Samoa celebrates sign language

A day full of fun activities focused on sign language capped off festivities for the International Week of the Deaf and the International Sign Language on Saturday.

The event was organised by the Samoa Association of Sign Language Interpreters (S.A.S.L.I.) in partnership with the Deaf Association of Samoa (D.A.S.).

Members of the community with a hearing disability were joined by their families by kick starting their activities walking along the seawall from the Government building towards Taumeasina Hideaway where they played games.

President of S.A.S.L.I., Taase Auva'a said that the crucial use of sign language for the deaf community emphasises the principle of “nothing about us without us.”

She said the event also aimed at building the relationship between S.A.S.L.I. and D.A.S. and to show those with a hearing disability that we value sign language.

“For those with a hearing disability, they face challenges such as not enough support from families, work places and villages in terms of language becoming a barrier,” she said.

“A lot of people do not have knowledge of how to use sign language which is why we try and encourage families to be part of our associations so they can learn the language and use at home to communicate with their loved ones.

“The greatest help from members of the public for those with a hearing disability is to try and support them instead of mocking them in discriminatory ways for using sign language.”

According to a media release from S.A.S.L.I., in December 2018, the World Federation of the Deaf adopted and announced the theme “Sign Language Rights for All” for the 2019 International Week of the Deaf which includes the International Day of Sign Language.

“This year, marks the first year, the United Nations announced the celebration of the International Day of Sign Language as an important milestone in our international promise “to leave no one behind” and the principles of the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities for equality, especially in terms of accessibility, that allows an individual freedom of choice, dignity and independence of self without discrimination.”


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