Derek demonstrating his artwork under the organisation of the Society Atelier Sarawak at The Datai Langkawi resort.
Deaf artist Derek Siu posing with his artwork.

Communication is always an obstacle for the deaf, especially when facing the world. Nonetheless, artist Derek Siu still manages his passion for art despite being deaf since birth. While job opportunity for him is scarce, Derek still continues his hobby on a regular basis.

Looking for equal opportunities

Gathering inspirations from his everyday life, Derek Siu revealed that he would spend an average of two weeks to finish up a painting depending on the size of his canvas. He also feels inspired whenever he is in nature, or during travels.

As a fan of Japanese animation, the 31-year-old focuses more on drawing animations these days. His mother revealed that his interest has always been drawing animations or cartoons since a young age, “He loved to watch Popeye the Sailorman, then later he would draw him!”

The passionate artist albeit his disability, he had graduated from ‘Pre Professional Diploma in Graphic and Digital Design’ and ‘Modular Learning on Graphic Design and Animation’ from a local college.

The artist in him

Since Derek was a hyperactive little boy, his mother would always let him draw, just so he would keep still for at least 10 to 15 minutes. She recollects a fond memory of when she taught Derek to draw as soon as he could hold a crayon.

“I taught him how to draw an orange, then an apple, and he would draw them so nicely. When he was six, I would bring him to the Chinese procession at Waterfront, Kuching. When he returned home, he would always draw what he saw,” shared Nelly.

Derek demonstrating his artwork under the organisation of the Society Atelier Sarawak at The Datai Langkawi resort.

When asked was there a time when he felt like giving up, Derek signed that he never felt so. However, when he is tired of drawing or painting, he would rest and watch anime.

According to Derek, the moments that he treasures the most were when he won first place in 2018 animation competition in Otakyun!, and second place the following year. He recently showcased his artwork under the organisation of the Society Atelier Sarawak at The Datai Langkawi resort.

Sarawak Society for the Deaf

The Sarawak Society for the Deaf (SSD) was founded by the Lions Club Kuching Host in 1982. Since its inception, SSD has been functioning as a charitable organisation working with and for the deaf community in Sarawak generally.

SSD hopes to be the bridge that connects the deaf with the others through Deaf Awareness activities and allow equal access and opportunities to all areas of life within the community for the deaf.

Hence, that is why SSD is constantly encouraging the society to pick up sign language — a class which is available at their Jalan Laksamana Cheng Ho, Kuching, centre.

 Under SSD, there are programmes available such as sign language classes, job matching, vocational training, and motivational camps for the deaf, as well as deaf support group for parents and boarding facilities for the deaf.

 SSD’s mission is to ensure that the welfare and support are provided to the increasing numbers of the deaf within Sarawak by training and promoting supervisory skills to the members and to empower them to be self-confident, self-reliant and self-sufficient.

Funded through private donations and government grants, SSD also holds annual charity food fair to help maintain and raise funds to ensure the continuous development, support and welfare of the growing members are well taken care of.  When asked on how can one help and support the deaf community, SSD vice president Joanna Wong answered that it is through the government providing schools specialised for the deaf, and through the community providing job opportunities for them.