Dialogue/ Ahlam Adly
While the deaf community in America celebrates two hundred years of achievements, including the establishment of schools and universities and their integration into society, the situation of the deaf in Egypt and the Arab world in general is still in late stages of marginalization, suffering, and isolation from society.
The number of deaf people in Egypt ranges from 3-5 million citizens, among whom illiteracy is widespread. In the education system, there are only 294 schools for the deaf called “Schools of Hope for the Deaf,” where they only enter technical education in the secondary stage and are only admitted to universities since 2015 when the Supreme Council of Universities decided to allow them to enter in limited numbers. Due to the deaf’s isolation from the hearing community, their employment opportunities are very limited, which leads to unemployment and poverty.
In this context, the problems facing the deaf community in Egypt are described, proposed solutions are provided, and a vision for a strategic plan to empower the deaf in society is presented. This plan is mainly based on building a cloud system that is the backbone of a family of applications for assistive technologies that help solve the problems facing the deaf in all aspects of life.
We had this dialogue with Dr. Adel Khalifa, the consultant expert in education, electronic publishing, and assistive technologies for people with disabilities, especially the deaf.
Who is a deaf person, and what is the appropriate language for them? And how was it developed?
A deaf person is known as a person who suffers from hearing loss that begins at 70 decibels, leading to his inability to speak or listen. Consequently, the deaf depend on sign language to communicate. Sign language is usually easy, and it is the link between a deaf person and his deaf brother, and between a deaf person and his normal hearing brother who knows this language. The number of deaf and mute people in the world is estimated at about seventy million, including approximately five million in Egypt. Each deaf person is proficient in a specific sign language, and he becomes bilingual automatically to integrate into the society in which he lives. Some normal people also participate in courses to learn sign language to communicate with the deaf, and there are many sign languages around the world.