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Education must be accessible for deaf children

Published Date: 21 Dec 2023

We cannot afford for deaf children’s potential to be written off

We would like to share with you a recent intervention made by our partner PRARAMBHA, which works with vulnerable people in Karnataka, India.

At a school visit, staff from PRARAMBHA realised that a deaf boy they had been working with was not there. They visited his home and found out he was instead working for the family as a shepherd.

PRAHAMBA immediately intervened. Firstly, they worked with the family to find out more about the situation, and persuaded them to get their son going to school again. Deaf Role Models and other staff explained to the family child rights and enrolled them in the parents training programme, so they could understand more about how to support their son’s education.

PRAHAMBA staff also worked with the school, training teachers in more accessible teaching techniques, and teaching Indian Sign Language and communication skills to both teachers and peers.

We are pleased to say the boy remains in school and is progressing well with his lessons. Sadly, worldwide, this is not a rare event. UNICEF estimates children with disabilities are 49 percent more likely to never attend school in any form. We know from our own work that the deaf children who do attend primary school often cannot understand what is being taught as the education is not accessible to them.

An inaccessible education is no education at all

Joanna Clark, Director of Deaf Child Worldwide says :
“Most deaf children do not receive an adequate education. Those who begin primary school have rarely had the crucial early interventions they need often because their deafness has been diagnosed late and because families have not received the information and support they need to help their child develop language and communication skills in their early years.

“Teachers usually have had no formal training in deafness, including those who work in deaf schools. They therefore do not know how to adapt lessons to make them accessible to deaf children, so the achievement gap between deaf and hearing students widens resulting in high drop-out rates for deaf students.”

Joanna goes on to say the evidence shows that accessible education enables deaf children to succeed.

“Some of our partners have supported deaf children from a young age, and they are seeing enormous progress. High school students have been passing important exams – with one student last year receiving an A. This clearly shows that with the right support, deaf children can achieve anything hearing children can. We must not allow deaf children’s potential to be written off because they learn in different ways.”