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Deaf Community - China

Becoming More Like Us


Updated August 14, 2010

Deaf Chinese Boy

Deaf Chinese Boy

Kim Symansky
China is a vast country, and I am sure that the material in this article barely scratches the surface for those interested in Chinese deaf education and culture. Therefore, I welcome any suggested additions from About readers.

Sign Language in China

In Chinese Sign Language (CSL), the signs are like written chinese characters. (This is not much different from the way the sign language alphabet resembles written English letters). Just as ASL can have regional variations, Chinese Sign Language comes in many dialects, with the most commonly used one being the Shanghai version.

The International Bibliography of Sign Language has a good listing of articles and resources on sign language in China. Click on the link "Chinese Sign Language." In addition, the University of Arizona Linguistics Circle's Coyote Papers includes this article: Evidence from Chinese Sign Language and American Sign Language.

Education of Deaf in China

The Disability and Deafness in East Asia: Social and educational responses, from antiquity to recent times partially annotated bibliography includes articles about deaf education in China. Examples of items found in this bibliography include a paper titled "A Bilingual and Bicultural Approach to Teaching Deaf Children in China."

An About Deafness/HOH blog post about a bilingual-bicultural deaf school in China:
According to the article "Seen and not heard" in the Weekend Standard (Feb. 26-27, 2005), China's Business Newspaper, Tianjin is home to a bilingual-bicultural school for the deaf, a deaf university, and a sign language club. The article also gives a clear insight into the situation for deaf people in China.

China has many schools for the deaf. A small sampling: Fourth school for the deaf (Beijing), Nanjing deaf school, Shanghai Deaf School, Chengdu School for Blind and Deaf Children, Kunming School for Blind and Deaf Children, and Chefoo School for the Deaf. Additional deaf schools are in Hong Kong, such as the Lutheran School for the Deaf, Chun Tok School (Hong Kong School for the Deaf), and the Caritas Magdalene School.

A 2001 China People's Daily news article reported that Zhou Tingting was China's "first deaf college graduate" and that she had been accepted to Gallaudet University. While attending China's Liaoning Normal University she had written a paper, "The Way Deaf People Adapt Themselves to Mainstream Society."

An About visitor wrote: Lei leng, a deaf woman born in the Fujian province of China who immigrated to Macao when she was 14 years old, graduated in January 2000 from the University of Macau. Macau, previously a Portuguese colony, became a S.A.R.(special administrative region, just like Hong Kong) of China in 1999.

For deaf college students in China, the Tianjin Technical College for the Deaf (TTCD) of the Tianjin University of Technology (TUT) is the first technical college for deaf Chinese students. Begun in 1991, this college focuses on computer technology education and also has a degree in costume design.

Tibet is part of China, and has its own school for the deaf in Lhasa, Tibet's capital.

History of Deaf Education in China

Yale University has a China Records Project, Miscellaneous Papers Collection that includes a paper on the life of Annetta Thompson Mills, who founded the Chefoo School for the Deaf. The Library of Congress AG Bell Papers collection - has a Letter from William H. Rose to Alexander Graham Bell, March 27, 1903 about the need to raise funds to help school for the deaf in Chefoo, China.

The Entrez PubMed database yielded an abstract of an "Intelligence Study of 1758 deaf children in China," from 1995.

Bibliography of Resources on Deafness in China

  • Callaway, Alison. (2000). Deaf Children in China Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press. The book is(reviewed online)along with a sample chapter.(c]compare prices) - describes life for deaf children, particularly the educationa situation, in China, circa 1994.
  • Carter, Anita E. (1911). The School for Chinese Deaf: The story of our deaf girls. ASIN: B00086EC7S. - Appears to be an out of print book about the Chefoo School for the Deaf.
  • Chan LM, Lui B. (1990). Self-concept among hearing Chinese children of deaf parents. American Annals of the Deaf,135(4),299-305. - Summary is on the Entrez PubMed website.
  • Martin, David S, Hussey, Leslie, Sicoli, Debbie, Sheng, Zhang Ning. Removing barriers and building bridges: American deaf interns teaching Chinese deaf children. American Annals of the Deaf, Jul 1999 - article about the experience of Gallaudet interns in deaf education in china.
  • Yang, J.H. (2002): An Introduction to CSL/Chinese bilingual education for the deaf in China. Chinese Journal of Special Education, 1, 33-37.
In addition, Gallaudet University's catalog yields many riches related to China. There are both archival/historic items

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