[lg policy] Make sign language officially recognised

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Mon Sep 24 11:37:24 EDT 2018


- Make sign language officially recognised [image: GOOD SIGNS: Quashiba La
Fleur of the TT Association for the Hearing Impaired presents a framed sign
language chart to Natasha Barrow, left, deputy Permanent Secretary of the
Ministry of Social Development during a media clinic and sign language
workshop last week. PHOTO BY AZLAN MOHAMMED]GOOD SIGNS: Quashiba La Fleur
of the TT Association for the Hearing Impaired presents a framed sign
language chart to Natasha Barrow, left, deputy Permanent Secretary of the
Ministry of Social Development during a media clinic and sign language
workshop last week. PHOTO BY AZLAN MOHAMMED

LAUREL V WILLIAMS

SIGN language should be recognised as an official language thereby ensuring
all stakeholders, including the deaf, have ready access to it and realise
their basic human rights.

This was the main message coming out of a media clinic and sign language
workshop hosted last week by the Social Development and Family Services
Ministry at the auditorium, Government Campus Plaza in Port of Spain.

Permanent secretary Natasha Barrow told the gathering that children and
their families ought to be exposed to sign language as a first option for
communication, during the earliest stages of their development.

“It would also be expected then, that the State would ensure that public
services, policies and other legislation, are compliant in this regard,”
she said. The theme of the event was, 'With sign language, everyone is
included.'

The ministry is hoping to bring awareness to media and communication
practitioners on the rights of people with disabilities. It was the first
media clinic on disabilities in commemoration of the UN’s International
Sign Language Day which was observed yesterday.

A draft policy on people with disabilities was laid in Parliament recently
and will soon be available for public consultation. One of the aims of this
policy is to ensure people with disabilities are guaranteed the same
freedoms and accessibility in areas of society than the average citizen.

“As representatives of the media and communication practitioners, I urge
you to place the policy in your schedule of programming so the national
community is kept abreast,” Barrow said.

Facilitators included Quashiba La Fleur of the TT Association for the
Hearing Impaired who shared information about interacting with people with
disabilities. According to her, “people-first language” emphasises the
person and not the disability. It eliminates generalisations and
stereotypes, by focusing on the person rather than the disability.

The facilitators offered “three golden rules” when interacting with people
with disabilities: ask before you help, always use people-first language
and treat people equal.

Flyers and brochures at the workshop had information about acceptable
language versus offensive language. It is acceptable to say a person with a
disability as opposed to a referring to such a person as physically
challenged or 'broko'. One must never use words such as retarded, dumb,
moon or crippled, facilitators at the workshop advised. There were also
trainers of the deaf and sign language interpreters at the workshop.
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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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