Now back to the 'business' at hand, some friends suggested-nay commanded that I put my thoughts on whatever it is that is going on/goes on/went on/will go on my mind here....the nosey lots! So many things, so little time and so much space. So many more minds to rub with here. Oooh I feel excited already! Posting here as frequently as I used to write in my paper-and-pen diary whilst as a child wouldn't be very easy but I'll surely try my best *said in my best clipped voice*.
I have just returned from an interesting program held for the International Week of the Deaf. Learnt a lot. Met a lot of people. I am pleased to say that my attention was suitably held and that I did not attempt to snatch a snooze for even one second... The thing is when you go for a gathering with hearing people- read people who can hear and talk-, you get all sorts of speech ranging from the chirpy, animated chatter to the stammering splutter to the boring drone. Apply these sounds to the hearing-aids of a deaf person who habitually lipreads and doesn't have a fantastic attention span and you'll get one not-so-pleased person....
Now back to what happened earlier on today, I was impressed. As ALL and I mean ALL the signtalks- (talks by a deaf who signs) were brief; none of these long-winded speeches. I am always for the KIS maxim : Keep It Simple! The signtalks keep me awake; just take a blink of the eye and you may miss the gist. There were sign language intepreters (SLI) on hand to help those who did not understand American Sign Language which is the lingua franca here. I know BSL (British Sign Language) more than I do know ASL. Since ASL is used here, I will be learning and using it more often ( and adding it to the basket of languages that I know already; cool ehn?!).
The highlights of the ceremony were the presentations by the nursery students of a special school for the deaf and the Silent Afromime Troupe. The mimes were all done by profoundly deaf artistes. For those who are hearing or hard-of-hearing, you'd be impressed with how their bodies move in sync with the beatings of the drum. Out in the hearing world, if your dance step is off, you have no rhythm or whatnot. But who cares in the DeafWorld, you enjoy what you see and enjoy the vibrations. The mime started with a heavily-pregnant woman who was ready to pop. The next scene showed the formerly pregnant lady who is now a new mother, carrying her newborn and a jubilant husband/father. His mood soon changed to frustration indicating that nobody in his family line was deaf and that his child cannot or should not be deaf. He urged his crying wife to send the child away (to where? Who knows?) He later changes his mind and charged his wife to send the child to school. The end of that mime was met with exuberant waves-synonym to the noisy claps of the hearing world.
Now. The nursery school students presentations stirred a lot of interest. Why? When I was at about their age, I was forced, admonished, encouraged, compelled to do the oralism ie oral talk not signtalk (even though my classmates and I would do sneaky signtalks every now and then). But here, these students signtalk totally as their only means of communication. I am not going into the merits and demerits of that right now. What is important to note is that they are already communicating! Not among themselves but learning. In countless cases in Nigeria, unfortunately many deaf children don't even go to school until they are about 10! And that is usually the time they start to communicate ie signtalk. It is commonly known that a hearing child picks her/his (speech) language skills from interacting with the immediate environment from a very early age. A child hears sounds and can make sense of what s/he hears; not so the deaf child. A child is not born with (knowledge of) signtalk and so has to be taught. The theme for this year's International Week of the Deaf is ' Deaf Children: Their Right to Education in Sign Language'.
This is a 10.28min video clip taken during the conference. The lady in the pink outfit is the principal of the special school whose nursery students made the presentation. Apologies for making you view the video at such an abnormal angle.
I'll get back to what happened yesterday at the rally in my next post later...
And thanks for reading!