Discrimination was among the topics discussed during the Alberta Cultural Society of the Deaf annual “Deaf Deaf World” at Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association.
Many Deaf experience discrimination every day, Calgary Association of the Deaf Vice-President Emil Kvarnberg said at the Nov. 7 event, adding that if government provided more funding to its community, the Deaf wouldn’t feel like second-class citizens.
“There is only one university in the world that is a for deaf people,” he said. “In that society, everyone is the same and it would be great if our deaf students could enjoy that experience in their own university life.”
Deaf Deaf World provides participants with the opportunity to experience everyday scenarios from their perspective, such buying candy, booking a flight and even getting a tattoo – all tasks that seem simple to hearing people, but can be difficult for the Deaf.
“Deaf Deaf World was originally a student project aimed at raising awareness of the communication barrier deaf people face every day,” said Kvarnberg, who was born deaf and was assisted by an ASL (American Sign Language) interpreter during the event, which is not a typical practice for the Deaf in their daily lives.
“Traditionally, we would use pen and paper, but it is often hard to be accurate when we are in a hurry,” event coordinator Rebecca Lehman said, adding that technology has helped her to communicate with hearing people via e-mail and text message.
Although technology does make daily life easier for the Deaf, sign language is their primary communication tool, which can be a difficult language to learn for the Deaf who did not learn as children.
“It is a very difficult language,” said Sandy Lifeso, an ASL student, who volunteers as an interpreter with the Calgary Association of the Deaf. “During the translation, it’s hard to be fast and accurate. We can’t be wrong.”
Good Sign: Participants in “Deaf Deaf World” were asked to complete a basic sign language class before the event at Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association on Saturday Nov. 7. (Photo by Colin Leung/The Press)