By Rev Fr John Damian Adizie, OCD
Today, September 23 is a historical day as it is the first ever International Day of Sign Languages celeb-ration. It marks the birth of an advocacy organisat-ion, which has as one of its main goals, the preser-vation of sign languages and deaf culture as pre-requisites to the realisat-ion of the human rights of deaf people.
Today also commemor-ates the date that World Federation of Deaf was established in 1951. Am using this medium to pay tribute to those who are often neglected in the society. Among them are the deaf and dumb, blind and lame, orphans and widows, etc.
While commenting on UN resolution on International Day of Sign Language, Colin Allen, the president of World Federation of the Deaf declares: ‘This reso-lution recognises the imp-ortance of sign language and services in sign lang-uage being available to deaf people as early in life as possible. It also emphasizes the prin-ciple of “nothing about us without us” in terms of working with Deaf Com-munities. With effect from year 2018, the WFD is over-joyed at the prospect of observing and celebrating this day annually.’
I want to use this medium to com-mend the UN General Assem-bly and World Federation of the Deaf for its effort to carry everyone along. Outside this for-um, one hardly hears any celebration that has to do with deaf and dumb. Even the Church that is supp-osed to be the voice of the voiceless hardly talks about deaf and dumb. Most people don’t care while others may not even know that they exists, all because of negligence on the part of church and pol-itical leaders.
What the UN General Ass-embly is doing in terms of humanitarian recognitions and services is in line with what our Lord Jesus Christ did when he was in the world. Jesus carried every-one along. His healing ministry embraces almost everybody in the society. For instance, in Mark 7:31-37, they brought to Jesus a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech. He took him aside in pri-vate and put his fingers into his ears. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him: “Eph-phatha,” that is, “Be open-ed.”
And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Alleluia!!!
By restoring the speech and ears of this deaf and dumb, our Lord Jesus Christ proved to the world that He is indeed the Saviour of all mankind, including deaf and dumb. As long as Jesus Christ is concerned, the care for deaf and dumb remains an essential and indispens-able part of his healing ministry.
As we celebrate the deaf and dumb today, may God restore their speech and give each and every one of us the ability to hear his liberating word, through Christ our Lord. Amen!