All Ears!

When a deaf or a hard of hearing child is born in a family parents need more information and help for years.

Some decades ago the deaf in Switzerland were not allowed by law to communicate in sign language. Today this is quite unthinkable. Research has proved that a bilingual education with the sign language as a second language is important and precious for the deaf and mute children for their education and everyday life. Right from the beginning a child has any possibility at hand in order to discover, improve and use the hearing and speaking skills. In North Korea the help for the deaf has been making progress, as the president of the registered association TOGETHER, an educational centre for deaf, blind and non-handicapped children in Hamhung told us and with which we have been collaborating in Pyongyang (s. February 2014 edition of our heart’s concern). Under his aegis two books about sign language were accomplished and will be printed soon. We are looking forward to presenting them in one of our next editions. Despite this progress the help for the deaf in North Korea has to overcome some more obstacles. This is energy-sapping and takes time, but we do not give up. A challenge is the lack of public information about the deaf. Being deaf and sign language mostly are no topic. The average citizen has not yet been in contact with the deaf and has no idea what a sign language is.

The first international day of the deaf on September 26, 2014 in the Taedonggang cultural centre of Pyongyang under the patronage of the World Federation of the Deaf and the motto ‘Strengthening the Human Diversity’ is a beginning. During the morning the deaf were visiting an exposition about Korean history. This was not unusual but thanks to the translation into the sign language the event was a memorable highlight for the thirty young people. In the afternoon with sports events and games they were experiencing fun, emotions, action and competition feeling. A volleyball team of deaf players met the team of the Korean Federation for the Protection of the Disabled (KFPD).

As the president of the Korean Sign Language Interpreters Association said: ‘The work of the National Association of the Deaf and of the Korean Sign Language Interpreters Association are inseparable, as if we are one family.’

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