SignLabs.org – It’s Finally Here

Bismillah

Finally, I have the immense honour and pleasure to announce the launch of the long-awaited (well, long-ish, kinda awaited) website, that has recently got the blogosphere in a buzz… SignLabs.org!

So, what has all the fuss been about?

Basically, the team behind SignLabs.org figured it’s about time that the needs of the Deaf members of our community got a little attention.

As you may know, the hearing impaired (this includes the deaf, as well as those with reduced hearing) often rely on a system of coordinated signs and gestures, known as sign language, to communicate. However, not many members of the public (never mind Muslims) actually know how to sign. This barrier in communication has lead to the isolation of the Deaf community from wider society. Most tragically, they are even excluded from places where we, as Muslims, often gather for both social and religious benefit, such as the mosques, and at Islamic conventions.

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The good news is, there are many simple ways to improve the current situation.

But we need your help for things to change.

Oh great, another charity on the scrounge…hang on, let me find my wallet.

No! Really, it’s okay. For once, it’s not all about the money. Shocker, I know. What we really need is your time, effort, and most of all… your enthusiasm! Can you manage that?

Hmm, perhaps… what do I have to do?

Yey for enthusiam… ahem.

As I mentioned earlier, one major problem that faces the Deaf community, is the inability to easily communicate with the hearing, as they are both essentially speaking different languages. Thus, a simple solution would be for one or both parties to learn the language of the other. In this case, it is much, much easier for a hearing individual to learn sign language, than for a Deaf person to learn to lip read, and in addition, attempt to speak words that they cannot actually hear.

But, maybe you already know how to sign… or perhaps you aren’t very good with languages… or you don’t have much time to attend lessons… (etc, etc, [insert random excuses here]). Then what?

Well, we have taken all those scenarios into account, and devised three ways in which you can assist SignLabs.org, depending on your existing circumstances.

1) Project: Learn to Sign: It does exactly what it says on the tin. (Will I ever tire of using that phrase? Don’t think so).

For those who are unfamiliar with contemporary British advertising slogans… This project aims to encourage complete beginners to learn the basics of sign language, providing access to training videos, and links to established on and offline courses.

2) Project: Reach Out n’ Sign: This is for those of you who know a little sign, but want to become more fluent.

Experience teaches us that the best way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself into an environment where it is often spoken. E.g., if you want to learn Arabic, you go to Egypt, or Syria. If you want to learn French, well, a trip to France may help! In the case of sign language, hanging out with your local Deaf kids on the block can work wonders – and who says they have to be Muslim? In addition, this will definitely help to bridge the enormous chasm that currently exists between the social circles of the Deaf and the hearing.

3) Project: Sign Islam: You don’t need to know a single word of sign for this initiative! But you do need to know English. ParlezVous Anglais? I thought you might.

The hearing are blessed with many avenues by which they may gain knowledge of Islam using audio materials, such as mp3 lectures, Islamic online video and DVDs, and even specialist satellite/cable television channels. However, without signs, subtitles, or accompanying transcripts, they are pretty much useless for our Deaf neighbours. The good news is that many of these can be easily adapted in order to be more accessible to the hearing-impaired, who naturally have just as much right to learn about the religion as the rest of society. Please visit the website for more detailed information of how you can get involved.

Fair enough… I understand what you need. But what’s in it for me?

Dude, I’m in the UK. It’s late. Do I reeeally need to throw a bunch of Qur’anic verses, and ahadith at you to explain the IMMENSE rewards to be gained for such a teeny-weeny amount of effort? I think common sense – and a soft heart – will tell you that this is simply the right thing to do.

Think of it as seeking knowledge. Think of it as helping your neighbour. Think of it a great opportunity for da’wah.

Whatever your intention (as long as it is to please Allah) – just do it, already! (Ooh, another famous marketing slogan… I’m on fire tonight).

Okay, so I think I’ve taken quite enough of your time with this entry. I now urge you to visit SignLabs.org right this minute, and start taking advantage of all the resources and opportunities that we have lovingly (lovingly?) provided you, so that you can learn sign, use sign, and ultimately, sign Islam for the benefit of all. How wonderful!

May Allah bless our efforts, accept our actions, and grant us success in this life and the next. Ameen.

Updates:

  1. HalfDate.com have launched a special drive to assist us with Project: Sign Islam. Specifically, to collect:
    • 500 participants of a very short survey
    • and 35 members for a new transcription team that will work to transcribe Islamic audio material for the benefit of the hearing impaired. Sign up [pun intended] today!

18 / View Comments

18 responses to “SignLabs.org – It’s Finally Here”

  1. LivingHalal says:

    Bismillah wa a’la barakati Allah.

    Good initiative!

  2. […] Finally, I have the immense honour and pleasure to announce the launch of the long-awaited (well, long-ish, kinda awaited) website, that has recently got the blogosphere in a buzz… (more…) […]

  3. Organica says:

    wow… Mashallah! What a wonderful project. May Allah continue to bless the project inshallah.

  4. FearAllah says:

    A.W.E.S.O.M.E.!!!

    May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala grant this effort immense success and make it a means of immense reward for those who partake in it, Ameen.

    BarakAllahu feekum!!!

  5. AnonyMouse says:

    SubhanAllah… I’m absolutely speechless at this amazing project and the even more amazing people who initiated it.
    May Allah grant you the utmost success in all that you endeavour to do for His Sake, and may this project be an immense source of benefit for everyone… may Allah reward you with the best of this world and the Hereafter, ameen!

  6. Specs says:

    This is so amazing, Masha’Allah. It makes me look inward and be a bit ashamed of the times we have wasted creativity on worldly projects instead of channeling it into helping Islam progress. Who ever came up with this project, Jazak Allahu Khairan Katheera. Excellent work.

    iMuslim, very inspirational article. May Allah give you jazaa too. :)

  7. HalfDate says:

    assalam alaikum

    Everybody… nice comments.

    There are lots of work waiting for you… SignLabs need 500 participants to answer a survey…. so let’s help them.

    May Allah reward you with the sweetest date in Jannah

  8. […] Want more details? Read this. […]

  9. iMuslim says:

    Wa ‘alaykum salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatu everyone

    Jazakamullah khair for the support… but please do not let it stop at (much appreciated) words of encouragement and prayers… do get involved in any way that you can!

    * learn sign
    * use sign
    * sign Islam

    today!

  10. Faraz says:

    Masha-Allah, congratulations and may Allah put barakah in your efforts!

  11. Faraz says:

    On that note, I recall many years ago in Pakistan, at the tabligh markaz (Raiwindh), there were translations in many languages of every lecture given, including one translating in sign language. If I recall correctly, there was a pretty sizable number of Pakistani youth sitting there. I’m not sure what type of sign language they were using, but it was nice to see that they were accommodated.

  12. Organica says:

    I’ve always wanted to learn sign, especially in my field it’s considered a bonus.
    Do you think the British sign language is very different from Amercan standard sign language?

  13. Mommerency Bonnie says:

    As salamu aleykum;
    Can you find a place for me to do anything? I could subtitle. I can sign a bit but not BSL but I figure I could learn and I really want to and need to improve my signing. Great initiative, wish you so much succes !!!

  14. khawla says:

    MashaAllah for great post and congratulation

    However I wish to make duaa that: May Allah bless those born with speech impairment

    There is always a blessing in whatever condition we are in.

    I found this study below very amusing and would like to share it with all… Imagine you are in a Masjid struggling to find that Khushu’ and contemplation but some chatterboxes never seem to run out of batteries…. now we know why

    “Why WE Women Will Never Stop Talking……….
    Men, it would appear, have been right all along: when it comes to the motor-mouth stakes, women beat them into a cocked hat.
    The average woman clocks up 20,000 spoken words every day, against the paltry male score of 7,000; she speaks more quickly than he does, devotes more of her brainpower to doing so and actually gets a buzz from the sound of her own voice.
    According to one American researcher, Dr Louann Brizendine, the reason for our garrulousness can be found in scientific study. The male hormone testosterone, she says, shrinks the area of the brain responsible for communication, leaving women with relatively more cells available for it….”

    My point is:
    Mootness can be one of the ways to save one from being thrown in the fire. Refer to Hadith An Nawwawi number 15 and 29. http://fortyhadith.iiu.edu.my/hadith29.htm

    Good Signing is cool.

  15. iMuslim says:

    Faraz: Ameen

    Organica: ASL & BSL are quite different it seems… I’ve been told that ASL is mainly one handed, and BSL is mainly two-handed. We need more volunteers to help set up the ASL project, much like we have done with the BSL one. Only need a handful of key individuals as you will get a great deal of assistance from Global Deaf Muslim, insha’Allah, who are based in N.America. They just need one or two hearing Muslims to help coordinate certain activities. If anyone else reading is interested, please e-mail contact[at]signlabs.org.

    Mommerency Bonnie: wa ‘alaykum salam wa rahmatullah. Where are you based? Perhaps you could join the Sign Islam project, and help us with subtitling/transcribing Islamic audio material, insha’Allah? Which SL are you familiar with? ASL?

    khawla: you make an interesting point. A scholar we filmed just today for another SignLabs video, said much the same thing… that when Allah takes away one blessing, e.g., sight, hearing, the use of one’s limbs, etc, He graciously replaces it with another one.

    These members of the Ummah may rank higher than their more ‘able’ counterparts, especially went you consider how much we waste the gifts of our working senses… astagfirullah.

  16. assalam alaikum

    Alhamduillah, many volunteers have joined the Al-Qasas transcription team.

    But, where are the Canadians?

    Here is a message from Al-Qasas admin:

    I’m just wondering do we have any Canadians here? I’m in Canada and
    you guys have this great accent, so smooth and mine sounds sooo posh.
    Subhan’Allah. -Alima of Al-Qasas

  17. […] some moving feedback from a blind brother (name withheld on request) on the “learn to sign” project (in partnership with MM), that we hope will encourage everyone to participate in our […]

  18. […] may remember back in August 2008, MuslimMatters helped to launch SignLabs.org, a project set up to encourage Muslims to engage with the Deaf community, and improve Islamic […]

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