The Deaflympics are competitions for the top athletes with hearing disorders. The communication of deaf people is done with the help of sign language.
Sign language is a language of natural or artificial origin. It uses manual communication combined with body language, shape and movements of mouth and lips and body postures. The targeted audience for sign language are people with hearing disabilities, however, sometimes it is used by healthy people under some circumstances, for example, under water (for communication of divers), in space (for works outside the spaceships), in situations when silence is necessary (in cinemas, concerts), or in very noisy conditions.
First sign language was created in XVII century. The finger-spelling of letters is used very rarely, mostly for pronouncing personal or geographical names.
A loan translation or sign articulating are used by hearing people for transferring information with the help of sign. Such speech is grammatically identical with a spoken language. However, in reality sign languages are almost absolutely independent from spoken languages and they are continuing to develop: new signs are being created, old ones are dying away — mostly this is connected with the developing of spoken languages.
The culture of communicating of deaf and hard-of-hearing people has its own peculiarities that are to be taken into consideration while contacting with them. For example, eye-contact is very important during conversation with a deaf person. Raising of tone and screaming are inappropriate as they are deforming mimics and articulation thus your conversation partner misunderstand you. Besides, scream can be physically painful for people with hearing devices. Deaf people are usually informing people if they need to go somewhere, they are expecting people with normal hearing do the same. If you heard some sound, for example, a telephone ringing in other room, you need to inform about this a deaf person you’re talking to and only then you need to go there. Deaf people are usually straight-talking; they are telling everything to your face. While answering their questions do not beat about the bush, give clear answers. One of the most interesting characteristics of sign languages is giving signs names to people depending upon their appearances, manners or character, sometimes sign names are even connected with their family name taking its origin from some object or thing.
From the linguistic point of view sign languages are as rich and complicated as any spoken language. According to the results of some professional investigations of linguists, sign languages have the all components that are making them full-featured languages.
Today there are around 140 national sign languages. Some of them are similar and belong to the same groups of languages, others differ very much. On International congresses and sport events an international system for communicating of deaf people – IS – International Sign – is used.
In the process of getting ready for the Deaflympics the Centre of Adaptive Sport of Ugra is conducting the extension courses «Russian Sign Language» for volunteers and personnel of the competitions. Last year the courses were attended by 48 people. Next extension course is planned for February 2015. All in all 72 people will learn the basics of Russian sign language. During the classes the attendants of the courses are learning how to communicate with deaf people, learn figures, finger-spelling and the basics of International sign language.
The volunteers who have finished the course are now giving practical sign language lessons to other people during different public events in the region. The citizens of Ugra are eager to learn some sign language phrases that can be used for introducing people, as well as for greeting athletes and visitors of the competitions.
The presentations of the Deaflympics with the short sign language courses were shown on the regional volunteer convention, the III annual social fair of non-commercial organizations, the regional festival of young journalists «SMIshka-2014», the IV regional forum of public service advertising.
On November’04 citizens of Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug have sung the national anthem of Russia in sign language in order to shown their solidarity and support to deaf people. The governor of Ugra Natalia Komarova has also participated in the event thus showing that the barrier between healthy people and physically challenged people are broken, we are keeping together and looking forward to the forthcoming Deaflympics.
The unique achievement of Russia is that it is hosting 3 white Olympiads in a row. This is a great responsibility for the organizing committee. Volunteers who know sign language and came to Khanty-Mansiysk from all parts of Russia will be in charge of unrestricted communication of media and sport fans with deaf athletes.