From 13 to 20 August 2022, SADeaf had the honour of working with the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) to hold a Human Rights and Sign Language Rights workshop in Singapore.
This 8-day workshop was conducted by WFD staff Susana Stiglich (Sign Language Rights Officer) and Alexandre Bloxs (Human Rights Officer). Held at the AVA room at SADeaf, the full-day training was an intense and immersive experience for all 12 participants from the local Deaf community.
The participants were a diverse lot, drawn from a wide range of ages, backgrounds and experiences. What they had in common was their desire to advance the Deaf causes. They were also eager to learn more about advocacy for equal access and equal rights for the Deaf community.
Using the framework of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which Singapore had ratified, the trainers dove deep and in detail about how it could help us push for improvements in policies and laws. They also shared many interesting and eye-opening case studies from their native Belgium and Peru, as well as many other countries, of how they had successfully achieved their goals. Some countries have enacted legislation which recognised the native sign languages as official languages; others have disability or Deaf-related laws protecting their right to equal treatment and access.
How could we learn from their journeys or adapt their tactics? How do we adapt advocacy strategies to Singapore’s socio-political setting and culture? How best to navigate our way through the challenges – of lobbying the authorities and having a say in policy making, of raising public awareness and empathy? These, and many more topics, were explored and discussed.
Such topics are usually dry and tedious but our intrepid trainers made it accessible and fun for us. So.. thank you, Alex and Susana, for ensuring the workshop was such an engaging and educational one!
Our appreciation goes, too, to the WFD and to The Nippon Foundation which funded this project.
Last and not least, a big thank-you to all Deaf participants who dedicated their time and effort to attend the entire workshop.
Text and photos by Alvan Yap