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Exploring a world of silence

March 4, 2007

UNDERSTANDING DEAF CULTURE
Malaysian Perspectives
Publisher
: Majudiri Y Foundation for the Deaf, 150 pages
(ISBN: 983-43305-0-2) 

JUST as all the races in our country have their own culture, so too does the deaf community. Deaf culture is not merely about the things that members of the hearing-impaired community do today but also the way things were done in the past, and the sorts of obstacles they have had to overcome, particularly in educating the Malaysian hearing community. 

 

It is interesting to read how the deaf community has had to overcome things like fear and misinformation within their own families. This includes going through “healing” sessions for their deafness.  

This book highlights how deaf people in Malaysia do many things that the rest of us take for granted on a daily basis. This includes hearing the doorbell, communicating on the phone, watching TV and even getting the attention of a hall full of people.  

The illustrations and first-person accounts from the deaf and people involved with the deaf community give readers a better insight into the world of the deaf. 

It is an honest look at the deaf community in Malaysia and not a sugarcoated view. This book tells it as it is. 

One of the stories I found intriguing was that of a young deaf man who frankly stated that he preferred dating a hearing woman rather than a deaf woman. His reasons were that the hearing woman was more encouraging of his work ambitions and when there were disagreements they talked it out.  

In comparison, the deaf woman he dated asked him why he bothered working so hard and when there were disagreements, other deaf people became involved. 

Another interesting item that readers will learn is that Sign Language is not universal. There are many different versions of Sign Language and they’re endemic to that country or region.  

So, even if you learn Sign Language in Malaysia, do not assume that you will be able to communicate easily with the deaf from anywhere in the world. Some signs may mean one thing in our country but they may be an obscenity in another country. 

I found this book educational and refreshingly honest. It not only taught me how the deaf “hear” their alarm clocks, it also traces the history of the deaf in Malaysia, in particular in education, and highlights current achievements of the deaf in sports, arts and education. 

The book also debunks some myths that the hearing might have about the deaf. There’s also a list of deaf schools and deaf organisations.  

Don’t forget to check out the tips for communicating with the deaf. I found the do’s and don’ts very practical for daily interaction with the deaf. 

This book is a laudable attempt by Majudiri Y Foundation for the Deaf to educate the hearing community in the hope that the hearing will better understand the deaf and be more sensitive when interacting with them. 

I would highly recommend this book for all those who have a deaf member in the family or a deaf relative, friend or colleague. Even if you don’t know any deaf people, you should read it because it will help you understand the deaf community better and open your eyes to a lot of things that are distinct to the deaf. 

Kudos to the Deaf Foundation on publishing this book.

http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2007/3/4/lifebookshelf/16683707&sec=lifebookshelf

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  1. Working_Brain
    March 4, 2007 at 8:31 pm

    interesting, Fookem. FYI, Malaysia has its own version of the deaf cultural wars going on, just like we do. The Majudiri ‘Y’ Foundation might be thought of as the sim-com/SEE/total communication camp, and there are other national and local groups that may be thought of as the “true” Malaysia Sign Language camp. Oh well. I guess any information is better than none.

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