We don’t often use personality pieces as our cover stories, but last week was one of those rare occasions.

Mohd Hafiz, 26, born deaf and with cerebral palsy, overcame the odds to graduate with a degree in software engineering a few weeks ago. And he didn’t just graduate – he got a perfect 4.0 GPA in his final semester. Not bad for someone who can’t hear his lecturers, or even pen down notes for more than 30 minutes.

But even more inspiring was the story of his mother, Banu Aboo Haniffa, who attended all his classes, studied every subject with him, and interpreted everything to him using sign language.

Hafiz and Banu did get a lot of help from his university, the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, which has a special programme for hearing-impaired students. They offer sign language interpreters, counselling sessions and a 25% scholarship for the hearing-impaired.

The story led us to running a #RAGEchat on #OKU support, starting with the following question:
@thestar_rage: Do u think young #OKU in Malaysia get the right support & facilities to study and build careers?
@marioojawo: Nope. My brother who is blind said his teachers told him he can’t go far in his studies. Sad cos the teacher specialised in teaching #OKUs. But my brother is now doing his master at UM 🙂
@amirulazreen8: I think most universities do have facilities/services, but the question remains whether it’s enough.
@WJayTan: We do have elevators for the lab block. Problem is, you have to go up a flight of stairs to get there.
@emelynemei: SMK Sultan Abdul Samad has such facilities. OKU like the blind & deaf have special classrooms. Staff there are also very helpful 🙂
@DrS94: @emelynemei SMK Sultan Abdul Samad is my old school. We have a special pendidikan khas class for deaf students with trained teachers for them.
Because of the pendidikan khas students, some of the other students picked up sign language too.
@blushpal: SK Ayer Keroh has special classes. 🙂 Helped me made friends with students who were different from me at a young age 🙂

@thestar_rage: What about #OKU facilities in general? Are they good enough in Malaysia?
@The_DouglasM: Nope. Parking spaces for the disabled aren’t enough. No ramps. Not enough elevators at times. Facilities are never maintained.
My sister has cerebral palsy and is dependent on a wheelchair. Becomes hard for her and her caretakers.
@emelynemei: At Brickfields, they have special tiles for the blind to walk on pavements so it guides them to walk by feeling with their walking sticks.
@MizzYasmin: I don’t know anyone who is an OKU so I can’t say.
But the fact that not many of us know deaf culture or have even heard of BIM (Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia, or Malaysian sign language) disappoints me.
Not many audible people are interested in understanding more about it. Honestly, it is interesting. I am interested in sign language but have to settle for ASL instead.

Tell us what you think!

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