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October 12, 2003

Need for sign language dictionary for deaf community stressed

From: Daily News, Sri Lanka - Oct 12, 2003

Attanagalla special correspondent

The importance of creating a sign language dictionary and telecasting news on the same for the benefit of Sri Lanka's deaf community was stressed at a media conference to mark the International Day for the Hearing Impaired, held at Islamic Centre for the Physically Handicapped (ICPH), Thihariya last week.

The Heads of several deaf schools in the island who attended the conference urged the authorities to attend to this issue which ensures the deaf community's right for information.

Dr. M. M. Amanudeen, Clinical Supervisor, Physiotherapy, London, Stanley Samarakoon, Lion-306 B District Co-ordinator Hassim Omar, Advisor, Lions club Intl. Ms N. G. Kamalawathie, President, Disabled Women's Association, Talawa, A'pura, Sisira Kotalawala, Program Director, SLRC, P. Balasingham, Associate Editor Daily News, District Chairman, Hearing and Speech Action Lions Club International 306 B, Al haj Jiffrey Haniffa were present. Addressing the conference, Al haj Jiffrey Haniffa said countries like Norway, Canada, Saudi Arabia provide support for hearing-impaired persons to receive higher education and to live a happy and contented life.

However, in Sri Lanka, very few deaf children reach university level, not due to their physical or mental inability but due to lack of facilities and attention given to them.

Haniffa pointed out that one important step in helping deaf students of Sri Lanka was to create a national sign language dictionary to allow effective communication between the deaf people and others.

Anuradhapura, Talawa, Disabled Women's Association President N. G. Kamalawathie emphasised the need to come up with a policy at national level to give hearing impaired persons food to thrive in mind and body. Even the Asian countries like Bangladesh has already done this.

But, we in Sri Lanka are still lagging behind, she lamented. Having travelled in many parts of the world, it would be fair to say that Sri Lanka is at snail's speed in this regard, she added. Lions Club International 306 B District Co-ordinator of Hearing Impaired, Stanley Samarakoon said the deaf people needs to be respected and their need for a healthy, physically active and socially-balanced life need to be understood by us.

H. P. N. Lakshman, Deputy Director (Special Education) said that a committee in the National Institute of Education (NIE) was in the process of studying the possibilities of creating a sign language dictionary. It is still at research level, he said. He paid a tribute to the ICPH, commending its facilities available for the special education of the disabled.

Leading persons engaged in the technical and vocational training sector participated.

Copyright © 2003 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.