Friday, October 18, 2013

Rethinking Education for the Deaf

The World Federation of the Deaf met for a major conference in Sydney from Oct 16-18. The topic of the conference was education for deaf people, especially in underdeveloped areas is Nepal, China, and northern Uganda. Most deaf children don’t attend school at all or on a regular basis, and there is a preconceived notion in the classroom that deaf children have the incapacity to learn. As one teacher puts it, “Our disability only affects our hearing, not our minds. A deaf child’s mind is as good as a hearing child’s mind.” As written in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.”

The issue of education for all is less of an issue in developed countries due to advanced education infrastructure as well as a culture that prides itself in fostering the development of special education. Even though education is scarce in some underdeveloped countries, the culture still tends to be apathetic to those with special needs making it extra hard for those with special needs to obtain an education. However, whenever possible, education should be provided to everyone, and this means teachers need to be employed who are qualified in sign language so that deaf children can overcome the obstacles to learning and succeed in developing the skills that are necessary for communication.

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