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Sharing Through Drawing

Published Date: 14 Jan 2021

A drawing depicting the joy of being invited to play cricket with his hearing peers

At Deaf Child Worldwide, we are always striving to ensure that deaf children and young people are included in our evaluation work. From experience we know that this is a real challenge. In the countries we work in, children are often not diagnosed with deafness until they are six or seven years old, affecting their ability to express complex ideas and perspectives – which is what we are normally searching for when we conduct evaluations and research.

In 2020 the global pandemic meant we weren’t able to invest the usual amount of time and specialist knowledge into ensuring deaf children are able to participate in our evaluations. As a result, we had to be a bit inventive but also pragmatic. 

Towards the end of the year, together with six of our partners we tested out a new method with 81 children in Karnataka and Orissa, India. The method was adapted from PhotoVoice, so that it could be delivered by asking small groups of deaf children to draw their response to “What is school like?” The sessions were facilitated by deaf role models, who are skilled at communicating with these deaf children.

As a qualitative method, it gave us a range of insights into the way deaf children perceive school. None of the children had attended school for six months so this was, in itself, an exercise in memory. Some children were extremely skilled at drawing, others clearly found it more difficult. A strong theme that emerged from the exercise was the significance of friends at school. Playing with peers, peers using sign language, hearing peers supporting them in the classroom when they weren’t able to understand the teacher. There were also positive signs that deaf friendly teaching was being provided, with drawings of teachers facing forward and references to the teacher using visual aids. 

However, while it is important to consider what is being included in children’s drawings, we recognise that this is not sufficient in telling the whole story. As with all evaluation, we must use this method alongside others to truly understand the impact of our work with deaf children.

Sharing through Drawing has been an incredibly important method for us to test during this challenging time, and we are looking forward to building on it through the coming year.. We are committed to ensuring the voices and opinions of deaf children and young people are central to our evaluation work, so that our programmes can be developed based on what we know truly makes a difference to their lives.

by Corinna Philpott, International Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Advisor