The Importance of Language to the Blind

Language can be described as many things: unique, unusual or extraordinary. Language is abstract as well as different depending from where you originate. We all have five senses; the sense of sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing. When one of these are taken away, all other senses and speech intensify. Language is a blind person’s only source of communication. Words represent real concepts, objects and people. Language is made up of similarly different words strung together in order to give meaning to jumbled up letters. Once a child understands that, they will be able to string words together in order to form speech and communication skills. To understand how important language and communication is to the blind, one must understand the impact of vision on language development in blind adolescents. It is not a well known fact how vital vision is while developing speech. Babies, especially young children, pay particular attention to the way mouths move while speaking. This a base for them to repeat the word themselves. It is imperative that communication within the visually impaired is taught through touch, speech, and description.

On October 10th 2014, Egypt celebrated its first ever World Sight Day in order to bring attention to the global issue of visual impairment and blindness. The World Health Organization, in collaboration with various non profit organizations as well as the Ministry of Health and Populations, aims to increase public education and awareness on said issues. There are approximately 1 million blind citizens in Egypt with an increasing 3 million people who have some form of sight loss. 2014 marked the launch of a 6 year plan that focuses on increasing access and availability to comprehensive eye care services embedded into the health care system. Adding to the plan, the first visually impaired english lab was launched in November of 2011 in Cairo which aims specifically on working to improve job and work availability for the blind. The agency, the Development Association for Empowering Special Needs, partnered with the Egyptian Ministry of communication, Mitsubishi Egypt and Orascom Construction Industries in order to improve the blind’s education and communication skills. It was announced that the first phase of the operation would train 160 blind people to integrate into modern day society by providing theoretical training in communication and language skills as well as practical training using internet and computers. Not only do the financially stable have access to visual care but the underprivileged of Egypt were provided with 800 free vials of medication on December 18th, 2011. This was orchestrated by the Egyptian Health Ministry and within the National Health Insurance Organization. Vision loss in Egypt has become a huge concern both ethically and in the workplace has been a top priority of sight specialists in recent years as well as those to come.

So little take into consideration how near impossible it is for the blind to learn the skill of communication through speech. Thankfully, there are several organizations established primarily to teach the visually impaired the skills needed to learn. Hopefully these organizations will help support blind children and give them an education. Blindness is not a disadvantage. The loss of one sense cause others to be more defined. To be stronger.

 

By Salma Abdelsalam