Equal Opportunities Commission



34th YMCA International Youth Camp for the Hard of Hearing 2012 Opening Ceremony

Mr LAM Woon Kwong, Chairperson Equal Opportunities Commission


Vice President Dr. Cheng, Karl, Guests and Friends,

Thank you for inviting me to this very meaningful occasion where our friends from all over Asia can share their experience in overcoming their hearing impairment, in different cultural contexts.

Among people with physical disabilities, our friends with hearing impairment are among the most easily misunderstood. They appear normal, hence they are not easily identifiable as people with disabilities. They are sometimes regarded as impolite, or even arrogant, because they seem not willing to communicate with others. Even if they are known to have hearing impairment, others may still feel embarrassed to be together with them as they often have to use vigorous gestures to help them communicate, making them look strange and exaggerating.

Moreover, those who are born or have had hearing impairment since they are young do face lots of difficulties in learning. Not being able to listen, they can hardly talk fluently. Plus the fact that very few teachers know sign language, students with hearing impairment face disproportionate difficulties in their education. Admission to degree courses for students with hearing disabilities have long been way below average.

Since I joined the EOC, I have learned a lot more about the plights faced by people with hearing impairment. This is especially so after I read about a case of a local university graduate who chose to end her young life because she couldn’t cope with the humiliation of repeated discriminatory acts by others. I am convinced that our community as a whole must do a lot more to assist. They include: strengthen the training for teachers in mainstream schools so that they know how to teach students with hearing impairment; develop and promote sign languages so as to improve the communication between people with disabilities and the wider community; provide more vocational and other training courses for students with hearing impairment so as to improve their employability; and promote more use of sign language in entertainment and cultural activities so they may integrate more with the wider community, while at the same time popularize the use of simple sign language to the layman. These tasks inevitably take time, but if we are determined, they are achievable.

The Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong has been on the fore front of our local social services for decades, and is among the pioneering organizations in championing work for people with disabilities. I am glad to see the 34th YMCA International Youth Camp for the Hard of Hearing now being successfully held in Hong Kong. It is a good occasion to arouse and focus the community’s attention to the needs of our friends who have hearing impairment. I welcome you all to Hong Kong, and hope you will have an enjoyable and meaningful stay.

Thank you.