Saturday, 23 July 2011

Goodbye South Africa.....

Dear colleagues and friends,

We hope you enjoyed the efsli reports from the WASLI conference and WFD congress in South Africa. The events have been interesting, fun and inspiring. Thank you for enjoying the excitement with us.

You can read all the reports from both conferences, they are linked in the menu on the right hand side. The blog will be further updated during the coming months, with more pictures and updated reports.

The board of the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters (efsli) hopes to see you at one of the upcoming efsli events in Europe:
  • 16 & 18 September 2011: efsli AGM & conference, Italy (
  • 3 - 5 November 2011: efsli school 'efsli's got talent', London, UK (
  • 14 & 15 November 2011: efsli working seminar 'Towards a Standard Curriculum for Sign Language Interpreters across Europe, Utrecht, the Netherlands (
  • 4 - 6 May 2012: efsli spring school 'Interpreting in Legal Settings', Greece (
  • 14 - 16 September 2012: efsli AGM & conference, Vienna, Austria 
  • 17 - 19 September 2012: efsli Trainers' seminar, Graz, Austria
If you would like to know more about efsli or if you would like to become a member, please visit the efsli website. For any further questions, please contact the efsli secretariat:

Warm regards,
Maya de Wit, efsli president

Special interest group presentations - sign language interpreters

 Four presentations were held within the special interest group sign language interpreters. The summary of these presentations will be published later on this blog.

Are Deaf interpreters a part of the Global Deaf renaissance or the Global Deaf resistance?
Presenters: Robert Adam and Christopher Stone

Mentoring of sign language interpreters 
Presenter: Francois Deysel

Deaf interpreters, what are their strengths and weaknesses?
Presenters: Gardy van Gils & Willem Terpstra

A sign language interpreter in inclusive education: The View of Deaf persons on their Quality of Life.
Presenter: Maya de Wit

Creating a Stress free Environment for the Deaf - Michinori Nakahashi

The presenter works with the Japanese Deaf Association and is the director of labor and vocation within the association.

Research has been conducted on the work situation of deaf persons in Japan. The history of occupation of Deaf people in Japan looks as follows:
Previously Deaf people used to work in manual labour fields, such as carpentry, hair dressing, etc. From 1963 - 1965 a law was passed that employers should hire persons with disabilities. As a consequence since 1970 more Deaf people have obtained jobs in other fields, due to the provision of interpreting services.

Deaf people currently in employment still face barriers in employment. They do receive interpreting services and subsidies for persons with disabilities and also job coaches at the new work place. We try to ensure that communication and information sharing is actually taking place at the work place.

There is a high employment rate of deaf people in Japan, there is a low retention rate. Nearly 40% of the Deaf workers at large scale companies quite within five years. The number reason for this being the atmosphere in the work place and the frequent communication breakdown. The second rason is that the wages are lower than their hearing colleagues and they work long hours. The work environments are mostly oral, which they then become isolated, which then causes stress.

The social factor at the work place is also difficult. The hearing people chat with each other, but the Deaf person can then not join in, and therefore being again isolated.

The Japanese Federation of the Deaf conducted research for three years from 2003 to 2005. We surveyed over 3000 members of the association. We hoped that with these results we can improve the situation for deaf people in the work place in Japan. We also conducted interviews with the hearing persons in the work place where the deaf persons work. Three reports were published with recommendations.

The most important recommendation is to have sign language in the work place and to have a communication friendly work place. One of the other findings is that Deaf people do complain about their situation in the work place, to make this known will actually help in better understanding and a step towards possible changes.

Next to the reports, manuals were developed for hearing people on how they can work together with deaf people. There are three important recommendations that evolved:

  1. It should be a work place where deaf workers can feel comfortable to consult
  2. Develop manuals to inform Deaf and hearing people on how to create a communication friendly work place
  3. UNCRPD: Japan has not ratified the UNCRPD yet, but we can use elements from the convention to implement
With having a stress free work environment for deaf workers, we will also be able to achieve equality in the work place. 

Development of the social competence of Deaf learners / clients and facilitators in a learning, working and living environment - A.L. Smit & DJP Ebersohn


The presenters will explain the use of the Social Competency Model (SoCoMo) which can be used with deaf learners. This is also used in training for management and leadership.

The SoCoMo is a coaching and development programme founded in developmental psychology, five learning theories, and behavioral psychology. It is aimed at the reinforcement of competent behaviour and reduction of incompetent behaviour, acquiring skills in oreder to gain and maintain and balance between skills (social and personal) and tasks (development and communal), building a personal support network to cope with life events and social and disability-related stress, and maintain a sense of well-being, strengthening resilience.

The presenter gives a definition of Social competent behaviour (see slide).

Incompetent behaviour is when it is damaging to yourself and others, such as in the areas of human diginity and rights, well being, health, safety, etc.

A paradigm shift is needed to learn competent social behaviour. The behaviour is learned and can be unlearned. The 'problem behaviour' should be seen as something that is not yet developed. Over-involvement and criticism should be replaced by positive regard and respect. And there should be openness an transparency, there is always something good and positive. Most of the time persons are focused on the negative aspects. We must negate and prioritize which behaviour should be learned first.

The paradigm shift is needed. No longer emphasize the negative aspects, but focus on a positive relationship of respect and dignity.

Observation is the key to intervention or guidance. You must have an accurate observation which leads to appropriate action, beware of the interpretation and the describe the observations.

The presenter is explaining the sign for SoCoMo which looks like a scale. The scale has two sides: tasks on one side and the skills on the other side.

Unfortunately there is not sufficient time to explain all details. The course is in fact 96 hours of teaching.

Prevalence of behavioural problems among school aged deaf learners in South Africa - Deon de Villers & David Martin

The "dream" presented is a dream of dr. Murdock Henderson who asked the presenters to present this on behalf of him as well. 

We have indentified many issues with deaf children in South Africa, such as an increased decline, gang formations, etc.

These issues are dealt with in various ways. One is called the 'restorative justice', not the rules are important but it is the relationship between the child and who is the child in relationship with that is of importance. Other solutions are:

  • Circle of courage model
  • Social competency model (from the NL)
  • Discipline programmes: merits/demerits
  • Punishment: various techniques. 
  • Expulsion
  • Drop out (solution is to make the life impossible for the child and then be lost in total or placed some where else).

Many of the students are lost to society. There are certain consequences to this:

  • Inadequate schooling
  • Social and self reflection (as a consequence depression)
  • Decline in social skills (not any longer regulated and no sense of value)
  • Lack of care
  • Loss of purpose
  • Incarceration
  • Loss of identity
  • Etc.

In most situations the interventions are successful. But there are students who are out of the system and are lost in society. Following the dream of Dr. Murdock Henderson is presented: the INTABA dream.

There are some facts presented on South Africa, such as there are 800.000 to 1.4 million Deaf people without mental health services. Currently there are 56.000 D/deaf people with mental health issues.

Intaba means 'mountain'. It has two boards INTABA international and INTABA RSA. Partners in Nambia:
There are four strategies that are within INTABA:

  1. offering an internship
  2. locate and secure funds for the acquisition of some land and facilities, such as land, a school and cottages
  3. working with the children
  4. adult programme with a focus on addiction, provided with medical staff such as psychiatrist

The first year we will need 6 to 7 million ZAR (excl. food and unforeseen), but following that more money will be needed to carry the project forward.

More information:

Friday, 22 July 2011

Deafness and Extra Costs: The Legitimacy of Domestic Compension Schemes - Richard Sahlin

The presenter introduced himself as a teacher and researcher. He has looked at disability rights and the compensation that governments have given.

There is a strong link between deafness and poverty, which could be due to lower income and extra costs. Globally the states have a different set of domestic measures. The presenter looks specifically at the situation for deaf people in Sweden. Deaf people are faces with extra costs which is due to the result of being deaf, such as interpreter costs since these costs are not always covered by the government.

There could be capital costs, such as a flashing door bell at home. These are available when you are at home and subsidised by your government, but not when you are traveling and staying at a hotel for example. There are also recurring costs such electricity (more lighting), phone calls (longer calls because of the text relay service), higher insurance costs (for example car insurance).

Human costs could be sign language interpreting, proofreading, health and medical counseling. And also animal costs, such as a hearing dog, who will assist you in your daily life. There are also additional travel costs for special international deaf events. Indirect costs can also occur, such as income loss or missed information (for example announcements through the speakers at the super market for special offers).

The presenter questions how we can assess these extra costs. The deaf person could assess his or her own extra costs. The government can also do this assessment and compare this with the costs of an average hearing person.

Some countries have a compensation scheme, a disability benefit, so the Deaf person can cover some of their extra expenses that way. These measures are taken to create economic equality, but at this moment we can not say that deaf and hearing persons now have economic equality.

There are restrictive dilemma's in the countries, such as there is always limit to the budget. If we look at the UNCRPD, art. 28, it states that Deaf people should have equal access. It does not say though how poverty should be solved in this respect.

The compensation scheme should be available as long as there is still inequality between deaf and hearing persons in society.

World Federation of the Deaf, Health Resources Initiative - J. Fellinger, A. Kuenburg & M. Jokinen

Dr. Fellinger
 Markku Jokinen starts the presentation by saying: "Health is important to human beings. Health is a human right."

Until today not much information or facts are available on the health of deaf people. This project is a small step towards the improvement of the health situation for deaf people in the world. Research is essential to assist us in this. Therefore this small study is a first step forward. In a survey deaf organisations from various regions were asked on the health situation in their region. The importance of health is also stated in article 25 of the UNCRPD. It says that states who ratified the UNCRPD must provide disabled person with high quality health services without barriers and no discrimination in this respect. It also states that the service must be equal in regard to gender. Markku Jokinen ends by saying that Deaf people must have good access to quality health services.

Dr. Fellinger then continues the presentation: "Health is a gift. If you are not healthy this can be a major problem, especially Deaf people". There is very little research done in the health situation of deaf people. The research does show that there is a high rate of mental health problems within the Deaf population. In the WFD there is also commission on mental health.

The framework of the WFD Health Resources initiative is to improve the health services situation and the accessibility to these services for Deaf people. Dr. Fellinger then mentions some of the specific aims of the framework. There are three partners: the needs assessment A (global survey), the needs assessment B (different D. populations in different nations, and thirdly best practices examples. Today Dr. Fellinger presents the results of the survey.

The survey was developed with international experts and WFD experts. The response rate was 44%, representing 40 countries worldwide. Of the respondents 2/3 report that Deaf people have more problems than hearing people in their country. Half of the respondents responded mental health or emotional problems first. The causes indicated were for example communication issues.

Of the respondents 4/5 reported that the accessibility to the health services for Deaf people are very difficult. In the low HDI countries 100 percent of the Deaf persons do not have a provision of an interpreter in health care services. In the high HDI countries this is 20 percent. 

There are limitations to the survey. It highly depends on the responses of the deaf presidents of the organisations. It is important that we now grab the opportunity an use thearticle 25 of the UNCRPD and that we lobby for our own interests and good health care for Deaf people. 

Dr. Fellinger ends his presentation by stating that the key to information is trust, and to trust each other and to work together this will bring us good quality healthcare.