IDCS Newsletter: Deaf Children, Families, and Schools
Thank you to the International Deaf Children’s Society (IDCS) for granting their permission to repost their newsletter at We Can Do. This newsletter contains information about a range of programs targeted at deaf children and their families and schools in Burkino Faso; Zimbabwe; Somaliland; Kazakhstan; Afghanistan; and India.
Note that IDCS would like to receive stories about your experiences in supporting families in improving their ability to communicate with their deaf children for possible use in their next newsletter. Their deadline is October 10, 2007; see the bottom of this post for more detail.
August 29, 2007
Learning from Each Other: An Update from the IDCS Network
The International Deaf Children’s Society (IDCS) is the international development wing of The National Deaf Children’s Society in the UK.
Families and schools
In this issue of Learning from Each Other you can find out more about how schools can involve families and communities in their work.
Education is central in promoting every child’s development. It is a Millennium Development Goal to achieve universal primary education, because it is recognised that education broadens opportunities and choices for young people and helps to fight poverty. As one third of the out-of-school children are disabled – it will be impossible to meet this goal without deaf children getting into school. IDCS believes that this will be impossible without family and community involvement.
Research by academics like Desforges in the UK have shown that the support children receive from their family makes a big difference to their success at school. The case studies in this newsletter highlight the role that families play globally. Over 90% of deaf children are born into families who are not deaf and who may have little understanding of how they can support their child. That’s why it’s important for schools and families to work together. Read on for some brilliant examples of how this can work in practice!
For example, you can read a case study from Burkina Faso showing how schools can help families learn the skills they need to support their children more effectively. In addition, parental involvement can really benefit the school by using parents’ unique knowledge, skills and motivation – both in the classroom like in the example from Afghanistan, and at school management and policy level like the project for families in Kazakhstan.
As so many deaf children are out of school, it’s essential that schools consider how they can reach those parents in the community whose children are not in school. Again, with the right support, other parents whose deaf children have been to school can be the best people to reach out, like the inspiring parent trainers in Zimbabwe.
Later this year, IDCS will publish Family Friendly! a book of case studies and practical tips about involving families and communities in work with deaf children. Some of the case studies in this newsletter are also featured in the book – so look out for our email publicising the book later in the year! Some existing resources to help you think about how you can improve the way you work with families and communities are featured below.
Teachers training parents in Burkina Faso
In order for deaf children to do well at school, it really helps if families are actively involved in their education, and are able to communicate, play or help their children with homework. However it’s not always easy for parents to know what to do.
After asking parents what they needed, IDCS’s partner CEFISE, a mainstream school where lots of deaf children study, trained a group of teachers to carry out workshops for parents at three other schools for the deaf. During these workshops, teachers provide parents with information about deafness and lots of creative ideas to make learning fun. Using creative techniques proved to be a great way to provide parents with practical skills and motivation to spend more time with their child!
Follow the link to find out more about this Burkina Faso project, as well as great examples of games and activities.
Parents outreaching to other parents in Zimbabwe
Nyadire Primary School is located in a rural area of Zimbabwe where there is little awareness of deafness. With support from IDCS and the NZEVE centre for deaf children, Nyadire School trained two parents to be outreach workers.
Being visited at home was a great way for parents of out-of-school deaf children to find out more about deafness and their children’s potential. The parent trainers encouraged parents to send their deaf child to school and provided them with information about how they could support learning in the home. The families felt comfortable discussing personal issues with someone who had faced similar challenges and the parent trainers became a real community resource. The school also organised workshops to provide parents with more information and training to help them communicate with their deaf child.
Follow the link to find out more about this innovative approach to working with parents
Establishing a parents’ group in Somaliland
In Somaliland there are only two schools for the deaf. The Hargeisa School for the Deaf is working with parents to support them to advocate for the rights of their child. Getting parents together is also an effective and sustainable way of establishing support networks and a forum to share ideas and experiences.
The Hargeisa School found that, in order for parents to have an impact, it was important to set up a formal organisation. They provided a group of parents with the necessary skills to organise and register a parents’ group. This group now meets regularly and, together with the school and a group of young deaf people, has carried out advocacy and awareness raising activities.
Find out more about the process of setting up a parents group
Working together for children’s rights in Kazakhstan
Children living in institutions in Kazakhstan are often denied their rights. In addition, many find that communicating with their families is very difficult. With limited parental involvement, professionals have a lot of power over children’s lives. To create change in such a context meant that everyone needed to be involved – that’s why the project working to improve the lives of deaf children in institutions was called Rights for All.
Using the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as a tool, this project tried to involve teachers, children and parents. An important achievement was the establishment of an ongoing parents’ group which have quarterly meetings with school directors and are working with the Deaf People’s Association to lobby for policy changes. A resource room staffed by a parent volunteer also helps to provide parents with practical support when they visit the school.
Read more about how this project aimed to make Rights For All a reality…
A father’s story – getting involved in education in Afghanistan
Getting involved in their children’s education can radically change parents’ attitudes towards their child’s deafness. As they witness first-hand their child’s capacity for learning and educational success, they can become advocates for other children’s rights.
Abdul Ghani is the father of six children, four of whom are deaf. He worked for an inclusive education project run by the International Rescue Committee in Afghanistan which helped deaf children, previously denied access to education, to stay in school. His valuable contribution and change of attitude towards his deaf children’s potential shows how parent involvement benefits both schools and families!
Real inclusion requires a supportive family
In India, the Persons with Disabilities Act says that every disabled child should be able to study in a regular school if that is their choice. Snigdha talks about how she fought to make the act a reality for her deaf daughter, Sneha. This would not have been possible without the support she received in the early days from a family-focused organisation in West Bengal. Snigdha’s story shows why IDCS’s focus on parent-support is so important and gives practical tips for regular schools wishing to include deaf children.
Read Snigdha’s story to find out more about parenting a deaf child in India and why family support is so important.
IDCS Network member the Loto Taumafai Society in Samoa worked with UNESCO to pilot the Toolkit for Creating Inclusive, Learning Friendly Environments. The second chapter focuses on involving families and communities. It is a very useful tool for any school. However, IDCS thinks that as deaf children have less opportunity than other children to learn incidentally in their community, the ideas presented in this UNESCO publication are even more important for schools where deaf children learn!
EENET, the Enabling Education Network is an international information sharing network which promotes the inclusion of marginalised groups in education. Membership is open to all.
The EENET website contains resources about working with parents including the Family Action for Inclusion book. This tells the stories of family-based advocacy organisations which have contributed to transform education systems in southern Africa, South Asia, Europe and Australia. It has been written for family and community members who may feel isolated and want to form a support group, advocacy organisation, or want to challenge exclusion. It will also be of relevant to those interested in promoting inclusive practices in education, such as teachers, teacher educators and policy makers.
Improving family communication
For our next issue of Learning from Each Other, we would like to focus on family communication. As the articles presented here have shown, communicating with a deaf child at home is extremely important for his or her emotional and educational development. We would be delighted to hear of your experiences of supporting families to improve their ability to communicate with their deaf child.
What challenges do you face in communicating with deaf children? Have you received support from an organisation or parents of deaf children? Are there any games or exercises that you have found particularly useful? Are you involving deaf adults in family communication exercises?
As always, please do not worry if you don’t have much experience of writing about your work, just get in touch with any contribution, long or short. We will do our best to include it in the newsletter or publish on our website to share with The IDCS Network.
Please send us your stories by 10 October 2007 by email, post or fax
The IDCS Network
15 Dufferin Street
London, EC1Y 8UR
Fax + 44 (0)20 7251 5020
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