In the UK, the Muslim Youth Helpline has held the first ever Muslim Deaf Awareness day. A few mosques are beginning to cater to deaf congregants with the help of the Muslim Deaf Group (MDG). The MDG hosts an internet forum as well as monthly talks at mosques in London, Manchester, and Leeds. The Muslim Deaf Sisters Project has been working to translate the Quran into British Sign Language. Endeavours such as these are helping promote an awareness and understanding of hearing-impairment issues that is often lacking in Muslim societies. Small steps, perhaps, but good news nonetheless.
A promising movement for deaf Muslims September 30, 2009
Deaf Muslims, like deaf people everywhere, face many barriers to education and participation. As awareness spreads about those challenges, a growing number of initiatives are beginning to address the needs of the hearing-challenged within the Muslim world. Groups like the US-based Global Deaf Muslims are working to establish universal hand signs for Islamic words and concepts. In Holland, a Dutch organization that assists deaf children developed 163 Islam-related signs so parents could communicate with their children. The Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities (CAMD) wants to improve access for people with disabilities to texts, classes, and services. And such movements aren’t limited to Western countries. In Egypt, a new NGO called Sarkha (Cry), provides interpreters for mosque services for Cairo’s deaf community. In Lebanon, the Al-Hadi Institute for the Deaf and Blind has provided opportunities for young deaf Muslims to express themselves artistically. Al-Hadi has staged art exhibitions for works by its students.
Mas’ood Cajee, a regular contributor to altmuslim.com, is a a former California Endowment Scholar at Harvard University who practices dentistry in northern California. He is currently researching the stories of Muslim rescuers of Jews during the Nazi Holocaust. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .