Deafness is an invisible disability. Often misunderstood and diagnosed late, deaf children suffer from feelings of isolation. Centre for Disability in Development (CDD) has been working with disabled people for the past 24 years. With the support of Deaf Child Worldwide (DCW), we run 3 Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs), facilitate assessment and provide early years' support to mainstream deaf children into schools. We need your support to run the ECDs and serve these deaf children.
There is little or no support for deaf children, particularly in rural Bangladesh. They find it difficult to communicate with their parents/ family/ other children, and vice versa. The lack of language development support in the first few years makes it difficult for them to keep up with the other children in the class. The parents feel helpless and resort to superstitious practices, or worse, abandon the child. The mainstream schools are also not equipped to teach such children.
Our ECDs help deaf children, as well as their parents, deal with this in a holistic way. Deaf children thus identified (some as young as 2 years) are referred to clinics for assessments. DCW helps us train our ECD teachers in deaf-friendly methodologies (i.e.,sign language, total communication approach), and also equip 'resource mothers' to provide small group-based support in the ECDs. The children receive quality pre-literacy support where their language and communication skills are developed.
We hope that 135 children in our ECDs successfully get mainstreamed and complete their schooling. We want them to grow as healthy and aspiring young adults who would not only be able to take care of themselves but also meaningfully contribute back to society, to the best of their abilities. We also hope that our work would serve as a stimulus to the government and education department to widely adopt such practices and support deaf children in a more systematic and deliberate way.