When I was six I met a deaf girl on a campsite in Limburg, The Netherlands. Intrigued by the sign-language she and her family used, I started practising and soon I dreamed of being a deaf-interpreter. Later that became singing-and-laughing-biologist-and-deaf-interpreter due to another interesting meeting, also on a campsite. In the U.K. this time. By the time I was 12 the Conservatoire was calling and I wanted to become a singer.
Still the sign-language intrigues me. Unfortunately I never kept up practising the actual language so all that’s left are the signs for sailboat, geography, I love you and an alphabet full of gaps.
And then this morning I watched this video by Channel 4
Did you see Patrick’s face at the end?! A whole new world opening for him. Finally tools to communicate. Express himself. Share stories and experiences. Say his name. Beautiful! What an inspiring start of this Sunday.
Imagine you live in world that’s incomprehensible for you because you can’t speak nor have other ways to communicate. I can’t even begin to imagine, really… What I can begin to imagine, however, is how this teacher and his new pupils will continue to spread and share what they’ve learned so that one day, even in the most remote areas in this world, everyone will have means to communicate. You and me, we can start and teach ourselves. Youtube is a good place to start, obviously. Let’s keep it simple and start with the ABC and how to count to 10 and soon we’ll be able to follow the Universal Declaration of Human Rights…
However, be aware that no sign language is the same. Just like spoken languages. There is ASL (American Sign Language) and BSL (British Sign Language) and so on… These differences mean you can’t communicate with every deaf person in the world once you’re fluent in a sign language. So start with Spanish sign language if you’re Spanish. For the Dutch amongst us the lessons Suzette Pauwels posts to her blog are a nice start.