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Livestreaming with sign language

By Li Yingxue/Zhu Youfang | China Daily | Updated: 2022-11-12 14:02
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Hearing-impaired couple Wang Xian (left) and Yi Sixiong presents the goods to be sold during a livestreaming show.[Photo provided to China Daily]

A hearing-impaired couple takes to the business to assist others like them in navigating e-commerce, report Li Yingxue in Beijing and Zhu Youfang in Changsha.

Thousands of netizens watched the livestreaming room "rabbit sister Wang Yihan" while waiting for a link to the goods advertised to be updated on the afternoon of Oct 4.

Unlike other livestreaming rooms, this was quiet with only background music and the sound of pen scratching paper.

It was hosted by a hearing-impaired couple, Yi Sixiong and Wang Xian. In front of the camera, the duo carefully explained the details of the goods and answered questions from viewers, who mostly had hearing difficulties, in sign language.

The six-hour livestream received some 74,000 views, with the sales of goods exceeding 700,000 yuan ($99,000).

Using multiple WeChat public accounts and a silent livestreaming room, Yi and his wife have attracted over 350,000 online followers, mainly hearing-impaired people like them.

Yi, 33, also known as Daxiong, or "big bear", aims to build a platform for people with hearing difficulties to solve all kinds of problems they face, from learning sign language to finding jobs.

"As we gain more followers with hearing difficulties, I feel more responsibility. I want to try my best to help them, no matter what kind of difficulty they meet," Yi says, his gestures translated by interpreter and teacher Zhang Xihong.

Zhang has known Yi for six years and has become a "bridge" between Yi and other people who don't know sign language. When she communicates with Yi, she is often amused. "His sign language is quite expressive and infectious. He can present one small thing vividly," Zhang says.

Yi was born in Changsha, Hunan province, in a family where some members had conditions such as congenital hearing loss. Under the careful guidance of his parents and teachers, Yi not only mastered sign language with fluent expressions but also enrolled into the animation major at Changchun University in Northeast China's Jilin province after finishing his high school studies at Changsha Special Education School.

In 2016, after graduation, Yi opened a roast duck restaurant in Changsha with his father's financial support. Even though he was busy working from day to night, his first venture didn't succeed. In less than a year, the business lost over 100,000 yuan.

Yi didn't immerse himself in depression. After noticing that without hearing ability, he met many difficulties in daily life, Yi got new ideas about what he wanted to do.

With the popularization of WeChat, communication among people with hearing difficulties in China has improved.

However, as many hearing-impaired people have just started using WeChat or the internet, they often encounter online fraud and suffer monetary loss due to a lack of vigilance. Sometimes they are even tricked into pyramid schemes because of the lack of legal knowledge.

Yi says the situation is caused by the lack of channels to get information for people with hearing difficulties. That is one reason he decided to be a "problem solver" and their "ears".

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