Signs of Love: Reaching Rural Deaf Communities


Boys communicating using sign language in Kochi India
Elyse Patten, via Flickr

Liz Waid and Joshua Leo look at an organization helping deaf people in isolated communities. Signs of Love helps deaf people through Sign Language.

Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight, I'm Liz Waid.

Voice 2

And I'm Joshua Leo. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 3

If my hands can make a difference,
If my hands can make a friend,
Let my fingers do the talking,
And help make the silence end.

Voice 1

This is a poem by Stefanie Drown. This poem is about using your hands to talk. The poem says that hands can make a difference. It says hands can help people become friends. It says that people can use their hands to end silence. What does it mean?

Voice 2

Stephanie is talking about Sign Language. Sign Language is a method of communicating. A person using Sign Language does not need to speak or hear. Instead, Sign Language uses particular body movements to send a message. For example, a person using Sign Language moves his hand in a particular way. This movement, or sign, has a special meaning. It represents a word or an idea. Many people around the world use Sign Language to communicate.

Voice 1

When a baby is born his parents care for him. As he grows older his parents teach him their language. They teach him how to communicate with other people. In time, a healthy child learns how to communicate well. He tells others what he thinks. He uses his language to tell others what he needs and wants. He shares stories. He forms friendships. A person who can communicate well with others becomes part of a community.

Voice 2

But what about babies who cannot learn to speak? What about babies who cannot hear? Learning a language often depends a lot on what a person is able to hear. The World Federation for the Deaf estimates that there are 70,000,000 deaf people all around the world. They live in every country and city. But most of these deaf people live in developing countries.

Voice 1

Authorities in developing countries often do not know how to help these deaf people. They do not know what deaf people need or desire. Even people in their own communities often do not know how to treat deaf people. Many of these developing countries are poor. They do not have the resources to deal with the needs and desires of deaf people. This means that many times, deaf people are alone. They feel as if governments, authorities, friends, and even family have left them. Many families do not even know how to communicate with their own deaf family members. This may make the deaf person feel lonely. She may feel as if she has no worth. She has no way to communicate. She may feel as if she has no hope. Many organizations are working to fix these problems. One of these organizations is called "Signs of Love."

Voice 2

Robin Harter began Signs of Love. Her interest in Sign Language started when she was at university in 1990. The University required Robin to take a foreign language class. So, she attended a class about Sign Language. As she learned the language, she learned that she enjoyed signing very much. She also learned a lot about Deaf Culture. She began to work with the deaf in many different areas and groups. She worked with deaf people at her church. And she also interpreted, or translated, speech into Sign Language for deaf people.

Voice 1

In 1994, Robin went to Mexico with a group to teach people about Jesus Christ. In Mexico she saw that many deaf people there could not communicate - through any language. She wanted to do something, but she did not yet know what she could do.

Voice 2

The next year, in 1995, Robin went to work in Honduras. She was only supposed to be there for a short time. But again, she saw a great need. She felt God was calling her to do something. Deaf people in developing countries were not receiving help. No one was working with deaf people living in country areas. These people had no hope. They could not communicate with anyone. Robin knew she could do something to help these people. So, in 1999, she started a group called Signs of Love. She moved to Honduras and set up a group there.

Voice 1

Signs of Love says that many deaf people in many developing countries cannot read or write. They may only be able to communicate with a few people. Many cannot even write their own name. And most of them only know about 25 words. People in situations like this often have no hope of going to school, driving a car, voting, or even marrying who they want to marry! They are often physically or sexually abused. They are victims because they cannot communicate or tell authorities about the attack.

Voice 2

Signs of Love brings language to deaf people living in places like this. They teach Sign Language classes to deaf people. They train people who are hearing and people who are deaf. The people that Signs of Love train can teach other people Sign Language.

Voice 1

Sometimes communities are afraid of deaf people. So, Signs of Love also works with the community around deaf people. They teach the community what it means to be deaf. They teach the community that deaf people have value. They hope the community will accept deaf people and show them love and respect.

Voice 2

Signs of Love does all this work for one reason. They believe it is important to share the love of Jesus. They believe that part of showing love is being able to communicate. Signs of Love shows people what the love of Jesus means. Signs of Love began in Honduras. But today, they work in many places around the world. And they hope to expand to even more places.

Voice 1

Communication is important for all people. Sometimes we can be afraid of people who are different than we are. Or it seems too difficult to learn a new way to communicate with them. But it is still important to try and communicate. You could even learn Sign Language to help communicate with deaf people in need in your community. We close this program with the same poem we read in the beginning. As it is read, think about what your hands can do.

Voice 3

If my hands can make a difference,
If my hands can make a friend,
Let my fingers do the talking,
And help make the silence end.

Voice 2

The writer and producer of this program was Liz Waid. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes have been adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can hear this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called "Signs of Love: Reaching Rural Deaf Communities."

Voice 1

You can also leave your comments on our website. Or you can email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also find us on Facebook. Just search for spotlightradio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

Question:

Why do you think it is so important to be able to communicate with other people?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
tank!
said on June 07, 2011

it is very difficult to live people who have a problem with one of the five main senses of our lives. and also it is difficult to communicate with them. I am very glad that there are such communities that help them to fell not alone!!!and this community with such beautiful name gives them hope to go on to live!!!

Avatar Spotlight
Come_to_Daddy
said on June 07, 2011

You can find more on Google or youtube. Just find by sign language

Avatar Spotlight
Come_to_Daddy
said on June 07, 2011

Hmmmmm. There are too many sign languages all around the world. They should affiliate their sign languages and become one language.

Avatar Spotlight
Rain Bows
said on June 22, 2012

Now I want to learn sing language.
So many frustrations that I though I had, nothing compared with the frustrations that people who can not communicate.
I wonder what could I do to help.

Once again thanks for the program, the articles are always great!

Avatar Spotlight
Narath
said on June 22, 2012

I have one friend who is able to teach and translate the sign language for deaf people . When he showed me the sign language , everyone in my class is very interested and I find that he is making something different because among students in my class , there is no one is able to translate this language . Cambodia . It is useful and valued .

Avatar Spotlight
hophuongan
said on July 25, 2013

Thank Spotligh!
A spotlight is very meaning.
Helping deaf people is our responsibility who are living all the world. Because Giving is Receiving.

Avatar Spotlight
Hangcoi
said on July 25, 2013

it’s is very interesting when we know new culture - sign language. we can communicate with deaf people. But I don’t know how we can communicate with congentinal deaf people, because they don’t know about Alphabet???

Avatar Spotlight
vivianhuang
said on August 02, 2013

Wa..I do think it is a meaningful article.I am thankful to read it.
Yep,of course,sometimes if I meet that people who are different from me.It is hard to communicate with them.Even I will feel afraid.SHOW your love and try.You will know more about how to communicate with them.LOVE is patient and love is kind.Try try again,the world will be more beautiful.Let’s do it together!