You know what’s the BEST thing about being a Deaf traveller?
The ability of using sign language no matter where you go!
This is me signing to a friend at the recent 2nd International Conference of the World Federation of the Deaf.
I was first introduced to International Sign (IS) at a national leadership camp organised by Deaf Australia back in 2003. From that point on, I was intrigued to learn more but did not get a chance to do so until I went to the 20th Summer Deaflympics, which was held in Melbourne, Australia during the summer of 2005.
It was so easy to understand and I was pleasantly surprised. I also found that I had the ability of picking up on more IS, and as well learning other sign languages from all over the world. I also found that sign language had the ability of connecting the Deaf community on an international level, and it was absolutely amazing to be a part of the international Deaf community.
You’d see a large group of Deaf people signing away to each other, no matter where they come from. With sign language, communication barriers are broken and new friendships are created. Amazing.
I’ve had a couple of Deaf people from overseas stay at my old apartment, which I shared with 3 other girls (there were 4 of us – 2 Deaf and 2 CODAs – then later on, 3 Deaf and 1 CODA), and I was able to polish up on my IS skills nearly every summer. I loved that experience.
My recent trip to Europe and being a delegate at the WFD Conference allowed me to use IS, British Sign Language (BSL) and American Sign Language (ASL), alongside with Auslan. Again, I was amazed at seeing Deaf people from all over the world connecting with each other through sign language.
At the WFD Conference, it was the first time I had seen a team of sign language interpreters working together, interpreting in SIX different sign languages (Auslan, IS, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish and ASL) at the same time!!!
Most importantly, as for the majority of Deaf people and CODAs, English is not our first language, therefore it puts us at an advantage while travelling as we are able to use sign language to break down communication barriers with people we meet through our travels – and it is also advantageous for haggling at markets! 😉
This not only applies to Deaf people, but to sign language interpreters, CODAs, teachers of the Deaf, parents of deaf children, and everyone else within the Deaf community.
I wrote about my experience at the WFD Conference a couple of weeks ago – it’s revelant to this post, so go and have a read! 🙂
Yours in sign language,
CODA – Child of Deaf Adult.