Across the developing world so many children who are born deaf are denied the opportunity to do the thing that most defines us as humans – to acquire and use language and to communicate fluently with others.
This happens to no other group of people on the planet – and it needs to stop.
Here’s how it happens…..
- Nearly all profoundly deaf children are born to hearing families.
- Most hearing families have never met Deaf adults and have no knowledge of sign language.
- Children born profoundly deaf cannot hear what their parents and siblings are saying so are denied the opportunity to do what the rest of the human race to – acquire their first language naturally by hearing it being spoken around them.
Here’s the damage it does…..
- The deaf child is unable to communicate with their family – and their family is unable to communicate with them.
- The deaf child is unable to express their feelings, their fears – indeed anything beyond that which can be communicated by very basic gestures.
- The deaf child is unable to make friends.
- The deaf child is often treated as the ‘village fool/idiot’
- The deaf child cannot go to school and be educated (other than the lucky few who get to go to one of the few schools for Deaf children where, if they are even luckier, they acquire sign language – and the world then opens up for them).
- The deaf child grows into a deaf adult with no language and no education and lives an isolated life on the margins of society.
Here’s how things can be very different…..
- The deaf child, their parents, siblings, other family members and local community being given access to sign language and positive Deaf adult role models.
- The building and staffing of many more schools for Deaf children where the language used in the classroom is the indigenous sign language of the country (e.g. Nepali Sign Language in Nepal, Ugandan Sign Language in Uganda etc.)
As the WFD (World Federation for the Deaf) say…
‘With Sign Language Rights, Our Children Can!’
At Deafway all of our international work seeks to give deaf children, and the adults that deaf children become, access to sign language, the Deaf community, Deaf Culture, a fully accessible education taught in sign language – and thus the same life opportunities enjoyed by hearing children.