Sign language is used not only by deaf people or the hearing impaired. In Lviv, ordinary police officers and physicians master their finger-spelling at a free course - called "Hear Me". What is the aim? And how are the lessons going?
However, in two hours, he mastered fingerspelling, also known as dactyl – and a handful of commonly used phrases in his line of work. Povkh said even knowing elementary words is essential when communicating with those who have hearing or speech impediments.
“We have dealt with people who are deaf and can’t speak. There were all kind of situations: fights and traffic violations, or it was necessary to help a person who was unconscious – it was difficult to communicate but a basic level of knowledge will come in handy in our work,” Povkh said.
Oleh Plyshylo, a deacon, conducted the training. He grew up in a household with deaf family members who couldn’t speak. For his classes, he specifically taught expressions and terms that the inspectors most often use out on patrol.
“The police were interested in gestures to ask for ‘documents,’ or ‘how can I help you?’ ‘What happened ?’ how to say ‘ambulance,’ and other phrases often used in their work,” Plyshylo said. “Sign language is very simple because it is the language of emotions and body motions – therefore, by knowing basic movements, you can communicate and convey information.”
Meanwhile, Tetiana Okan, a doctor at the hospital, said that trying to calm down a person who uses sign language using notes on paper can prove difficult. Gestures allow for faster and easier communication.
“We have quite a lot of patients who find it difficult to explain something when they come to us. As a rule, they have to bring someone else with them so that we can decipher what they want to tell us – so we need to know some basic gestures at least,” Okan said.
It’s estimated more than 3,000 hard-of-hearing people without speech live in the Lviv region. With this in mind, the organizers of this sign language course hope to teach people who work in other occupations.
“Next, we plan to conduct such courses in places like coffee shops, restaurants, where basic gestures will help people explain things. And also for employees of banks, where elderly people often have difficulties to obtain a pension. In all sectors, there should be at least a percentage of people who know sign language,” Representative of the ‘Spiritual Revival Fund’ Charity Olena Karnaukh said.
The doctors and police officers who received training in Lviv will take 10 basic lessons of sign language. And subsequent courses for customer service workers are planned to take place this autumn.