kinderhaende (children's hands) is an organization devoted to deaf children and their families who intend to learn Austrian sign language (OeGS) and thus take the opportunity to use a language which perception does not depend on the ear. The project's goals are to fund five classes where children (6 months - 7 years) and parents learn OGS, get an affirmative perspective on deafness and grow a positive image of signing people.
90-95% of deaf children are born to hearing parents who do not sign, and in hearing environments that are not familiar with the Deaf community and culture. A natural language acquisition may not be provided, but crucial for every child's communicational, cognitive and social development. The lack of adequate offers and education in sign language has a severe impact on the life of every deaf child. Children need access to OeGS as early as possible and contact to other deaf children and adults.
The issue of deafness in children requires an approach in both ways: on the one hand a deaf child to acquire a language, grow an identity and self confident personhood in a hearing environment and on the other hand for hearing parents to get acquainted with OeGS and an deaf culture. Therefore kinderhaende provides classes for children beginning with 6 months where OeGS is learned and we serve as a role model by bringing bilingualism to its core, modeling a team of deaf and hearing professionals.
Acquiring a language in they first six years is the foundation of a successful academic and social life. It is the key to various major steps of development, but not granted for all deaf children. We provide families with deaf children with the possibility to learn OeGS and to get in contact with deaf and hearing peers and role models.