Deaf Achievers Awards 2021

The annual SADeaf Deaf Achievers Awards recognise the achievements of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing persons in various spheres such as sports, academics and other areas. The awards also acknowledge the contributions of the individuals, donors, organisations and ambassadors to our community.

The image shows 5 separate photos of the five award winners and their names.

Outstanding Deaf Student (Secondary Education): Ms Hannah Maria Gomez
Outstanding Deaf Student (Vocational Institute): Ms Gan Jun Huan
Outstanding Deaf Student (Tertiary Education): Mr Elliot Tang Z-Kai
Special Talent: Mr Muhammad Ammar Nasrulhaq
Teacher of the Year: Mr Wong Tuck Seng (ITE College West)

Watch the full video of the Deaf Achievers Awards 2021 ceremony here! (With SgSL interpretation and English captions.)

Celebrating Thriving Deaf Communities: IWD 2021

The annual celebration of Deaf communities, the International Week of the Deaf People (IWDP) 2021, was observed from 20 to 24 September 2021. This is the second year running that SADeaf celebrated and organised our own IWDP events online – via official Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Graphic showing the text: Celebrating Thriving Deaf Communities, International Week of the Deaf People 2021, International Day of Sign Languages 2021, Singapore Sign Language Awareness Week 2021

Aligned to the theme “Celebrating Thriving Deaf Communities”, our programme lineup showcased the history of the Deaf in Singapore, local organisations working with the Deaf, as well as various D/deaf families and individuals sharing their experiences with hearing loss, as well as their interests and careers. We are proud to be able to publicise these stories of members of the Deaf community who are succeeding in life and contributing to our thriving community.

Screenshot of the live dialogue between families sharing their experiences as families with deaf members
Screenshot of the live dialogue between families sharing their experiences as families with deaf members
Escape Room participants posing for photos after completing the game
Escape Room participants posing for photos after completing the game

This year’s IWDP programme also included online games Escape Room and Murder Mystery to engage members of the D/deaf community and their friends. Many were excited and intrigued in the games and enjoyed themselves in solving the puzzles and mysteries.

If you missed the event or wish to revisit the content, head over to this playlist.

Below are some of the popular videos among viewers.

Deaf Lives – Elizabeth Khoo

History of the Deaf in Singapore 

Deaf Experience in WWII 

A screenshot of Neo Tick Tiong sharing his experience in world war 2.
Neo Tick Tiong sharing his experiences in WWII.

Dialogue: Sign as a Family

Workshop for Tertiary Students and Signifique

Screenshot of Zoom session showing the participants.
Screenshot of Zoom session showing the participants.

SADeaf organised our first-ever workshops on Deaf Culture, Community and Language and United Nations on the convention for Persons with Disability (UNCRPD) on 19 June 2021 and and 17 July 2021. The. 57 participants were from NTU WSC RSPDC, MediSign, NP Hi! Club, RP DEAFining, SP Sign Language Club and Signifique. 

The workshop, conducted via Zoom, provided the audience with an intensive knowledge of Deaf culture, community, history, language and what the UNCRPD was about. It was presented by James Ong from the SADeaf Deaf Studies Department and assisted by SADeaf community interpreter, Haizer. 

By James Ong, SADeaf

Amplified: Stories and voices of growing up with deafness

A collaborative creative writing project by SADeaf Itinerant Support Service (ISS), Amplified is a collection of short stories on the real-life experiences of growing up with hearing loss. 

As part of the preparatory process, a full-day writing workshop was held to guide the participants with their brainstorming. This was held online on 16 and 17 July 2021 for the primary and secondary students respectively.

The writing workshop helped participants get started on owning their voice as a hard-of-hearing child, their triumphs and struggles and experiences. 

Among the topics were: Understanding what a personal narrative is and the processes in writing one; using various techniques to enhance their writing and sustain the reader’s attention; and using graphic organisers to plan their story.

By the end of the workshop, participants successfully identified their topics and were able to confidently share their ideas with one another.. and had started on their story drafts!

By Joan Peh, Case Manager, ISS

Storytelling and Poetry Workshops for Sign Language Instructors 

Especially for our sign language instructors, the Deaf Studies Department organised a 2-day workshop. Held on 28 June and 30 June 2021, it was conducted by Mr Anthony Chew, a former Hi! Theatre actor who is well versed in storytelling and poetry in SgSL . 

Conducted on Zoom for nine participants, the workshop was an enjoyable and insightful one which covered topics such as: The elements of storytelling in SgSL and SgSL poetry, practical examples and more!

Screenshot of Zoom session showing the participants.
Zoom workshop for Storytelling and Poetry in SgSL conducted by Mr Anthony Chew (top row, third from left) 

Telling Tales, the SgSL Way!

During the March 2021 school holidays, excited children and parents were drawn into the world of storytelling in Singapore Sign Language (SgSL) at four public libraries – Ang Mo Kio, Toa Payoh, Bedok and Jurong West.

The well-known stories of The Sleeping Beauty and The Little MatchStick Girl were told in Singapore Sign Language. The children were curious to find out that the storyteller is deaf and used sign language to tell the stories, aided by a hearing interpreter. The kids also learnt vocabulary signs found in the stories and definitely took to it! One even asked for the sign of the word ‘handsome’ as she was curious to know this after learning the sign for ‘beauty’. 

Due to the pandemic and social distancing rules, the storyteller wore transparent face mask so that the audience could see his facial expression easily. Facial expression, as they discovered too, is part of sign language!

By James Ong, SADeaf

Champions on the track!

Photo of medals held by students standing in a circle. Only the medals and hands/arms can be seen.
Glittering rewards!

Seven deaf students from Mayflower Primary School participated in the Haw Par Junior and Youth Athletics Meet 2021 on 20 March 2021. The event was organised by the Para Athletics Singapore and supported by the Singapore Disability Sports Council.

Our students clinched 5 gold medals, 5 silver medals and 2 bronze medals in the U11 and U13 category.

Congratulations to all the winners and participants of this event! 

Six masked students holding their medals and standing behind the podiums for first to third place winners. Behind them is a board with the text "Haw Par Junior and Youth Athletics Meet 2021"
One for all, all for one!
Six unmasked students standing on the track and giving thumbs up.
Thumbs up on the track!

Editorial: New Beginnings

Somewhere, over the..
Photo by Alvan Yap

Dear reader, you might have noticed the previous issue of Signal (Jan-Dec 2019) was available only as an online PDF file. Yes, we had gone fully digital. But this time and in future, we are not even doing PDFs anymore.

Instead, we are relaunching Signal as a fully online newsletter as a blog.

Why? We want to make it convenient for you, go green and be financially prudent.

Convenience: Signal’s focus will be on longer and more in-depth pieces and human interest stories – on people, news and happenings in the community. Kicking off the revamped Signal is a feature story on the grassroots-led organisation Deaf Hiking Singapore Group.

If you know of any Deaf/hard-of-hearing people and Deaf-related groups or organisations or businesses which you feel should be in this series “Deaf Stories”, do let us know. We’ll be happy to shine a well-deserved spotlight on them.

Another advantage of going online: Signal will be able to roll out SADeaf post-event reports and photos more quickly on an as-needed basis, under the new series “Dispatches from SADeaf”. This means no waiting for the next issue of Signal to be published three or five months down the road. In this issue, we focus on how SADeaf staff coped with circuit breaker measures and working remotely to serve our clients as best as we could.

Eco-friendly: Put simply, no paper is used in printing the newsletters. We reduce the usage (and wastage) of paper. Since newspapers, magazines, bills, bank statements are all becoming e-copy only, why not Signal too?

Cost: We save on design, printing, postage fees without having to compromise on the content and quality of the newsletter. This is especially important as we face cost-cutting pressures as the economy – and donations – falter.

If you have been wondering when this issue would appear, thank you for your patience! We also apologise for the lengthy wait and hope you enjoy this latest edition.

Important note: For latest news, public updates and announcements of upcoming events, SADeaf has been posting these on our social media. These will no longer appear in our Signal newsletter.

Why? These channels are more suitable for such updates and news. So do check out our Facebook page and website (for everyone/public), as well as our Mailchimp EDMs (emails to clients, members, volunteers).

Lastly, we welcome your feedback, tips and contributions, and story ideas! Just email us at ca@sadeaf.org.sg.

Happy reading!

From the editorial team, Alvan Yap & Teo Zhi Xiong

p/s: If you are a member or client of SADeaf and are not unable to access online versions of Signal, please write in to ca@sadeaf.org.sg to let us know.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Jurong Rail tunnel? Been there – underground and in darkness.

Kusu Island? They sailed, they saw, and they conquered.

A 44-km one-day hike across Singapore? Done that too.

Name any walking trail, nature park, PCN route, or obscure nook and cranny in Singapore, they have all done it. And you can also bet this group of Deaf and hard-of-hearing hikers have already left their footprints there – sometimes more than once!

Deaf Hiking Singapore (DHSG) was set up by husband-and-wife team Luo Yong Ming and Jessica Mak. It has gone from strength to strength since their first hike in mid-2018. Two years on, DHSG is a thriving community that organises regular weekend hikes popular with deafies across a wide range of ages, backgrounds, and physical fitness levels. The group even boasts its own DHSG-branded tees, neck gaiters, and bag tags!

Origins Of The Super Hikers
But how did it all come about? According to Jessica, she had come across her late father’s old travel photos which provided her and Yong Ming the spark of inspiration. Yong Ming’s abiding interest since the early 1990s in exploring and venturing to various “hidden and unfamiliar places” in Singapore was a key factor too. He was enthusiastic about planning and scouting routes as well as leading hikes.

A friend then asked them to organise an outing for a cancer survivors’ group called “Walk for Life”. This churned up interest among their deaf friends. They thought, why not organise their own outings? Things snowballed from there.

A Facebook group was created where they publicised the outings, set ground rules, gave advice on hiking matters, and allowed members (and their families and friends) to share stories of their adventures – whether hiking, mountain climbing, or running.

Describing themselves as “not hiking enthusiasts but ordinary hikers”, Yong Ming and Jessica say their goals for DHSG are to promote friendships and social interactions among deaf and hearing people.

They emphasised that everyone – deaf or hearing, friends, and family – are welcome as long as they are willing to learn and use sign language to communicate within the group. Developing a healthy lifestyle is also a bonus, they explained, because hiking also brings people out of their own comfort and give their legs and lungs a workout.

The duo has been heartened to see more people showing up for their weekly hiking fix. Each hike draws about two dozen to a record of 82 people – entire families have even shown up before. The youngest was a 4-year-old who gamely tagged along with his mother up the 394-meter-high Bukit Senaling!

The COVID-19 situation was no deterrence though DHSG temporarily halted its outings during the circuit-breaker. During the lull, they came up with other online activities as well as gave tips on routes for solo or small groups of hikers to try on their own. To the group members’ delight, the outings have since resumed – following safety measures of course – with the easing of restrictions.

Overcoming Challenges, Venturing Overseas
Teething issues in the early months include participants who turned up late, or were ignorant of safety rules or lack proper equipment. But these days, after more experience and exposure to hiking, the DHSG hikers are more prepared and responsible.

DHSG has also tested themselves by venturing overseas for tougher outings, mostly to Malaysia where members hiked various mountains such as Gunung Pulai, Gunung Lambak, and Mount Ophir. The duo cited climbing Mulu Pinnacles in Sarawak, Malaysia, and the 2,928m Mount Pulag in the Philippines (the country’s third-highest) as their most difficult hikes so far and the proudest achievements by DHSG.

The most memorable trip? Definitely, the time where five of the 14 deaf hikers on a mountaineering trip to Malaysia got lost in the dark and were stranded overnight in chilly temperatures.. thankfully all emerged safe and sound the next day.

What’s Next For DHSG?
Looking ahead, Jessica and Yong Ming hope to see the group continue to grow and have more members who can hike longer distances of 10km and beyond, as well as groomimg others to organise and lead hikes.

And true to their intrepid spirit, the couple also professes a whimsical wish.. for Singapore “to build a mountain!” (And no, Bukit Timah doesn’t count!)

Walk on.

To find out more about DHSG, visit their Facebook page and apply to join the group (subject to its terms and conditions, and acceptance by the administrators). You can also check out the DHSG Instagram page: @deafhikingsg. All photos courtesy of DHSG, with thanks.

By Alvan Yap, Editorial Team, Signal