Deaf Day at DAC

Today the Disability Action Council, a section of the government’s Ministry of Social Affairs, had a Deaf Day celebration in connection with International Deaf Week that is observed around the world at the end of September.

The good points: [1] the speaker encouraged all the television stations to add a sign language interpreter on screen for their broadcasts; [2] he said only certified interpreters should be used.

The bad points: [1] on a day ostensibly to recognize and honor the deaf people, there was not one deaf person on the stage, just two rows of government officials; [2] deaf people need to sit near the front so they can readily see the sign language interpreter and catch the nuances of facial expression, etc., but the first four rows of the theater seats were filled with more government people and the deaf were moved towards the rear of the hall; [3] a speaker from the ministry stated that sign language is “universal,” meaning there is one sign language used every where (that’s not true); [4] the wording on the back of the purple T-shirts given to the participants said in Khmer “deaf and dumb.” Deaf people are not dumb and that phrasing is offensive to them. [5] At the end of the ceremony, the government officials and invited guests were taken downstairs for a reception with tea and coffee, fruits, cakes, etc., and provided with photo opportunities. The deaf people were kept upstairs in the auditorium and given a bottle of water and a box with a sandwich, croissant, and some fruit.