From the primitive humans the communication and languages based on the audible sound. People naturally accustomed to language that is spoken and for many people, daily communication is based on hearing and understanding. Then comes the question “how do the people who cannot speak and hear communicates?” That’s where the sign language plays its role as a visual form of communication. Basically, you receive and understand using your vision.
Sign language isn’t merely a hand signal but a combination of hand movements, facial expressions, head and body movements to communicate simple to more complex and abstract ideas. With the increasing deaf community, sign language become the fourth most used language worldwide. Thus, learning signing as a language is a great deal as a citizen anywhere in the world.
According to Sri Lanka Federation of the Deaf, there are over three hundred thousand (300,000+) deaf people in Sri Lanka. Moreover, the WHO has revealed that approximately 9% of the population in Sri Lanka has loss of hearing. There are 25 Deaf Schools in Sri Lanka, producing larger population who use sign language. But there’s still a lapse of measures to surpass the communication gap between the ‘normal’ population and the deaf community.
This project is one of the basic steps taken regarding these issues mainly. The project has its major objectives as we wanted to achieve in the end: develop a curriculum for medical students to enable them to communicate and understand the basic history especially in relation to common disorders and during medical emergencies, enhance public awareness for public and health professionals to educate them about the importance of learning basic sign language and promote the project, enhance the awareness in deaf community regarding basic laws, financial frauds and common health issues, introducing the video series to medical students and employees in island wide top supermarket networks and at the end, collect feedback from the students and other benefactors and improve above syllabuses.
The project comprises with 4 phases altogether. The first one is the most important phase where we formulate a curriculum for medical students to enable them to communicate with deaf people in medical emergencies. Major area of the focus in this is the medical scenarios because as future medical professionals it’s our duty to equip ourselves with basic communications skills to deal with deaf patients. This would be beneficial for patients as well as undergraduate students since it depicts our core virtues Competency, Compassion and Care.
This guide book and the video series attached to the course is user friendly and designed to learn sign language from the scratch. Hand spelling, grammar areas are not covered under this first step course and we hope to include them in the successive advanced course. Following objectives are covered under this course: acquire knowledge on basic vocabulary in Asian Sign Language, acquire skills to introduce oneself and initiate a conversation using sign language, acquire skills to identify essential day-to-day scenarios of a hearing-impaired person, acquire basic skills to identify a medical emergency of a hearing impaired person. And the phase 2 is composing a video series on above curriculum and integrate into the medical undergraduate programme.
And the phase 3 of the project is focused on creating an informative video series on financial, basic laws and the common health issues for the deaf community and publish through a video streaming platform like YouTube. This step is based on our research on deaf community and we have identified their lapse in knowledge in above areas. And phase 4 is to request island wide top supermarket networks to integrate and teach the relevant signs which they require.
Promotion of the project was carried out through multiple ways such as Promotional video, Newspaper articles, Television, Celebrity Endorsement, Social Media and via other Rotaract clubs. And as beneficiaries at the end of the project we expect to Create Competent medical professionals who can communicate with speech impaired patients, introduce and create a safe environment to the deaf and mute community in day-to-day life, Improve the social harmony and reduce the communication gap, Quickly identify of the Medical emergencies to increase the survival chance of the patient, and Create a safer environment for Speech impaired patients in case of Medical and non-medical environment.