Hal Tafhamni? Do you understand me?
What do you actually know about deaf people in Palestine? Do you know their language? It is so easy to look the other way, but this time try to listen with your eyes and talk with your hands.
According to statistics of the WHO, 360 million people are affected by hearing impairments or deafness. This high number makes 5% of worlds population. Hearing impairments and deafness is caused by several reasons as genetic malformation, infections, complications at birth, excessive noises or ageing. The majority of those affected belong to the low- and middle-income countries. Compared to the situation worldwide, the case for Palestine is similar. Around 3% of the citizens are deaf or have hearing problems whereas the situation between rural and urban areas differ a lot. The number rises up to 15% in isolated villages and ranks among the highest in the world. More and more people are affected by this disability. The main reason for that is genetic malformation due to cultural intermarriage and less because of infections or traumata.
Deaf people face many social and economical problems from their early childhood on. Difficulties in their learning environment, finding a job and adequate health care are just a few of them. NGO's and private schools started to face this problem one-two decades ago, but with a increasing number of affected people and a stagnation of help, people with disabilities can not look into a brighter future.
With Hal Tafhamni we want to raise awareness in the Palestinian society for deaf people. We created our posters and stickers to encourage people to learn the sign language. But sign language isn't always the same: like every country has its own language, every country has its own sign language. So, since we are in exchange with Palestine and the arabic world we focus on the arabic sign language. We wish for everybody who visits our website to be courious and to embrace the unknown.
People from Ramallah shared their experience with us: Muhannad Al-Shafei, working in the municipality of Ramallah and representative of people with disabilities in Ramallah's society and Mohammed Saoud, a young man who studies and works at the same time in a juice shop in Ramallahs city center. Both are role models for their society. We would like to thank our supporters for their commitment to our project to increase the awareness for people with disabilities.
We are a group of Palestinian and German students participating in an exchange program called YALLAH. It is a cooperation between Birzeit University in Palestine and Siegen University in Germany. The first part of the exchange took place in April 2016 with the visit of the German students coming to Palestine. The second part will take place in August 2016 in Germany. Concerning social innovations we created project groups. Our group is focused on people with special needs and how we could help them to make life easier for them. With the help of interviews we found out that there are not many possibilities for deaf people in society to be successful because very little people talk their language: the sign language. Here is when we join the game.