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Macao is finally standardising its sign language

This is a development the government has been mulling for years, but preparatory work for a local glossary of signs is just getting underway.

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UPDATED: 24 Jan 2024, 8:21 am

The Social Welfare Bureau (known by its Portuguese initials IAS) is resurrecting a plan to standardise the sign language used in Macao through the compilation of a glossary of local signs, Jornal Tribuna de Macau reports.

The project has been mooted for some time, but was postponed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Preparatory work was underway now, however, according to IAS chief Hon Wai.

He told Tribuna that the bureau was currently recruiting and training hearing-impaired Macao residents to “support and participate in the work inherent in compiling sign language lexicons, in favour of promoting the development of the local sign language.” 

[See more: Is Macao as deaf-friendly as it could be?]

Hon also said that the IAS was collaborating with private healthcare centres to establish sign language interpretation services via video calls. These enabled people with hearing impairments to access important health information in real time.

He noted that the Health Bureau worked with the Conde S. Januário public hospital, other health centres and non-profit associations to ensure such cases “are diagnosed and treated in a timely manner.”

The IAS estimates that there are about 4,700 hearing-impaired people in Macao – with nearly a quarter of them experiencing severe or very severe deafness.

UPDATED: 24 Jan 2024, 8:21 am

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