JEDDAH – The Deaf and Dumb Club here has trained 40 deaf girls to work in an electronic embroidery factory which will be launched next month.
“It is one of the biggest employment projects for the deaf and dumb,” Fayza Natto, president of the club that was founded in 2003 at the order of late Prince Abdul Majeed Bin Abdul Aziz, said.
The deaf and dumb are often hypersensitive with low self-confidence and doubtful about people around them, which makes it difficult for them to make close friends. Yet they need to be integrated into society like everyone else.
Ablah Samman, a club member, can express what she needs through sign language and face expressions that reflect her emotions clearly. She said she likes to attend public events to benefit from others’ experiences, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Arabic daily said. Her friend Nisreen Gamrawi, who used a pen and paper to introduce herself, said they needed to be integrated into society to become “efficient ladies.”
“Through the projects the club organizes, we can prove that we can become responsible employees in factories and companies and provide for our families,” she pointed out. It is only recently that the club’s deaf and dumb members began attending large events. It started three years ago when the club managed to have a large number of them invited to the Jeddah Economic Forum.
Natto said that 25 of the girls in the club have married men with the same disability which they say makes for easier communications. Increasing numbers of non-mute girls are becoming interested in learning sign language, she said, adding that usually more than 200 girls apply each time when special education institutes announce a course.
“Sign language, like any other language, needs to be practiced continuously otherwise it will be lost,” Natto said. She added that the language is often renewed and developed. “There is an old sign language and a new one, and there are principles that unify sign language all over the world,” she explained.
The deaf and dumb often suffer from being separated from the outside world and confined to their houses because their families fear the effect of their interacting with others, she said. They used to communicate with each other through pagers, but now they use mobile text messages and video calls, which is why the club is approaching the Saudi Telecommunication Company to get the service at a reduced price as its members need it more than others, the club head said.
Natto said the club has become a gathering place for the deaf and dumb who often suffer in isolation. “It also has become a gathering place for their families,” she said, “as some people still cannot accept the idea of deaf and dumb people being integrated into society on their own. Some mothers accompany their daughters to the club, which is suitable for all ages with its cultural, social and sports activities.”
Natto stressed that it is necessary to support the deaf and dumb in all aspects. She said that they need to travel out of the country and attend international events, and added that “Everybody should help them communicate so that they can enhance their self-confidence.”