Media Statement by Executive Director, Ms Sylvia Teng

Media Statement by Executive Director, Ms Sylvia Teng


Reference to the programme on Channel 8 Chinese Current Affairs Programmme – 狮城有约 Hello Singapore (乐学梦起飞) aired on 20 November 2017.


1) We would like to applaud MediaCorp’s effort in creating awareness of our Deaf and Hard-of-hearing community through its programme and the enthusiasm shown by the interviewee (陈大均) to pick up sign language.


2) However, we have noted that during the interview segment, the show presenters and the interviewee (陈大均) repeatedly used the term “聋哑”, which translates to deaf-mute to describe a deaf person who may not be able to communicate verbally. We wish to highlight that a Deaf person may not use his voice, but this does not mean he is a “mute”. This has been conveyed to the media previously and reiterated several times, but it is often forgotten.


Using the term deaf-mute to refer to people without speech is considered outdated and offensive, and should be avoided. The preferred and accurate terms are ‘’deaf’’ “聋人”or ‘’hard-of-hearing’’ “失聪人士”, in line with local and internationally accepted guidelines. Deaf people have functioning vocal cords and, in fact, some have very good speech. A deaf person is not dumb. Deaf people are the same as other people except they cannot hear as well.


More information on proper terminology and sign language can be found at:


3) From our records, Ms Tan Teck Sum (Hearing) has never been on SADeaf’s list of Signing Exact English (SEE) instructors nor on the current list of Singapore Sign Language (SgSL) instructors.


A qualified and trained Deaf sign language instructor would have been more appropriate to teach sign language to members of the public as he/she will be in the better position to share about our unique Deaf Culture and our language. As such, SADeaf is concerned with Ms Tan Teck Sum’s teaching ability and the original source/quality of her teaching materials.


We hope our feedback will be taken seriously and please consider the feelings of our Deaf and Hard-of-hearing community by editing the term “聋哑” (which translates to deaf-mute) to describe a deaf person to “聋人” or ‘失聪人士” on your online platform.


We sincerely hope that the media will refrain from using the term “聋哑” (deaf-mute) when referring to a Deaf or hard-of-hearing person when doing similar interviews/stories in future.


Thank you.