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

Reblogged with the 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 the writer, as well as the deaf advocate. Like him, I am another deaf advocate. I am seen as the musician or deaf performing arts 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 preferences. I know my own preferences very well; this does not mean I can hear speech well. I can speak well, but I have my 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 am born in Singapore, and they told me I do not sound like the Singaporean here. They insisted that I might be from Philippines, Malaysia or Thailand. I told them that I am Deaf…. or “Death” – I might pronounce 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 to have the cochlear implants. They are too expensive for me, especially when I am now the adult. I am not comfortable to have 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 enable deaf and hard-of-hearing to hear most of the 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 mainstreamed 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 punishements – 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 my 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 the 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 my age of 6. I then learnt 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 the ableism, the ability to speak (verbally) is 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 its rights to Sign Language. Some people may think signing may be hindrance to the speech development; this is actually not true. Still, whatever it takes a deaf children to excel, I need to emphasise that language is essential in 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 the first-timer band instructor who had no experience with 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 vary among different deaf people; some hear better than other counterparts. Musicality means the sensitivity to, knowledge of music. I rely on seeing, feeling and interpreting music most of the times. 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 mainstreamed 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 xylophone. I imagined playing bars on these paper virtually. It was not easy for me.

After my poly diploma studies, I resumed my percussion studies. I obtained ABRSM Grade 6 and 8 in Percussion (with Merit) (within 10 months) in 2017. Now I am the member of the Purple Symphony, which is 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.

(VIDEO LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98KRAf3_yIY)


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 http://webtv.un.org.

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!

UPDATE: Deaf Resources & Network in Singapore

Today, we’re pleased to see more d/Deaf entreprenuership growing with more individuals who have their aspirations. Some of them established their businesses many years ago, such as Patsfield Services Pte Ltd.

Just updated the webpage on Deaf resources & network in Singapore. You can check it out.

If you have any information related to deafness in Singapore, you can drop us an email at contact@eohorizons.com.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2018


Please mark 17 May 2018 to celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day! #gbla11yday

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is an awareness day, focusing on accessibility, often emphasising on web accessibility. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)

Apple has a tremendous initiative of hosting the Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) in their Retail stores and offices around the world. It organises its series of events to raise awareness, to educate public on accessibility, and to host invited guests from the PWD community to share their stories/experiences at the Apple Apple Orchard Retail store (270 Orchard Road). #todayatapple #appleorchardroad

Details as follows:

Date: Friday, 18 May
Time: 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Lily Goh is the founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons, a social enterprise that teaches sign language and provides public services. Lily is a seasoned artist who performs song-signing and mallet percussion.

To register: https://www.apple.com/…/music-lab-lily-goh-6400782977525515…

Date: Sunday May 20
Live Art: Figures and Caricatures with Isaac Liang
Time: 4:00pm – 6:00pm
Join deaf illustrator Isaac Liang for Global Accessibility Awareness Day and learn about his journey around the world, sketching and painting with iPad Pro. He’ll share the fundamentals of figure drawing. Then you’ll get hands-on with iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, using lines and colour to create your own caricatures. The session will be facilitated by a sign language interpreter.

To register: https://www.apple.com/…/live-art-isaac-liang-6398202376968…/
Interested to know more about Apple products? Do check out the schedules below:

Date: Tuesday May 15
Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Hearing Loss
Time: 3:30pm – 4:30pm
To register: https://www.apple.com/…/using-ipad-and-iphone-with-hearing…/

Date: Friday May 18
Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Hearing Loss
Time: 5:00pm – 6:00pm
To register: https://www.apple.com/…/using-ipad-and-iphone-with-hearing…/

Date: Sunday May 20
Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Hearing Loss
Time: 2:00pm – 3:00pm
To register: https://www.apple.com/…/using-ipad-and-iphone-with-hearing…/

For the full line-up of GAAD events at the Apple Orchard Retail store, you can check them out at this link: https://www.apple.com/…/collection/accessibility-collection/

A New Makeover of 2018!

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This website got its new makeover at the same domain this year!
There are changes in our workshops and courses. The cost remains the same till the end of this year. You can check it out.

As some of you have been to the Peninsula Shopping Centre for the workshops, courses and other activities, we would like to inform you that we will no longer occupy there with effect from 16 April 2018. We do not have any physical or permanent location. For our workshops and courses, we try our best to book classrooms at Blk 261, Waterloo Street (Nearest MRT: Bras Basah MRT, Exit A) for our workshops and courses.

Look out for our MailChimp updates!

#throwback: SDEA Theatre Arts Conference 2017


I had always wanted to share my learning experiences about this event, and finally I posted this blog entry today!

I was the only Deaf participant there, with the sign language interpreter accompanying me for 2 full days. I consider myself as the art practitioner in Deaf ways, and I’m exploring different possibilities for my future Deaf Singapore Theatre. In the meantime, I’m the trainee with Project Tandem led by Mr. Peter Sau. If you wish to know more about this project, you may check this link out.

For the first time, I came to know different methodologies, research and experiences from hearing practitioners. I remember that Dr. Julie Dunn’s concept of children’s dramatic play was popular among the participants. I had no chance to attend her session at that time. Her studies has shown that the concept could possibly contribute to imagination, creativity, language development and narrative skills. Technology should not be included in it.

I remember two sessions by Ms. Nazreen Osman, and Ms. Kang Chee Hui (from SACSS) respectively. Ms. Nazreen shared her experiences on integrating drama into her school’s English Language curriculum/syllabus. This was quite eye-opening to me, though it may be common to the others. Ms. Kang got her students to showcase their performance about how social media affects relationships among the students.

After I learnt about the conference, I feel that there are some possibilities to apply the “mainstreamed/hearing” tools in Deaf ways…

What do I mean by the Deaf ways of theatre arts? These ways revolve around sign language that is visual and gestural. Yet linguistics. This could have similarities with mime or physical theatre. Beyond that, it adopts visual vernacular that is “a theatrical art form of physical expression, storytelling with strong sense of body movements, iconic signs, gestures, and facial expressions” (Ishtiaq, 2016).

At this moment, Mr. Peter mentors me for his project. I learnt many new things from his team, and I have been grateful since then.


DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is the founder & director from ExtraOrdinary Horizons, and she is bilaterally profound-severe Deaf. 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.