Diakonia - People change the world
Intisar Kuhail and Dua'a Abu Baker having their first experience at a bank. The challenges in communication made them realize that things needed to change so that people with hearing impairment also can do their banking errands.

Sign language is entering the private sector in Gaza

Deaf people around the world communicate using sign language. On the occasion of the Swedish sign language day (May 14th), the Diakonia Rehabilitation programme would like to share a remarkable story about three active, energetic and enthusiastic girls with hearing impairment from Gaza who today are looking forward to the future.

4/28/2014 Publisher: Dona Khoury

Deaf does not mean only deaf!

The word “Deaf” for Intisar Kuhail, Sondos Ghazal and Lina abu Al-Maaza can be described as follows:

D stands for Determinant

E stands for Energetic

A stands for Active

F stands for Full of hope

The three 17 year old girls were born with hearing impairment, and thus lost the ability to speak. Nowadays, they are receiving their basic education at Mustafa Sadiq Al-Rafee’ secondary school for deaf in Gaza. The three of them have an ambition to be enrolled in the university and obtain higher degrees by which they can achieve a lot.

Training helped them out of isolation

Between the years 2010-2013, the three active girls received their first training at one of Diakonia’s partner organizations in Gaza: Future society for deaf adults. Since they already started learning sign language at school, they only needed basic training. What they received at the Future Society led them to communicate with others, enhanced their presence and cooperation, helped them get out of the isolation that the society put them in due to their hearing impairment, and minimized the negative attitudes towards persons with disability.

Later on, they were trained on the daily life skills throughout the sessions held with the technical and the financial support of both Diakonia and the Norwegian Association of Disabled (NAD).

Positive changes for persons with hearing disability

Recently, the three girls participated in an event which was organized by one of the local banks in Gaza on the occasion of the banking week for children and students in an aim to introduce this group to banking skills. Unfortunately, the girls were not able to communicate with the bank staff without the assistance of their teachers. They even did not find any sign that can assist them to know more about the bank, its working environment, and the requirements for any transaction, etc.

For that reason, they thought of holding meetings with the bank manager to raise the issue of the right of deaf persons to have supporting signs that can assist them get needed information. Fortunately, their idea was accepted and adopted by the bank manager who has raised it and discussed it with the Palestinian Monetary Authority, which in its role demanded that the issue of signs for persons with hearing impairment should be taken into consideration.

As a result, the Islamic Bank of Palestine the first bank in Palestine to put signs to assist persons with hearing disability. Within few months, all banks in Gaza will be adding signs to assist persons with hearing impairment.

The work for inclusion in society continues

But the fight for inclusion in society does not end with this for Intisar Kuhail, Sondos Ghazal and Lina abu Al-Maaza. Their goal is that all institutions and organizations adapt the idea of adding signs that assist persons with hearing disability so that they can be part of society and live their lives independently.

Are opening a beauty care center

In April 2014, the Diakonia partner Future Society for Deaf Adults was able to raise funds for the three girls to establish the first beauty care center in Gaza, managed and marketed by women with disabilities. The project was in cooperation between the private sector and Future Society for Deaf Adults. A training unit will be added to the beauty center, so that the experience and learning can be disseminate the experience to more girls in the Gaza Strip.