Karachi: Family Education Services Foundation (FESF) in collaboration with ILM IDEAS hosted the launch of “Pakistan Sign Language Resources”, on November, 19th, 2014, at a local hotel. For the first time in Pakistan, Pakistan Sign Language (PSL) digital learning tools have been created in order to bridge the existing gap in educational materials for the deaf. These learning tools features 5,000 words,sign language visual lexiconand a book of 1000 basic signs in English, Urdu, and Pakistan’s four regional languages; Sindhi, Punjabi, Balochi and Pashto. These learning tools are available free of cost country-wide.
The keynote address, delivered by Saad Amanullah Khan, CEO of Alamut Consulting, acknowledged the 25 years of effort by FESF in promoting deaf education and employment in Pakistan, making a difference in the lives of thousands of children and their families. He said, “They, Richard Geary and his team, are doing something for Pakistan, which even we Pakistanis, are unable to do. PSL book is going to be an amazing asset for Pakistan, especially for disadvantaged children who cannot hear”. He also shared the fact that out of 1.25 million deaf children in Pakistan only about 10,000 go to school.
Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Minister of Education and Literacy, Sindh outlined that the Sindh government will be holding policy dialogue with FESF to see how to incorporate the PSL learning resources in the regional school curriculum. He also offered his support to the FESF in establishing more training centers for deaf children in Sindh.
The event was opened with the Pakistan National Anthem in sign language by student of Deaf Reach School. Richard Geary, FESF Executive Director delivered a presentation on the background and development of the PSL resources. He said that, “Deaf community in Pakistan is very much marginalized not only economically, lack of education, but in addition to either so called disability. Out of 1 million children in Pakistan, who are deaf, less than 10,000 have access to education”. He further added that, “In America, sign language is the third most studied language in university courses, but, in Pakistan, there are very few sign language resources”. With our deaf reach school program, which presently run 07 schools with thousands of students, we are addressing this problem. We are providing education and skill training for deaf children, training to their parents and development of teachers”. A documentary about deaf children, titled “Aur Sunao”, by film director Taqi Shaheen was premiered at the event.