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Thursday 19 September 2019
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Never too old to learn

Chairman of Autism Tobago and member of the Tobago Council for Persons with Disabilities Ria Paria, left, shares a light moment with Colin Martin after presenting him with his certificate of participation during the graduation ceremony for participants of the sign language class at the Red Cross Building Signal Hill, last week.
Chairman of Autism Tobago and member of the Tobago Council for Persons with Disabilities Ria Paria, left, shares a light moment with Colin Martin after presenting him with his certificate of participation during the graduation ceremony for participants of the sign language class at the Red Cross Building Signal Hill, last week.

COLIN MARTIN believes one is never too old to learn.

Martin, 62, was among five men who graduated last week from a sign language class, organised by the Tobago Council for Persons With Disabilities and the Division of Health Wellness and Family Development.

The class, which ran from July 8 to August 9 at the Happy Haven School for children with special needs, Signal Hill, had approximately 60 participants.

Speaking to Newsday after the ceremony, which was held at the Red Cross Building, Signal Hill, Martin said learning is a lifelong process.

He said he learnt about the sign language class from his wife and decided to enrol.

“I found it would have been something interesting and new to learn and I found it very informative,” he said.

Martin said he has since put his knowledge to use.

He shared a story of the difficulties he once faced in communicating with a woman who sells snacks at the Scarborough port.

“In order to get her attention, I have to actually be in front of her and I have to speak slowly. But, it was a joy a couple of days ago when I was going down to Trinidad, to stand in front of her and actually spell my name out. She was elated.”

Martin said before he learnt sign language it was disheartening not being able to communicate with the woman.

“Being able to spell my name out was a breakthrough moment for me.”

Martin said he has always liked sign language.

“I have never berated the person who is doing it. I have felt sorry, sympathetic for those who cannot speak and can sign.”

He said in the past, he has often felt left out in not being able to communicate effectively with them.

Martin quipped sign language also “cuts down on a lot of quarrelling.”

The participants in the sign language class, which included children and adults, were divided into two groups. Classes were held on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Organisers are hoping to host the class annually for the next five years.

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