Open Letter to the People’s Association (PA) by SADeaf Executive Director, Ms Sylvia Teng
Reference: Quality of Sign Language Instructors
1) We understand that The People’s Association has been offering sign language courses as part of its PA Courses -SkillsFuture@PA programme which, no doubt, will encourage more members of the public to have a better understanding and communicate with our Deaf & Hard-of-hearing community.
2) However, it has been brought to our attention by concerned viewers and members of our Deaf & Hard-of-hearing community over the quality of sign language instructors after watching the inaccurate signs demonstrated by Ms Tan Teck Sum (a Hearing & an instructor endorsed/approved by PA to conduct sign language courses at its community centres) during the interview segment on Channel 8 Chinese Current Affairs Programme – 狮城有约 Hello Singapore (乐学梦起飞) aired on 20 November 2017.
It is important to note that if the person who is conducting the sign language courses does not possess the relevant qualifications/training or skills to run such courses, it will affect the course participants’ learning of the language and their proficiency in communication with our Deaf and Hard-of-hearing community.
3) Singapore Sign Language (SgSL) is our native sign language that has developed over the last 6 decades, which is socially recognised and accepted by our Deaf & Hard-of-hearing community and is a reflection of Singapore’s diverse linguistic culture.
4) Signing Exact English (SEE) is not a sign language, but a sign system which, as its name implies, follows English exactly in terms of word order and grammar. It visually represents spoken language on the hands and can be used simultaneously with voiced English.
5) Over the years, SADeaf has been dedicating resources to research and develop the Singapore Sign Language (SgSL) curriculum and teaching materials. All our SgSL instructors have to undergo regular assessments & in-house training, including training conducted by overseas trainers before they are certified to conduct SgSL courses.
6) 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.
Sign language instructors listed with PA are also not on our current list of SgSL instructors.
As such, SADeaf is concerned of their teaching abilities and the original source/quality of their teaching materials and regrettably unable to conscientiously recommend or endorse them.
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.
We sincerely hope that PA will take our feedback seriously and look into the matter.