A BRIDGE OF COMMUNICATION BETWEEN DEAF COMMUNITIES
In the hearing world, English is the key language for communication. But if you meet a person who does not know English, you cannot make a conversation or it's very hard to communicate through body language.
However, the deaf world has more advantages in communication than the hearing in certain ways. I am a hearing person and I have found out that deaf people can communicate with each other with less language barriers than the hearing. Isn't this amazing? Because we always say they are deaf, they cannot talk, so it must be hard to communicate with them. It does not seem right in that sense.
We, a group of deaf people in HCMC, are doing deaf tours in Vietnam for international deaf travellers and we have to be able to communicate with them through signs. We were told that there was no single sign langue that could be so popular and understandable like English. We thought we could never overcome this huge obstacle as our deaf guides could not learn many sign languages to communicate with deaf people of different nationalities.
Fortunately, some people had introduced I.S to us. We had not known anything about International Signs (I.S) untill 23 October when 2 Australian I.S experts came to teach us I.S for 1 week. It was great fun because those teachers had great sense of humour and huge experience and knowledge of signs in general.
The teachers did not know anything about Vietnamese Signs. The students did not know Australian signs, nor anything about I.S. But they could understand each other right from the beginning. Isn't that wonderful!
In our understanding, I.S is a group of international signs that are most visual, most understandable and selected from other national sign languages from the whole world. I.S can be invented at the time of communication. So it's a living "language". I.S does not apply any grammatical system. An expression in I.S can be shortened much more than in another sign language. I.S. expresses the most important words in a whole context of the whole sentence, not word by word. I.S does not have enough signs for everything, so explanations are main keys for understandings. When using I.S, a deaf person needs to be very creative and give clear explanations.
After just 1 week of learning I.S, some of the Vietnamese students could communicate fully with the teachers in I.S. The others felt much more confident when communicating with foreign deaf people. I also could communicate with one deaf teacher in I.S, or using visually understandable Vietnamese signs. Isn't that amazing? Do you know any genious people who can communicate in a new language after learning it for 1 week?
I.S is not recognized as a language yet, but it has become more and more popular. Hopefully more and more people will learn I.S to building a bridge of communication between the deaf communities and between the deaf and the hearing.
Our deaf giuides now can feel confident in communicating with deaf travellers from all over the world, even with those who do not know anything about I.S. We have understood that I.S can be in any sign language, so any deaf person can understand I.S more or less. We have realized that we have to use visually understandable signs and give clear explanations of our expressions. Then our thoughts will get across.
I just want to share with you some thoughts about using I.S.
You are more than welcome to share with us your thoughts and perceptions of I.S or communication of the deaf.