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Health

I sign your language; how inclusion can change a community

Valerie Everett

Imagine speaking a language fluently, but not being able to communicate with your own family or community. That was Quincy’s reality.

Quincy communicates in sign language; she attended a specialised boarding school where her education was delivered in sign language, and her friends speak sign language.

However, when Quincy would return home from school, the communication stopped. No one in her family or community knew sign language.

“I learned sign language...when I came back home I felt bad when I could not communicate with people,” says Quincy.

That’s where Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) comes in. CBR focuses on enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities and their families; ensuring full inclusion and participation in community life.

Through a CBR program, Quincy’s family and community members participated in weekly sign language classes, and can now communicate with Quincy and other children with hearing impairment.

The CBR program supervisor, Joseph, emphasises just how important it is for children with hearing impairment to be able to communicate and feel included in all areas of community life.

“Children with hearing impairment who return from school during holidays and meet family members who cannot communicate with them...they feel so isolated and still excluded, even though they have communication skills, because they are not understood.

“I would encourage communities all around the world to consider the community sign language element, because it is a very effective way of facilitating social inclusion of persons with hearing impairment within the general community,” says Joseph.

Quincy’s story demonstrates just what is possible when a community is inclusive; allowing every child the opportunity to communicate openly, and participate in all aspects of their family and community life.


This article was contributed by CBM Australia (https://www.cbm.org.au/).