DeafWire Edition – 16 March 2024

Weekly DEAFWIRE news recaps

Full DEAFWIRE videos can be seen



Failures in sign language access in education

New Zealand has two official languages, and they are Te Reo Māori and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). English is the de facto official language due to its widespread use. Despite NZSL’s official recognition in New Zealand, Deaf children still face barriers in education. The national organization of Deaf people, Deaf Aotearoa, recently filed a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman regarding the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) strategy to progress NZSL in education. Deaf Aotearoa did not believe that MOE’s NZSL strategy in education effectively addressed the long-term issues that Deaf students face. In their complaint, they explained that for many years, Deaf and hard-of-hearing people have encountered a range of barriers in accessing education, which has caused Deaf people to suffer from a lower level of education, limited options in schools, insufficient interpreters, and an inconsistent education system.


Disruption to performances

An arts charity in Hong Kong canceled three upcoming performances titled 'Pulse of Unity,' which were scheduled to be presented by the country’s first Deaf dance group, Fun Forest. The Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation (HKYAF) confirmed the cancellation of these community dance performances, scheduled for March 22 and 24, citing "changes in production arrangements." However, the foundation did not provide further details regarding the reasons behind the cancellation, including whether it was related to national security or politics. Founder of Fun Forest, Jason Wong Yiu-pong, who is a Deaf dancer, sign language interpreter, choreographer, and director, shared a screenshot of a Facebook post alleging that the sponsor, the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC), had canceled the performances due to his involvement in teaching sign language for the 2019 protest song "Glory to Hong Kong."

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* Non-Lecture-Track Lecturer, Rochester, NY
* Regional Reporter: Oceania (international)
* DeafGPS Researcher & Program Host (international)
* Senior Writer, Associate Producer (Canada)



Sign language interpreter issues

The Jamaica Debates Commission (JDC) is working to address concerns raised by members of the Jamaican Deaf community regarding the quality of sign language interpreters. During a recent local government election debate on Thursday, February 15th, Deaf community members criticized the Jamaican Sign Language (JSL) interpreter, stating they were not prepared to provide high-quality interpretation during the first debate. Kimberley Marriott Blake, Executive Director of the Jamaica Association for the Deaf, expressed concerns about the interpreter's performance, noting it fell short given the circumstances of the debate. Antoinette Aiken, a nationally recognized interpreter, observed that the interpreter failed to sign important information, making it difficult for Deaf individuals using JSL to understand the discussion. Additionally, the small screen size and the interpreter's clothing blending into the background made it even more challenging for the audience to follow the debate.

The Old Fogeys

See this week’s cartoon.

THE OLD FOGEYS – View cartoon


Deaf relationships with hearing people

In Nigeria, there are many individuals who were born Deaf or lost their hearing later in life. It's crucial to identify deafness early in children to prevent difficulties later on. When Deaf individuals marry and start families, communication can be challenging, especially if one partner is Deaf and the other is hearing. This communication barrier can stem from differences in language and culture, making it difficult to establish and maintain relationships. For example, if a man meets a Deaf woman, they may struggle to communicate effectively, particularly if they come from different cultural backgrounds. Despite their desire to marry, bridging this gap often requires a significant effort to learn sign language and understand each other's cultures. In some cases, Deaf couples have been discouraged from having children to avoid the possibility of their offspring being born Deaf, adding another layer of complexity to their lives. In Nigeria, there are numerous challenges faced by Deaf individuals and their families. Limited access to education and economic opportunities further exacerbate these difficulties, placing a heavy burden on families to provide for their Deaf children and ensure they have fulfilling lives. Its essential to promote understanding and acceptance of different cultures and to encourage inclusive relationships. 


What life is like

Hello my name is Silkidnle and I am from South Africa. We have 42 Deaf schools in 9 provinces in South Africa. All the Deaf schools that the Department of Education states that SASL in School Acts. We have Deaf Social Workers  who help with Deaf people who have problems with their families and help Deaf people gain employment. Hello, my name is Ivy. I want to see South Africa improve, such as having a Deaf president or ministers, and Deaf people who can manage in SASL. The South African government provides disability grants, scholarships for universities, and also provides training, for example, GBV or women empowerment.

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