First “Silent Class”

On March 17, a designer, with the assistance of a sign language interpreter, gave a lecture on the “Ideal Home Show” exhibition in Shanghai.

The lecture is the first “Silent Class of 2019”, a project jointly pulled off by C Foundation’s volunteers in Shanghai and Shanghai Puki Coordination Agency for the Deaf for hearing-impaired design students.

Under the guidance of teachers, students majoring in design from the special education class of Xuhui University of Continuing Education Shanghai and from Shanghai Youth Technical School for the Deaf visited exhibitions and “listened to” lectures on the “Ideal Home Show”, a great opportunity for them to learn and get more inspirations about home and lifestyle design.

In the afternoon, Eric Tsui, a member of C Foundation’s volunteer team in Shanghai, founder of KWSD Architectural Design Studio and design-related KOL, delivered a speech “Disappearance of Living Rooms over 100 Years: Proposals for New Lifestyles” while a sign language interpreter on the other side of the stage simultaneously translated the speech, enabling the students to understand the professional information instantly. The three home space design cases shared by Eric inspired people to think about new lifestyles.

The lecture

Hearing impairment ≠ creativity impairment

According to rough statistics, there are around 20.57 million hearing-impaired people in China and around 80 secondary vocational schools or schools with higher-level programs that admit hearing-impaired students, 90% of whom are specialized in design; altogether there are 20,000 design students and 6,700 graduates every year, but few can land a design-related job and become a designer.

It is true that the hearing-impaired, due to inherent physical challenges, face some limitations in accessing information, but hearing impairment does not mean creativity impairment; rather, hearing impairment enables them to be more concentrated, a quality that is particularly useful to creative design.

Meanwhile, design students need to stay tuned for the latest ideas to improve their competence and learn from working and communicating with designers in actual projects; only by doing this will the students be able to express their thoughts through design as best as they can and generate new creativity ideas. That begs the question, how to facilitate such exchanges?

Pictures of the exhibited items taken by teachers and students taking the “Silent Class” of 2019

Shanghai Puki Coordination Agency for the Deaf, a non-profit organization in Shanghai, has carried out such projects as “Silent Classes”, “Design and Sign” and “Speak for Your Dreams” in the hope of drawing people’s attention to the hearing impaired so that we can all care for and help them live a better life. The “Silent Classes” project provides the students with relevant training, lectures, online courses and other forms of assistance that boost their design skills and connect them with resources that can be of use, clearing as many obstacles to employment as possible for them.

The students visiting the exhibition under the guidance of teachers

Since its inception, C Foundation, as the first voluntarily initiated, organized and established non-profit foundation in the design community of China, has always been propelling the development of design education, hoping that design can create greater value and designers can shoulder greater social responsibilities. C Foundation’s Shanghai volunteer group established at the end of 2018 came into contact with these design students with hearing impairment and were deeply touched by their confidence and commitment to design. Thus, the volunteers hope to help them with design learning. That is how the “Silent Classes of 2019” came into being, a project that aims at taking the students outside classrooms for design exchanges.

The “Silent Classes of 2019” will continue and help the students know more about the industry through visits and lectures, give them more internship and job opportunities and expose them more to the industry and to the society. The hope is that more people will notice these students who love life and love design despite the hearing impairment so that they also have the opportunity to bring their talent and creativity into full play.

Photo of Mike Dynan, Media 10 China Managing Director, Eric and the teachers and students

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