How to Support the Deaf Community

Today is the International Volunteer Day! We thank every volunteer for their valuable and great effort put in towards helping D/deaf and Hard of hearing.

However, we would like to share our advice to those hearing people who wish to volunteer for and/or with Deaf for the first time. Also, those who wish to form an interest group as a means to help D/deaf. This could be possibly challenging for them. Sometimes, they might not grasp the implications (such as cultural appropriation, disrespect) of their choices when they start volunteering.

What is volunteerism to you? Volunteerism is defined as providing time and skills for the benefit of other people and causes, rather than for financial benefit. However, this is more than just volunteering as deafness does not mean a hearing disability alone. Unfortunately, many of you think that it needs to be fixed or compensated, as in accordance to the medical model of disability.

You have to be an ALLY with Deaf; there is a way of supporting the Deaf Community. You need to be aware of Singapore Sign Language by listening and learning about Deaf culture and their histories, as well as sign languages.

+ Empower Deaf people by giving them opportunities
+ Recommend Deaf artists, content creators, entrepreneurs, media producers, and writers, to your companies
+ Support and/or buy from Deaf artists, business owners and entrepreneurs
+ Getting the Deaf person to be part of your work

Cultural appropriation defines as “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand and respect this culture”. Its examples (of Deaf-Culturally appropriating) include:

– Create Sign Language art
– Teach Sign Language (for your own benefit)
– Buy products (such as the “I-LOVE-YOU” sign products or sign language art) from hearing business owners
*Video clips are attached for your better understanding:

Cultural Appropriation of Sign Language for the Game show
Cultural Appropriation of Auslan in Song-Signing for the Voice
Cultural Appropriation of Sign Language Art

Deaf-Cultural appropriation could be avoided:
“Is the business deaf-owned? If not, who created those Deaf culture products?”
“Is the artist deaf or hearing? Did they pay them? Is the hearing artist involved in the deaf community?”
“Will the profits from those products be donated to the Deaf or deaf community? How much?”

SAVIOUR COMPLEX
With the kind intention of helping deaf people by creating Deaf culture products or other avenues, you inadvertently harm the deaf community. This approach includes making resources without checking to see what kind of resources the deaf community already has. Also, the deaf community’s input on their works is not considered valuable because they feel that they know the best for them. Lastly, spreading information about Deaf culture without knowing, understanding and respecting cultures & languages adds insult to the injury (due to the oppression the D/deaf have experienced for centuries).

We, Deaf, do not need to be saved.
Please support our Deaf ecosystem. Just acknowledge our abilities beyond our deafness.

Lived Intersections #1 @A Good Space

Grateful to A Good Space for the opportunity to let us share and explore mental health with the participants who had joined us on 31 October 2020.

Representing the Deaf Community, I shared my thoughts, opinions and feelings in light of COVID-19. Not only me, but there are other 6 speakers concerning migrant workers, environmental concerns, the trans community, and invisible conditions. You can take a look at the key insights from this link.

If you have anything to contribute, you can drop us an email at contact@eohorizons.com. Alternatively, you can check us out at our Facebook Page.

Volunteering with Deaf (2019)

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A wefie; around me are Donny, Grace, Jiahui, Janika and Xueting (from left to right) posing together on the school stage.

We’re grateful to Raffles Community Advocates for putting in efforts to create awareness about Deafness in different ways, and to experience working with Deaf. Some students were assigned to learn basic Sign Language (obviously SEE2) from TOUCH Silent Club, in order to communicate, especially with Donny and me. There was another group of students who learnt to song-sign for the SPARK Concert that happened last two weeks. I was to play the duet with Janika for the first time; this gave her another experience.

You might be wondering how you could volunteer with Deaf. It may be slightly different from volunteering FOR Deaf. This time, it looks more at interacting with Deaf.

After contacting the network of volunteers on my side, most of them couldn’t help us because of their studies, work and family commitments. However, I managed to get Grace and Jiahui to help us out, especially Donny. He needs visual cues to support his solo dance, and his part in our duet performance.

Grace had no knowledge about deafness and Sign Language. But sign language videos were sent to her two weeks before the concert. She had to learn numbers in Sign Language, that were needed for his dance solo. It was actually easy to learn numbers on the spot. On his last dance practice, Grace, Donny and I met for the first time. Donny and Grace worked together with each other for some time. This was to help them become familiar with the dance routine, as well as his challenges.

Jiahui is currently learning Sign Language from Deaf and interacting with deaf people for some time. Her signing skills are at the beginner’s level, and she is learning basic sign linguistics from ExtraOrdinary Horizons. Donny chose the True Colours song, based on how much he hears at his comfortable level. I’m very familiar with the song arrangement in Deaf way. I recorded videos for Donny and Jiahui to practice at their own pace.

I have asked Grace and Jiahui to share their experiences here. Grace sent me in her artistic style via WhatsApp and this said,
“You with the sad eyes, don’t be discouraged
Oh I realize, it’s hard to take courage, in a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all, the darkness inside you can make you feel so small.
To the deaf community: I pray you will one day hear clearly the music all around you – till then, I will listen to your stories;
When you speak with your inner strength and dance to a different beat from the world. You guys are so beautiful. You music flows from your heart. Thank you for that <3″

Next, Jiahui sent me the WhatsApp message, and it said, “Lily and Donny’s performances were beautiful and heartfelt, and it was a pleasure to work with them and witness their dedication and passion. Off stage, they were also fun partners to hang out with, and patient teachers – refining the cues with us and explaining signs we did not understand. Would love join them again!”

Based on my experiences when working with volunteers, I still feel that you should get to know and understand Deafness, its Community, Culture and Language better. You will realise that it is different from what you usually think about it. It will be better for you to learn at least Sign Language to communicate with Deaf.

We have our workshops and courses that are conducted by Deaf. Let’s check us out at http://www.eohorizons.com! Thank you for reading my entry.

DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is the director and founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.

Sharing my experience in Deafine Your Horizons Event

27th May 2017, 3pm-7pm, Star Vista Shopping mall 

This one-day event, Deafine Your Horizons, was our first collaboration with a group of Hwa Chong Institute (HCI) students which aims to raise awareness about ExtraOrdinary Horizons at Star Vista shopping mall. HCI student set up booth activities, such as learning to sign Numbers 1-20, and getting others to try lip reading while wearing headphones with music to simulate how some Deaf feel when they cannot hear us speak. This also showed how lip-reading is a skill that can be hard to learn and may not be always be accurate as some words form same shape on the lips. It is like trying to differentiate “I love you” from “colourful” only through lip-reading . These two sentences can sound different, but they form similar shapes. So the lip-reading has its own limitations too.  This event also provided a platform for OriLove, which is founded by young Deaf Entrepreneurs, to sell their handmade merchandise.

It’s a heartfelt experience for me to see our audience trying and learning to sign with us during song signing and signing alphabets. Being on stage alone is something I am not used to. It’s the connection with this group of audience through their zealous participation through the games and song signing and the support from my friends that gave me the courage to do my best in song signing on stageOne of the audience said that he cried when Lily Goh song signed the song,  “If You Were In My Shoes”.  The lyrics in this song is written by Lily Goh (& Hina Liang), and the music and video production is made by Audris Ho and many other people credited in this link below. Listen to it here.  When I first listened to this song, I was also moved to tears as it reminded me of how one of deaf friends which I am close to felt. I am a hearing myself, so I do not really understand how it feels to be Deaf in this world. So, it really warmed my heart when I saw the audience embracing Deaf culture and learning to signing along with us. So, it is in hope that more events can be organised to promote Deaf culture, to support Deaf entrepreneurship, to learn sign language, and to bridge the gap between Deaf and Hearing.

 

DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is a volunteer with ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.

Subscribe to Arjun’s YouTube channel


We’re pleased to share the YouTube channel of our volunteer, Arjun. He posted his first video, to celebrate the International Day of Cultural Diversity today.

“The day provides us with an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity…”
SOURCE: United Nations

You may wonder why Deafness is part of culture. Generally, you have a common knowledge that Deafness is a hidden disability. We, the members of the Deaf communities around the world, see Deafness as our Deaf Culture. Sign Language is the heart of the Deaf Culture. Also, we view it as our deafhood that we experience since our birth or early discovery. Here in Singapore, we do have our Singapore Sign Language that is called “SgSL” in a short form. You can know more about SgSL.

We advocate to protect our identity, culture, language and pride in our Deaf Culture. We prefer to be called “a big D Deaf” as proudly identified within this culture. Why do many people call us “hearing impaired“? This “hearing impaired” label is often used in a medical or audiological view. We are not comfortable with this derogatory label as we do not live with our problems in hearing sounds or conversations every day (or most of the times). Have you ever listened to us with a open mind and heart? Since very young, we have been fitting ourselves to a mainstreamed society upon our parents’ wish or hope that we could behave like them. Their “hope” is derived from a lack of knowledge and understanding on Deafness. Compared to other countries where a strong Deaf culture has its long history (more than 100 years), Singapore is quite young. We struggle with poor accessibility in arts, access, education, employment and technology for many years. Though Singapore signed the UNCRPD in 2012, there have been slight improvements in our Deaf issues and needs. Now, we hope to improve our needs for a better future, especially for our younger deaf generations.

Today, we encourage you all to embrace cultural diversity.

DISCLAIMER: The above article is written by Lily Goh, a deaf advocate. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.

Join this ‪#‎SignItForwardChallenge‬!

Shared this challenge by the Community Chest Singapore in support of Charity in the Park 2017 – a ComChest Signature Event jointly organised with Resorts World at Sentosa – and #SGCares – a national movement to involve and inspire more Singaporeans to help one another.

They set their Sign It Forward Campaign, a sign language activity aimed at equipping the public with key phrases so they may better interact with persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. Please check this VIDEO out!

 Though we are not part of it, we unanimously support it by posting more videos on our social channels – Facebook Page, Twitter, Instagram & YouTube!

Also, let’s support it by sharing the attached video with its hashtag #‎SIGNITFORWARDCHALLENGE !!  ❤

First Empower DeafSG – 12 April 2014

We’re pleased to inform you about our first community training program for Deaf only. It’s called Empower DeafSG. It is held every month, starting from 12 April 2014. It is open to Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing only. The target age participation is 16 and above.
Its intended goals are:

  • Share knowledge about Deafness (of any topic – Leadership, Politics, Youth, Elderly, Education, Employment, so on)
  • Advocate about Singapore Sign Language
  • Learn other Sign Languages around the world, as well as sign linguistics
  • Another avenue to connect to Deaf communities in Singapore
  • Sharing sessions by different Deaf contributors

On 12 April 2014, 12 participants turned up at the event that took place at YMCA Studio B (located on the basement). Since it was the initiative by ExtraOrdinary Horizons, Lily was the first contributor and she started her presentation with the topics:

  1. Contributors: Lily Goh, David Ong, Jessica Mak
  2. Participants: Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing (those who have 55 decibels and above in their hearing loss)
  3. Schedule: Fridays or Saturdays evening (as discussed & agreed among the participants. YMCA and *SCAPE is the convenient & ideal place for the participants.)

There were group discussions on Deaf Singapore Facebook Group and Deaf Culture. The topic on languages is shared among the participants as what Lily learnt from Ms. Michele Bishop. She then shared about the advocacy of Singapore Sign Language (SgSL). Its history was shared among them. Before the session was over, the participants shared++ words on technology in SgSL:

  • iPhone
  • Google
  • Yahoo
  • Apple/Mac
  • Facebook
  • Twitter/Tweet
  • YouTube
  • Wifi
  • Internet
  • SMS/Message
  • Video-call
  • Whatsapp
  • ST/M1/Starhub

++ These words were clearly meant to be for records whether they have their vocabulary sign. Some have their variations, while the others are not existent yet. Will share it with the LSC (of SADeaf) for their R&D.

Adding on, the next session will be on Deaf Culture (Education). It was informed that it is to be held on 31 May tentatively. Now, it is confirmed to be on this evening as there was the agreement between EO Horizons and *SCAPE upon quick discussion.

You can register with Eventbrite for this program at https://www.facebook.com/events/565298323588547/

LATEST UPDATE: Emails were sent to SADeaf, DHHFS, TOUCH Silent Club, selected schools and other organisations for the invitation to become the voluntary contributors. Also, their Deaf members & beneficiaries are welcome to be part of this training program.