Understanding Deafness

“Every Deaf Person is Unique”

ABOUT DEAF COMMUNITY
The Deaf community is made up of persons, both deaf and hearing, who embrace a common Deaf culture, sign language and other social traits.

ABOUT DEAF CULTURE
A way of life and self-identity that Deaf people follow or share in areas, such as social beliefs, behaviours, literary traditions, history, values and institutions, which are linked by their deafness. Sign language is used as the main mode of communication.

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DO YOU KNOW…
On 30 November 2012, Singapore officially signed an international Agreement called the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The Agreement was then ratified on 18 July 2013 and came into effect for Singapore on 18 August 2013. This shows Singapore’s commitment to achieve the vision of a society which includes and improves the lives of persons with disabilities.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an international human rights instrument of the United Nations. It protects the rights of persons with disabilities. For Deaf and hard-of-hearing people, the Convention mentions sign language seven times in five different articles.

Article 2 (DEFINITION)
“Language” includes spoken and signed languages and other forms of non-spoken languages”

“Language” – the way people speak to each other, including sign language.

Article 9 (ACCESSIBILITY)
“…enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life” through measures “such as the provision of sign language interpreters”

Countries agree to make it possible for persons with disabilities to live independently and participate in their communities. This can be done by providing appropriate forms of assistance and support, such as […] and having sign language interpreters in public places.

Article 21 (FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND OPINION, AND ACCESS TO INFORMATION)
“Accepting and facilitating the use of sign languages” and “recognising and promoting the use of sign language

Persons with disabilities should have the opportunity to express their opinions, to find out, receive and share information. This is done by facilitating and supporting the use of Braille, sign language and other forms of communication (where needed).

Article 24 (EDUCATION)
“Facilitating the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf community” and “employ teachers […] who are qualified in sign language

Persons with disabilities have the rights to an inclusive education and lifelong learning. This is done by:
– making it possible to learn Braille, sign language and other forms of communication (where needed), and having peer support and mentoring.
– teaching the use of sign language and seeing it as a language of the deaf community.

Article 30 (PARTICIPATION IN CULTURAL LIFE, RECREATION, LEISURE AND SPORTS)
“…recognition and support of their specific cultural and linguistic identity, including sign languages and deaf cultures”

Persons with disabilities have the rights to participate in and enjoy the arts, sports, games, films and leisure activities. This can be done by making sure that their language, cultures (for example sign language and deaf culture) are being respected).

(SOURCE: The Singapore Association for the Deaf)