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  • Writer's pictureMarium Nadeem

Mastering Pakistani Sign Language

Updated: Aug 18, 2020

While in conversation with a Deaf friend, he said, “My dream college refused me admission on the grounds of an absence of a sign language interpreter.” A Deaf man was shot dead by the police on the pretext of not obeying commands despite yells of “he can’t hear” from neighbours. All of these are real life instances that happened to real people in real time.

Now imagine living in a world a world where you are conventionally viewed as “lacking” and unnecessarily pitied where you are constantly frustrated of trying to express what you feel or communicating your needs to others unless you are handed a pen and a paper. You visit a service provider but they fail to understand you. Imagine experiencing pain but the nurse misinterprets you. Imagine feeling isolated and neglected from your parents because they do not recognise how you feel. This is exactly the kind of challenging, marginalised world the Deaf live in; real life scenarios that on average approximately 10 million Pakistanis who are profoundly Deaf or hard of hearing face.

To foster empowerment and the evolutionary desire of independence, we have conducted Pakistan Sign Language programmes, seminars and classes across the 3 major cities of Pakistan – Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. After having successfully trained more than 400 individuals, we conducted Sign Languages classes yet again this year in a 2-levelled course curriculum – Beginner and Intermediate. These classes were directed every weekend for 2 hours each day for a total period of 2 months by Ahmed Khan, Eman Ehsan, Kamran Lashani, Urooj Salman our talented sign language trainers.

Whether knowingly or unknowingly, we have all used sign language in its rudimentary forms; in waving your hand to hail a cab, in pointing at an object to make it noticeable or when cutting through the noise in a crowd to silence it with the hush of your finger. When someone you love is born Deaf, or lost their hearing as a result of an illness or trauma, you can form a meaningful connection with them through learning sign language. The Deaf have faced multiple challenges be it in the form of the stigmatised lens with which they are viewed or with the gap that exists in employment and educational opportunities. In the hearing-centric society of today, it is important for us to identify that this community should not be sheltered and the right to make conversation should not be limited to the hearing. In day to day conversations, the Deaf are often dismissed, particularly in light of the language limitation that exists. With PSL training, the goal is for parents, educators and service providers to be able to interact with them freely and fluently.

“I would waste my weekends at home lounging around or getting bored but then, I decided to join these classes by ConnectHear. Before taking these classes, I knew very little sign language but through the course, I participated with other hearing learners and learnt sign language properly in a fun and interactive way,” said Talal Asad, our student from Lahore.

By continuing to create awareness about the Deaf Culture, promoting their identity and conducting our PSL classes, we hope to herald a new beginning for the Deaf community in the years to come. With a vision to empower, ease communication and maximise opportunities, we hope to provide a route for Deaf children and adults into the mainstream world.

It looks like a great day to learn a new language and build your skillset sign up here and let your hands do the talking!

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