Currently, deaf scientists are developing their own science language for easy and faster communication. Deaf people have the International Sign Language which is used globally for both formal and informal communication worldwide.
Deaf people communicate via sign language. Over 5% of the world’s population -which counts for 466 million people- has hearing loss. 80% of them stay in developing countries with around 300 sign languages. There are fifteen known families of sign languages worldwide, whereas data from most of the parts of the world is unknown. This image shows various sign language families, the light grey colour shows areas with unknown information.
It is estimated that by 2050 over 900 million people, or one in ten people, will have disabling hearing loss!
It is a common misconception that deaf people cannot achieve higher education, or become a scientist. Mostly, deaf students experience an unwelcoming atmosphere in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Moreover, they have to work harder than others in the research group, in order to feel a sense of belonging. But, such students mostly come across people having little, or no experience with deaf people. This makes communication difficult. Most deaf students often refer to themselves as ‘hard-for-hearing’. If they have expertise in a particular sign language, then they call themselves ‘culturally- deaf’. Importantly, these people are actively involved in the deaf community. The deaf culture is a source of pride, support, heritage, and networking.
There are professors such as Dr. Peter Blumbergan, who gives opportunities to deaf research minds. He is an investigator at the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. USA. He not only focuses on their ability to do scientific experiments but also pays attention to scientific detail. He believes that work and success in STEM is not related to deafness. Professor Blumbergan has learnt the American Sign Language (ASL). He has translators in his laboratory for specific events, meetings and presentations.
International Science Sign Language:
Currently, deaf scientists are developing their own science language for easy and faster communication. People in a laboratory develop their own signs for their easy reference. This continues to evolve locally but not globally. Deaf people have the International Sign Language for both formal and informal communication on the global platform. To accept people with their intelligence and performance, should be the priority while selecting people for a particular task.
The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) proposed the ‘International Day of Sign Languages’ to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. On September 23, 1951, the WFD was established. This day was dedicated for deaf people worldwide. The aim of this day is to raise awareness of the importance of sign language. In 2018, the International Day of Sign Languages was celebrated with the theme of ‘With sign language, everyone is included!’. The theme for 2019 will be ‘Sign Language Rights for All’ as declared by the WFD. It will celebrate the International Week of the Deaf and dedicate each day for different sub-themes.
Let’s be a part of the movement to treat differently-abled people equally, and make them experience a better life; no matter in science or in daily life!
Editor: Dr. Ratnesh Jain
Illustrator: S. Sripradha
- https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/linguistics/sign.jsp https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sign_language