Power to the parentsPublished Date: 01 Jun 2020
Nine out of ten deaf children are born to parents with no knowledge or experience of deafness. This means parents often have low expectations of what their deaf child can achieve and their abilities, as well as limited knowledge of their deaf children’s rights.
In many developing countries we work and operate in, parents of deaf children – much like deaf children themselves can feel isolated and alone, often ostracised from family members and ignored or even worse ridiculed by those in their community.
Across East Africa and South Asia, on a number of our projects, we initiate, support and help to grow parent support groups. We know from our experience that providing parents with a lifeline and a network enables parents to not only learn together and build up knowledge but to be the catalysts for change within their communities and their countries.
We work with our partner organisations in-country to
- equip parents with knowledge to understand their deaf children’s rights to education, health, and information
- support community centres for parents to come together with deaf role models and community rehabilitation workers to discuss deaf awareness, information on health services such as audiology and benefits they might be entitled too
- help parents and other family members to learn communication and language skills to bond with their deaf child and to learn together
- empower parents to work with the community rehabilitation workers to change perceptions of deafness within schools and with their community leaders
- encourage parents to lead on events locally and nationally to change perceptions of deafness and to bring deaf and hearing members of society together
- help parents build discussions with district leaders, government and policy-makers to get their voices heard and acted upon
to four times a week in our parent support group. Many deaf children’s parents are illiterate in this district and don’t know how to help their deaf child. They come to the parents’ group looking for answers. Parents like myself that have been involved in the group for some time, reassure and support them. We all learn sign language and we advocate for change and we do this by acquiring knowledge and fighting for all our deaf children to get access to education and health services.
"We now are going into mainstream schools, deaf children’s homes and into the wider community to change perceptions of deafness. We help the community workers within the groups, assisting with teaching deaf awareness and also helping parents to use the visual learning materials to assist their children with further learning, especially important for those parents that can’t read and write.
" Together through our group, we feel empowered and supported, we will continue to push for change and to get our voices heard.”
Comments from a parent that is heavily involved in a parent resource group in West Bengal.
In 2014 Deaf Child Worldwide and the Khagenhat Welfare Organisation (KWO) partnered together to build parent support groups in three districts in West Bengal, (Falakata, Dhupguri and Jalpaiguri). All of these parent groups are still in operation and are growing.