(…) Hearing people often ask me how I, as a deaf person, travel, and how I manage during these travels. I love travelling. (…) For example, when I arrived in America, they lost my suitcase at the airport. I tried to approach one of the employees, I found an officer and addressed her, and she said: “Oh, I know sign language”. She knew the American Sign Language and it was easy for the two of us to communicate, which left a strong impression on me. This didn’t happen only at the airport, but also shops, restaurants… I met a lot of people who said that they knew American Sign Language or were just learning it. This is not the case in Serbia. Here, sign language is only starting to be promoted and disseminated, and not a lot of people know it.
However, even if you do not know sign language, do not let this prevent you from approaching and communicating with a deaf person! For example, I can lip read and we can communicate that way. We can also exchange messages on paper or through cell phones. In time, you would probably get used to my voice and articulation, learn a sign or two, and in time, communication would become ever easier. The most important thing is to demolish this wall that exists in communication between the world of the deaf and the world of the hearing, and to become connected, closer to each other. (…)
Society in Serbia is still not as open, and does not know what deaf persons can do, therefore they face many barriers and a lot of prejudice (…). However, a deaf person can do anything a hearing person can, except hear. For example, my dear friend Stojan Simić received an award two days ago from the Association of Ballet Artists of Serbia. Or, for example, I am here before you today and you are listening to my presentation thanks to the engagement of sign language interpreters. I will not give up on my dream (…), and society can perhaps ask itself what it can gain by this.
Transcript of the presentation of Jelena Stupar at the 37th Belgrade Ignite event “Get Involved no. 4” (25 October 2016, Impact Hub, Belgrade)