Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language

Patrick Speaks | Unreported World | Channel 4

Patrick is 15 years old. He was born deaf, in this remote region of northern Uganda
there are no schools
for deaf children. In his whole life, Patrick’s never
had a conversation. Hello. Good? His father, Charles, looks after him. They’re only able to communicate
through very basic gestures. We’ve been sitting here talking
about Patrick in front of him and, while he’s been watching us, he
doesn’t understand what we’re saying. It feels almost rude but this is what Patrick’s life
is like all the time. I’m here with someone
who wants to change all that. Raymond is deaf himself and
a sign language teacher. Do you think he could learn
sign language? This is pretty much
Patrick’s existence, his father gestures to him what he
wants him to do and when he’s finished he goes back to his hut to
spend the rest of the day on his own. Patrick’s fate is not unusual. The majority of deaf people in
Sub-Saharan Africa have never been taught sign language. Unable to communicate with others,
they’re trapped in their own minds. Raymond became deaf as a child
after a bout of malaria. Six months ago he travelled to
the capital for intensive training in sign language. now he has returned to his village to do something unprecedented. He’s going to teach the first sign language course ever set up here Raymond, are you nervous? It is two o’clock, the first
deaf students start turning up… ..and class begins. The course has already started
but Patrick hasn’t turned up yet and I’m worried that his father
couldn’t convince him to leave home. A few minutes later, Patrick arrives. Patrick’s transformation is amazing. It’s almost impossible to believe
it’s the same boy we met yesterday. New deaf students keep arriving. Many have walked miles to be here. There’s a nine-year-old boy
and an 80-year-old woman. Before the end of the class,
each new student goes to the front. The class votes on
a new name for them. This is now Patrick’s sign name and he will use it
for the rest of his life. He has just been baptised
into a whole new world.

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