Focal Point

Connected by …..language

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In the Sultanate of Oman, the 41st Arab Deaf Week’, a five day event under the slogan ‘Let me hear through my own eyes…together live’ organised by the Ministry of Education concluded.
In the local newspaper one can read: “The interest in special education has gone up in the sultanate. The ministry is making lots of efforts to improve the quality of education provided to children with special needs. The belief is that education is one of the best humanitarian investments in society. The ministry, represented by the directorate general of educational programms and the department of special education programms, is keen on providing an effective learning environment.”

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In Belgium, my home country, the ‘Flemish Sign language’ for the Flemish deaf community celebrated his ten years of existence. On 26 April 2006, the Flemish Parliament unanimously recognized the Flemish Sign Language as a language in Flanders. It is now generally accepted and confirmed by research, that Flemish Sign Language consists of five regional varieties which have developed in and around the different Flemish deaf schools. At the moment there is no standardized sign language in Flanders, although there is an ongoing process of spontaneous standardization (mostly due to increasing contacts between deaf people from different regions). Where the Flemish Sign Language is the sign language of Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, in Wallonia, in the French-speaking part of Belgium the French Belgian Sign Language is used.

In my latest book ‘Whispers of Oman,’ a self portrait of Hussain Ash’Shaikh Abu Bakhr, the first artist in Salalah in the south of the Sultanate who died in 1997 says a lot without speaking words to commemorate the changes Oman made.

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