On the International Day of Sign Languages, we need to educate ourselves more and accept that communication is not explicit to sound. Deaf communities are thriving everywhere, and it’s a shame that there remains an invisible wall between the worlds in play.
Being deaf does not mean that a person is unable to communicate. Quite the contrary, it’s even an insult to believe so. Language is not restricted to its spoken forms. Arabic Sign Languages are various and ever-evolving. There is not a universal Arabic Sign Language but, sign languages like the Egyptian sign language, Jordanian sign language, and Kuwaiti sign languages share some features.
The fact that it is ingrained in the brains of many that spoken language is the only type of valid communication is what is driving a rift between speaking and deaf communities. Communication through gestures, eye contact, highly expressive movements is an established and well-known form of language. So why is it discredited? And why do most younglings who grow up outside the deaf community have no idea about it?
All countries have a sidelined deaf community. But the means to slowly chip at that wall is awareness and an active move towards stepping into their world. Abandoning the preconceived notion that spoken language is better is also integral.
Arabic Sign Languages need to be taught in schools, and not just those preserved for the deaf or hard of hearing. The country’s sign language needs to be its second language; society needs to be exposed to it everywhere so that the idea gets through their heads. Equal not better.
On the International Day of Sign Languages, we implore you to know more about sign languages and be part of a multilingual, accepting, and communicative society.