Deaf Culture in Switzerland from the perspective of a native

By Adele Ann Eberwein

The spotlight was on Roland "Roli" Hermann during the opening ceremonies last Sunday. He was our Master of Ceremonies, and he is also on the Cultural committee under the Swiss commitee. Roli did a great job with only one day of practice. His partner for the ceremonies broke his finger and left him all alone in front of everyone. With 6 interpreters working during the ceremony, Roli found the experience interesting as he was not prepared for the delay in communication. Often he had to wait for the interpreters to finish up translating. He believes that everything is going well in Davos as it is an outstanding location when it comes to sports and transportation. We asked him about the deaf community in Switzerland.

The deaf community in Switzerland has been going through new changes. In the past, a lot of deaf people grew up orally until approximately 20 years ago when sign language became more widespread. There are 3 different sign languages in Switzerland. The people sign DSGS in the German region, and the people in the French region sign LSR. The people in the Italian region are influenced by the people of Italy. Not much research is being done on the sign language in the Italian region yet. There are a lot of research on both DSGS and LSR. In Basel, there is a center that does research mainly on DSGS.

To interact with others, deaf people used to meet at a restaurant for many years. Deaf leaders recognized the need for a deaf club and found the location of the Deaf Club St. Gallen.  Today, the community is getting stronger with the increased use of sign language and socialization among the deaf.

We are looking forward to seeing more performances by Roli as he introduced the play Wednesday night and will also be the MC for the closing ceremonies.