Student - 29 maart 2018

Learning sign language for charity

Anne van der Heijden

Talking Hands, a foundation set up by Wageningen students to support deaf children in Uganda, is organizing a sign language course in the Leeuwenborch this month.

Participants in the first lesson, on 21 March, learn the basics of sign language. © Sven Menschel

Talking Hands was set up in 2014 by six BSc students of International Development Studies. Its original name was New Hope School for the Deaf Foundation. ‘We started by supporting a school for the deaf in Uganda,’ says co-founder Imme Widdershoven. ‘We expanded our range of activities later.’ This led to the name change. Talking Hands is now an official foundation with charitable (ANBI) status.

‘Sign language is a very different way of communicating, but it is highly intuitive so you soon understand what someone is trying to say,’ explains Widdershoven. She discovered this when she visited the school for the deaf in Uganda. ‘There you see where the money goes to, and that boosts your motivation.’ Co-founder Douwe de Vries: ‘As a student of Development Studies you learn a lot about the inefficiency of development aid. That demotivates people who want to make positive changes in the world. This way you can still uphold the ideals you started out with through something tangible.’

The course is now being run for the fourth year in a row, each time in collaboration with Gebaar Ede. Talking Hands also runs other activities such as a film evening at the Heerenstraattheater on 10 April, with two documentaries and a crash course in sign language. The foundation raises a total of about 15,000 euros a year for the charity.

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