Availability of Jordan Sign Language Interpreters

Haya (left), Taghleb (middle) and Rawan (right) record signs they prepared together with Ahlam.

How do you find a word you don’t know? You look it up in a dictionary, or on the internet. But what if there is no good dictionary available for your language? And if you can’t look up words yourself, how could one teach it to others? Training interpreters is then completely impossible. Yet, that is what is going on in Jordan with Jordanian Sign Language.

Court case
Interpreters are available in Jordan and it is possible to learn Jordanian Sign Language, but as a Deaf person it is difficult to get an interpreter. There are simply too few for everyone who needs them. And is the level sufficient to be properly represented in a court case? The current Jordanian sign dictionary is only available as a book, which is also dated.

n recent years we have gotten to know the Jordanian Deaf Sign Language expert Ahlam well. She worked at a school for the deaf for 40 years. Now she would like to dedicate herself to improving the skill-level of interpreters. In 2022 she spent just under a month in the Netherlands to gain knowledge of, among other things, the 4-year interpreting education at the Hogeschool Utrecht. The Carpenter’s Son foundation helps her carry out a multi-year plan.

Ahlam has started making an online dictionary and we are researching whether an app is possible.
Because only when Jordanian Sign Language is available to everyone the step towards improving interpreting can be taken. Of the desired 5000 signs, we want to have 1000 signs published this year. We are getting help from the Dutch linguist Bernadet van der Louw, who specialises in the grammar of Jordanian Sign Language and has worked with Ahlam for many years.

International exchange
In 2021 we already visited the government body
High Council for the Rights of People with Disabilities (HCD) in Jordan to get acquainted. In February 2023, we discussed further developed plans and a student from the interpreting education at Utrecht University is now working on an exchange program in October 2023.

Training material
In addition to the online sign language dictionary, Ahlam and Bernadet are also working on training materials for teaching Jordanian Sign Language. This is preparatory material for interpreter training, but also important for the training of Sign Language teachers. And how wonderful would it be if the Deaf can teach in their own language! In short: there is a lot of work to be done. The current set-up makes it possible to scale up and achieve results quickly.

Ahlam (right) with her team members Haya (left) and Rawan (middle).

Support this project
The project budget until the end of 2025 is 60,000 euros. With this, Ahlam can pay employees who help to record the thousands of videos with words and example sentences. Linguists must guarantee quality. There are also development costs for technical realisation. In addition, we take into account (international) travel and accommodation costs, the hiring of interpreters and material costs, such as a laptop, camera and licences.

Your gift helps Ahlam realise this extensive project. You can transfer a donation to account number NL 91 ABNA 084 680 7564 in the name of. The Carpenter’s Son Foundation, citing ‘sign language interpreter’.

bestuur met ahlam

The Carpenter’s Son Foundation board members with Jordan Sign Language Teacher Ahlam in the middle.

In the coming years, Ahlam will work on the Jordanian Sign Language Interpreter Availability project.

With your help: