Sign language has helped me succeed

First of all, I would like to thank the IDEO project for supporting deaf children and their families. The very first days in the project as a deaf mentor reminded me of my childhood.

Since I was born deaf, my grandma and my mum were very sad and worried about me. I only watched TV and created some gestures myself. I did not learn sign language until 5 years old. Then, my grandma sent me to a kindergarten where there were only 8 deaf kids while most of students were hearing. However, since we had not learned sign language, we couldn’t communicate much to each other. I decided to stay at home after 1 year in kindergarten. My grandma loved me a lot and tried her best to find an appropriate school for me. Finally, she found Nhan Chinh School and registered me for a pre – grade 1 class. I was genuinely surprised when I saw deaf students use their hands to communicate with one another. In class, the teacher gave me a hand-shape alphabet but I didn’t pay any attention and put it in a drawer since I didn’t understand. I gave it to my mum after going home and we started learning the first letters.

I got frustrated with learning speech in school as it didn’t suit me. Only when I played and communicated with other deaf friends in break time, did I learn new signs and concepts. At home, I talked to mum about new signs that I had learned, such as “dad”, “mum”, “grandpa”, “grandma”, etc. She didn’t understand at the beginning, but after I signed and pointed to everyone she got it. Sign language has become our means of communication since then.

Mum and grandma often took me to a market and we had our own sign language vocabulary for communicating like “chicken”, “cow” or “vegetable”. If I didn’t go to the market with them, I just signed to mum. She got it right away and cooked me the dishes I wanted.

After my graduation in Nhan Chinh School, at the age of 16, I met new deaf people and learned more sign language from the community. I also taught my family what I had learned. I realized my family seemed to be the only one which parents and children could communicate with one another in sign language. Without sign language as a means of communication between my parents and me, I would not have been able to fully develop,
With a lot of personal efforts and encouragement of family members, I now work in IDEO project as a deaf mentor along with my sign language teaching job in Nhan Chinh school. I am also proud of my happy family and my healthy and smart son.

I hope there will be more communication between deaf children and their families, so that the children are able to reach their potential.