Deaf need education about law – VietNamNet

Deaf need education about law
VietNamNet Bridge, Wednesday, 26/05/2010 (GMT+7)  – In response to a recent spate of arrests of deaf people in HCM City, the Disability Resource and Development (DRD) held a special seminar on Sunday to explore ways to educate the deaf about the law.

Lawyers and social workers recommended that agencies expand the existing sign language for the deaf to include signs about the law and develop educational aids such as picture books, as many of the city’s deaf are also illiterate.

Recently local media published a number of articles about an increase in crimes committed by hearing impaired people.

Most participants agreed that deaf people could not communicate with the community at large, police or the court system.

Tran Thi Ngoi, head of Hy Vong Hearing Impaired School in HCM City’s District 1, has spent nine years helping deaf people communicate with police and the courts.

She said those experiences had caused her anguish. She deals with about six such trials a year.

“Most people with hearing impairments that I have helped are uneducated. They offer very simple reasons for their crimes, such as being paid a bowl of noodle soup or VND200,000 (US$10),” Ngoi said.

Ngoi said they thought crimes were easy ways to make money.

Most of them said they knew what they had done was wrong only after they were arrested, Ngoi said.

She said in the last two years, crimes by people with hearing impairments had increased and become more serious, including murder. In Thu Duc District recently, a deaf person was paid a bowl of noodle soup to steal a motorbike. Tragically he stabbed the motorbike owner to death.

The most recent case was when a deaf man killed a young girl in a jealous rage. The man was married and the girl informed his wife that he was having an internet relationship with her friend.

Ngoi said the courts did not apply any special considerations for deaf offenders, as they were not mentally ill.

Ton Nu Thi Nhi, head of Hy Vong (Hope) School in District 8, who has translated at several recent trials, cited the case of a 35-year-old deaf man who fell in love with a 15-year-old deaf girl and had sex. Allegedly both were ignorant of the legal age of consent of 18, until after the man was arrested.

Nhi said that her school had started using picture books to teach traffic laws to deaf students. She hoped a similar project would help educate them about the law.

According to Lawyer Truong Thi Hoa, Viet Nam has about 5 million disabled people. HCM City has 54,000 people with disabilities and 3,522 of them are hearing impaired. He wants TV programmes like the news to be produced in sign language.

Nguyen Van Tuan, a policeman in District 10, said statistics released by HCM City Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs in 2008 showed that five to 10 per cent of homeless people had hearing troubles.

He said District 10 police recently arrested two deaf people who snatched handbags.

Getting employment presents many challenges for hearing impaired people, who find it hard to understand and be understood as few people can read sign language. Unlike the blind who have tapes and Braille, there are few such resources for the deaf.

According to the DRD, the education level of many of HCM City’s deaf is low. Many are unable to read, write or sign their name.

Vietnamese sign language is also limited and none of the signs can explain the law, the seminar heard.

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