Tell us about yourself and your interests?
Hi everyone, my name is Josephine Koo. I was born deaf. I am married with 3 little children – not so little anymore as they’re all grown up. Unfortunately, all three of them are sons.
What gives you the ultimate enjoyment?
I truly enjoy participating in deaf events, festivals or programmes like sports and others. My real interest is to interact with as many deaf friends as possible.
We can see that the deaf community is socially active. What do you usually like to do with your friends?
I’m really good at tour guiding especially for deaf friends who visit from abroad. They contact me through messengers to ask me to guide them around. I also do online selling, publicising them through Facebook and others. I like volunteering - giving my services to deaf events. I’m also a freelance sign language teacher and I go to various places to teach sign language.
How do you promote BIM (Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia) in society?
The sign language we use here in Malaysia is Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia (BIM) and when I teach a class and my students recognise and appreciate my classes, through word of mouth they will recommend me to their friends and they in return will contact me.
I’ve taught institutions like universities, homes, companies and others. As I’ve worked with the Malaysian Deaf Sports Association, I’ve also been asked to teach other government agencies like MSN (Majlis Sukan Negara) or KBS (Kementerian Belia & Sukan).
How is it like to teach hearing people to sign?
Yes, teaching sign language can be tiring and you need a lot of patience to have that confidence. But the satisfaction you get when your students understand is a wow factor. Of course, we are expected to repeat multiple times but that provides a challenge to my life which I enjoy.
If we want to learn sign language, who can we contact?
You can learn sign language at your nearest deaf organisation or associations or you can hire a freelance sign language instructor. It’s best to have deaf people teach you because they are the native users of the language anyways. The BIM is truly a beautiful language.
What’s the one thing that you wish hearing people understood? Or wouldn’t say?
The hearing people should understand more about the deaf culture, way of life and the way we communicate. We want equal opportunities. Please communicate with us and understand more about us. Be our partner and be our friend.
The deaf community in Malaysia really needs more sign language interpreters because they are few who are still actively working.
How can we be a better friend to a deaf person?
I think there would be a great partnership between the deaf and the hearing come together. The hearing people can improve their communication with us through interaction – you can write, text message, or even using visual gestures. There are many easy ways to talk to us.
What’s your one hope for the world?
I hope that there will be greater awareness about the deaf people and to know that every year we have International Week of the Deaf in the month of September.