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) 

Film Review: Sound of Metal

The Projector, Singapore’s iconic cinema which focuses on screening arthouse films, had kindly invited SADeaf to the press preview screening of the film “Sound of Metal” on 16 March 2021. The film, which is exclusively screened by The Projector, has been nominated for the 2021 Oscars in the following categories: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Film Editing, Best Sound, and Best Original Screenplay.

Two SADeaf staff attended the preview and penned their impressions here. Enjoy!

By James Ong

The “Sound of Metal” is a story about a hearing man whose life was affected after being exposed to excessive noise. Eventually, he lost his hearing and decided to seek help. He decided to have a cochlear implant operation, but faced new struggles in the hearing world.

The highlights and themes of the movies for me were:

Subtitles and captions: It provides accessibility for the Deaf community who enjoys watching movies. Deaf and hard-of-hearing people can read the English subtitles. For sounds, we can also read the description of the sounds in square brackets.

Being deaf is not a handicap: That is not something to be fixed. At school, Deaf children enjoyed communicating with their peers. They found joy in using sign language. Sign language can be conveyed, thought, manipulated, and so on. The Deaf don’t need their deafness to be repaired or fixed.

Two different worlds: This man experienced two worlds – hearing and deaf. He once enjoyed music and had a hearing girlfriend. Suddenly the world of silence came in. He felt very frustrated at the loss of hearing. He was brought to the Deaf world. He again felt lost when he was asked to sit with the Deaf friends at the table. They were signing all the way. After getting the cochlear implant, he was in a dilemma as to whether to identify himself as a Deaf or hearing person. At the end of the story, he was given a choice between the hearing and Deaf worlds.

Concluding thoughts: The movie is a good exposure for the hearing in general and for them to understand how the hearing person who, having lost his hearing gradually, faces different issues in the hearing society. Which choice did the man make in the end? Watch the movie to find out!

By Neo Hock Sik

“Sound of Metal” is a truly touching movie. It is about the challenges Ruben, a drummer, faced when he started to lose his hearing. It reflected the deaf ways of living and communication.

One memorable scene was when Ruben was first introduced to a group of deaf people in a church shelter who used American sign language. Ruben’s eyes were focused on the hand movements, but he could not grasp what they were talking about.

Another touching scene was when Ruben learnt how to fingerspell his name. And of course the incident when he joined a finger-spelling game in the church shelter, lost a few games and tried again until he beat someone, and we could see and feel that sense of achievement he felt. Ruben’s experience with his cochlear implants, which he sacrificed much to afford, was also an eye-opener.

To me, the movie shows that deafness is not a handicap and is accepted as part of the Deaf Culture. Sign language can be used as a communication language. Those who lose their hearing have to learn to accept themselves as part of the Deaf world. It gives valuable insights into life challenges associated with hearing loss. Hearing people will learn how to help deaf people to cope better with the hearing world. It shows that cochlear implants have both pros and cons.

I feel this movie will appeal to all, hearing and deaf, especially parents of deaf children and those who are interested to work with the Deaf.

SADeaf wishes to thank The Projector for the preview invite as well as sponsoring ten tickets to our clients to catch the film. 

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

Just Follow The Law

SADeaf organised our first-ever Talk on Criminal Law on 20 November 2020, Friday, in collaboration with the NUS Law Pro Bono Office.

The session was held via Zoom and was an illuminating one for participants to acquire basic knowledge about criminal law and related topics, including the process of investigation and trial, one’s rights and obligations during the processes, and on finding help and resources.

The interesting and informative talk was presented by NUS Law students – Mr Kyle Chong, Ms Brenda Mak, Ms Tapasya Singh and Ms Afifa Shafana. Mr Jaryl Lim, a practising lawyer, supervised them and was on hand to answer any questions from the participants through the SADeaf staff interpreter, Hanna.

SADeaf wishes to thank all the speakers for giving their time and effort to conduct this session for our community. We hope this is just the beginning of many more to come!

By Elizabeth Khoo, SADeaf

Sign Language Interpreters Appreciation Day 2021

On 21 February, 2021, SADeaf held its annual Community Interpreters (CI) Appreciation Day event. This was a way for SADeaf to show our gratitude to the CIs for contributing their services to SADeaf and the community. 

Due to Covid-19, the organising team conducted its first CI Appreciation Day event online and it was a tremendous success! We also engaged a vendor for a one-hour online terrarium-making workshop. Our Community Interpreters joined and partook in the activities. 

The event kicked off with Tay Lay Hong, Chairman of DAS Committee, and Alvan Yap, Deputy Director of SADeaf, giving their opening speeches. Ricky Lim, a co-founder of The Green Capsule then guided participants in the virtual terrarium workshop with materials delivered to them prior to the event. He explained that a terrarium is a small enclosure or closed container in which selected living plants and, sometimes, animals are kept and observed. The interpreters had the opportunity to be creative and customised their terrariums to their liking. 

The programme wrapped up with closing remarks by Yeo Wei Yong, Senior Manager (Communication Access) of DAS.

Finally, DAS would like to express its appreciation to all our interpreters for their hard work and contribution in providing access and link-ups of the Deaf Community with various institutions.  

We hope to continue working with the interpreters for future projects.

Special mention to the organising team: Wei Yong, Hanna, Azzam, Shimei, Rashidah and Khairiyah who showed great teamwork, zest, and enthusiasm in organising a fantastic event. 

By DAS (Communication Access) and Elizabeth Khoo, SADeaf 

Deaf Dialogue 2021

On Saturday 20 March 2021, from 2.30pm to 4.30pm, a Deaf Dialogue session was held by SADeaf.

Organised by the Advocacy Committee, the event saw Deaf and hard-of-hearing people as well as hearing allies from the community participating.

Zoom group photo of the participants and committee members

The session opened with a welcome speech from committee chairperson Lily Goh, followed by a presentation on past dialogue feedback and progress reports, and then the dialogue proper.

The one-hour-long discussion covered these perennially important topics: education, employment and accessibility. Participants took turns to raise issues affecting the Deaf and hard-of-hearing people, as well as give their feedback, suggestions and ideas to improving the lives of the community.

Our appreciation goes to all participants who took time and effort to share, our committee members and staff for planning and facilitating this event, as well as our interpreters and notetakers on duty.

Update: You can find the report of the dialogue here.

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!

Reaching For The Skies, Recording A Feat

For the past months, volunteers had descended upon SADeaf, online or in person, for the Song Signing Remotely project. Through song-signing, we aimed to showcase the beauty and versatility of sign language and generate interest among the public to learn more about Deaf Culture and raise of our very own local Deaf community and its unique language.

Led by dedicated volunteers Pet Tan and Leon Woo, together with SADeaf staff James Ong, Gophi Nathan and Neo Hock Sik, weekly online and physical practice sessions were conducted in which volunteers signers learnt how to sign the song ‘Reach for the Skies’. All practice sessions were conducted in compliance with safe distancing guidelines. 

The association has adapted quickly to the challenging times and continues to bring people together (albeit virtually) to spread deaf awareness. It’s been a fun and exciting experience learning more about the deaf culture and sign language through song signing, meeting new people along the way, and breaking the Singapore Book of Records at the same time!

– Lim Zhi Chiaw, volunteer signer

On 16 Jan 2021, 101 participants signed the song ‘Reach for the Skies’ via Zoom. What’s more, this performance clinched the award of Largest Mass Online Song Signing ever organised in the Singapore Book of Records. 

James Ong, Chairperson of the project, commented: “It was a difficult feat to have 101 signers on Zoom all at the same time. We managed it at the end of the day through everyone’s hard work. We would like to thank all participants involved in this project for their time and effort.”

Special Thanks to all volunteers who participated in the mass song signing!

1.       Amanda Wong

2.       Amelia Lim

3.       Aqilah binte Abdul Rahim

4.       Bee See

5.       Bernard Lim

6.       Bertilla Ang Eng Sim

7.       Camellia Binte Abd Gani

8.       Caryl Ong

9.       Casilda Kwok

10.   Celine Goh Si Li

11.   Chan Junheng

12.   Chan Yin King

13.   Chen Lee Zee Jerlyn

14.   Cheong Hui Jun

15.   Cheyenne Huiping Allenspach

16.   Chia Kim Tat

17.   Chia Ming Li, Claire

18.   Chia Qi En Joy

19.   Chiu Yan Yu

20.   Diana Eng

21.   Edna Lee Poh Hui

22.   Eileen Teo Yi Lin

23.   Fabrizio Righi

24.   Faith Ang Shi Huan

25.   Gabriel Chin Jing Zhe

26.   Gelene Toh Qiao Wen

27.   Glenn Lee Sheng En

28.   Goo Li Keng

29.   Ho Lian Qi

30.   Ho Zhi Ruo

31.   Iffah Iesa

32.   Janson Lim Tai Kearn

33.   Jessica Lim Jiaying

34.   Jessica Tan Jia Zhen

35.   Jo-Ann Enriquez

36.   Joanna Chua

37.   Judy Ang Kin Lin

38.   Justine Khoo

39.   Kelly Ng Sze Yin

40.   Khloe Lim Mei Hui

41.   Koh Zi Ling

42.   Kwek Fu Xuan

43.   Kwek Si Tong

44.   Lau Lip Siong Abraham

45.   Lee Li Xuan

46.   Lee Su Ann

47.   Lim Chae Yun

48.   Lim Yong Ping

49.   Lim Yun Ling Hazel

50.   Lim Zhi Chiaw

51.   Lina Ong

52.   Lok Xin Yu

53.   Loong Ying Qi Sheryl

54.   Mae Teo Kah Bee

55.   Mak Mei Hing

56.   Maureen Aquino

57.   Monica Tan

58.   Muhammad Danial Adam Bin Sudirman

59.   Neo Yin Jie

60.   Ng Mei Yee

61.   Noreen Taha

62.   Nur Afni Binte Abdullah

63.   Nurarina Awang

64.   Ojaswini Mishra

65.   Ong Sing May

66.   Pamela WZ Lee

67.   Pang Jia Yan Germaine

68.   Patricia Monkman

69.   Paulyn Soong

70.   Peh Tian Xin Natasha

71.   Peter Im Wai Hoe

72.   Poh Gek Hiang

73.   Qin Ping

74.   Sandeep Krishna

75.   Seow Jie Yong

76.   Serena Soh Hui Xin

77.   Sharmaine Pook

78.   Sherry Lim

79.   Sim Jia Rong

80.   Sim Jinrong

81.   Soong Wen Lin, Kaylin

82.   Sophie Tay

83.   Tan Jessie

84.   Tan Zhi Cong

85.   Tang Xin Ying

86.   Tay Le Yi, Latricia

87.   Teh Hui Yi

88.   Teo Hooi Pheng

89.   Teoh Yu Ting

90.   Verena Lee

91.   Xie Yi Ming

92.   Yaney Yusup

93.   Shalini Gidwani

94.   Neoh Yew Kim

95.   Jazmine Chua Perng Perng

Working Committee

96.   Pet Tan

97.   Leon

98.   Judy

99.   James Ong

100. Gohpi

101. Hock sik


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

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 to let us know.

Go Big or Go Home? DAS Did Both!

A screenshot of our online interpretation and notetaking service, together with live feed from news broadcast – all at the same time!

“Do we need to wear masks”?

“Will there be a lockdown?”

“How do we keep safe?”

Due to the COVID-19 crisis and the many uncertainties it brings, people are naturally more eager for news and updates. Likewise for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Knowing this, the Deaf Access Service (DAS) department went all out to fulfil a core task amid this challenging period: To provide timely and accessible information to the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

Along the way, we managed to achieve many firsts as well!

Among them is access to live announcements, public speeches, and press conferences – via live notetaking and interpretation services. These were broadcasted alongside the official video feeds (from Medicorp, CNA, etc) on our SADeaf Facebook page.

Another important step DAS took was to cover live events of national importance such as the Budget speeches, prime minister’s addresses to the public on the COVID-19 situation, May Day speech, Singapore GE2020 live debates, and voting results (comprising a marathon seven-hour session!), and National Day Parade.

Many of these marked the first time sign language interpretation and notetaking were provided. And for many deaf and hard of hearing people, it was, too, their first experience of instant access to such live events. 

Oh, We Also Go Remote

Circuit breaker measures also prompted the team of interpreters and notetakers to deliver services over digital platforms.

Just like most other workers affected by the circuit breaker measures, the DAS team had to adapt suddenly and rapidly, and we did. We converted our homes to makeshift workstations and studios on short notice. We battled poor internet connections, bad lighting, garbled audio, privacy woes, and other novel issues (“How does this Zoom thingy work ah?”). We learned to be flexible and innovative to find workaround solutions to still be able to provide access to clients.

It was a tough learning journey indeed.

And we could not have done it without the understanding, patience, and support of all of you – our clients, partners, and organisations that engage our services. The DAS communication access team is grateful for the feedback from the community on making our services even better.

We look forward to hearing from you and working with you – again!

By DAS (Communication Access), SADeaf