WALAA Muhammad Salih Al-Barakati is a deaf coach. Himself deaf, Al-Barakati is the first trainer with a hearing disability who teaches the public the language of the deaf in the Kingdom.
Coaches who are deaf or suffer from any other disability are usually marginalized and not welcomed by training centers that offer courses on how to communicate with the deaf.
“Most training centers prefer to contract deaf trainers who are not hearing-impaired and exclude people like me. They even warn the public against taking courses with coaches like me, who are deaf, and encourage them to take courses at the centers only if they want to learn the language of the deaf quickly and efficiently,” he said.
Al-Barakati is not licensed as a deaf coach. The authorities refused to issue him a license because he is deaf. He has not been treated well at several places including government agencies because he is deaf. Moreover, whenever he offers his training courses to hospitals and universities, he gets rejected because he is deaf. Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Taif Chamber of Commerce are the only agencies that have welcomed Al-Barakati and invited him to give training courses on how to communicate with the deaf.
“Unfortunately, ordinary people who do not suffer from hearing problems prefer deaf coaches who are like them, who are not hearing-impaired. They are not aware of the benefit and advantages they will get if they attend a course with a deaf trainer. In fact, the benefits can be huge because this is my language and I know how to teach it better than ordinary trainers or coaches who are not deaf,” he explained.
Al-Barakati’s ambition is to promote the sign language among all segments of society and teach people this language and help them communicate with the deaf easily. He wants to integrate the deaf people into society so that they do not have any communication problem when they go to police stations, telecom companies, passport departments, hospitals and any other public service agencies.
“I hope I will play a role in promoting the sign language and help the deaf people communicate with ordinary people easily. I want people to get closer to the deaf and know them better. This will help build an educated generation who is aware of the difficulties people with hearing impairment face in their life. As members of society, we should help one another and show solidarity with one another,” he said, noting that deafness can happen to anyone at any age.
Al-Barakati has recently given a sign language three-day course to 25 employees of the Public Irrigation Corporation in the Eastern Province.