Samsung Reaches Out with Sign Language in Grand Gesture

What if everyone knew sign language?

According to this video, Samsung staff in Istanbul,Turkey prepared for a month to send a powerful message to a man who is Hard of Hearing.

Picture of Samsung cell phone.
One Samsung crew gave a new meaning to community outreach. photo credit: Samsung Galaxy Note Edge_2 via photopin (license)

The man’s reaction and those of Samsung staff who took part in the event demonstrate the effect of the kindness of strangers.

The planning took extra time because people interacting with Muharrem (no last name provided) had to teach and practice sign language to interact with him and provide him with one day with full communication access, everywhere he went, with everyone one who communicated with him.

For one unforgettable day, Muharrem experienced what it would be like if the world made the effort to communicate–in sign language.

Though communication is a two-way exchange, many people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing are expected to carry the responsibility for making themselves understood and deciphering spoken language, rather than people attempting to learn some signs or using captions, for example.

Old picture of Turkish hillside with buildings near the water.
For hundreds of years, Turkish sultans encouraged the use of sign language by their courts. photo credit: Rüstem Pasha Mosque BW via photopin (license)

Sign language in Turkey has a special history, because the ability to communicate silently was valued by the Ottoman Court in Istanbul. Several sultans learned sign language, preferred its use in their courts because it allowed for privacy and respectful silence, and some sultans encouraged those who could hear to still use sign language in their presence.

No one knows if Turkish Sign Language derives from this secret palace language that was used for 500 years in Ottoman courts because there aren’t written records of it.

Since Turkish Sign Language is older than European sign languages, it differs from them.

Despite the historical significance and practicality of sign language in Turkish culture, deaf education has focused on acquiring speech since 1953.

As you can tell from the video, Muharrem isn’t used to many people knowing sign language.

To create this experience for Muharrem, Samsung staff had to organize communications and cameras to make sure everyone was in place.

At the end of the video, Samsung staff say “… now we are at the service of all the hearing impaired people.”

The event promoted the Video Call Center for Hearing Impaired People–and taking our part in making communications more accessible and less complicated for everyone.

 

 

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