SNAPSHOT: Sign of the times

Four deaf students who achieved an award-winning IT qualification organised jointly by the RNID and Barclays spell out RNID in sign language. The course, Together IT works, won the most impressive community service programme award at the Institute of Financial Services' financial innovation awards last week. The course aims to help reduce the high levels of unemployment among deaf people. Nineteen per cent of deaf people are unemployed, according to RNID research, compared with 5 per cent of the general population. The winning training course uses communication aides, such as sign language interpreters, speech-to-text operators and lipspeakers, to help teach deaf students IT skills. John Low, chief executive of the RNID, said: "We are very proud that Together IT works has been recognised for its innovation and high levels of success. The shockingly high unemployment rate among deaf and hard of hearing people is a great waste of talent. IT skills are now a particular key to the job market. New text-based technologies such as email have created the opportunity for deaf and hard of hearing people to communicate on equal terms with hearing people." The RNID course beat off competition from Abbey National, BUPA and the Co-operative Bank.

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