Seychelles: Persons with Hearing Impairment Get First Sign Language Dictionary

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SEYCHELLES: The hearing-impaired community in Seychelles has its own sign language dictionary for the first time.

Two persons holding an award.

Photo: Seychelles Nation/Seychelles News Agency
Anita Gardner presenting a dictionary to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nicholas Prea.

The dictionary was launched last Saturday after 10 years of work in a ceremony held at the Citizenship Engagement Platform (CEPS) in Victoria, the capital.

When presenting the dictionary, Annie Risler from the University of Lille, said that “it is intended to follow the local signs and thus promote their dissemination. It is also a valuable tool for young deaf people to meet sign language for the first time and a valuable tool for deaf students and their teachers.”

Risler said that the sign language in Seychelles is one of many around the world and results from repeated and varied interactions among deaf people belonging to the same community.

“It develops and spreads among the deaf of Seychelles. The signatory population is very small. The deaf community of Seychelles has developed over generations a specific vocabulary representing a remarkable heritage. The dictionary is the culmination of a long process of documenting the signs used by the deaf people of Seychelles,” she added.

The publication was made possible through a partnership agreement between the National Institute for the Young Deaf in Paris (INJS), the Association of People with Hearing Impairment in Seychelles, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development and the University of Lille.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Nicholas Prea, who was present at the ceremony, said that he was very happy because “the Deaf Association is really solid and it was not an easy journey. Their goal to have this dictionary took a decade and they now have a great and exceptional tool.”

He added that the National Assembly now has a role to play and “my presence today shows the importance that we must give to this group and also give them their importance and their place in society. At the level of the Assembly now, we will propose with the government to accept sign language as the fourth language of Seychelles.”

The chairperson of the Association of People with Hearing Impairment in Seychelles, Anita Gardner, said she is very happy and proud of the team that worked on the project.

“We had our ups and downs but we were determined to finish it. As sign language is a right, our association felt it was our duty to make sure that happened. Now our job is to teach the whole population,” she said.

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