What do you know about the deaf

Why a sign language interpreter if there are subtitles?

Why is sign language interpreter is needed in the movie with subtitles,? Tomasz Smakowski- the head of Deaf's World Foundation - explains.

Hi, welcome to the second material about the deaf but this time for hearing people. As I promised, the first stage of deaf awareness will be breaking stereotypes. I was wondering where to start and I decided that I will start right away with a controversial topic.

“Sign interpreter? There are subtitles”

The first myth that I am going to crush is the common belief that using subtitles under video materials solve the problem of understanding content by the deaf. Just turn on the “subtitles” option and that’s it! Well, no. If it were so, world’s largest media would not be placed next to the presidents’ speeches, sign language interpreters.

So why aren’t there enough?

Because most deaf people do not understand long, complicated phrases. They do not know professional terms, complexities of grammar. The number of known words is individually limited, which means that each deaf person has a different number and resource of words. This is often due to educational, geographic, social or cultural factors. Why is this happening?

Education of the deaf

Because what is surprising – the education of deaf people for many years was not structured. In post-war Poland, a decision was made about the prohibition of learning sign language. In schools the prohibition was so respected that the children were beaten on the hands, when they used sign language. By force they were taught to read – while explaining the meaning of letters, sentences, words, phrases to the person who can not hear you turned out to be very difficult and sometimes even impossible. And what about understanding slang, colloquial language or regionalisms.

Learning a foreign language you can’t hear

A good example which can help to understand this problem is to try to learn Chinese. Do you know what this sign means? Or maybe you can read this information? How to understand the meaning of foreign letters when you can not hear the teacher? Imagine: yourself and Chinese. Your ears are blocked, you can not hear anything. He does not know Polish letters, you do not know Chinese. Neither of you knows a common language that you can communicate with. Effective teaching seems like a miracle?

znak, litera azjatycka
pisownia azjatycka

I think you are just starting to imagine – how is this possible? Right. An effective teaching method is almost impossible. That is why deaf people have to spend much more time, use more work and effort to understand the alphabet, words, and basic sentence order.

I recommend you – read the comments of deaf people on SwiataGłuchych’s Facebook. You will find there, how the sentences are built, inflection of words, by deaf people.

If you are interested in this topic and you want to know more I invite you to see an interview with prof. Bogdan Szczepankowski a teacher, pedagogue of deaf youth and an academic teacher. Click on the link and you will be redirected to an interview where you will find out about the history of education in Poland and professional activation.

And if you just have questions – write to us. We are happy to answer all your questions. We believe, that there are no stupid questions. Especially in such a difficult topic as the world of the deaf. In the meantime – thank you for your attention and see you next week “Deaf means aggressive?”

In the next episode: Deaf means aggressive?
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