What do you know about the deaf

Deaf in the family – told by sexologist Kinga Sankowska – What do you know about the deaf #10

Welcome to the 10th episode of "What do you know about the deaf?". In this episode, sexologist Ms. Kinga Sankowska will talk about her relationship with her deaf brother - what they looked like when she didn't know sign language, and what they look like now that she knows Polish sign language. Ms. Kinga will also tell how she uses her knowledge of Polish Sign Language in her work. And those who learn to sign will also learn new sign signs!

Hi, my name is Kinga Sankowska. I’m a sexologist, I work with the Deaf Development Center. My sign sign is “SANKI” (sled). I will tell you how I learned Polish Sign Language and specialized vocabulary, Knowledge of which is essential in the work I do.

Why did I learn to sign in Polish Sign Language?

I have a deaf brother and the world of the deaf has always been close to me. Unfortunately, I have not learned sign language from birth, Interestingly, neither did my brother. My brother started his education at the age of 7, when he went to a school for the deaf, at Plac Trzech Krzyży in Warsaw. At home, when we were still children with my brother, We educated our home signs and we supported ourselves in communication by dactylography, or sign language alphabet.

The consequences of not knowing sign language

When I grew up, I realized, That the difficulty in building a relationship with my brother stemmed from communication problems. I had little knowledge of sign language, and my brother had an equally poor command of Polish language. There were many misunderstandings and unnecessary nerves. I did not understand what his lack of knowledge of the Polish language, That it is not a matter of laziness and definitely a more complex problem.

Susan Dupor „The Family Dog”

My brother is the only deaf person in the family. I never thought about it, how often he is excluded from access to information. This reflection occurred, when I saw the image Susan Dupor’s “The Family Dog”. The painting depicts a hearing family at the dinner table, and on the carpet like a dog, lies a deaf man, Who is a passive companion to the meeting. Everyone loves him, but does anyone asks him for his opinion, Does his opinion matter to anyone?

This image shook me. Suddenly I could see clearly, That my brother was being discriminated against and excluded even among those closest to him. Only then did I notice, how many times we sat down at the table, and my brother didn’t really did not participate in these meetings. When we grew up and wanted to talk about more serious topics, we suddenly found that it was difficult for us to communicate, and simple signs invented in childhood are insufficient. With more serious arrangements nerves began to show. Each of us lived our conjectures and stereotypes. If one can speak at all about any kind of relationship, it was ours that was fatal.

Help without knowing sign language

Our parents unfortunately died quickly and on many issues my brother asked me for help. This help was due to his insufficient knowledge of the Polish language. I tried to be an interpreter at the doctor’s office, at the office, during a job interview and on many other occasions. I explained as much as I could. Often, instead of focusing on translation, I was simply running errands for my brother, taking responsibility. It frustrated me a lot, because I had a lot of my own responsibilities, and here there were also the needs of my brother.

“The only solution is to learn sign language decently”

At one point I was so sick of it, That I thought the only solution is to learn sign language decently. Then I can explain to my brother, how he should handle the matter himself. I started looking for courses. While browsing through offers on the Internet, I came across an offer to study at the University of Warsaw — Polish Sign Language Philology (FPJM), For which recruitment was just underway. I was surprised, that such a course existed. The study program focused is not only on learning the language, but also on learning about deaf culture. I thought it was the perfect field of study for me. Knowledge from FPJM I will be able to use not only to improve communication with my brother, but also business-wise.

As a sexologist who knows Polish Sign Language, I will also be able to receive deaf or hard of hearing clients. At the University of Warsaw, sign language Sign language is taught by deaf lecturers. It’s extremely important that sign language is taught by deaf people. It turned out that one of the lecturers, is also a sexologist, His name is Luke Krysa. Signs from the sexological area I learned from him.

Implications of knowing sign language

The study program and many interesting classes dedicated to the deaf From the socio-cultural side have changed my perspective. I see my brother completely differently and the deaf community. The moment I looked at the deaf community From the perspective of a minority language and culture, realized that deaf people don’t need at all, to get things done for them. They don’t need things to be decided for them, or much less arrange their lives for them. Most of the difficulties they face, stem from communication problems.

The interpreter’s job is also not to handle official matters himself and then summarize in a few words what the conversation was about. It is the deaf person who decides and takes responsibility for his decisions, While the interpreter merely translates. Polish sign language is a natural visual-spatial language. It is not true that it is a poorer form of communication than phonic language. The fact that deaf people are often unable to use the Polish language, is not due to their laziness or lack of intelligence. The education system is to blame, in which more important than, at least, reading comprehension is whether a deaf person articulates words clearly.

The interpreter’s job is also not to handle official matters himself and then summarize in a few words what the conversation was about. It is the deaf person who decides and takes responsibility for his decisions, while the interpreter merely translates.

Continue learning sign language

In June 2022, I will be defending my master’s degree in Philology of Polish Sign Language. However, I already know that my adventure with sign language will definitely not end. I will develop my competence language skills in private courses. Deaf people are a very interesting social group. They have their own culture and hermetic world.

Sign language from the sexual area

While studying Sexological studies I heard, That among all groups of people with disabilities, Deaf people are the most satisfied group in terms of sexuality of all. The only problem that occurs, is the lack of characters corresponding to nomenclature from the sexual area. This is obviously untrue. I have learned more than 100 characters from this area. Many of the signs are iconic, meaning their shape refers to an actual image, For example, this is what a “pussy” sign looks like, yes “penis”. There are also signs of an arbitrary nature, i.e., contractual, e.g., the “sex” sign. There are also vulgar, offensive signs. It will be tactless to show “lesbian” in this way…. The cultural equivalent is this sign — “lesbian”. The sign “gay,” on the other hand, looks like this….

Is it worth learning sign language?

To sum up, Polish Sign Language is a beautiful, rich, visual-spatial language, with which we can communicate just as well as we can with a phonic language. I encourage you to learn Polish sign language, because the world of the deaf is extremely interesting. We, the hearing people, can learn learn a great deal from the deaf. To look at life From a completely different perspective. For me, the greatest value coming from learning sign language, is the ability to communicate with my brother. In fact, I feel that I have a brother since I learned to sign. It turns out that he is a cool guy, Completely different from what I thought. The problem was never his deafness. Our problem was communication. But since I know sign language, our situation has changed for the better – My brother lives his life, I live mine, and our meetings consist of about having a nice time together, and not about running his errands for him. So, if you are wondering, whether it’s worth learning sign language — then I would say that it is definitely YES!

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