19 Minutes Ago –
INTERNATIONAL Day of Sign Languages will be observed on Friday, and we are taking the opportunity to raise awareness and support deaf people and other sign language users, as well as encourage members of the public to consider learning sign language.
Sign language is the primary mode of communication used by the deaf and hard of hearing. The last census in TT gave a figure of 7,759 people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Internationally, according to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are more than 70 million deaf people worldwide. Many of these people are dependent on sign language as their means of interacting with others. For many people who are born deaf, sign language is their first language, and it is important for them to be able to effectively communicate with not only family members, but in the wider society.
It is useful for people to learn sign language to be able to communicate with the deaf and hard of hearing people as it allows the sharing of information and access to services. For people who are deaf, it helps knowing that they can communicate with someone to order a meal or go shopping on their own and be independent without being accompanied by an interpreter all the time. The deaf community has so much to offer and learning and using sign language allows people to tap into and learn from their experiences.
Still not convinced? Did you know that learning sign language provides all the same benefits as learning a foreign language? Bilingualism (whether signed or spoken) is a great brain booster that strengthens cognitive function.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises and promotes the use of sign languages as equal in status to spoken languages. People who are deaf or hard of hearing are entitled to the right to live full and complete lives. Knowing and using sign language promotes inclusivity and for deaf people and the hard of hearing community, inclusivity means being afforded the same opportunity to access all services, often with the use of reasonable accommodation. Professional organisations can use sign language in their promotional material or promote the learning of sign language and create an opportunity to hire the best talent, which can include deaf people.
In 2017, the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) enlisted the National Centre for Persons with Disabilities to train members of staff in sign language to increase our capacity to deliver service to all members of society. …….