Here in Great Britain, we’re all too aware of the shortage of BSL interpreters; nearly everyone has found themselves in a situation where suitable support was just not a possibility due to the lack of qualified translators.
Spare a thought, then, for the 100,000 deaf people living in Hong Kong, who have only 10 registered sign language interpreters between them! A recent article for the South China Morning Post highlighted the need for more training opportunities and for sign language to be incorporated into mainstream education.
Adam Ng Ying-yung, executive director of the Hong Kong Association of the Deaf, stated that around 9,200 of those people are profoundly deaf, but have only 10 full-time translators to support them.
He said, “Without sign language, deaf people cannot survive. It’s a way to communicate, to express and to learn.”
Mindy Lai Man-chung, who has worked as a sign language interpreter for 15 years, said, “The acute shortage of translators is a big problem for [the deaf community], who may need translation for the simplest of daily tasks, like seeing the doctor or going to a parent-teacher meeting.”
Mindy herself had stepped in at the last minute to prevent a deaf wedding being called off due to lack of translation. She has also traveled huge distances to perform only a few minutes of translation support.
She continued, “I sincerely want to encourage the public to learn basic signing. Whatever job you’re in – could be a salesperson – it would help deaf people feel much more welcome and included.”
Ng feels the lack of official assessment for translators does not help the situation; The Hong Kong Council of Social Service launched an assessment proceddure in 2007, but funding was swiftly withdran, leaving only the 10 people who had already passed the assessment to be accepted as court translators. Lai is one of them
There is currently no recognised sign language in Hong Kong; Ng feels this must change, as it would give the language legitimacy. He feels the lack of research and support severely limits the deaf people who rely on signing and translation.
“It’s a mess actually. In the meantime, deaf people can only queue up and book available translators for their needs.”
Taken from an original post by Jennifer Ngo
Photo by Edward Wong
The Limping Chicken is supported by a range of charities and organisations linked to deafness, all of whom offer services that enhance deaf lives. Click on the images on the right-hand side of this site or go to our Supporters page to find out all about them!
The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. It is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
Please note that the views of the writers are their own, and not necessarily the views of the Editor or site as a whole. Read our disclaimer here.
- Phonak: innovative technology and products in hearing acoustics
- Ai-Live: Read about rejecting 6 silly reasons not to use closed captions
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- Clarion: BSL/English interpreting and employment services
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- Hearing Direct: Online hearing aids
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- Signworld: online BSL learning and teaching materials
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- Sign Solutions:, language and learning
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- SDHH: Project Development and Consultancy
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people
- deafPLUS: Money advice line in BSL
- Happy: Microsoft Office courses taught in BSL and SSE by a Deaf trainer – all abilities catered for
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Ozen: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children
- DCAL: Find out how to study at the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre, London
- cSeeker: Deaf-led educational communication support service
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- Sarah Gatford: BSL interpreting, training and consultancy
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people