problems.

Sense added that next week is Deafblind Awareness Week 2007, and its theme for this will be Hidden Talents - celebrating what deafblind people can do, rather than what they can't.

Among the events scheduled for the week are an exhibition of art created by deafblind students, a fund-raising dinner, and a wine and art auction to be held in total darkness.®

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