Singapore hosts Asia event for those who are deaf

Ms Ho, patron of the Singapore Association for the Deaf, with members of the organising committee on stage. With her is Mr Lim Chin Heng (extreme right), chairman of the World Federation of the Deaf organising committee.
Ms Ho, patron of the Singapore Association for the Deaf, with members of the organising committee on stage. With her is Mr Lim Chin Heng (extreme right), chairman of the World Federation of the Deaf organising committee.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Event sees more than 500 delegates from region and marks the first time the Republic is picked as venue

Seventy young people from around the region who are deaf have been in Singapore over the past two weeks to attend a youth camp and a major international conference on deaf-related issues.

Their guest rooms had portable lights, next to their beds or television sets, that turned green or yellow when someone was at the door.

Ms Ho Ching, patron of the Singapore Association for the Deaf  (SADeaf), called this a "very thoughtful touch" yesterday at the closing dinner of the fifth World Federation of the Deaf Asia Conference, held at Fort Canning.

Ms Ho, who is also Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's wife and chief executive of Temasek Holdings, added that it was "among the many important and meaningful contributions" which had made for a "memorable twin event".

It was the first time the World Federation of the Deaf, which works closely with the United Nations, had chosen to hold its Asia conference in Singapore.

More than 500 delegates, some of whom were from countries such as Timor Leste and Myanmar, attended the conference over the weekend.

Ms Ho noted that there have been other significant developments recently in the Republic's bid to become more inclusive.

The Ministry of Education, for instance, recently announced that from 2018, Singapore will have its first primary school designated to accept students who are deaf and use sign language.

For the first time, a performer who is deaf led 150 special-needs participants and the 55,000-strong crowd at this year's National Day Parade in using sign language to "song-sign" to the tunes of two popular songs. "I'm encouraged to see SADeaf working with the Nanyang Technological University to further develop the Singapore Sign Language," said Ms Ho.

"I hope our visitors to Singapore got the chance to try our local favourite foods like teh tarik or laksa, and added teh tarik and laksa to their sign language vocabulary."

She said that Temasek will add sign language to the list of language learning choices that its staff can choose to learn this year.

"One key support for the deaf community is to bridge the communication gap between the hearing- able and those who are deaf or are hard of hearing."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore hosts Asia event for those who are deaf'. Print Edition | Subscribe