Educating the Deaf
How to start?
Present method of teaching the deaf children is not proving to be very effective and needs a change. The deaf children come to school from different environment and their academic, emotional and cognitive requirements are also at variance. Most of the children come with no knowledge of Sign Language or any other written language. For introducing the child into the class room, the following needs to be considered:
- The child should be comfortable in the school and class room environment.
- The class environment should encourage the child to learn on his own.
- The child should be receptive to discovering new things and learning.
Most of the children who come to a school for the deaf are not familiar with sign language. Very few of them would be familiar with an environment where the deaf can communicate with each other. Once they see the elder deaf children signing freely, most of the new comers would start liking the school and the class room. There would be a few students who would need personal attention to be comfortable in the class room environment. Likely problems that the teachers would face are:
- Excessive Attachment. At times the parents are very protective towards their deaf child and he or she starts feeling uncomfortable in an unfamiliar environment. In such cases it becomes very difficult for the class teacher to persuade the child to follow the class roomnorms. If the class teacher cannot befriend the child then it is better that the child interacts with other teachers also. In thisinteraction the child may express his or her likely for a particular teacher. It is seen that in most of the cases the child takes a liking to an elderly teacher. This would be a starting point of an association. Slowly as the child becomes comfortable he can be persuaded to sit in the class room. In other cases a child may be feelinginsecure, he or she may hold on to whatever she has on her person like a school bag. It may take many days, weeks or even months before the child develops enough confidence to let go of her possession.
- Communication. Sometimes the child may sit in the classroom but not take interest in learning or in the classroom activities. Some children are shy by nature but it is not uncommon to find young deaf children depressed. As 90% of the deaf children are born in hearing familiar, communication between the child and her parents is very limited. This may result in the child feeling isolated. There is a need to pay individual attention towards these children. The progress of these children is likely to be slow. In certain cases an experienced teacher of the deaf may be required to intervene.
- Building Up Knowledge. We must build up the child’s knowledge from what he already knows and that would obviously be her own family. A family photograph of the child would be required and it is seen that on the very first day the child would pick up the signs for mother, father, brother and sister etc. Thereafter, we continue with the environment map. We see that the children can learn up 20-30 words in the first 15 days. This progress may show down a bit as some unfamiliar words and objects are signed.
Conclusion.We need to change our teaching methods to make it effective for the deaf children. In the initial stages more emphasis needs to be laid on developing sign language and later sign language can be used to develop the second language which can be English,Punjabi,Hindi or any other language.