Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Lost in translation no more

With fewer than 100 registered sign language interpretors in the country, communication can be a challenge for the deaf and the mute. But the Malaysian Federation of the Deaf is determined to do what it can to change this.

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MFD is run by people who are themselves deaf, who communicate through sign language or the use of visual gestures and signs instead of words.

A woman gestures at other staff members as they converse about daily matters in the office.

Not many in the country know or understand sign language, but it is the primary mode of communication here at MFD.

One of the goals of MFD is to help more people learn to use sign language. With Covid-19 still spreading throughout the country, though, classes have been moved online.

Several instructors share this room at MFD where online courses are taught to hearing students who wish to learn sign language.

It’s not easy to teach sign language online as instructors need to spell out their students’ names using hand gestures whenever they address them.

Tadika Istika Jaya was one of MFD’s early efforts to help deaf children receive an education through sign language. The teachers here are trained professionals who teach these special needs children how to communicate in sign language.

A teacher helps deaf children learn the alphabet at Tadika Istika Jaya.

A compilation of portraits showing some of the students, who are cheerful and eager to learn despite their disabilities.

A teacher helps one of the children form the correct sign with his hand.

Another child gestures, putting to practice what he has just learnt.

A teacher shows another child a picture of a mouth, and how to match it with the correct sign.

The children are also encouraged to be independent, and to learn how to tidy up and keep away their learning materials once class is over.

At lunch-time, they chat and laugh like any other children, using sign language to communicate with each other.

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