Sign language has its own local characteristics

Congratulation to Malaysian Federation of the Deaf (MFD)! Finally, they did their best success! It will be good chance for deaf community in Malaysia.The generation of deaf youths will be happy and get better life in Malaysia.

KUALA LUMPUR: Sign language for deaf people is not a homogeneous language code. It has its own language characteristics based on culture, religion and geography.Malaysian Federation of the Deaf (MFD) president Mohamad Sazali Shaari said that similar to English and Bahasa Malaysia, every deaf community from different parts of the world has its own way of signing in its daily communication."In Malaysia, we have to explain to others that the sign language is also Bahasa Malaysia, not some strange language," he added.He was speaking at the Deaf, Sign Language and Culture Conference 2007 here yesterday, using sign language as a means of communication with the audience.

In September, the MFD submitted a memorandum to parliament, asking for the recognition of the Malaysian Sign Language, known as the MySL, as the official language for the deaf in Malaysia.

Yesterday, MFD's conference focused on oralism, an education of deaf students using spoken language, discrimination against deaf or hard of hearing people, and the medical perspective of hearing impairment.World Federation of the Deaf former president and honorary member Dr Yerker Andersson, who also attended the conference, said the social perception of the deaf was one of the many problems faced by the community.

"Is a deaf person a disabled person? They can move freely, they can hold jobs, they can communicate either through sign language or writing. But due to political reasons, the deaf still have to use the term 'disability' to get access to telecommunication such as video phones, public meetings, entertainment and religious events as well as for medical examinations.

"The deaf community has faced numerous obstacles which vary from tolerable to intolerable, depending on political, social and religious changes, but thankfully it is declining in most countries, thanks to the United Nations declarations on human rights," he said through sign language.The conference was held as a platform for the community to share its experiences and learn more about the deaf culture.

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