Too often, the voices of people with disabilities are simply not heard–within their country, within their community, or sometimes even within families. The voices of disabled people in developing countries are even more suppressed.
One special issue of the New Internationalist, released in 2005, brings us the voices of people with disabilities from India … Zimbabwe … Sri Lanka … Colombia … Bangladesh … and elsewhere.
The stories and interviews published in their magazine, available for free on-line, share the experiences of people with disabilities in developing countries in their struggle for sexual expression … the harrowing experience of rape … the push to achieve recognition for their human rights … the battle against severe poverty and starvation … success at becoming a blind teacher … getting involved with politics … and overcoming discrimination in the work force.
Browse the stories at the New Internationalist website at:
Each story can be read on-line in html format; they do not need to be downloaded.
I learned of this magazine issue when several of its stories were recently circulated via email on the Disability Information Dissemination Network, which is managed by the Centre for Services and Information on Disability (CSID), Bangladesh, and currently sponsored by Handicap International. People may subscribe directly to the CSID mailing list by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org, with the word “join” in the subject line.
Research conducted in Zimbabwe and South Africa has confirmed what grassroots advocates have known all along: people with disabilities aren’t just at higher risk of poverty. People with disabilities are also more likely to be ignored by many donors who support programs to end poverty.
The 77-page study is entitled, “Are Disabled Peoples’ Voices from both South and North Being heard in the Development process? A Comparative analysis between the situation in South Africa, Zimbabwe, United Kingdom and Northern Europe.” Conducted in 2005, this research explores the extent to which Disabled Peoples’ Organizations (DPOs) in Zimbabwe and South Africa have access to funding, and the extent to which DPOs were able to explain to donors what kind of funding would help them best.
People with disabilities who were interviewed for this study said they wanted to be involved with disability programs, from the planning stage through implementation. However, they felt they were often excluded, both by the government and also by DPOs themselves. The study concludes that many DPOs lack the capacity to reach large numbers of people with disabilities at the grassroots level. As a result, many people with disabilities in South Africa and Zimbabwe are not part of any network. They also usually lacked awareness of policies and programs that were meant to benefit them, such as the African Decade on Persons with Disabilities or the Millennium Development Goals.
DPOs, too, said they lacked opportunity to contribute to dialogue about what kinds of projects would be most beneficial for them. DPOs in South Africa and Zimbabwe said that donors from developed countries often impose their own tailor-made programs on them without asking for their input. They wanted to be more involved with designing the programs that they implement. DPOs usually were more aware than grassroots individuals of programs such as the African Decade or the Millennium Development Goals, but even some DPOs were not aware of them.
Even in the UK and Northern Europe, DPOs felt that they were struggling for donations. DPOs also complained that non-disability oriented international non-governmental organizations used information about people with disabilities to obtain donations for themselves instead of for DPOs.
The study makes recommendations based on its findings, including the need for more capacity building for DPOs in developing countries; stronger partnerships among DPOs in developing and developed countries and donors; and closer involvement of people with disabilities and DPOs in planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating programs.
Learn more about the study; download the 6-page executive summary (Word format); or the full 770-page report (Word format) at:
We Can Do found this study on the DisabilityKar.net site after exploring links from the Heathlink Worldwide site.
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Catch up with the news; explore resources, toolkits, or funding and fellowship opportunities; find research, reports, papers, or statistics; or look up conferences, events, call for papers, or education/training opportunities.
We Can Do Copyright
This blog post is copyrighted to We Can Do (wecando.wordpress.com). Currently, only two web sites have on-going permission to syndicate (re-post) We Can Do blog posts in full: BlogAfrica.com and RatifyNow.org. Other sites may be plagiarizing this post without permission.
In low-income countries, the overwhelming majority people who need wheelchairs don’t have one. This has a profound impact on their ability to lead independent lives–or even leave their own homes. Participants in a recent conference in Africa exchanged ideas and knowledge on how to address this challenge.
The 4th All Africa Wheelchair Congress Report (PDF format, 446 Kb) can now be downloaded for free on-line. The report summarizes a series of remarks, panel discussions, and other conference sessions on how to promote appropriate wheelchair services across the African continent. The report also presents a list of resolutions made on the last day of the Congress. The 4th All Africa Wheelchair Congress was held in September 2007 in Tanzania.
The Pan Africa Wheelchair Builders Association (PAWBA) and the Tanzanian Training Centre for Orthopaedic Technologists (TATCOT) facilitated the congress. Co-funders included the World Health Organisation, ABILIS, Motivation Africa, Christoffel Blindenmission (CBM), and SINTEF. The 116 participating members came from Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, UK, Norway and USA.
The previous three All Africa Wheelchair Congresses were held in Zambia (2003); Kenya (1998); and Zimbabwe (1995). Each congress was a landmark in developing appropriate and affordable wheelchair products and services in Africa in allowing participants to exchange knowledge across the continent. PAWBA was formed at the 2003 Congress.
You can download the full, 47-page 4th All Africa Wheelchair Congress report in PDF format (446 Kb) at:
We Can Do learned about this report by browsing the AskSource.info database on health, disability, and development. I gathered further detail by skimming the report itself.
Learn how to receive an email alert when new material is posted at We Can Do (wecando.wordpress.com).
Catch up with the news; explore resources, toolkits, or funding and fellowship opportunities; find research, reports, papers, or statistics; or look up conferences, events, call for papers, or education/training opportunities.
We Can Do Copyright
This blog post is copyrighted to We Can Do (wecando.wordpress.com). Currently, only two web sites have on-going permission to syndicate (re-post) We Can Do blog posts in full: BlogAfrica.com and www.RatifyNow.org. Other sites are most likely plagiarizing this post without permission.
If you’re new to We Can Do, what interesting information, news, or resources might you have overlooked from the past few months? Although some older items may no longer be interesting, others may still be relevant and helpful a year or three from now. This post can help guide you through the first 100-plus posts at this blog. You can click from the table of contents below to any section of this page that interests you–and then another click on “table of contents” can take you back to the contents, or “top of this page” takes you back to this introduction.
- About We Can Do
- The five most popular We Can Do posts
- The five most under-rated We Can Do posts
- Finding Practical Resources and Case Studies, or Helpful Organizations
- Finding sources of information, research, papers, or statistics
- Funding sources: leads on where to find funding support
- Academic papers related to disabled people in developing countries
- News related to disabled people in developing countries
- Opinion pieces
- Call for papers for conferences and journals
- International Conference and Event Announcements
- Job, internship, and volunteer opportunities
- Education and training opportunities
- Missed opportunities for events, jobs, etc.
- What’s next for We Can Do?
About We Can Do
Thinking about submitting your own written materials, job posts, conference announcements, or resources to We Can Do? Check the Wish list for written materials and resources.
Want to receive an alert in email when a new post goes up at We Can Do? You can Subscribe to We Can Do for free.
I changed the organization and appearance of We Can Do in early October to its present format.
The Five Most Popular We Can Do posts
The five listed here are the ones that have attracted the most “page views” since We Can Do began in late July. You may notice that not all of these are featured in the 10 “most popular posts” listed in the right-hand navigation bar. That’s because the navigation bar only lists posts that have received a lot of traffic very recently (I think within the past few days; its done automatically by wordpress so I’m not sure how it works). But here I’m listing the five that have the highest TOTAL page views.
- An announcement about the International Day of Disabled Persons, held on December 3, 2007, has received more than 600 hits.
- More than 500 We Can Do readers were especially anxious to learn more about some limited available funding for conference participation from developing nations.
- More than 400 readers wanted to learn from a Case study on early intervention for blind children.
- The international Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD) in plain language has attracted more than 400 readers. This version of the CRPD was written for people who have trouble understanding the legal language of the original, or who want a tool to help them translate the CRPD into another language.
- More than 400 people have learned more About We Can Do.
The Five Most Under-Rated We Can Do posts
Are these posts really under-rated? You’ll have to read them and decide for yourself. But in choosing these five, I used two criteria: 1. These are posts that have received fewer than 100 visitors–sometimes far fewer. 2. These are posts that I think could be helpful or interesting to readers and maybe deserve more attention than they have gotten. These are in no particular order:
- See Finding development organizations and resources for a link that can help you find major international development organizations and funders. Some of these organizations already work on disability issues and may be interested in building new partnerships with new DPOs, development organizations, and other NGOs.
- Equipment that enables blind people in industrialized countries to read computer screens can be expensive. But new technology can help bring screen readers and magnifiers to blind people in developing countries. The Sightsaver’s Dolphin Pen is cheaper, which means it is easier to afford in countries where the average income may be only a few hundred dollars per person per year.
- Looking for statistics to back up your arguments, or to add to your literature review for your dissertation? You can consult Numbers Don’t Feed People–Or Do They?” for a few leads.
- Want to help teach disabled people in your country about the international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)? Handicap International has developd a teaching kit on the CRPD with suggested teaching points, power point programs, Word files and PDF files.
- Teachers, parents, and other advocates for children can use the Child-friendly version of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to teach both disabled and non-disabled children about disability rights.
Finding Practical Resources and Case Studies or Helpful Organizations
Mainstream international development agencies sometimes say that they don’t know how to find people with disabilities, or their representative organizations, in the developing countries where they work. Reviewing the July post entitled Finding Local Disability Organizations may help point you in the right direction. Also see Disability Organizations in Afghanistan, Asia, Kenya, Uganda.
Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) sometimes aren’t sure where to find mainstream development organizations and resources that might be willing to collaborate with them.
There is an international network of organizations for families of people with Rubinstein Taybi Syndrome.
Resources for Inclusive Development
Both disability advocates and mainstream development organizations want to ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind when countries and organizations fight poverty or improve public health, education, water, and other services. But it can be a challenge to figure out how to make projects and government policies more inclusive. The following resources can help:
- Making Poverty Reduction Strategies Inclusive: for disability advocates and other individuals or organizations that want to help national government policies become more inclusive of disabled people when they fight poverty. This handbook can be downloaded for free.
- Handbook on Mainstreaming Disability, for mainstream international development organizations written by Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO). Download for free.
- An On-line book on Universal Design and Visitability can be downloaded for free.
Resources on the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
By now, you may be aware that a global movement is taking place to ratify the international disability rights treaty, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Many relevant resources are now being produced in relation to the CRPD, some of which have been posted or featured here at We Can Do:
Reviewing case studies of projects implemented elsewhere can be a valuable source of ideas that could help you figure out how to run or implement your own projects. I would love to post many more best-practice and failed-practice case studies than I have available right now. If you think you have something worth sharing, please check my Wish List of Written Materials and Resource and contact me at ashettle [at] patriot.net.
But for now, here are two case studies:
- A Case Study about an Early intervention program for blind children in Russia
- a collection of short case summaries of projects for deaf children in Burkino Faso, Zimbabwe, Somaliland, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, and India
- A set of Recommendations on how to empower people with intellectual disabilities in the Asian and Pacific region was developed at a conference held in the region in October 2007.
- A dictionary for Sri Lankan Sign Language has been published.
- A new device functions as a screen reader or magnifier for blind people in developing countries: this Sightsavers’ Dolphin Pen is cheaper than the standard screen readers used in industrialized countries. That helps bring it within reach of a wider number of blind people even in countries where the average income is very low.
Finding Useful Sources of Information and Research
Finding academic research, papers, resources, or statistics
Looking for academic research and academic papers; resources that can be used by people working in the field; or sources of statistics? Some of the following posts may be helpful:
- Disability Knowledge: Hungarian and English
- Numbers Don’t Feed People–Or Do They? On finding statistics relevant to disabled people in developing countries
Information on people with disabilities
Interested in learning about the living conditions of people with disabilities in specific nations, or in specific thematic areas? Some of the following may be of interest:
- Report on Disabled People in Zimbabwe
- World Bank Report on Disabled people in India
- A report on research capacity on mental health in low- and middle-income countries was published by the Global Forum for Health Research on Mental Health Day in October 2007.
- The International Labour Organization (ILO) published a report on employment and people with disabilities, which calls for more active and sustained efforts to increase the employment of people with disabilities in part to help meet the Millennium Development Goals.
- An early post reviews information on deaf children with additional disabilities and resources available for them in developing countries.
- The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) may have some funding for DPOs, NGOs, or other entities to be used for disability inclusion.
- The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) has come out with a resource that could help women’s organizations find funding.
- The Worldwide Initiative for Grantmaker Support (WINGS) Global Fund for Community Foundations makes grants of up to $50,000 USD to emerging and developing community foundations or support organizations in developing countries. Note that these funds are NOT meant for individual non-government organizations (NGOs) but for small FOUNDATIONS or organizations meant to SUPPORT NGOs.
- The United Nations Democracy Fund holds an annual competition for funding applications for projects to promote better democratic participation. The 2007 deadline is December 18. Missed it? Review their information carefully and consider preparing early for their next funding round.
- Looking for funding to attend an international or local conference? three organizations have some limited funds available for conference participation from developing countries; two of these are focused on Latin America, but the first one listed (the Ford Foundation) covers other regions as well.
- The Inter-American
Foundations Grassroots Development Fellowship Program offers research fellowships to doctorate (PhD) students who want to study grassroots movements among poor people in Latin America. The application deadline is January 22, 2008.
- Funding is available for South Asian projects on HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination; the application deadline is January 31, 2008.
We Can Do has published, or re-published, academic papers, or linked to same, on a range of subjects, including:
- Violence against blind and visually impaired girls in school in Malawi by Abigail Suka
- Changing Face of Disability Movement: from Charity to Empowerment by Kishor Bhanushali
- Impact of the South Asian Earthquake on Disabled People in the State of Jammu and Kashmir by Dr. Parvinder Singh
- Equalizing Educational Opportunity for the Nigerian-Ghanaian Blind Girl Child by Florence Banku Obi.
- Violence Against Women with Disabilities in South Africa by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation in South Africa.
At one point in September, the international disability community prematurely thought we might be On the Verge of Making History by ratifying the disability rights community.
- In October, We Can Do reported that Gabon and India ratified, and Cambodia signed, the International CRPD (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities).
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has initiated a project improving access to services for people with psycho-social (psychiatric) disabilities.
- An activist, Mussa Chiwaula, has been lobbying the Malawi government for disability rights.
- Read a report on the first known African deaf HIV/AIDS workshop.
- Mental Disabilities Rights International (MDRI) reports severe abuse and human rights violations of people with mental disabilities in Argentina.
- A Report was issued on a disability forum held in Pakistan.
- Mugiho Takeshita at the UNDP’s Crisis Prevention and Recovery was seeking information on implementing the CRPD in relation to crisis prevention and recovery for disabilities caused by violence and natural disaster.
- A Report was issued from the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters Conference that was held in Spain in July 2007.
- Mental Disabilities Rights International (MDRI) reports on human rights abuses of disabled children and adults in Serbia.
- The Commonwealth Disabled People’s Conference issued a Memorandum calling for Commonwealth countries to support the CRPD.
- A Brazilian journalist and disability advocate received the International Service Human Rights Award for her defense of the human rights of people with disabilities.
- The International Day of Disabled Persons was held on December 3, 2007.
- A web site on Disability Awareness Week in India was launched.
- Disability advocates have launched a global campaign to ratify the international disability rights treaty.
- The United Nations Secretary General made a statement in support of employing disabled people.
- People in India celebrated the International Day of Disabled Persons.
- Rosangela Berman Bieler made a statement on receiving the International Services Human Rights Award.
- Read a summary of a round table discussion on disability rights in Bangladesh, which held in December 2007.
- Bangladesh, Spain, Namibia, and Nicaragua ratify the international disability rights treaty (CRPD).
- El Salvador, Mexico ratify the CRPD.
So far, the opinion pieces here are all by me. But I would like for We Can Do to be host to an active exchange of ideas and differing perspectives. If you have a strong opinion about something, please consider submitting it. Yes, that includes opinions that disagree with mine! Consult the Wish list for written materials and resources for ideas of the kinds of topics I’m trying to cover at We Can Do.
Meanwhile, here are a few of my own opinion pieces:
- Dying for Employment
- Channeling Remittances from Disabled Emigrants
- One Laptop Per Child–But is it Inclusive?
Call for Papers (for Conferences, Journals, Other)
You might be just now starting your academic career as an undergraduate or graduate student. Or perhaps you have been doing quantitative or qualitative research, or writing policy analysis, or case studies, or social analysis, for years. Either way, if you’re looking for opportunities to present, publish, or otherwise disseminate your papers or run a workshop, then check out these upcoming or ongoing opportunities:
- A Call for proposals for an international forum on women’s rights and development is open until January 28, 2008. The conference itself will be in November 2008.
- A Call for papers for the International Conference on Social Science Research Methodologies is open until February 2008. The conference itself will be in September 2008.
- Authors are needed to Write book chapters for a book to be entitled, “Post-Conflict Rehabilitation: Creating a Trauma Membrane for Individuals and Communities and Restructuring Lives after Trauma”.
- If you have ever written a paper about the World Bank for a class or for a dissertation during your post-secondary education, then you can share your university papers on the World Bank.
International Conferences and Events
The South Asian Conference on Autism is being held in New Delhi, India in January 2008.
The 8th annual meeting of the Gulf Disability Society will meet in United Arab Emirates in March 2008.
- The Pacific Rim Conference on Disabilities will meet in the Hawaii islands, USA, in April 2008.
- The 8th Symposium of the Arab Federation of the Organs of the Deaf “Improving Education and Rehabilitation of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing People” will be held in Saudi Arabia in April 2008.
- The Unite for Sight International Health Confernece will be held at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, USA in April 2008.
- The Conference on the International Convention on the Rights of Persons on Disabilities will be held in Ethiopia in May 2008.
- The i-CREATE International Conference on Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology will be held in Thailand in May 2008.
- The 21st World Congress of Rehabilitation International will meet in Quebec in August 2008.
- The International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication conference will be held in Montreal, Canada, in August 2008.
- The International Conference on Social Science Research Methodologies will meet in South Africa in September 2008. A Call for Paper/Presentation Abstracts is open until February 2008.
The Association on Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)’s International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development will be held in Cape Town, South Africa in November 2008. A call for proposals is open until January 28, 2008.
Jobs, Internships, Volunteer Opportunities
We Can Do will probably never be a comprehensive job-board. Serious job, internship, or volunteer placement hunters will want to explore other means of finding opportunities. For example, jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities in the international field generally, or in the disability field generally, can sometimes be found at www.idealist.org. But I do occasionally happen to come across a job announcement. Here are a few that may still be open to applications:
- Three job posts are available in Luanda, Angola; the deadline for these is December 31, 2007.
- On-line translators for a corporate social responsibility initiative called “Disability Focus”. Contact organization to inquire regarding deadline.
- The United Nations is seeking a Senior Social Affairs Officer, P-5. The application deadline is January 14, 2008.
Education and Training Opportunities
- Leadership training for women with disabilities in South Asia will be available in February 2008.
- Mobility International USA is recruiting men and women with disabilities from Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru for the International Leadership Employment and Disability (I-LEAD) program for 21 days in March 2008 in Eugene, Oregon, USA.
- Study human rights at Central European University, for grassroots activists for human rights involved with a local non-government organization (NGO), or for lawyers with an interest in human rights.
Some of the material I post at We Can Do is time-sensitive material. That means the conferences announced here have come and gone; job posts have been filled; and deadlines are over. So, if it’s too late for you to do anything about any of the following announcements, then why bother listing them? First, some conference organizers issue compilations of papers and presentations or other interesting materials after their event is over. If a topic interests you, it may be worth communicating with event organizers to see if any follow-up publications are available. Second, organizations that offer one conference, job opportunity, call for papers, etc., may offer something similar in the future. Many conferences, for example, meet every one, two, three, or four years. Monitoring, joining, or communicating with organizations of interest to you could help ensure that you learn about the next opportunity in time to plan for it.
Missed Call for Papers
The German Journal for Disability and Development called for papers on art and disabilities to be submitted by the end of November 2007.
In October 2007, the International Labour Organisation had a training course for professionals from developing countries.
Missed Jobs, Internships, and Volunteer Opportunities
Remember that it is too late to apply for these specific opportunities. These are listed here in case you want to check out the sponsoring organizations for future opportunities like these:
- Technical Officer: Disability and Rehabilitation, at the World Health Organization
- Executive Director of the Global Partnership for Disability and Development
- Volunteer Opportunity with VSO in Kenya
- Technical Coordinator in Disability in Bangladesh
- Regional Coordinator, South Asia
- English teacher for deaf adults in Jamaica
- Technical Officer: Injuries, violence prevention, disabilities, and rehabilitation, at the World Health Organization
- The Commonwealth disabled peoples conference in Uganda was held in November 2007. Participants at that conference issued a memorandum asking commonwealth countries to support the international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
- The International Conference on Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Emergency Situations was held in Germany in November 2007.
- A conference was held by the Community Based Rehabilitation African Network on Inclusive Policy in South Africa in November 2007.
- An international conference on intellectual disabilities and mental retardation was held in Thailand in November 2007.
- The 7th International Seminar on Housing the Poor was held in Thailand in November 2007.
- An on-line forum on the sexual and reproductive health of people with disabilities was held via e-mail in November.
- A national conference on the CRPD was held in India in early December 2007.
- An on-line forum on successful family planning programs held in December 2007; people may also wish to full out a survey on this topic.
- A photo competition on decent work and people with disabilities was held by the International Labour Organization, ending in November 2007.
What’s Next for We Can Do?
I am not yet satisfied with We Can Do. I still see many gaps that I want to repair. I want to find, and post, more materials of a pragmatic nature. By which I mean, material that people in the field can put to immediate use in improving the lives of disabled people in developing countries. If you think you can help me locate helpful materials, please review my Wish list for written materials and resources and contact me.
I also want to reach more development professionals at mainstream development organizations and more employees and volunteers at international disability organizations. And I want to reach more small DPOs and individual advocates in more developing countries. The knowledge shared at We Can Do cannot help until it is brought to people with disabilities living in poverty in developing countries. That “final mile” can only be bridged by readers like YOU.
If you want to help, I hope you will consider telling your colleagues and contacts about We Can Do. If you run a web site or a blog, please consider linking to We Can Do at https://wecando.wordpress.com. If you have the skills, the time, and the commitment to launch a We Can Do mirror site translation into some other language, please talk to me (leave a comment or email me at ashettle [at] patriot.net). And please do feel free to print out the more helpful We Can Do posts to share with people you know in developing countries who do not have easy access to the Internet.
For those of you who like numbers: We Can Do had 285 page views in July; 851 in August; 1305 in September; 2936 in October; 4862 in November; and more than 5100 in the first three weeks of December. And who is responsible for making these numbers happen? Why—you, of course! So, thank you for visiting We Can Do.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
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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A newly released report entitled “The forgotten tribe: People with disabilities in Zimbabwe” shares the experiences of disabled people, the discrimination they face in Zimbabwe society, and their exclusion from the usual government and civil society sources of aid.
Written by Tsitsi Chorumi and published by the organization Progressio, the report presents the results of a survey of disabled people in Zimbabwe soliciting their opinions on how their needs could be better met. The survey includes a focus on policy and legislative needs; poverty; gender; health; HIV and AIDS; education; employment; and sports and recreation. “The forgotten tribe” also summarizes some of the work Progressio has conducted in Zimbabwe.
Respondents in the survey include: people with polio; amputees; people with club feet; congenital deformity; paraplegia; speech impairments; hearing impairments; visually impaired; physically impaired; hemiparesis; mentally challenged; and albinos. (Disclaimer alert: Please note that I have presented all these terms exactly as used in the survey itself on page 10 though some of these terms differ from terminology that I would ordinarily use myself.)
A print copy of the report can be purchased for 5 British pounds, or it can be downloaded for free in PDF format (283 kilobytes). It is available only in English, though the Progressio website itself is available either in English or in Spanish. Progressio is an international development charity working for justice and the eradication of poverty.
I learned about this resource through a regular electronic email newsletter run by Disabled People International (DPI). However, neither DPI nor I are involved with this report. To learn more about “The forgotten tribe,” or to download the report itself, please follow the link to http://tinyurl.com/2awurp.
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