Policemen have been learning sign language in order to be able to communicate with the deaf
Policemen often come into contact with the deaf and they need to be able to communicate with them. Although it is not immediately recognisable, the deaf often have problems being understood and communicating their needs. Perhaps they don’t understand certain laws and communication with them is sometimes different compared to people without hearing difficulties. This was the reason a group of Banská Bystrica policemen took courses in sign language. The main objective of the courses was to make policemen familiar with the world of the deaf and to teach participants basic gestures. Further aims were to inform them about the differences between the world of hearing and deaf people and to overcome any communication barriers.
Policemen do not only want to use their gained knowledge at work
Ľubica Šarinová, a professional interpreter of sign language lectured policemenand showed them the basics of sign language. Furthermore, they practised how to communicate with the deaf when processing and issuing new documents, investigating theft and in similar situations. Until now, many have not realised how difficult it is for the deaf and this is a barrier which cannot be overcome, unless the hearing majority attempts to do so. Many participants in the course agreed that children should already start learning basic signs at primary school. “The course has fully met our expectations and we strongly believe that we will use all knowledge and experience obtained not only in performing official duties but also in general communication with people with hearing loss,” participants of the training noted.
The courses were organised based on the initiative of INNITOR CA in Banská Bystrica, which focuses on supporting the training sector and on mentoring and educating policemen. As the Pontis Foundation organises sign language courses for free, INNITOR CA asked us, whether it would be possible to organise such courses not only for this first, but also for other specialised police units.
In Slovakia people with hearing disabilities make up the 1% of the population
Some people are born as deaf, some develop hearing lossgradually. Many of them are, despite their handicap, successful in doing business or studying at university and they try to live their lives fully. The Pontis Foundation has been working with people with hearing loss in Slovakia for several years already. Support for the deaf comes mainly from the Telekom Endowment Fund. Through the “Looking for another sense” program we helped deaf people to start up their own business. Thanks to this project, the Deaf kebab chain was established (employing deaf worker) in Slovakia, the deaf have opened their own cafe, a cosmetic studio and other small businesses. Currently we are helping families with children with hearing loss, whereby they are visited by special pedagogues directly in their family environment. The Mobile Pedagogue program supports families which often don’t know how to help their hearing-impaired child further develop. It frequently happens that deaf children are born to parents with normal hearing. We have also recently launched the Onlinetlmocnik.sk program, through which the deaf can call an interpreter via Skype to ask for help in solving problems at the office, at the doctor or the police and when searching for lodgings.