Guyana Deaf

Charles Butler chazzer3332000 at YAHOO.COM
Tue Oct 22 22:33:23 UTC 2002

Dear Pastor Larry Hallahan,
I would hope that the first thing you do is work with the Deaf themselves, encouraging the authorities to realize that most of the Deaf are not mentally handicapped, they simply can't hear.
To create a uniform language will require much patience, and linguists who will be non-judgmental and able to watch the Deaf from many institutions create their own language.  If you remove them from a mental institution without warning, many of them, like Deaf in the U.S. 50-75 years ago, they are going to go through the same withdrawal symptoms and dependency upon authority as many non-handicapped, but not speaking the primary language in the U.S. find themselves marginalized.
Be prepared to be patient, to be frustrated, to be open to incredible information, and be prepared to learn.  If the Guyana Deaf are to be treated with respect, then their language, in its variations, needs to be respected, and enabled to become uniform by degrees, not by declaration.
The Guyanan Deaf need to be recognized as independent of other Deaf communities, so one needs to be prepared to work with a language which is NOT ASL, or British Sign Language, or any other language you may be prepared for.
It will have its own grammar, its own thought processes, for which Sign Writing is ideal in actually recording the language of use, not the imposed language from without.  The experience of the Bluefields School of Nicaragua may be ideal in this respect as Nicaraguan Sign Language is NOT continental Spanish Sign Language for example.
I hope this helps in philosophy as you start.
Rev. Charles Butler

 Valerie Sutton <Sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG> wrote:SignWriting List
October 21, 2002

From: Plhallahan at
Subject: Guyana Deaf

I am going to the country of Guyana, South America very soon for an extended stay. I want begin to get the Deaf out of the institutions they are in. I will be using ASL since some of the teachers in the country know ASL already. I know that there are many Deaf who are put in Mentally Handicapped institutions in the country. Our goal is to see if we can standardize the Deaf language so that all the Deaf will be able to communicate through the whole country.

I have downloaded some of the software about Sign Writing and am interested in how it may help me to reach and teach the Deaf.

Pastor Larry Hallahan
Plhallahan at

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