Deaf Syrians Cope With War, Create New Sign Words

March 10, 2017



In Damascus, Syria — a deaf association is providing classes where they teach other Deaf Syrians sign language — with a focus on creating new signs that has to do with the war in the country. 


They discuss signs for ISIS, plane bombs, and have two different signs for the country to represent the al-Assad government (two fingers on hand) and the rebels (three fingers on hand) — to represent their different flags — and the sign for kidnapping. 


Check out this video clip from AFP News Agency. (Link to full video is below.)


The Deaf teachers said they had to create signs that did not already exist in their sign language vocabulary so Deaf people could exchange information and express their feelings. 


The group will post the signs on Facebook so others will know the signs — there are between 20,000 to 100,000 deaf people in Syria. 


One of the new sign creators’ name is Ryan Hommos (21, Deaf). Many in his family was killed in war by sniper fire — his mother, uncle, aunt, three cousins, his brother, and a baby sister died when they were in a truck escaping from war in their neighborhood. 


He said he did not hear the shots and did not understand why his mother and cousins slumped down. He said when he saw his little sister’s head explode, he realized a sniper was shooting at them. Just terrible. His brother was later killed from shelling when he was playing soccer. 


He said he is nervous when traveling in Syria passing through security checkpoints, and that often the soldiers think they are mocking them with their signs. 


Other Deaf teachers there say the war has affected Deaf people as well as the entire country — causing divisions, many people leaving the country, and the remaining people becoming aggressive towards one other. 


They hope someday later all of them can meet together and share their language again.


[News Article:]

[Video clip] []

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