Commentary: Power In Our Hands

One of the video trailers published online.

‘In Our Hands’ traces the changes and growth of the Deaf Community in the UK from the early 1900s to the present day. The documentary looks less at what it means to be deaf and instead looks more at how social groups and movements have supported the community over the decades. The documentary is comprised of a collection of interviews interspersed  with footage uncovered from the British Deaf Association (BDA) archives.

The documentary traces the development of the BDA and the Deaf community in the UK from a close but disperse set of individuals who meet occasionally for sporting events through the them becoming a very structured and politicized group in the early 2000s. It looks at how the community has flourished and their pride and sense of identity has grown of the years, as well as their struggle their journey away from reliance on hearing individuals into becoming a self-governing association.

A key change in the community is their sense of self-pride, spurred by a boost in confidence and belief in their own identity and abilities. The documentary suggests that in the early part of the century deaf individuals were often poorly educated and were often reliant on hearing ‘missionaries’ for jobs and for instructions in their day to day lives. They were reluctant to sign in public for feel of ridicule and instead their social lives revolved around local Deaf clubs and associations.  These clubs arranged sporting events around the country and it’s clear that the competitors and their communities prided themselves on achieving high levels of competence in their chosen sport. These events served as a meeting place for people to socialise, broaden their networks and provided a platform for political ideas to spread and grow.

The documentary then goes on to show how various key individuals within the BDA started to help shift the mindset of the community by helping to showcase the achievements of individuals in the workplace, providing more educational support and by encouraging people to start believing that they are worthy of such rights and opportunities. These changes started a shift away away from the community relying-upon and accepting the instructions and beliefs of the hearing community and instead a focus on inspiring deaf individuals to move into leadership positions. This happened gradually with the first step being the existing ‘missionaries’ being replaced by leaders who were Children of Deaf Adults (CoFA) into BDA leadership positions (they were considered to understand the community better than external missionaries). This then led the way for deaf leadership.

Along the way the BDA encouraged film as a key medium by which groups and individuals could document their culture and language – something not possible in written form or via photographs. The BDA also championed and supported researching into signing and were part of the discovery that it is in fact a language which they then christened British Sign Language (BSL) and have been campaigning ever since for it to be recognized as an official language. The documentary challenged the audience to think about the importance of community support and the importance of having an understanding of the communities culture and history, and that this support and teaching come from within the Deaf community rather than an external reliance on the hearing.

Something that wasn’t touched upon within the documentary was the evolution of BSL itself, however the fact that it has evolved quite significantly within the last century was very apparent from the footage itself. The earliest footage suggested a very heavy reliance on finger spelling. Perhaps this may be because other signs weren’t as established, or perhaps because individuals had signs that they used among their own friends/family but which weren’t standardized across the whole community and hence spelling was the back-up. I do not know. As the footage rolled forward in years it was notable to see the proportion of spelling vs. gesturing changes significantly suggesting both a more standardized and comprehensive language system.

The documentary is educational, inspirational and stands with integrity: there is no spoken language during the show except for some of the old footage which had an original spoken translation accompanying it. I’d certainly recommend this documentary for anyone interested in Sign Language, Deaf Culture and also to anyone who’s interested in seeing social-change in action. 

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.


9th International Deaf Academics & Researchers Conference (11-13 May 2019)

THEME: “Deaf academics across disciplines and generations”

This event took place in Iceland. It is supported by Supported by Málvísindastofnun Center for Sign Language Research, University of Iceland. You can check it out at

Since I was unable to attend it this year (because of my school exams), I would like to keep the list of presentations that I wish to look out in the future. I obtained it from my subscription:

  • Pre-conference workshop: International Sign (Ramon Wolfe)
  • Session theme: Deaf academics – who we are and how do we contribute?
    • Opening Lecture: Waves of interdisciplinary science can make global change (Barbara Spiecker, Camille Ollier, Caroline Solomon, Linda M. Campbell)
    • Workshop 1: Can critical disability studies benefit research into deaf people’s everyday experience? (Mette Sommer, Octavian Robinson, Hilde Haualand)
    • Workshop 2: Researchers as mixologists: Selecting suitable ethnographic research methods (Erin Moriarty Harrelson, Steve Emery, Annelies Kusters)
  • Session theme: Reading & writing skilla
    • Presentation: Deaf academic knowledge production: The role of reading groups (Annelies Kusters, Erin Moriarty Harrelson, Steve Emery, Sanchayeeta Iyer)
    • Workshop 3: Writing tactics, tips and hacks – smart strategies for academic writing (Maartje De Meulder, Annelies Kuster, Joseph Murray)
  • Session theme: Careers and strategies
    • Presentation: Deaf academics across disciplines and generations (Cathy Chovaz, Kristin Snoddon, Linda Campbell, Veronique Leduc, Kathryn Woodcock)
    • Workshop 6: Reaching the top of the mountain: navigating the tenure track process as a deaf faculty member (Christopher Kurz and Jordan T. Eickman)
    • Workshop 7: Mapping deaf academics’ places and spaces in academia (Dai O’Brien)

This earlier format is more of reporting here. Anyway, I understand that there are a very few deaf researchers in Asia. This road to become the researchers is really tough because of lack of financial support, accessibility and other unforeseen circumstances. In my personal opinion, it is very challenging for me this time because of my present/current situation. Maybe, I try opening doors for the future generations. No guarantee here…

Alright, I have been following DAC2019’s tweets. Also, I could see the efforts from deaf researchers to stay connected with one another around the world to improve empowerment and representation in deaf academia. Some websites, such as are not updated, perhaps because of lack of support or resources. 

Now, I understand that these conferences are held every two years since 2002:

11th International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Vienna, Austria ● 2023

10th International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Montreal, Canada ● 2021

9th International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Reykjavík, Iceland ● 2019

8th International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Copenhagen, Denmark ● 2017

7th International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Leuven, Belgium ● 2015

6th International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Lisbon, Portugal ● 2013

5th International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Florianópolis, Brazil ● 2010

4th International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Dublin, Ireland ● 2008

3rd International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Stockholm, Sweden ● 2006

2nd International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Washington, DC, USA ● 2004

Deaf in Academia Workshop
Austin, Texas, USA ● 2002

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.

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! 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.

SG Professionals With Disabilities LAUNCH

Congratulations to Adrian & Marcus for launching this initiative, SINGAPORE PROFESSIONALS WITH DISABILITIES (SGPWD, in a short form) yesterday at the LinkedIn office.

These two photos are obtained from the group whatsapp for you to get better impressions about this network.

Let me share my experiences about the networking events that I had attended before, as a Deaf person. I attended these events because of my business, ExtraOrdinary Horizons. From there, I learnt many things, such as event collaborations.

If you are aspiring for a new career, or a change of jobs, this SGPWD platform is good for you to learn and share with one another. With the LinkedIn platform, you can demonstrate your skillset, as well as your previous working experiences. Also, you can get advices from experienced professionals who are willing to consult you as in #plusonepledge to make the world a better place for everyone to work more healthy and happier. In the other round, you can share your challenges and resolutions with recruiters and allies.

Two Sign Language interpreters and one notetaker were engaged for d/Deaf to be part of the launch. However, I feel that the launch was not inclusive enough as there were different types of d/Deaf people. The d/Deaf people have their different capabilities. Now, I look at Deaf signers and I am one of them who rely on interpreters heavily. I am different from them, and I could speak well. But I could not catch any conversation.

UPDATED: Just now, I was asked by Marcus on LinkedIn to share my networking experience at the launch yesterday. With the interpreter in present, I managed to achieve my goals, which were to obtain the complimentary corporate photo for my current job search, to give support to Marcus & Adrian, and to learn new things from people. I was somehow satisfied.

I met four new people at the two different times, with the help of the interpreter, after the panel discussion. I happened to pop by when two persons from the T-Systems approached the deaf lady, and the interpreter was there. They shared their company profile with us, and they hoped to obtain information on how they could help d/Deaf in communication issues. Then, we had our chit-chat, and we exchanged our contact details. Next, I asked the interpreter to follow me, and to “eavesdrop” any group conversation. But she had to abide by the professional code of ethics, and I respected her. I caught the eyes of a lady, and she was one of the LinkedIn Enabled volunteer-facilitator. Both of us discussed on improving networking for the group of d/Deaf participants. Another volunteer-facilitator joined us. Then, we added one another on LinkedIn, thanks to the mobile technology. When I walked around, I was unable to join any group conversation (without having the interpreter around with me). I merely said hello to my friends whom I am familiar with.

Today, I had my online chat with Jade, who was the moderator of the panel discussion. This happened, all thanks to the SGPWD network launch event. I made efforts to find out from my peers. True enough about us that we are deaf, and we are different from other people with disabilities, we fall behind a lot as there seems to be no other way for us to communicate with recruiters and allies who are not deaf. Again, we do not know what they are actually looking for. If we are on our own (when the interpreters are not available, or there might be limited number of interpreters), how shall we network with them?

I had made several suggestions to Jade about improving networking among Deaf signers. It will be good to have recruiters and allies to make their brief introduction so that we will be able to know them and make our better approaches. Speed-networking can be another good alternative, however we still need to consider other factors how to include Deaf signers in group conversations.

How to network effectively as being the Deaf person when you have no interpreter with you?

  • Leverage social media, such as LinkedIn (QR Code).
  • Exchange name cards (if you have).
  • Use mobile applications, such as Microsoft Translator, Google Live Transcribe, to listen; do not let yourself do all the talking. Google Live Transcribe is the best recommendation.
  • Meet new people through other people (and social media channels).
  • Present your story, mostly success stories that have your workable solutions that you have thought of.
  • Find a reason to follow up, by messaging on social media, and looking for possible collaborations.
  • Always remember to say Thank You.

If you wish to meet a Deaf signer, you should have papers so that you can communicate with him/her through writing. Otherwise, mobile applications could be good alternatives. You need to have more patience when communicating with them. Speak your intentions clearly to them after you have made your introduction. Please bear in your mind that the Deaf signers are proficient in their first language, which is Singapore Sign Language. We do our best to express ourselves in English Language that is internationally spoken by the mainstreamed people. So, use simple English. If you do not understand them clearly, you can ask them to repeat. In any worst case, adjust your communication skills with your creativity. Or get the interpreter when they are available (in sight).

Ok, I now look forward to the next networking session by SGPWD.

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.

Selling Percussion Instruments

Managing this account @bizhearthotz on Carousell

After we have decided that YDGEN is officially disbanded, we couldn’t find a place where we could store these percussion instruments. So we made up our mind to sell them to help sustain ExtraOrdinary Horizons financially in a longer run.

I could say based on my subjective opinions; Singapore is different from other countries. It is not easy for Deaf to run a business. Not easy to manage or lead the band, especially when arts and music scene is small. Hmmm, it is strange to see that more emerging or accomplished (mainstreamed) artistes work closely with artistes with disabilities. This aligns well with the vision of inclusion in the arts. However, are the artistes with disabilities empowered enough to develop their practice on their own?

Looking back to the point when I joined the Singapore Idol Season 1 (2004), I still remember why I joined there. I had three intentions namely; to fulfil my childhood dream (to be the singer), to show the public about Deaf capabilities (meanwhile, dispelling misconceptions about Deaf people in Singapore), and to see where I was actually embarking on my music journey. From there, I continued with grit to obtain ABRSM Grades 6 & 8 in Percussion with Merit (within 10 months). With my earnings from four part-time jobs. Now, I am the member of the Purple Symphony. I really thank MP Denise Phua with my sincere heart for giving me this opportunity to experience playing with different musicians with or without disabilities.

Now, I worked with different people – Peter, Zihao, many… I have learnt many things from them. Good for my exploration though… This time, I do not think I can become one of the international Deaf performing artistes, like Ramesh Meyyappan. I do not mean to make such comparisons… Many years ago (before Singapore Idol Season 1), I tried applying for financial aid for the undergraduate program in music studies that I managed to get a place in UK, but to no avail. I had to give it up.

After watching the CNA’s special series entitled, “This is What I Hear”, I realised that every deaf individual has different backgrounds and privileges. Same but different… I know I have failed to understand the quality of sound when playing mallet percussion. But I continue to develop my own niche – #deaftalent arts. Since I am set on becoming one of Deaf social media influencers in Singapore, I continue sharing my works-in-progress (music, percussion, poetry & storytelling) that might include the Singapore culture.

Back to the topic, I hope you can support me, as well as ExtraOrdinary Horizons, please check my website out at

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.

Alternatives to meet Deaf needs in Singapore

Microsoft Translator
Google Live Transcribe

Attached here are two YouTube videos embedded here in this blog entry as I have explored these two mobile applications in some situations where the sign language interpreters were not available to interpret for groups of 3 deaf consumers (including myself). They could be possible alternatives to meeting the deaf needs in Singapore.

You need to understand why we encourage you to consider these alternatives to enable d/Deaf people to know what’s going on every day. Look, we have only 6 full-time sign language interpreters in Singapore; they work for the Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf). They could not meet every request from approximately 5,600 deaf clients who are registered with the SADeaf. They are human; they need break for themselves. They have their lives to lead. We cannot expect them to make sacrifices for the d/Deaf people. If you wish to join the team of sign language interpreters or other access support, you need to understand and immerse in our Deaf world.

Alright, let’s explore these two mobile applications that I have tried so far. As I have my iPhone with me, I have the Microsoft Translator application downloaded in my phone. This supports Android, iOS and Windows. With this application, my two deaf acquaintances were able to participate in discussions with people with other disabilities. However, transcription is not very accurate; I could say 80%.

Next, the Google Live Transcribe application is better alternative. It supports Android only. It does not have the presenter mode that the Microsoft Translator application has. It acts as the microphone that captures group discussion into the written form. But I hope this application can support more platforms.

When you need a sign language interpreter or notetaker for your event (let it be educational, institutional or social), please plan ahead at least 3-4 weeks’ time, in order to avoid any disappointment. If the interpreter and/or other access support is not available, you have to consider other technology accessibility. We have to keep on exploring new things as nothing is perfect for everyone. If you have any suggestions for helping d/Deaf with accessibility, you are welcome to drop us an email at Or you can leave your comment below.

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.

#IDPD2018 Close-Up Interview with Dawn-Joy Leong & James Chan


Finally, these videos are out for your pleasant viewing.

For the first time, we interviewed our Autistic friends, Dawn-Joy and James for IDPD2018. That was last November 2018. It was not published on time because of challenges that we faced while editing the videos. After having the auto-captions on the videos, we assumed that we could edit the captions. But we couldn’t caption the videos because partly of deafness, so we decided to engage Caption Cube for their services.

Anyway, we are pleased to inform you that we added more links to our Resources & Network page. This shall be anchored at deafness and disability in Singapore. If you have any other information, you can drop an email at

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.

YDGEN Officially Disbanded

We made this announcement here that the YMCA Deaf Generation (YDGEN) is officially disbanded of today.

We no longer enjoy the free studio usage provided by YMCA this year because of their budget cuts. For the past years since 2007, we had performed at various YMCA events for this exchange.

However, this does not stop me from practising the #deafmusic in mallet percussion & song-signing, and #deaftalent in theatrical arts, poetry & storytelling.

We will find ways out to continue the practice. If you have any suggestion, you can contact us by email.

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.

What I talk about when you ask me about my deafness (1/2)

Reblogged with permission from Alvan. I think I should follow the suit as I have been asked/questioned about it many times. However, this may be slightly different from him as he is renowned for being a writer, as well as a deaf advocate. Like him, I am another deaf advocate. I am identified as a Deaf arts & music practitioner here in Singapore.

*When and how did you lose your hearing?
LG: My deafness was discovered when I was two. Its cause still remains unknown. Even, my family members did not know how I became deaf. At that time, my hearing loss level was moderate-severe. Now, it has worsened to profound-severe. This deterioration in hearing loss does not affect me very much as this deafness is part of me. I am proud of being Deaf.

*How did you feel about wearing hearing aids? Have you ever considered the cochlear implants?
LG: I am comfortable with my hearing aids (HAs) at this moment. They do not mean to restore hearing; only to amplify sounds. I am not advertising any HAs here. Choosing HAs is upon the audiologist’s recommendations and the user’s preferences. I know my own preferences very well; this does not mean I can hear speech well. I can speak well, but I have a “deaf” accent. I got to know it through my experiences with many taxi drivers, and GRAB/UBER drivers. The drivers often asked me which country I come from. I replied that I was born in Singapore, and they told me I do not sound like a Singaporean here. They insisted that I might be from the Philippines, Malaysia or Thailand. I told them that I am Deaf…. or “Death” – I might pronounce it wrongly. After showing my HAs to them, they were surprised to know that I am Deaf! Some of them continued chatting with me to know more about deafness in Singapore. That’s another way of promoting deaf awareness to them!

Hmmm, I have considered not having cochlear implants. They are too expensive for me, especially since I am now an adult. I am not comfortable having any metal installed in my head. “Am I going to be another robot? That’s weird!” I thought to myself. Currently, I am okay with my HAs as I can take them off anytime as I wish. Instead of getting the cochlear implants for myself, I’d rather spend money on travelling and other useful/meaningful things, in order to enjoy the rest of my life.

Technology that enables deaf and hard-of-hearing to hear most sounds is ever improving. I think we should welcome that technology as it is meant to enhance/improve our everyday life. Now I explore communication technology, such as speech-to-text, as it helps improve my communication or social skills when meeting people at work.

*Would you like to share your journey or experiences when you were learning in school in a mainstream environment? What were your challenges when you were in school in a hearing environment?
LG: Before I entered my mainstream secondary school, I was enrolled in Canossian School for the Hearing Impaired (CSHI; now renamed Canossian School). I was happier there; we felt no different from one another. I still keep in touch with my schoolmates & classmates because we shared many similar experiences when we were very young. At that time, it was the transition period when we had to switch from using Singapore Sign Language to Natural-Auditory Oral approach (that requires us to speak in a natural environment). This did not benefit all of us; some of us received speech therapy till the teachers trained us through our graduation, while the others did not. I still remember some punishments – if we were caught using sign language, we would be fined 50 cents or be stood outside the classroom. Some teachers slapped us or hit our palms hard.

My struggles started in a secondary school. I had a few deaf classmates, however, we were often isolated. We relied on lipreading only; at that time, we were not aware of our needs – having a sign language interpreter or a note-taker. We did not interact much with the hearing classmates. (READ MORE)

Now, I study a BA in Sociology with Communication at SUSS. I engage sign language interpreters and notetakers to cope better with my lessons. I wish this could happen earlier when I was in the secondary school, and I believe with this access, I could excel better in my studies.

*When did you learn sign language?
LG: Singapore Sign Language (SgSL) was my first language; I acquired it at CSHI since my enrolment at the age of 6. I then learnt the English Language. I learnt to speak with the assistance of speech therapy for almost 13 years. I do not speak SgSL with my family members; mostly I speak in broken English with them.

I learnt more about SEE2 when I was accepted to become the sign language instructor with the Singapore Association for the Deaf. I taught SEE2 there for 8 years. After that, I established ExtraOrdinary Horizons and I now teach Singapore Sign Language to the public. I also give private tuition in SgSL. Anyway, I have studied sign linguistics online (on my own), and attended a few workshops in Singapore and Malaysia.

*Do you think it is necessary/important/better that children with hearing loss learn to sign?
LG: I agree with Alvan; he has mentioned that “it is important for deaf children to acquire language at the same rate as hearing children, and have the same access to language”. As part of ableism, the ability to speak (verbally) is an additional plus-point for Deaf. However, it is not comfortable to make such judgements that might lead to comparisons.

As the World Federation of the Deaf advocates in its mission, every deaf child has the right to Sign Language. Some people may think signing may be a hindrance to speech development; this is actually not true. Still, whatever it takes deaf children to excel, I need to emphasise that language is essential in the early acquisition, let it be signing, speaking or other approaches used. At this moment, I have been tutoring deaf children. They have different needs, and they are different learners. I can tell you based on my experiences, though I am not qualified enough…LANGUAGE FIRST; cognitive development is very essential, so it should start at a very early age.

*How did you appreciate music, especially with your hearing loss?
LG: I learnt music since very young. When I was ten, I was chosen to play in the deaf percussion band, and at that time, that band was being established by a first-timer band instructor who had no experience with the Deaf. I then learnt more about mallet percussion. Actually, musicality comes from you. With my deafness, I still had some of my residual hearing. This varies among different deaf people; some hear better than other counterparts. Musicality means the sensitivity to, and knowledge of music. I rely on seeing, feeling and interpreting music most of the time. I am different from others you might name; Azariah, Beethoven, and Evelyn Glennie. We have our different experiences with music. Unlike them, I did not acquire much of music since very young. Partly because of my deafness. It is really amazing for me to carry it on till now.

Being in the deaf percussion band was really fantastic. Really FUN! When I entered the mainstream secondary school, I was chosen to be in the concert band. Again, by the same teacher. I was assigned to perform the solo song, “Happy Mallets” at that time. I felt more competitive as I knew I was different from hearing musicians. So, I went to the National Library to read up more on music. My parents couldn’t afford to buy me the piano, so I drew many bars, just like the xylophone. I imagined playing bars on these papers virtually. It was not easy for me.

After my poly diploma studies, I resumed my percussion studies. I obtained ABRSM Grades 6 and 8 in Percussion (with Merit) (within 10 months) in 2017. Now I am a member of the Purple Symphony, the only inclusive orchestra of talented musicians with or without special needs. I am the only deaf musician there.


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.

Apocalypse Later

Time and again, I’ve been asked variations of the following questions pertaining to my deafness. It could be in casual or academic settings (as the ones below are), but they’re at heart the same questions. And after the latest, why not make it public? Next time anyone asks.. here you go. (And there will be many next times.)

* When and how did you lose your hearing?
>> Was diagnosed at age 8, in primary 2, during an MOH checkup in school. Failed the hearing test. Was then sent to the children’s clinic at Outram for a more advanced test and proceeded to flunk that too.

* How did you feel when you had to wear hearing aids?
>> Memory is fuzzy now. It’s more than 30 years since I first started using hearing aids (HAs). I vaguely remember being self conscious about wearing them and also disliked the sounds…

View original post 1,363 more words

Eulogy from Mr. Lim Chin Heng


With permission from Mr. Lim Chin Heng, I shared his eulogy here on this blog:

“I would like to put my eulogy in honour of the late Mr. Peng Tsu Ying, our Pioneer Deaf Educator, and my inspiring teacher & mentor. Mr Peng and I are both born in the year of Tiger.

At my age of 4 in 1955, Dad brought me to somewhere or a hospital that I always cried loudly. Upon arrival at Singapore Chinese Sign School for the Deaf that was established by a deaf couple, Mr & Mrs Peng Tsu Ying, at Charlton Lane, off Upper Serangoon Road in 1954. I was so shocked to see so many deaf children signing with their deaf teachers.

Mr Peng, the founding principal, was a well-built body and good-looking man with cheerful smile. He showed me a big book with pictures of animals and pointed at a picture of cow, using both “Y” signs to touch the sides of head. When my eyes were widened, this was my first one word I learned, comparing with hearing peers who already learned nearly 900 words.

From 1955 to 1967, I had been growing up with Mr Peng who helped teaching and guiding me before I left for USA. I had watched him struggling, fighting and running his school as he was shorthanded. He used his writing skills in Chinese and English language as powerful weapon to advocate our deaf education rights.

Before his Chinese Sign Section of Singapore School for the Deaf was phrased out, SADeaf sent him to represent Singapore to the 7th World Congress of the WFD in Washington D.C. USA in July-August 1975. I helped guiding him on the tour of Washington D.C. area and introduced him to a number of prominent deaf scholars, especially A/Prof. Frances M. Parsons who travelled globally promoting Total Communication Approach (TC).

Upon his return home, he made a lengthy report dated 3 September 1975 and recommended the SADeaf Executive Council to invite A/Prof. Parsons to give an inspiring lecture on TC Approach here. He and I saw the need for the implementation of TC Approach with American Sign Language and how together it has been a vital instrument in the successful education for deaf children in Singapore.

Mr Peng was a great mentor to me and other deafies. For that, our families are indebted to him and his family.

Let us take our hats off to the late Mr Peng Tsu Ying.”

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.

Purple Parade 2018 – THIS IS DEAF

SFDLE8057.JPGFor this year’s Purple Parade, ExtraOrdinary Horizons put up a choreographed dramatic dance performance, with a rendition of ‘This Is Me‘ from the movie “The Greatest Showman”, sung by Keala Settle and The Greatest Showman Ensemble.

The dance was choreographed by Donny Laurence, the Deaf performing artiste, with ideas and suggestions thrown in by the rest of us, former and current students from the sign language courses (across all the levels). He was mentored by Lily.

We rehearsed every Friday night, and despite our busy schedules and differing views, everyone was very dedicated and willing to put in our best efforts to put up a good show for the audience at The Purple Parade.

As shown in a dramatic introduction, the three Deaf students were being ostracized by the rest of the “normal” (Hearing) students. As the music progressed, the Deaf students eventually decided to stay true to themselves and ended up earning recognition from the rest.

The concept for the dance is that we want to showcase inclusive arts – the fact that Deaf can perform as well as the Hearing. Arts is a common language for us to express ourselves, and is a medium for us to reach out to others, sending a message that despite the loss of hearing, the Deaf can still find a way to live their lives as fully as possible.

As the chorus proclaims:

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me

Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

This song has been a huge hit ever since the movie’s release and has been used multiple times as an anthem by those who are rejected by society. When we rehearsed for the song, we decided not to be too strict on perfecting our steps, as we wanted to keep it as natural as possible.

Deaf was first priority. In my opinion, this performance did justice to the song and kept true to the meaning, that whether you and me are Deaf or not, we ought not to be afraid to show our true selves and live truly as we deserve.



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.

Calling for the Singapore Sign Language to be recognized as the official Sign Language of Singapore

This email was sent to the Straits Times and TODAY ten days ago. So this is assumed that it was rejected after its stipulated period. It was then published here on the blog.

Written by Lily Goh

Singapore has been advocating for inclusion since 1981 when Disabled People’s International held its first world congress and elected Singaporean disability advocate Mr Ron Chandran-Dudley. Since then disability inclusion has been celebrated in the Purple Parade, Purple Symphony, the National Day Parade, as well as the National Council of Social Service’s “See the True Me” campaign.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong even made a commitment towards building an inclusive society in Singapore in his swearing-in speech in 2004. To realize this goal, the Enabling Masterplan was launched in 2007, as the national road map to improve lives of the persons with disabilities. Even, Prime Minister Lee spoke in Singapore Sign Language during his National Day Rally 2016, “Count on me Singapore”.

What does inclusion mean to you? According to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda, “inclusiveness speaks to the notion of empowerment and the principle of non-discrimination”and the belief that “no one is left behind”.

In keeping with this spirit, the United Nations declared the International Day of Sign Languages will be celebrated annually across the world. The inaugural celebration was held on Sunday, 23 September 2018, under the theme, “With Sign Language, Everyone is Included!”

The Singapore  Association of the Deaf hosted the Singapore Sign Language Week 2018 at the Red Box from 24 September to 29 September. Stories, jokes, poems and dramas by different Deaf people were presented to the public, in the celebration of Singapore Sign Language. It has been advocating for Singapore Sign Language and is a strong, unifying identity for the Deaf community. 

Now, as a Deaf advocate I call for our Singapore Sign Language to be recognized and validated as the official sign language of Singapore. American Sign Language was declared as the official Sign Language of America in the 1960s, and it has opened doors for other countries to follow suit.

I call on your support to strengthen the linguistics landscape in Singapore because it has been ignoring the Deaf communities’ native sign language. It focuses on the mainstream society only, forgetting the Singapore Sign Language that is supposed to be part of it. Singapore Sign Language has been developing for 60 years, compared to Singapore’s 53rd years’ independence.

Once Singapore Sign Language is declared as the official sign language, it will become the official mode of communication used in educational, institutional, translation and state matters involving those who are Deaf.

I believe with the official recognition of Singapore Sign Language, the concept of inclusion will become stronger and better.

(420 words)


DISCLAIMER: 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.

Deaf is a disability

Hey you hear me
No I cannot hear you
Why cannot you hear me
I am deaf
Huh, what is deaf
Deaf is the disability that I have
What kind disability is that
It is the loss of hearing residue

How can hearing be lost
Hearing can be lost through different ways
Like what ways
Born deaf, high fever, fall, etc
How can that be
Nobody knows

Is it a sickness
No it is not a sickness, just a disability
Still why cannot you hear me
I have said I m deaf
So what is deaf
I have said it out already

Deaf or not I don’t care
You don’t care
Ya I don’t care
Ya sure

Wait till you grow older and older
Why is it so
Your hearing will fail as you age much further
How is it so
You will know when you reach the old age…

~ By Misako Pearl Lim W. S. (2011, September 19)


DISCLAIMER: The author of the above poem is Deaf. She posted her poem on her Facebook on 19 September 2011 and it was open to the public.
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.

SgSL Week 2018


Yesterday was the last day of the SgSL Week 2018, that was organised by the Singapore Association for the Deaf. It hosted this series of events for 6 days, since 24 September 2018. It has presented various jokes, stories, poems and theatrical dramas in #SgSL.

There was a full morning of presentations from four speakers. About education, experiences and linguistics. It was exciting to have the short stories by the students of Lighthouse School for the first time. This was their good avenue where they can showcase their talents. Also, it could help increase their self-confidence. Cheers to those who are behind this children’s showcase!

Then, it was an afternoon when the SgSL instructors from the Singapore Association of the Deaf shared their experiences in different forms. Apart from the SADeaf, Lily Goh had presented her four poems. This reached to the public, as well as the deaf communities.

We hope to be part of the next SgSL Week 2019!


International Day of Sign Languages

This month of September is going to be exciting for d/Deaf around the world.

Firstly, we would like to share a bit of information about the World Federation of the Deaf and its international advocacy.

“We are excited to attend a series of events this month to commemorate the first International Day of Sign Languages.

Next week, WFD Vice-President Joseph Murray will be in UN Geneva on the 12th and 13th September 2018 to deliver presentations. English, International Sign and Captioning available via UN Live stream at

Follow us the entire month to get updates on where we will be to celebrate this day.”

You can watch the presentations on the above-stated link (when you are free).

You can see, many of us have been sharing posts about #SgSL. The Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf) posted 15 gifs; one sign for one day, till 15 September 2018. If you wish to learn more about them, you can come down to Toa Payoh HDB Hub Atrium from 11am to 7pm. Or we encourage d/Deaf signers to share different signs that will be posted on its Facebook on the day itself between 12:30pm and 2:30pm. This helps better in documentation for research and development that is necessary to improve our daily lives better. For future generations.

The budding Deaf Singapore Lah has initiated to publish its videos on local and international deaf achievements, as well as sign language videos. This Deaf-led company aspires to share information on food, lifestyle and travel in #SgSL through its media.

Lastly, we’re glad to share our #SgSL short live videos occasionally from this month onwards. We are still at the exploration stage of using live videos. And, we hope you can bear with us. At the same time, we really hope you have fun learning from us together.

Alright, let’s mark 23rd September 2018 to celebrate Sign Languages around the world.

C’mon and keep on signing all the way!