Research tells us that people with disabilities, and Deaf people, are at higher risk for HIV/AIDS than the general population. But many HIV/AIDS education programs exclude people with disabilities from opportunities to learn how to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS. Sometimes this exclusion is deliberate: some program managers mistakenly assume that Deaf and disabled people don’t need sexuality education because they don’t have sex. In other cases, programs exclude because they don’t offer sign language interpreters, nor do they offer print materials that are accessible to people who are intelligent but who have lacked access to opportunities for an education.
A training manual has been developed that can be used to help trainers learn how to facilitate workshops on sexual health and HIV/AIDS, entitled the The Deaf Peers’ Education Manual (PDF format, 6.44 Mb). This manual is targeted at members of the Kenyan Deaf community. The signs described in the manual, for example, assume knowledge of Kenyan Sign Language, rather than the many other hundreds of signed languages and dialects used around the world. However, most of the content can be easily adapted for use in Deaf communities in other countries.
The manual offers guidance to facilitators on how they can sensitively handle frank discussion of sexuality; the physical and emotional implications of human sexual development; the difference between friendship, infatuation, and real love; how the HIV virus is transmitted; the difference between HIV and AIDS; and how the HIV virus is NOT transmitted. It suggests a range of activities that can be used with Deaf participants to help them understand these complex and sensitive topics.
The manual was first released in 2007. But the organization that initiated the manual, Sahaya International, is interested in revising and updating the manual based on the feedback of other people who use it around the world. At this time, print copies of the manual are not available, but individuals may print their own copy from the PDF file. Koen Van Rampay with Sahaya International invites feedback on the manual, as well as discussion on printing and distributing the manual, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
More information about Sahaya International; their manual; and their project to teach Deaf people in Kenya about Sexuality and HIV/AIDS is available at:
Please note that the manual has some separate, companion materials that trainers can use in educating Deaf participants. One set of printed materials can be used to teach participants basic facts on human sexual anatomy and reproduction. The other teaches participants about common myths related to HIV/AIDS. Both use cartoons and are designed to be used by readers who may have had limited opportunity to pursue an education or acquire literacy skills. The link to the main Deaf Peers’ Education Manual is available near the top of http://www.sahaya.org/deaf.html, but people will need to scroll down to the very bottom of the page to download the other materials.
The linked web page also shows some videos about the Sahaya International project in Kenya. These videos are in Kenya Sign Language with a voice interpreter (presumably in English). Unfortunately, these videos do not have subtitles. This creates a barrier for Deaf people outside of Kenya who might know other signed languages, but not Kenyan Sign Language. This is a shame because some of the people who are likely to have the strongest interest in the Sahaya International project are other Deaf people in other countries who want to emulate their efforts within their own local Deaf communities.
I hope that Sahaya International will find some low-cost (or no-cost) manner for putting subtitles on their videos. A suggestion: Many vloggers (video bloggers) who post to http://www.deafread.com face similar challenges where they wish to subtitle without high tech skills or financial resources. Perhaps a keyword search there would lead to web pages that offer tips, suggestions, and possible resources. Or, if someone reading this at We Can Do can offer the appropriate expertise or technical guidance, perhaps you could contact Sahaya International directly at email@example.com.
We Can Do learned about the Sahaya International project and manual when Ghulam Nabi Nizamani widely circulated an email originating with Koen Van Rampay.
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