The silent and different world of the signers tries to blend in with the normalcy of usual communications. It is a natural challenge, life’s way of testing the grit of the most special individuals who depend on lip reading and sign language interpretation (SLI).
A rich and silent subculture
Signing is a special subculture that is completely different from the common myth that there is a single universal language for the hearing and speech impaired or both. Besides the international sign language, there are numerous other native variants.
Similarities may be there, but the languages often differ drastically. The communication in this domain is via hand, eye, and lip movements (and of course with the universal vernacular of smiles). Many individuals daily face the world of ‘normal’ people and claim extraordinary achievements.
The following motivating stories prove beyond doubt that nothing is impossible to achieve despite all natural challenges.
- The CSD Eagles Football Team: Along with head coach Warren Keller, all 19 players of the California School of the Deaf wreak havoc on the field exclusively with sign language. The challenges are plentiful, but the Eagles flies high where the noises of the world are absent. Using color-coded sideline boards and special communication signs, they became League Champions and were special citation finalists in Sportsman of the Year Award at the Sports Illustrated. In 2013, they were the winners in 10 games!
- The Story of Stephen Hopson: Born with hearing impairment, little Stephen tried hard to blend in with the rest of the class. Sometimes, he even laughed because the rest of the class was laughing, without any clue of what was happening. Then in fifth grade, Mrs. Jordan changed his life with three simple words. She just said ‘THAT’S RIGHT STEPHEN’ when he made the effort to answer a question. Stephen had been an award-winning stockbroker at Wall Street, and afterwards became a motivational speaker. He is also an author and the first deaf pilot ever to receive an instrument rating in 2006.
- The ‘SIGNS’ eatery in Toronto: Run exclusively by hearing impaired servers, the Canadian restaurant offers handy cheat sheets to diners so that they can communicate. The first-of-its-kind project in Canada offers employment to about 35 people with hearing issues. It is a huge community breakthrough and among the first signs of a wonderful future.
In fact, anyone can obtain SLI training from any of the recognized associations. The WASLI (World Association of Sign Language Interpreters), the ASI Network (American Sign Language), the ASLI (Association of Sign Language Interpreters), and the NAD (National Association of the Deaf) are some of the key worldwide centers where training and assistance is readily available.