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November 14, 2004

Be a friend to the deaf

From: The Malaysia Star - Malaysia - Nov 14, 2004


HOW about being a friend to the deaf by learning to sign? Pusat Majudiri "Y" for the Deaf has designed a course for children who have no previous knowledge of sign language.

The aim of this course is to enable children to develop capabilities in non-verbal language, visual gestures and to learn to communicate in signs in a fun and exciting way.

"These courses, which are taught by our deaf instructors, promise to be exciting and interesting for the children," says the centre's executive-in-charge Lucy Lim.

Courses are only held in Kuala Lumpur for the moment as there is a lack of instructors in Penang.

Lim explains that various methods such as mime, group work, quizzes and interaction with other deaf children will be employed to enhance the learning of signs.

The course will focus on signs relating to common household items, family, animals, food and emotions.

"Sign language is a crucial tool that facilitates communication and greater interaction between the deaf and society," she says.

"The course aims to foster greater awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by deaf children in general.

"It is a visual language which possesses a structure, grammar and syntax of its own. Like any other language, it can express complicated, intricate concepts with the same degree of explicitness and eloquence as spoken language," she says.

Sign language differs from spoken languages in that it is visual rather than auditory and is composed of precise hand shapes, facial expressions and movements.

Since the centre launched its book "S.I.G.N.S for Children" last month, it has received many calls from parents wanting to send their children to learn signing during the school holidays.

Lim says the book on Malaysian Sign Language or Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia (BIM) is in a clearly defined format for deaf children and their families.

"This handy and user-friendly book is to encourage children, even from a very young age, to communicate meaningfully with their parents and siblings," she explains.

The book has over 200 common signs or words ideal for children of all ages and divided into the following topics: Family, Transportation, Animals, Food, Time, Place, People, Household Items, Toys/Games, Plants, Pronouns, Verbs, Adjectives and Opposite Words. It also includes BIM number signs and BIM manual alphabet for handy reference.

The classes, with a maximum of 20 children each, are open to those aged between seven and 12.

Classes will be held from Dec 13 to 17, from 9.30am to 12pm. The cost of RM150 includes materials and snacks.

A special ICT camp targeted at deaf primary and secondary students will also be held from Dec 6 to 9.

The objectives of the camp are to help deaf students gain IT skills as well as interact with new friends.

The cost of RM100 includes lunch and materials.

For more information on both the sign language courses and ICT camp, contact Morley Ng at 03-2274 1439, fax: 03- 2274 0559 or e-mail

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