URGENT — AID TO CYCLONE VICTIMS IN MYANMAR (BURMA)
deaf signers as Family Mentors
to help young deaf children towards full participation in home life
First signs: Learning the sign for "water" at 4 years old
Preparing deaf locals to use their indigenous sign language to assist deaf infants and toddlers towards fully learning and participation within their family. Deaf children will acquire the same skills and knowledge appropriate as other children in the society, and will be "ready to learn" upon entering school (where available).
"Outside the Dream" project in Thailand, 2004-8: Supported by UNESCO's Programme for the Education of Children in Need / Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education and Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C. Pilot underway in Nakon Sri Thammarat, Thailand.
Problem: Communication barriers between a deaf child and their family
Families with a deaf child need help to learn how to communicate with the child, and to engage them fully in activities within the home. Because a deaf child cannot understand speech, the deaf child's interaction with other people is restricted. Consequently, the deaf child misses opportunities to learn the knowledge and cultural values of their family and community. Many of these children have a severe deficit in language and mental development by the time they enter school. The challenge is to reach each family with a deaf infant and toddler as soon as possible, and to help parents open up communication, language, and knowledge fully to the deaf infant and toddler. The support program must be provided regularly in the home or education center at an affordable cost.
Integrate deaf children in the everyday activities of their family. Help the family learn how to communicate with the deaf child using the indigenous sign language.
Tap a hidden asset—local deaf people and their sign language—as a resource for families with young deaf children. Train local deaf adults as Family Mentors. Thereby create jobs for deaf people in rural areas.
Provide deaf children essential language and cognitive stimulation. Prepare them for school (if available).
Results To Date in Thailand
Provision of direct services to isolated deaf infants and toddlers (by special education centers in Nakon Sri Thammarat and Khon Kaen).
Developed a one-year course of training for deaf people to become certified Family Mentors, using experts from Gallaudet University.
Trained the first cadre of Mentors for families with deaf infants and toddlers—unique in the Mekong region.
Creation of new career track for deaf people as early educators, but await the government to establish a formal position in civil service.
The project is now ready to cooperate with other nations in designing affordable, family-centered education of young deaf infants and toddlers. Early support can help open communication so that families can raise a deaf child as they do their other children. Please contact us.
For more information, see the website at http://research.gallaudet.edu/sl/
Telephone in Bangkok (02) 441 0776 Somanat Nakornjarupong. Email: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cooperation in Thailand
Technical direction and research:
Training and curriculum:
Dr. Maliwan Tammasaeng, Dr. Benja Chonlathanon, Somanat Nakornjarupong;
Arunee Limmanee, Ampapan Tanpaibool; Hilary Cote and; Dr. Lynne Erting.