Educating Deaf Children – The Challenge of Literacy
We live in a communication society, where we deal with a massive flow of information regarding every aspect of our life, and to be able to read is essential. According to a report from 2011 by UNESCO, children have 50% more chances to live past the age of 5 if their mother knows how to read. Literacy is important for the society as a whole, not just for an individual. Reading comes in the child’s live at an early age and will help, over the years, for developing into a successful, happy and knowledgeable person.
Children with hearing impairment, like all children, have the right to quality education that will maximize their potential. Many deaf children worldwide do not have access to education, mainly due to the lack of teachers specialized in such issues. What is more disappointing is that some parents do not even believe that their child has the same potential to learn as those without hearing impairment, and that all they have to do is offer him the opportunity to do so. If parents suffered any medical negligence, they should do something about that.
Deaf children will need good language and reading models, teachers and parents that will help them gain access to studying and learning a language, interact with other children, the chance to use and practice the learnt language and, most important, to have access to special educational materials.
A deaf child’s mind works like any child when it comes to literacy. They can easily understand and learn the code of a spoken language within a community, but it is more important for them to understand the language itself. For this reason, early intervention in the deaf child’s life is important, allowing him the time to fully understand the language and to have the necessary learning skills to read, making him suitable in joining pre-kindergarten or kindergarten.
Statistically, worldwide, deaf children are being less read to than the hearing peers. We should always remember that the parents or the caregiver are the first teachers in a child’s life; therefore, in order to have positive literacy outcomes, the parents should make a habit from reading to the children from early young age.
Here are some practices that will improve deaf child literacy:
– Good communication between the teacher or parents and the child
– Use of visual stimuli for better understanding
– Clear learning techniques and explanations
– Step by step learning – every level should be fully understood before moving to next.
Learning how to read can be more of a challenge for a deaf child than for those without hearing impairment, but it is not that difficult. All that is needed is patience, practice and the right resources.