A key to the world of the deaf

Dans le cadre de mon cours d’Anglais professionnel en Master Pro de l’écrit, j’ai écrit un billet de blog en anglais, que j’ai ensuite traduit en français. Vous pouvez retrouver la version française ici : Une clé sur le monde des sourds.

Last September, I started sign language classes, mostly because I was curious about it. But since I read Une clé sur le monde by Victor Abbou, I have the feeling that learning sign language is an activist decision.

When i was a child, I imagined how my life would be if one of my senses was taken away from me. I could imagine very well how to brush my teeth, eat, and tie my shoes being blind whereas communicating being deaf seemed to me impossible.

I remember that one day, I created a little newspaper for my family. I wrote in it some reports on the holidays that we were spending together. At the end, there was a “did you know” section. I printed the sign alphabet. I discovered that a whole language existed for deaf people: not only letters but words. I wanted to learn it.

Years later, I took the plunge! Last September, a friend and I signed up for a French sign language (LSF in french) class lesson. I was so happy. It takes place not far from my home. It was perfect.

So every Thursday, a bunch of curious hearing persons, meet in a room with a deaf teacher. We all have different reasons to be there, but we all are happy to be there. I have to tell you: it is quite lit. Learning languages is cool, but sign language is awesome.

 Une clé sur le monde, by Victor Abbou

Two weeks ago, a friend, and classmate, gave me a book, Une clé sur le monde. She told me that I will learn a lot of things about this language that we were learning. By reading it, I have learnt much more than that.

Une clé sur le monde is Victor Abbou’s autobiography. He is a deaf person, who lived and worked for the creation of deaf cultural organisations. This man has been an actor, an activist, a trainer and a teacher.

This read has been quite heartbreaking for me sometimes. For instance, he tells us that during his childhood he only had 20 signs to communicate with his parents. Gosh, can you imagine? Only 20 signs? He had no syntax or vocabulary to express his joys, his fears, not even his anger. And I did not choose to tell you the worst part. Because he was grew up in a world where deaf people were considered as unable persons, Victor Abbou thought he was not good enough for anything.

One day, a deaf American guy, named Alfredo Corrado, came. He asked to meet several deaf french persons and proposed them thinking sessions. It was the beginning of a new age. A release. Victor learnt how to question himself about his identity, his habits, his language. At the age of thirty, this meeting changed his life. During these sessions, a lot of projects came to life : several plays, LSF classes for deaf persons and some for hearing persons, and last but not least a LSF theorization.

A precious testimony

This narrative moved me very much. It is a living testimony of a period that we call “the awakening of the deaf” (le Réveil des sourds) when the deaf community began to stand up for its language and its own culture, and mostly for its rights.

My simple curiosity has become an appreciation for this culture. It made me want to support the deaf person cause by learning their language. By doing that, I can communicate with them (okay I am just a beginner for the moment, but it will come), and i don’t exclude them anymore.

Moreover, this autobiography opened my eyes. While I was reading this book, I had the feeling that I finally breathed, like Victor Abbou when he discovered his potential for doing great things. I wanna be active, and do big things like him. He lived a rich life even if it was full of struggles. What excuses do we hearing people have for not chasing our dreams? As Nike brand says : JUST DO IT!


I strongly suggest you this read. The style is quite light, not really literary, which works well for the autobiographical format. First, this book have been signed* by the author, then translated in french by his daughter, Katia Abbou. You can “watch” the book in a video, where Victor is signing the text. This unusual format is produced by Eyes éditions, which is an editing company specialised in deaf person productions.

Does this tempt you? Do you know LSF? Do you sign? Answer me in the comments section bellow !
*sign : in this case it means “talking” in sign language.

La version française de ce billet : Une clé sur le monde des sourds

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