Dem Association (Dem Derneği) is working for the dissemination of Turkish Sign Language by digitalising the trainings of this language, and for ensuring the creation of employment opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. The association will use the grant support from our Culture & Arts Fund for its project “Koşar Adım Alt Yazıya” to raise awareness and collect data about closed captioning, increase the number and visibility of good examples, and strengthen communication with potential collaborators.
Read below our interview:
Which areas and issues will Dem Association prioritise in the 2022-2023 period? In addition to your work with deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, do you have any goals to develop different areas of dialogue?
The agenda of our association in this period is to reach more people and measure the social impact of our existing activities. We would like to do this, especially for our free sign language training platform bukalemun.co, our sagirkadinhak.com platform to empower deaf and hard-of-hearing women on gender equality, and our #koşaradımaltyazıya campaign to advocate for closed captioning. We are continuing this advocacy campaign in the 2022-2023 period with the support you have provided within the scope of the Culture & Arts Fund.
In addition, as you know, as the impact of the pandemic has decreased, in-person meetings started. To increase communication, we create dialogue areas mostly with private sector collaborations. These collaborations are sometimes formed through awareness-raising workshops or demgoodcoffee coffee stand, sometimes with different events.
In 2023, we want to talk not only about the hearing society and deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals but also about other contrasts in society. We are currently discussing the possibility of working for intergenerational communication.
The main reason for realising the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Women’s Rights Education Platform project was the deaf and hard-of-hearing women’s lack of access to existing women’s rights trainings and activities.
You are implementing the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Women’s Rights Education Platform project in cooperation with the Association of Women with Disabilities and the Turkish National Federation of the Deaf. What kind of difficulties do deaf and hard-of-hearing women face in daily life? Can you tell us why you prioritised working with this group in the project?
The main reason for realising the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Women’s Rights Education Platform project was the deaf and hard-of-hearing women’s lack of access to existing women’s rights trainings and activities. This is also confirmed by the users of the platform. 78% of the users say that they have received such rights-based training for the first time through this website.
The daily problems of deaf and hard-of-hearing women are not that different from those of hearing women, the problems are common. But surely, there is the reality of multiple discrimination. Especially when communication is involved, they are subjected to multiple discrimination. Examples include job interviews and women’s appointments with their gynaecologists, etc. What is striking here is that unfortunately we are faced with a group of people who have given up the struggle due to communication problems.
You recently published the Dem Almanac 2021, in which you compile news about sign language, deaf and hard-of-hearing people. Can you tell us about the reason for preparing such a publication and its content? In 2021, what kind of news about deaf and hard-of-hearing people stand out?
We published Dem Almanac 2021 at the beginning of this July. At the beginning of 2021, we started to follow all the news about our field of work through the services of Ajans Press media monitoring centre.
The daily problems of deaf and hard-of-hearing women are not that different from those of hearing women, the problems are common. But surely, there is the reality of multiple discrimination.
We came across many different studies with so much potential for dialogue that we wanted to compile the highlights into an almanac. Our goal now is to encourage potential critical stakeholders in the field of deafness and hearing impairment (public, civil society, private sector, and media) to collaborate. We are looking for resources to bring together the people and organisations that carry out the activities included in the Almanac at a summit.
With this almanac, for instance, years later, we will be able to say that companies have established call centres with sign language services, and deaf and hard-of-hearing people were represented in the media. You can reach the Dem Almanac 2021 here.
Dem Association often realises its projects with the cooperation and support of the private sector. What do you consider critical when developing collaborations with companies? What kind of contributions do these collaborations have to your work?
We often develop private sector collaborations, especially through awareness-raising workshops between the hearing community and deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.
We try to move forward with a flexible approach without compromising our basic principles in our collaborations. We sincerely share the responsibility of the organisation process with the companies we cooperate with, and we become a team for a short time. This approach both increases the cooperation’s impact and creates good references for potential new collaborations with the same company and/or different companies.
Private-sector collaborations contribute to our association in two ways. Firstly, we ensure that awareness-raising activities reach more people. This also means developing the network of the association. Secondly, we develop resources for the association’s other activities.
Closed captioning is a type of translation in which auditory elements that make the film meaningful are included in the subtitle so that deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals can effectively consume the product.
With our grant support, you will realise the new phase of the project “Koşar Adım Alt Yazıya” (#koşaradımaltyazıya). Can you tell us about the purpose and activities of the project?
#koşaradımaltazıya continues with your grant support. We have initiated this advocacy project for deaf and hard-of-hearing people’s equal access to audiovisual products, especially films, with closed captions. Closed captioning is a type of translation in which auditory elements that will make the film meaningful are included in the subtitle so that deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals can effectively consume the product.
With this project, we aim to continue raising awareness on the subject, identify needs and develop collaborations by highlighting good examples. We will participate in the 44th Istanbul Marathon with the slogan #koşararadımaltyazıya, and collect data through media monitoring and desk research. Most importantly, we will develop and implement communication strategies to develop collaborations.
About Dem Association
Aiming to form areas of dialogue between the hearing society and the non-hearing society without creating the feeling of pity, Dem Association works to produce solutions collectively. The association works for the dissemination of the Turkish Sign Language through its social initiative bukalemun.co, where the trainings of this language are digitalised, and for ensuring the employment of deaf and hard-of-hearing people.