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- Dubai 05:31 06:49 12:14 15:11 17:33 18:52
On the occasion of the International Day of Sign Languages, which falls on 23rd September, and themed “Global language we speak with our fingers,” and within the efforts of the Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination (ZHO) to disseminate Emirati sign language among all members of society, and in order to disseminate the only method that facilitates communication with people of determination from the deaf category, ZHO is undertaking an initiative in cooperation with the Higher Colleges of Technology with the participation of students and staff.
This aims at introducing the deaf and their culture and encouraging normal people of all age groups to learn and use sign language.
The initiative is designed to spread awareness of the use of sign language and introduce the deaf category, enhance the mental, oral and gestural development of those with special abilities, support and protect their linguistic identity and cultural diversity and other users of sign language.
This is in addition to helping them integrate into society, and working to develop their social, cognitive and cultural relationships, as well as curbing the internal and psychological pressures suffered by those with lack of speech and hearing.
The initiative is being carried out and documented in coordination and cooperation with the administration of the Higher Colleges of Technology, with the participation of students and staff, with the aim of introducing the deaf and their culture and encouraging normal people of all age groups to learn and use sign language for the deaf.
The initiative includes a number of scenes to monitor the reaction of the targeted students. The first is a collection of Arabic and American Sign Languages booklets, containing still and animated images that open using the code. They are placed on the reception table at the main entrance, and when students and staff enter, each picks up a copy of the booklet to satisfy their curiosity about sign language. They will have side conversations between them, review the booklet, try to imitate pictures with signs, and use the code to open it.
The second scene is in the outdoor courtyard, a dialogue between two students on the nature of sign language. They review the booklet and one of them goes with imitating the sign and asks a friend in sign language “How are you?”, who answers in sign language “I am fine”, with amusement, astonishment and curiosity appear on their faces.
The third scene is in the college canteen, between three female students conversing in American Sign Language (ASL) through a booklet. The first says in American English, “What is your name?”, the second answer by spelling her name in English letters, and the third also tries to spell her name in English letters, and signs of happiness to learn this language appear on their faces.
The scenes continue, varying in location, from classrooms to lecturers' and administration's offices, until they wrap up with a general scene in one of the places on campus, where a number of students and staff gather, saying in American and Arabic Sign Languages, "Together we celebrate on the International Day of Sign Languages."
Shaima Al-Hanaki, Director of the Hearing Disability Project at ZHO, asserted that that people of determination, especially the deaf, receive ZHO’s best care in implementation of the directives of our wise leadership.
She thanked the administration of the Higher Colleges of Technology and the students for their fruitful and distinct cooperation with ZHO to carry out the initiative, a matter which contributes to introducing students and staff to sign language as a means of communication between the deaf and members of society.
“Sign language conveys an effective message to everyone that pluralism and diversity in communication on this day is necessary for all. It facilitates communication between the deaf and others, conveys their mutual feelings, helps them express their different needs, reinforces their mental, oral and gestural development. It also curbs their internal and psychological pressures, develops their social, cognitive and cultural relationships, and frees them from fear, depression and frustration,” Al-Hanaki said.
Emirati Sign Language Dictionary for the Deaf
ZHO highlighted the importance of raising community awareness about the issues of people of determination of the deaf group and ensuring their rights in society. It works to disseminate the Emirati Sign Language among all members of society. In this vein, ZHO adopts a myriad of initiatives designed to integrate and empower the deaf group, including the launch of the Emirati Sign Language Dictionary for the Deaf, which contains local Emirati Sign Language terminology and documents them in an approved dictionary under the slogan “For Unified Emirati Sign Language Dictionary” to empower and integrate the deaf group into society and disseminate their language, especially Emirati vocabulary, in Emirati Sign Language, which is great achievement in the field of caring for people of determination statewide.
Sign Language Courses
ZHO delivered a series of training courses for employees of a number of government and private departments, institutions, bodies and companies, in addition to community members, to train and teach them sign language for the deaf. It also carried out an educational programme to train candidates from various departments and institutions of the Government of Abu Dhabi in sign language.
Cooperation with ADJD
Another initiative was launched by ZHO in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) to provide a new service for the deaf customers and visitors of the ADJD, courts and prosecution offices, by providing simultaneous interpretation in sign language by linking ZHO and ADJD through a closed circuit television through which the assistance of ZHO’s sign language interpreters are sought while they are at their workplace without the need for them to move to the ADJD’s headquarters to deliver the service.
Emirati-Chinese Joint Sign Language Dictionary
ZHO signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Disabled Persons' Federation (CDPF) on developing and exchanging experiences between the two sides with respect to services provided to people of determination. Within the framework of enhancing cooperation between the two sides, an initiative was announced to launch a joint dictionary page for the Chinese and Emirati Sign Languages, “The Emirati-Chinese Sign Language Dictionary Project”, as the first initiative of strategic partnership and the first instance of bilateral cooperation between ZHO and CDPF, aimed at achieving social and cultural communication between the deaf in the two countries. The initiative supports the initiatives to implement the Abu Dhabi's Strategy for People of Determination.
Study Disciplines for the Deaf in Universities
On the other hand, ZHO signed a number of memorandums of understanding with universities in the state, including Abu Dhabi University, Zayed University, Al Ain University of Science and Technology, and UAE University on coordinating their efforts to prepare a number of specialisations at the bachelor’s level for students of determination, including the deaf students, in a way that suits their inclinations and abilities, through which universities work to provide a friendly and nurturing university environment for them, and to develop local communities, with a focus on people of determination, their families, and their communities.
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