Sign language, or the art of signing

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At first glance, a deaf person does not stand out. We often only notice a difference when it starts to flash, which for many of us is an incomprehensible waving of our hands. On a daily basis, the deaf are unnoticeable, but few people know that the percentage of deaf people in Poland is even several million.

Research shows that 10-15% of the general population struggle with hearing problems, which is about 500 million people. Communication between these people is possible through sign language. Deaf people most often surround themselves with people with the same condition, which gives them a sense of belonging to a certain group, understanding and support. A language barrier separates them from hearing people, similar to that of people using different languages.

Sign language – history

Deaf people find it much harder to live because they have been separated and discriminated against for hundreds of years. In the past, these people fell to the lowest rungs of the social ladder, they were not entitled to any rights or help in enduring the hardships of everyday life. This resulted in a natural isolation of the deaf. Fortunately, this has now changed and deaf people are an important part of society.

The fate of the deaf slightly improved in the 16th century thanks to one of the respected Spanish families, de Velasco. There were many deaf people in this family (most likely due to a genetic defect). The de Velasco family placed great emphasis on learning to speak among deaf family members. It resulted, inter alia, from from the fact that, according to the laws of the time, a man who did not speak could not be the heir of the family property, therefore the family took care of learning the language and communicating with its relatives.

This also facilitated the functioning of other deaf members of society. In the 18th century, there was a breakthrough in the treatment of deaf people in France and England – it was here that the first dormitories and schools for the deaf were established (then changes appeared in Poland and Germany). It gave a spark of hope to deaf people who also wanted to learn and lead a normal life.