Fifty border guards from Silesia will learn sign language during a 60-hour course.
With that knowledge they will be able to recognize the difference between people who are deaf or hearing impaired and smugglers and others who try to deceive the guards.
According to the daily newspaper Dziennik Zachodni, the guards often encounter travelers who have illegal passports and who pretend to be foreigners who are unable to answer questions. Often, Polish smugglers use the same method.
“During the course, we have learned how to recognize the imposters,” said Anna Dolecka, a participant in the course. “A person who is truly deaf doesn’t look around. He only looks at the questioner’s face, because he tries to read the lip movements.”
Sign language uses manual communication, body language and lip patterns instead of sound to convey meaning ? simultaneously combining hand shapes, orientation and movement of the hands, arms or body, and facial expressions to express fluidly a speaker’s thoughts.
“To say ?please,’ we place our hands as if to pray and twice shake them quickly. And when we ask for the documents, we put our hands in a way similar to an open book and then we imitate stamping it,” Agata Tanska, director of the Special Center for the Deaf in Raciborz, told the newspaper Dziennik Zachodni.
Guards who have taken the course are enthusiastic.
“We have received the sign alphabet on special boards. It isn’t very difficult, and for sure it will be useful in our work,” said Magdalena Rachuba, a course participant.
Knowledge of sign language will continue to be useful even when Poland joins the Schengen Zone with the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
The Schengen agreement means that Poles will no longer have to present identity documents at the borders of all the “old” EU member states, except for the UK and Ireland.
However, even if the border checks disappear, border guards will continue to patrol the nearby roads.
“In this work, we will also meet with deaf people,” Maj. Cezary Zaborski told Dziennik Zachodni. “That’s why the guards should know how to behave to avoid needless misunderstandings and conflicts.”