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My Hand My Voice: Understanding the Deaf Culture through IMU Deaf Awareness Week 2022

25 Mar 2022

In an effort to raise awareness about the deaf community and building IMU as a deaf aware university, IMU Community Engagement, together with champions calling themselves, IMU Ambassadors for the Deaf (IAM4D) organised IMU Deaf Awareness Week at the University’s main atrium in Bukit Jalil together with an online sharing session via Zoom. The campaign was organised in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s World Hearing Day which is celebrated on 3 March annually. The IAM4D students had undergone prior training in Basic Sign Language. Prior to the campaign, the IAM4D students who have completed a Basic Sign Language foundational had sought advice from the deaf community such as YMCA and other deaf organisations and individuals, to build and curate content for the campaign while hands-on learning through interactions with the deaf community. Over the 2 days of physical exhibition at IMU Atrium, more than 100 IMU staff and students visited information booths and game stations built by IAM4D.

The staff and students had the opportunity to:
Explore the deaf culture in Malaysia and various organisations
Platforms available that promote awareness and provide support for the community
Learn basic sign language
Interact with deaf individuals.

The physical exhibition also showcased Harry Chong from YMCA, an inspiring and talented deaf artist who uses papercut art as a powerful tool to communicate while earning income.

His patience on his artwork had greatly inspiring to many, to not easily give up and to pursue their passion despite challenges. Another highlight of the campaign was the attendance of 4 deaf visitors to IMU including parents of an IMU student. The parents (both are deaf) and the student (non-deaf individual) were grateful to see IMU raising the awareness for other students to learn. Wrapping up the Deaf Awareness Week 2022, IAM4D hosted a Zoom sharing session, themed – A Silent Story, whereby 5 deaf individuals, accompanied by an interpreter shared their inspiring stories.

These individuals include:
Deaf teachers from Sekolah Pendidikan Khas Kiu and Sekolah Pendidikan Khas Jalan Peel
A university student
Representatives from Sarawak Society for the Deaf

The participants learnt how they struggle to overcome challenges in daily life such as living within the family and a community that lacks understanding and awareness and how they cope with mental health. The deep conversation was an eye-opener for many, and it had enabled participants to put themselves into the shoes of a deaf person. “I rather live a life full of noises” – Mr Edward Wong, a deaf university student in reminding all of us to be grateful for what we have.

About the Campaign 
The campaign is part of IMU’s Breaching the Silence Programme that aims to bridge the gap between the deaf community and the hearing community as well as building IMU as the Pulse of the Community. It is also hoped that IAM4D will be the agent of change, to build better access to healthcare for the deaf and hard of hearing patients by being an interpreter for them, while providing healthcare services at IMU in the future.

We hope that through this Deaf Awareness Week as part of the bigger Breaching the Silence Programme, IMU staff and students will develop a deeper understanding on the deaf community, as well as the importance to learn sign language as another language to bridge the gap between us and the deaf community in terms of basic communication and healthcare services.

Please follow our social media for more updates and information about deaf culture and the deaf community:

Written by Dr Leong Hui Yen, Office of Community Engagement at IMU.

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