If you translated it, the tour’s motto would roughly be “let’s go with signs“. The “Vamonos en señas” tour is about giving a few young, deaf people in South America the opportunity to have good, lasting experiences with tandems and outdoor life in general, and to improve public opinion concerning deaf people. We hope to accomplish this through sign language workshops which the deaf participants of the “Vamonos en señas” tour will hold at schools and other public institutions during our stops.

Over the four months which this project will run, we will visit Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. In these countries, we will visit with other projects of the Christian Blind Mission, our patron, which also works with deaf children and young adults. We’ll live within the community for a couple of days, attempt to learn the local sign idiom as well as we can, thereby, hopefully gaining the trust of as many additional local deaf participants as possible, or as many as we can take along on each 14-day stage.

During these stages, as a team, we want to experience life outdoors and the accompanying adventures, as well as master any difficulties we may encounter.

As mentioned before, we will also stop at a few cities and hold workshops. The purpose of these is to give the hearing participants a better understanding of deaf people by teaching them the local sign language. It is a public relations project as well because, as the project leader, I want to put an emphasis on drawing the attention of the local press so that the whole tour will have a lasting effect. We intend to accomplish this by having local newspapers, radio and television do reports on our project and workshops. With this media coverage we will be able to reach more people and show them that deaf people are not mentally handicapped or scary, that they are simply incapable of hearing.

The project will take place from September 2009 to January 2010 and is funded from a variety of sources and in different ways. For example, equipment and supplies have been donated, as well as money from trusts, donations and the participant’s own contributions. I myself have supplied a lot of personal equipment as well as money. The other tandem pilot will also pay all travel costs to South America and back. As much as possible, the local participants should support themselves, e.g. regarding their fooding.