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Transforming Deaf Education: Supporting the futures of deaf children in West Bengal

Published Date: 16 Feb 2024

In this blog we’ll explore our work with partners in West Bengal. Within any community, early intervention, as well as community wide support and deaf awareness are key to the best outcomes for deaf children.

For nearly 20 years, we at Deaf Child Worldwide have worked in low- and middle-income communities across the world with deaf children and their families. We have seen that with the right support deaf children can achieve just as well as their hearing peers. With our focus on early intervention, we aim to bridge the gap in language and communication skills.

Working alongside our partners, here at Deaf Child Worldwide, we’re thrilled to share the work we are doing to empower deaf children through education in Kolkata. Within the region, teachers usually have had no formal training in deafness, including those who work in deaf schools. Often therefore, they do not have the skills 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.

The Call to Action for Inclusive Education

At Deaf Child Worldwide we are working in partnership with the Child in Need Institute (CINI), India. Child in Need Institute is an organisation promoting "Sustainable development in health, nutrition and education of children, adolescents and women in need" in India.

CINI are working in collaboration with the government scheme called Samagra Shiksha Mission (SSM) and are focused in providing education, language and communication support to pre-school and primary school age children.

Strategies for Educational Enrichment

CINI, in collaboration with the SSM, envisions a future where the deaf community in West Bengal experiences better inclusion. Our project is a great example of a partner and community - led endeavour that embeds deaf-friendly education and therapies into the fabric of learning. We are fostering an atmosphere where pride, empowerment, and celebration are not just words, but part of daily life.

To date CINI have worked within four community-based centres and 10 SSM resource rooms across Kolkata and 71 deaf children have benefited already, including many within the 3 - 6-year age group. The resource rooms will provide deaf-friendly education, language development support and behavioural therapies.

Educating the Educators: A Pivotal Role

With our emphasis on “educating the educators,” we are working with 96 Special Educators and 46 teachers. So far, we have provided them with training on Indian Sign Language (ISL) which was delivered by the Ali Yavar Jung National Institute of Speech & Hearing Disabilities.

By providing training in Indian Sign Language (ISL) and equipping these mentors with a nuanced understanding of the deaf experience, we are nurturing a cohort of educators who are empathetic and skilled, capable of supporting the potential of every child they teach.

The Ripple Effect of Awareness

Education does not exist in a vacuum, and neither does awareness. Our work in cultivating a better understanding of deafness is creating a ripple effect that extends beyond the classroom. Our recent activities have focused on awareness days including the International Week of Deaf People 2023 and International Day of Persons with Disabilities. These awareness days are particularly useful in communicating the message of pride, empowerment and celebration and were also a useful way of bringing together deaf children with their peers, teachers, special educators, parents and CINI staff.

The Path Forward: Looking to the Future

With the solid foundation laid by CINI and SSM, the path forward is one of further expansion and exploration. CINI’s ambition is to reach all 144 wards in Kolkata.

As we move onward, we welcome your support and interest in our shared mission. We invite you to be a part of our journey. Visit our website regularly for updates and stories that capture our work and our successes.