Governments should provide more support for deaf people as they play an important role in supporting disabled people’s independence and performances, according to Oscar-winning actor Troy Kotsur.
“Deaf people are no different from non-disabled people. We can do anything when opportunities are sufficiently provided,” Kotsur, who won an Oscar in March for his supporting role in "CODA," said using American Sign Language at a press conference held at the Ambassador Seoul -- a Pullman Hotel, Tuesday.
Organized by the Korea Association of the Deaf, the press conference followed a ceremony in which the deaf actor was appointed the ambassador for the 19th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf, scheduled to kick off on Jeju Island in July 2023.
Held every four years, the WFD advocates for the rights of 70 million deaf people around the world and shares education, culture, arts and sign languages with 131 member states. Next year’s congress will be held under the theme of “Securing Human Rights in Times of Crises.”
Kotsur said he plans to participate in educational programs, and spoke about the importance of preserving Deaf culture and educating young children about their rights.
“The number of people using the sign languages and sharing Deaf culture is gradually decreasing. But this is our language, and it’s important to conserve the sign language and the community,” Kotsur said.
He noted that education is crucial to deaf people achieving self-reliance.
“Deaf education is related to human rights. I heard many cochlear implant surgeries are sometimes decided by the parents and doctors, without giving the child a choice. This is where education plays an important part,” he said.
Kotsur is the first deaf actor, and the second deaf performer to win an Academy Award. The Oscar-winning film revolves about the only hearing child in a family of deaf people.
He recalled his encounter with Oscar-winning actor Youn Yuh-jung, who called Kotsur’s name at the Academy Awards ceremony.
“Yoon signed ‘I love you,’ before saying my name. It left such a strong memory,” he said. “Then I was worried about whether I should hold the trophy in one hand and sign language with the other. But Youn held the trophy for me and allowed me to express my acceptance speech comfortably. I thank her for that,” he said.
The interview at the press conference was conducted three ways: Kotsur delivered his comments in American Sign Language, which was then translated to Korean Sign Language, before it was spoken in Korean.