Deaf Children with Additional Disabilities PART ONE
A few years ago, I took a class on deaf children with additional disabilities at Gallaudet University. One project I did for that class was to reach out to some of my contacts in developing countries to gather what information they knew about the challenges experienced by deaf children with additional disabilities, particularly in relation to gaining access to an education.
The information I gathered is now three years old. I’m sure some details have changed since I conducted this project. But most of this is, unfortunately, still valid at least in its broad strokes. Deaf children in developing countries, with or without additional disabilities, too frequently don’t have access to an education.
The project I did for class is much too long to post in a single blog entry. Instead, I will be breaking it up into multiple parts, to be posted over the next few months or so.
Here, I post the introduction, as it was first written three years ago:
Deaf Children with Additional Disabilities in Developing Countries
Introduction: How This Project Fits Into the Big Picture
According to the World Bank, 98 percent of all children with disabilities in developing countries are not in school. About 40 million children with disabilities of primary school age are not receiving an education. This includes children who have only a single disability, for example sighted deaf children without mental retardation, learning disabilities, or mobility impairments. What then of deafblind children? Or deaf children with mental retardation? Or deaf children with any other combination of additional disabilities? (NOTE: The link that I originally provided as a source three years ago seems to be gone or revised now. But the World Bank page on education is at http://go.worldbank.org/GMDMICVFF0. If I’m able to re-locate something more specific later, I’ll come back and edit this paragraph accordingly.)
It is often difficult to find reliable, documented information on deaf children or adults in developing countries. Finding reliable information on specific sub populations, such as deaf children with additional disabilities, is even more difficult. This knowledge does exist–but in bits and pieces, locked away inside the heads of hundreds of people around the world who have worked directly with, or at least visited and observed, programs for deaf children in developing countries. I wanted to gather together some of these little pieces of information into one place, even if only in an informal fashion.
Finding the Information
This project began, primarily, as an informal survey of people I already knew via email who either live and work in developing countries or who live in developed countries but who have traveled extensively. Many of my initial contacts were not able to assist within the time frame available. Some may not have seen my email message at all. People in developed countries who work in the international field travel extensively and may be away from email contact for weeks or months at a time, while people in developing countries, for various reasons that I will not elaborate upon here, often have unreliable email access and may also go weeks at a time without being able to check email. Other contacts simply did not have the time to reply. Those who are actively working with deaf communities in developing countries often consider their work to be tantamount to a “calling” and may have little time to devote to any task that does not directly benefit the local deaf community. Also, people in developing countries are more likely to have two or more jobs simply to survive, and thus still have little or no time for email.
Nevertheless, some people did reply, either to share information or to suggest further contacts or to point me to resources on the web or elsewhere that might assist. Some of my “second generation” contacts referred me to still more possible contacts. During the past two weeks, I have sent out email messages to about 59 individuals around the world. I also sent email messages to three list servers: one, deafintl , is devoted to deaf people in developing countries; another is for deaf people in or from Africa; and a third is exclusively for women with various disabilities who participated in a recent leadership training program, Women’s Institute for Leadership and Development, that took place in Eugene, Oregon, last fall through the organization Mobility International USA.
Ultimately, I gathered information from the following sources:
> More than a dozen individuals sent me partial or complete replies to my questions.
– Most emails were very brief.
– However, a few individuals were able to answer follow-up questions.
– One individual went the extra mile by personally visiting schools in Lahore, Pakistan, in an attempt to gather information.
> One individual sent me her 43 page masters thesis, written entirely in Spanish, which contained some relevant information. Her thesis is summarized in the section on Argentina.
It should be noted that, for most countries, I only had one contact or other source of information. Even people who have been active for many years within the deaf community of a given country are not necessarily familiar with all resources available to that community, particularly when it comes to resources that might be available in a different part of the country, or resources outside their professional field, or resources targeted at a sub population within the deaf community in which they have not specialized. The information shared in this document, accordingly, should not be considered complete even in the few cases (e.g., Kenya) where I received responses from more than one person.
In some places, I included quotes from the people who shared information with me. In all of these cases, the quotes reflect the tone, opinions, attitudes, and sentiments of the person quoted. The inclusion of a given quote does not imply that I necessarily agree or disagree with the person’s position.
I have organized the information by country. I will put each country in a separate post at this blog over the next few weeks. When I do, I will edit this entry to include a direct link to each post .
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