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  • Writer's pictureMarium Nadeem

International sign language day – A day of the deaf, for the deaf

Updated: Aug 18, 2020

A day of the deaf, a day for the deaf 23rd September marks the celebration of International Sign Language – a day we, at ConnectHear, hold close to our hearts ever since we embarked on this journey.

For the tens of thousands of Deaf that continue to not be able to call for help, or remain more vulnerable to threatening encounters and incidents than the hearing, or are victims of exclusion because they struggle to navigate the services due to the reluctance of the hearing majority on inclusion, the consequences of the existing communication gap have been dramatically harsh. We realised the need for an effort to give Deaf people access to the same facilities and services that most of us continue to take for granted.

A first in the history of Deaf people, the International Sign Language day marks the commemoration of approximately 466 million Deaf individuals (World Health Organisation, Deafness and Hearing loss) from all corners of the world; a day that preserves their language of communication, their cultural diversity, and their unique identity. The full realisation of the rights of the deaf hinges at establishing communication between the hearing and Deaf individuals.

To value this day, we gathered at Lincoln Corner, Karachi with Deaf and hearing individuals to reflect on the history, values, and modern-day challenges of this community. In the name of raising sign language awareness, a positive interaction took place between the two where the hearing tried to understand what the deaf told them while the latter simultaneously taught them sign language. The hearing individuals interacted with them by interpreting their facial expressions, body language, and gestures. Each one of them took home the basics of sign language, its importance, traditions, and most of all, a feeling of unity.

The session was also streamed live on our Facebook page to make those who could not make it physically feel just as involved.

Throughout history, our mainstream culture has marginalised any group that they deem slightly different. The Deaf community is no exception to this norm. What exists is a dire need to change hearing attitudes towards deafness and instituting a social communication between the two communities to further the cause of harmony. By leading a social interaction between the two, the hearing gained an insight into deaf culture and a clearer understanding of the struggles that the deaf face within this conventional society.

On the event being a significant achievement for the Deaf community, one of the attendees said, “This is a very important day for us. There are so many of us everywhere and the prospect of observing and celebrating this day around the globe with those who understand me makes me happy.”

In the wake of this wholesome interaction on International Sign Language Day, we have achieved a significant milestone in our promise of deaf-inclusion and mission of reshaping the Deaf world.

For this year, make a vow to yourself to learn the basics of sign language, so that you can play a part in making our society deaf-inclusive.

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