VietNamNet Bridge – A shortage of sign language materials and books is contributing to communication problems among hearing impaired people, Ha Noi Deaf Association chairman Le Van Anh says.
HTML clipboard A teacher gives lessons to his deaf students at a class at Hoa Sua School for Disadvantaged Youth in Ha Noi. However, several classes for the hearing impaired do not have enough books for their studies. (Photo: VNS)
It was causing difficulties for deaf people who weren't able to even communicate properly with their own parents, let alone relatives and teachers, Anh said.
"The lack of sign language books not only creates difficulties for deaf people, but their relatives and friends also meet obstacles," he said.
The association had 360 members, and most of them said they had difficulties communicating with their relatives.
Many parents and teachers wanted to study sign language to communicate with them but they couldn't find sign language books anywhere, Anh said.
"My wife and I are both hearing impaired and we had to ask my mother to take care of our little daughter who can hear. But my mother finds it hard to teach our daughter to talk with us in sign language because she can't find a book," said Anh.
The main reason for the shortage of sign language books was the small profit that can not be made from publishing books for deaf people.
At present there are two main sign language books: Sign for the Deaf, with three volumes, and the Viet Nam Sign Language Dictionary, edited by HCM City Teacher's Training University.
But it was difficult to find a copy, Anh said.
"Investing in student text books brings great profits but enterprises would not profit from investing in sign language text books. So no-one specialises in publishing such books."
Another problem was the lack of a common sign language alphabet, Anh said. Viet Nam had about 2 million deaf people using different signs in different provinces.
There were different dialects in Ha Noi, HCM City and Hai Phong.
For instance, to say "pink", deaf people in Ha Noi rub their cheek but those in HCM City point to their lips, Anh said.
To help improve the situation, a Sign Language Club was set up in October 2006 in Ha Noi's Cau Giay District with the aim of spreading sign language in the community and helping deaf people communicate.
After four years, the club opened more than 30 training courses with more than 500 trainees. It organised a number of sign language competitions and exchanges between deaf people and the community.
With help from the Swedish National Association of the Deaf, the Ha Noi Deaf Association completed a set of books and a DVD of sign language dictionaries. When printed, it would be distributed to hearing impaired people, their teachers and parents.
Meanwhile, Le Van Tac, director of the Viet Nam Institute of Educational Sciences' Research Centre of Special Education under the Ministry of Education and Training, said the institute was planning a uniform sign language system for the whole country.
"It will take a long time to complete procedures for a permit to publish a book so we expect that it will take about three years," he said.
VietNamNet/Viet Nam News