Unlike western countries, in Pakistan there is a lack of resources for people with hearing disabilities. American Sign Language was introduced in the 1800s and has become the universal mode of communication for the deaf community.
A Karachi-based NGO, the Family Educational Services Foundation, has created a programme called Pakistan Sign Language, which provides a wealth of resources to learn sign language in both Urdu and English.
Deaf children and their families, those involved in deaf education and anyone who wants to learn an exciting new language can install the app.
“Just like learning alphabets, it is very easy to understand basic sign language,” sign language instructor Jessica said on SAMAA TV’s morning show Naya Din on Thursday.
“You just need to enter a word on the website, and it will show you how to say it in sign language,” she explained.
Jessica revealed that the NGO has opened six schools across the country, where over 290 students with hearing disabilities are receiving an education. Schools have been opened in Karachi’s Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Sukkur, Nawabshah, Hyderabad, Lahore and Jhelum.
Over 500 signs are available on the app and more than 700 words are available on the PSL Dictionary. Children can learn Urdu, English and basic Math in sign language with over 200 illustrated and animated tutorials.
The team comprises of educators, teachers, sign developers, curriculum designers, animators and production experts who have joined forces to create a rich source of learning resources and training materials. The development team includes leaders of the deaf community and interpreters.
PSL is working to make literacy, education and skills training accessible to deaf students and to help teachers and families learn too.