Current realities in deaf education in developing countries: WFD Side Event 29.07.2015

Current realities in deaf education in developing countries

After months of preparations, web-based meetings and much communication amongst all concerned the CBM side event arrived.

Following a brief meeting between Colin Allen (President of World Federation of the Deaf) and myself to discuss on-going collaboration with CBM and the possibility of an activity to be held at the WFD World Congress in 2015, the moment had arrived.

Beginning with discussions in 2014, representatives from CBM, the Royal Dutch Kentalis International, WFD and Abilis got together to devise a programme exploring the opportunities and challenges of deaf education in low-middle-income-countries.

There is a large gap between – on the one hand – the entitlement to accessible education based on the CRPD and – on the other hand – the academic accessibility to education for deaf learners. The current realities of deaf learners and the challenges they face need to be made explicit, as well as highlighting positive examples to be learned from. Each organisation gave a presentation related to their work in the field. When access to technology is developing at a fast pace the situation of deaf learners in developing countries is still far from satisfactory. Deaf children living in low-to-middle-income countries (LMIC) face tremendous challenges in education and career development, with extremely limited employment opportunities. Discrimination, abuse and stigmatization by teachers, caused by ignorance and/or lack of professional motivation are still experienced in some educational settings.

The current realities of deaf learners and the challenges they face need to be made explicit, as well as highlighting positive examples to be learned from.

The side event collaboration team and partners

The side event collaboration team and partners

Preparing an event for 50, with 145 registered at the last count, it was still a surprise to see between 250-300 participants at the event itself – and this after an already long day of presentations at the congress itself..

Before the event there was an opportunity to meet socially, share experiences and meet new friends. Following a brief video about Bradley Reporting’s services for close captioning, the Side Event was officially opened by Hanne Kvitvaer (WFD) and Chaired by Nassozi Kiyaga (Founder and Executive Director of Deaf Link Uganda, a teacher of the deaf, hard of hearing herself and a CBM Advisor in deaf education). Opening remarks were followed by an introduction form Colin Allen (WFD President) and presentations from each organisation as follows:

  • A rights based approach to education (CBM): Rose Kwamboka
  • First steps in Early Childhood Intervention Programs for deaf children in Africa (Kentalis International): Kika Meereboer
  • Best practices on education & accessibility in Abilis work (Abilis): Nathaly Guzman

Following the presentations comments and questions were shared from the floor. Clearly there is much concern about access to and the attainment of deaf children in LMIC. A major concern is the level of sign language skills amongst teachers and competences of sign language interpreting services.

The evening ended with a promising note for the future. Nothing About Us Without Us. The deaf role models documentary is an example of how to include deaf adults to guide parents of deaf children.

  • Documentary on Deaf Role Models in Kenya/Africa (produced in cooperation with KNAD, Kentalis and CBM)

Following the video, Hanne Kvitvaer thanked everyone for their contributions and attendance.