KUCHING (Feb 21): Early childhood education institutions in Sarawak are encouraged to provide early exposure to sign languages and also for government to consider making Malaysian Sign Language (BIM) an elective subject in school.
These were among the issues raised during the ‘Deaf Empowerment Workshop 2022’ held at a hotel here from Feb 18 to 20, joined by 50 participants from over 20 associations and government agencies.
“It is one of the efforts to support the development of Malaysian Sign Language (BIM) in the state and the federal government, through Ministry of Education (MoE), has a special school in Jalan Matang here, teaching sign language,” said Assistant Minister of Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development II Mohammad Razi Sitam.
He also commended Dr Anthony Chong from Universiti Malaya, who is deaf, and his team for their effort and congratulated them for publishing the first complete sign language dictionary in the country.
Meanwhile, Sarawak Social Welfare Department director Noriah Ahmad said BIM has become the main focus as it is the way for the deaf community to communicate with others, and that they hope to have a minimal target of at least 50 per cent of students acquiring the skills of sign language.
“Targeted BIM course for specific groups such as healthcare workers has also been proposed,” she added.
She said Minister of Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah had made the call for early childhood education institutions to provide early exposure to sign languages during a workshop titled ‘Voices to be Heard’ held in September last year.
The Deaf Empowerment Workshop 2022 which ended yesterday witnessed 50 participants from over 20 associations and government agencies, including Sarawak Society for the Deaf (SSD), Malaysian Sign Language and Deaf Studies Association (MyBIM) and Sarawak Deaf Youth Association (SWDY).