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The importance of empowering the Deaf through language: the construction of a visual tool to reach this goal

 I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to work in Kolkata with the Deaf for the past 13 years.  During this time I had grown close to many Deaf and recognized their need to be able to communicate, to succeed in education, and to find and sustain jobs.  I learned through years of interacting with the Deaf in Kolkata that their sign language was different enough form the Indian Sign Language that it warranted its own recognition.  In 2016, the West Bengal Sign Language was officially recognized as its own language (https://www.ethnologue.com/language/wbs).  Subsequently a video dictionary of the West Bengal Sign Language vocabulary was produced and published (www.westbengalsignlanguage.com).  Each vocabulary word has a picture representing the word, written and spoken Bengali and English, and the sign.  This dictionary can be accessed and downloaded for free at this website or each video maybe view on YouTube by searching for “West Bengal Sign Language”.  I sincerely hope that this dictionary will help:  1) families with Deaf children to communicate with their deaf child, 2)Deaf who know the sign to learn Bengali and English to assist them in the education or in finding and sustaining employment, 3) for co-workers, employers and friends to communicate better with the Deaf , and 4) for schools for the Deaf to utilize the dictionary as an educational resource.  I want to thank all the Deaf who have help to make this dictionary possible for them and others that may find a free tool to improve their quality of life.

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