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March 8, 2003

Deaf invited to join key club

From: Gulf Daily News, Bahrain - 08 Mar 2003


BRITISH Sign Language (BSL) speakers are being invited to join a signing club, which is being set up in Bahrain.

Volunteer BSL teacher Serena Taylor is leaving Bahrain after seven months to take up a job in Britain and hopes that the club will be able to offer continuing support to BSL speakers.

The club will meet on the first Thursday of every month at Ria Integration in Adliya, at a time to be set.

The aim is to offer emotional, social and practical support to the deaf, hard of hearing and those who wear hearing aids, who can speak BSL.

It will also give hearing participants the chance to practice their sign language and make friends with the deaf.

Ms Taylor, who is a lawyer by profession, came up with the idea after volunteering at Ria, where she taught two deaf children sign language and led an Intensive Beginners Course in BSL for adults.

She was only able to find a handful of BSL speakers and thought that they needed a forum to meet so they were less isolated.

Most deaf people in Bahrain speak Arabic sign language, which has different signs and sentence structures to BSL.

"Now I'm going back to England I'm worried about the future," said Ms Taylor.

"There must be other people needing a support group who are deaf, hard of hearing or wearing hearing aids.

"The club would also be open to hearing members, who could come to practice their sign language."

Getting hearing people and the deaf together in a social environment is very important, says Ms Taylor.

Many deaf people feel isolated because they find that hearing people are too uncomfortable to talk to them.

"People keep away from the deaf because they feel that it's impolite to point out someone's disability, for example by speaking very slowly, and it makes them uncomfortable," she remarked.

"But most deaf people can lip read and they don't mind at all if it means that they can communicate.

"They can also talk in writing.

"The deaf live in a very secluded world and if they can get together then they can help each other out.

"The deaf could also socialise with hearing people who are not embarrassed to talk to them at the club."

Participants could swop BSL resources, such as books, videos and CD-Roms.

A BSL teacher would be particularly welcome to broaden the vocabulary and skills of those who have taken the basic course, added Ms Taylor.

Anyone wishing to join the group should contact Ms Taylor on 9236288 by Wednesday or Christine Hasan on9899030 .

Copyright ©2002 , Gulf Daily News