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Deafness in developing countries

Photo: Signing in the classrroom in Tanzania

Deaf children and young people growing up in developing countries may experience barriers to their language and communication development.

What are the barriers in developing countries?

Things you should know about deaf children in developing countries
  • In developing countries, deaf children and young people face additional challenges such as late diagnosis, difficulties accessing quality education, stigma and discrimination.
  • Most deaf children in low resource settings have little or no language when they start primary school.
  • Deaf children in developing countries are less likely to go to school or complete their education and this will have an impact on their future aspirations.
Things you should know about language
  • More than 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents with little or no experience of deafness or knowledge of how to communicate with a deaf person.
  • The majority of deaf children cannot read or write because they had considerably reduced access to their native language (signed or spoken) during their first few years which delay the learning process.
  • The majority of parents of deaf children in developing countries have limited access to services to enable their deaf children to acquire language from early age. 
  • Deafness is not a learning disability. There is no reason why the majority of deaf children should achieve any less than hearing children.
  • With the right support, deaf children and young people can communicate effectively and access equal opportunities.
Things you should know about barriers
  • Without the right support, deaf children and young people are vulnerable to isolation, abuse, bullying, poor self-esteem and low levels of achievement.
  • Deaf children are more than twice as likely to be abused as other children.
  • Deaf young women and girls often face the most acute challenges: their education is seen as an even lower priority than that of hearing girls or deaf boys. They are at a greater risk of child marriage, sexual exploitation, and the negative impacts of a lack of sexual and reproductive health education.