Dr. Ammons' trip to China
For the first time, Dr. Donalda Ammons traveled to China for a 10 day tour in 3 cities: Beijing, Xian and Shanghai. She wanted to become more acquainted with the Chinese culture and customs and attitudes towards Deaf people and sports. While in China, she had the opportunity to meet some Deaf Chinese people.
From her contacts with the Disabled Persons’ Federation and Xinhua News Agency, Dr. Ammons learned that with Beijing being the capital of the world’s most populous country with over 15 million inhabitants, there are fewer than 1,000 sign language professionals in Beijing. Most are teachers in local schools for the deaf, without any formal training in interpreting.
With the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the Disabled Persons’ Federation is worried about excluding deaf Chinese and deaf foreigners from full participation as spectators because there are not enough sign language translators.
Beijing has eight schools for the deaf, ranging from the primary to the university level and they are funded by the municipal or district governments. However, when it comes to educating a city of 15 million inhabitants in sign language, the resources are sorely limited and inadequate.
Despite all the difficulties and challenges, the Beijing Disabled Persons’ Federation remains committed to promoting sign language and offering more specialized training for volunteers in time for the 2008 Olympics.
Several major department stores and entertainment sites in Beijing including the Friendship Store at the Lufthansa Shopping Center, Pacific Department Store and the Beijing Aquarium now offer sign language service. This is definitely the way to go in making deaf people’s lives more at ease.
Dr. Ammons also had the opportunity to meet and talk with Deaf people in Xian and Shanghai. Their plight relating to services and opportunities for the Deaf resembles to what Dr. Ammons saw and heard in Beijing. Nevertheless, deaf people remain hopeful for positive changes in the near future. They want to host more deaf international events in order to bring in changes to the government’s attitude and understanding about the deaf people’s abilities.