SIGN LANGUAGE OVERCOMES OBSTACLES
Signs turn into words with their body language. Sign Language Interpreters Volkan Yılmaz and Emel Aksoy of Provincial Directorate of Family and Social Policies, which work to create social awareness about the hearing impaired, shared the difficulties the hearing impaired experience with the students of Izmir University of Economics Department of Translation and Interpretation. The students received their initial course on sign language interpretation and got briefed by to Nadir Maşalacı, Vice Director of Provincial Directorate of Family and Social Policies, and Bülent Utku, Izmir Branch Manager of Social Services Office.
Volkan Yılmaz stated that Turkish sign language was very unique and it was used during the era of Fatih Sultan Mehmet especially for communicating secretly within the palace. Yılmaz said, “Turkish sign language creates its own words. It has a simpler and plain language structure compared to Turkish. We don’t have the demographic aspects of the hearing impaired in Turkey. It was estimated to be around 1 million in a study conducted in 1994. I am definitely positive that it is three times more of that number now. We work as interpreters but if the other person does not know sign language it gets harder, we can only understand their body language.”
Yılmaz also mentioned that his family was hearing impaired and that the children who could hear had to bear the role of head of the family. “It is such a big gift for a hearing impaired family to have a child who can hear. Those children, after a while, become the head of the family. My family is hearing impaired. I had to take care of all banking and hospital business even before I was 7. There is nothing worse than not being able to communicate with a person right next to you. Our education system needs to include Turkish Sign Language first of all. Currently, there are 3 schools in Izmir. The law that was enacted in 2007 was somewhat effective,” said Yılmaz.
“The National Anthem is just being taught”
Interpreter Emel Aksoy also stated that the hearing impaired wanted to be understood and she said, “I spend most of my time with the hearing impaired. They want to be understood, but people are not aware of this. I’ve been working for the state for 7 years but no one knows about the regulations. This creates problems. We can serve as sworn interpreters. In sign language, gestures as well as mimics are important. Only a few institutions such as Anadolu University offer sign language training. There also some courses being offered, in Izmir, district governship of Karabağlar offers such courses.”
Aksoy also said that the National Anthem was interpreted in sign language in Izmir for the first time and people were very impressed with it.
‘Language is the most effective tool of communication’
Prof. Dr. Lütfiye Oktar, Head of IUE Department of Translation and Interpretation, drew attention to the importance of sign language interpretation and she said, “Interpretation plays a very significant role in every layer of the society. Language is the most effective tool of communication in a society. Our students became aware of understanding and helping the hearing impaired. We are planning to offer courses on sign language interpretation in the coming years.”
Following the speeches, the students said “Students of Izmir Economics care about the hearing impaired” in sign language with the help of Aksoy and Yılmaz.