Taking Up Sign Language


At the beginning of losing both hearing, I was so shaken. In a state of helplessness, I seek support and began looking into learning sign language, lest I needed it. I couldn’t think of any other person to be my companion as my husband, who was still my boyfriend at that time, was working shift hours and my close cousin was studying overseas. They of course, cannot commit the time.

My cousin suggested asking her bestie. Asked I did and never regret that decision. She was a great companion and we learned signing until the Intermediate stage. Lessons were held at the Singapore Association for The Deaf. We became close over time and already a family friend, she also became my personal unofficial interpreter whenever we are outside together. 😁

My expectation was that, signing will help me communicate with others but how wrong I was. I wasn’t born deaf therefore I ended up not using signing that much. In addition, my family is not keen to learn and most of my loved ones would just prefer to write or use gestures. I tried mingling with the deaf community and found that our worlds differ by a lot. For once, I felt I don’t belong to either the hearing or deaf community. I’m what you call, “the in-between”. What I experience is not total deafness. One side is indeed totally deaf and the other is about 85% deaf. On top of that, I have tinnitus in both ears. It’s not silence that I hear as opposed to most deaf people in general as well as the  general views of the public. There are “perceived noises” which blocked out any other real external sounds.

Learning signing helps me in small ways. It’s more worth it when my own bestie who happened to get the chance to work at SADeaf was sent to sign language classes too. I couldn’t ask her to join me last time because she had her own commitments. Nevertheless, SL eases our conversations at some points.

There are various kinds of Sign Language. In Singapore, we have our own SgSL and local signs (example: signs for Singaporean slangs “Bochap” and “Simi?”) which are unique to our locality. The courses have since been revamped but when I was learning, it was SEE or Signing Exact English which are mostly the basic and common signs used universally. They now offer Sign Language for work and Foreign Sign Language. Yes, diffferent countries use different Sign Language. It may look complicated but for my case (late deafness), signing alphabets and basic signs is enough to get messages across. However, as most of us are not exposed to SL, we still prefer the traditional method, which is, to write.

Interested parties who would like to learn Signing can find out more on SADeaf website or search for EO Horizons Deaf Singapore on Youtube. Though it’s not widely used among NF2-ers, it still gives us some benefits to ease our conversations with others who are willling to learn as well.