Friday, 15 July 2011

"Working together to support the Solomon Islands: An emerging Deaf and interpreting community " - Angela Murray & Joneti Rokotuibau

Jeniti could unfortunately not come, but she is an interpreter from Fiji. The presentation is given by Angela.

In 2009 Angela lived in the Deaf community in the Solomon islands. In 2009 a project was set up by SLIANZ and WASLI, which this presentaiton is about. 

In the Solomon Islands 523.000 people live. The official language is English, little actually speak English but use a pidgin. A total of 70 languages are spoken in the Solomon Islands. Deaf students come from all over and from the many different language backgrounds.

Before 2008 there was not really an opportunity to get an education for deaf people. The San Isidro Care Centre in Aruligo was set up for those students who missed education. They came to the centre and learned sign language for the first time and met deaf students for the first time. It gives instruction in basic skills such as building, life skills, or agriculture. The aim is after that education they could go back to their home village and work there in the skills they learned.

The deaf people were very eager to learn. I often taught literacy skills. Unfortunately most of the people refer to deaf people as deaf and dumb.

I am not a linguist, but I will do my best to describe it. It is now called Solomon Islands Sign Language, which has some influence from Australian Sign Language but also Solomon pidgin has had an influence and there are home signs and signs developed by the deaf people themselves. I was involved in documenting the sign language and a booklet was published on the signs.

We looked for another country who we could cooperate with who went to a similar experience. We found this in Fiji. A fund raiser was held in New Zealand to support this project. A deaf role model from Fiji helped them get empowered, because they could share experiences. Jeniti gave workshops for new young interpreters and for deaf people.

Access and education for the deaf need to be improved, in addition to interpreter training. We believe that this collaboration project is important for others to see how you can work together and share resources and skills.

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