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Deaf Awareness Week: A different type of book signing.

Did you know that most deaf people who sign, consider sign language their first language and the written language as their second? I didn't, but thanks to the dozens of videos uploaded by members of the deaf community from all over the world, I've learned about this and other issues of which I was previously unaware. International Deaf Awareness Week takes place during the last week of September, so during this week I'll be showcasing different videos from or about the deaf communities around the world, and I hope the following selection of videos provide you with a great place to start if you wish to learn more about this condition and those who live with it.

This first video comes from Manos Cuenteras (storytelling hands) in Argentina. They take advantage of the National Day of the Deaf in Argentina to tell their audience in Argentinean sign language and Spanish subtitles that they will soon release their storybooks in sign language for deaf children. On the comment thread on this Spanish television clip, showing a group of people translating bestsellers and classics such as Pillars of the Earth, Harry Potter, Romeo and Juliet and other books into Spanish sign language, YouTube users explain how deaf people have difficulties reading written language because it doesn't really relate to the language they use to communicate on a day to day basis.

Sign language is not universal and is independent of the oral language. Most countries have their own adaptations and sometimes, as is the case with the United Kingdom and the USA, the sign languages are completely different, in spite of the fact that both countries share the same spoken language. More information about signing can be found here, and on this video, YouTube user mergfkt tells us in English a bit about the history of ASL (American Sign Language) and the deaf community in general.

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