Blog: Learning sign language – a huge step to inclusion
September 5, 2022

Blog: Learning sign language – a huge step to inclusion

People with hearing impairments are all around us. They might be your relatives, your friends or your neighbours. What do you know about them? What would you like to know about them? How easy is it for them to take part in everyday activities? These questions led us to the idea that we need to know more about the challenges they face and how we can help to overcome them. One of the solutions we found was learning sign language.

Therefore, as active Young European Ambassadors that promote the fundamental values of the European Union, such as inclusion and human rights, and in order to raise awareness about this topic, we organised the “Discover Sign Language” workshop. It was crucial for us to know basic words such as “Thank you” and “How can I help you?” to be able to interact with people with hearing impairments in public transport or on the streets. Through our event, we also wanted to raise awareness of the current situation that these people face. 

To understand better how we can contribute to a better inclusion of people with hearing difficulties, we reached out to the Association of the Deaf from Moldova, where we were introduced to Liliana Darii, a sign language interpreter who agreed to conduct the session that we organised. Before moving on to the practical exercises, she highlighted some of the main facts that we should know about people with impaired hearing.

First of all, people with hearing troubles might find themselves isolated from others and suffer from anxiety or depression. So, whenever you have the chance, support them emotionally and do not let them feel lonely. While communicating with them in sign language, it is important to maintain eye contact, use simple sentences and to mouth the words. 

We also learned about the shortage of sign language interpreters in Moldova. There are not enough specialists who can facilitate communication between people who are deaf or hard of hearing and those who can hear. According to the Association of the Deaf, for every 150 people with hearing impairments in Moldova, there is only one interpreter, while it is recommended to have 1 for 25 people. For those with impaired hearing, this shortage might mean they cannot work, study or get treated in a hospital easily.

All in all, this interactive workshop was a great opportunity to get introduced to sign language and the challenges faced by people with hearing impairments. Liliana Darii also provided some useful resources for those who want to deepen their knowledge and learn more words. Luckily, there are many online resources that can help you learn sign language, so you can learn the basics and be more inclusive when you meet someone with hearing impairments, or even start your path as a sign language interpreter and make their lives better daily. What do you say, would you accept our challenge by discovering the beauty of this special language?

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