x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

First UAE sign language dictionary expected in June

Members of the deaf community and specialists from across the country have come together to compile the UAE’s first sign language dictionary.

‘Implementing this dictionary throughout the UAE will make us feel more unified,’ says Nadia Al Barouti. Reem Mohammed / The National
‘Implementing this dictionary throughout the UAE will make us feel more unified,’ says Nadia Al Barouti. Reem Mohammed / The National

FUJAIRAH // Deaf residents and sign language specialists from across the UAE have been compiling the UAE’s first sign language dictionary.

The dictionary is expected to be completed in June after two years of work.

The Fujairah Rehabilitation Centre for the Disabled along with local and federal authorities have been holding workshops and meetings at the Al Ain Centre for Care and Rehabilitation.

Abeer Al Shihe, a deaf specialist at the Fujairah centre, said the dictionary would devise new signs for many words.

“Each emirate has its own accent and sign language, some of the signs are similar and some of them are not.

“That is why we supported the idea of having a sign language dictionary specially designed for the UAE and its citizens,” she said.

“The dictionary will have many sections that cover almost every word and meaning. Forty deaf society members have joined the workshops and voted for the best suitable sign for each word.”

The dictionary will include a section about the country’s cultural heritage and identity.

Ms Al Shihe said it would include signs for Emirati food, traditional clothes and everything related to Emirati identity.

“Having a unified sign language will solve many communication issues that deaf people face and will make communication much easier,” she said.

Nadia Al Barouti, a 44-year-old deaf Emirati woman, said the dictionary would be very useful with the support from everyone.

“I created my own sign language when I was a child, and when I grew up I learnt the international sign language and I still use them both,” she said.

Ms Al Barouti said she faced difficulties communicating with deaf friends from other emirates because they used different signs for the same words.

“So we end up writing instead of using sign language,” she said.

“Implementing this dictionary throughout the country will make us feel more unified and we will have a better understanding between one another.”

rhaza@thenational.ae