I went to the 3rd International Conference for Deaf Muslims (ICDM) which was held in Jakarta, Indonesia from 28th Nov – 1 Dec 2019!
It was held in Grand Sahid Jaya Hotel which is a massive hotel with many, many small shops and resturants.
There were about 400 people attending the conference from 52 different countires!
I was the first Australian deaf Muslim to attend the conference!
They asked me to represent Australia at the Deaf Muslim Congress! They even had little flags and everything. What an amazing honour.
The keynote speaker for the conference, an Imam from Saudi Arabia did not come, so they asked me to present first!!
I opened up the conference! I was so nervous.
I spoke about my research and presented my PhD topic I am currently doing at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney Australia. My PhD topic is focusing on the identity and belonging of Muslim Women with Hearing Loss in Australia.
I was told that my topic is important for the world, not just Australia! There is almost no research focusing specifically on d/Deaf and hard of hearing Muslim Women and their lived expereinces.
Also, there was about 2/3 men in the audience and only 3-4 Deaf Muslim Women presenting/ speaking. What an amazing opportunity for a woman to open the conference and have women’s voices experiences in the spotlight.
I was overwhelmed with all the recognition, attention and praise. Alhumdilullah (All Praise be to God). Everyone wanted to take photos, 2 people asked for my autograph (hehe) and everyone was so impressed with my topic and being a role model for female empowerment.
I met so many amazing people from around the world. Many are deaf muslims and many are part of different Deaf Muslim organisations and/or communities. There were also many delegates and people who have government roles and were involved in projects for Deaf Muslims.
I was invited to present my research and share knowlegde and expereince with people from different countries and communities around the world.
I am gratful for my UNSW Scientia PhD Scholarship for covering all the costs (flights, accomodation etc) for this conference! If it wasn’t for my Scholarship, especially the Scientia Career Development and Mentoring Funds, I would not have had the opportunity to go to this conference, share my research and meet many other amazing people from around the world!
UNSW Scientia Scholarship aslo approved flights for the Auslan (Australian Sign Language) interpreter to come with me and UNSW Disability Services (Now called Equitable Learning Services) said they’ll cover her hours!
This is amazing because other interpreters who attended the conference had to pay out of their own pocket and volunteer their time.
There was soooo many different spoken langauges (English, Arabic and Indonesian) and sign languages from around the world such as:
- International Sign
- American Sign Language (ASL)
- British Sign Language (BSL)
- French Sign Language ( langue des signes française, LSF)
- Indonesian Sign Language, or Bahasa Isyarat Indonesia (BISINDO)
- Arabic Sign Language
My Auslan interpreter and friend was such a great support. She knows about 4 different sign languages!
I only know Australian Sign Language/Auslan! She helped me understand diferent sign languages and sign back to to other people what I say.
It was my first time being exposed to so many different sign languages all at once and people were all signing and relying on sign language.
As a deaf person who grew up oral (speaking and talking), even though I do know Australian Sign Language, I realised I still have more to learn about Deaf Culture and I do need to learn to sign more and even learn different Sign Languages.
It has been an amazing, amazing experience for me and I benefitted personally, academically and socially. I learnt so much that can help me with my research and also my community work.
Sydney, and Australia, still has a long way to go to increase access for Deaf Muslims. We have already acheived amazing things for the Deaf Muslim COmmunity in Sydney and inshaAllah we will achieve much more.
Check out more posts below:
Looking foward to what 2020 brings!!