Project providing training in the use of sign language so that young deaf children are able to learn.
A joint education project has provided home-based sign language education to 255 deaf children under six years old in four Vietnamese cities and provinces, to prepare them for formal schooling.
The project, which is funded by the Japanese Social Development Fund, administered by the World Bank, and implemented by the World Concern Development Organization, has developed professional human resources for pre-school education for the deaf in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and northern Thai Nguyen and central Quang Binh provinces.
The project trained more than 50 deaf adults to become mentors to deaf children. It also helped train some 200 hearing teachers in the use of sign language, so they can teach deaf children more effectively. More than 50 hearing people were trained as communication facilitators or sign-language interpreters.
“The first six years of life is vital to a child’s development,” said Ms. Vu Lan Anh, Human Development Specialist and project team leader at the World Bank in Vietnam. “It’s critical to help deaf children reach their full cognitive abilities in those early years.”
The Intergenerational Deaf Education Outreach Project (IDEO) created an innovative model of family-support teams, including a mentor who is also deaf, a sign language interpreter, and a hearing teacher, to teach sign language to deaf children and their families in their own homes.
“This model brings together deaf adults, children and their families,” said Ms. Le Thi Kim Cuc, Program Manager of the IDEO project at the World Concern Development Organization in Vietnam. “Through a ‘family-centered, learner-friendly’ approach, it helps the children realize their full potential.”
Initial project evaluations show that using sign language has helped improve deaf children’s language and cognitive development as well as their communication ability and general knowledge. The Language and Cognitive Development score of IDEO children aged 5 to 8 is 7 out of 10, compared with 8 for five-year-old hearing children.
“Nationwide, some 15,500 children under six are deaf or have a hearing impairment,” Deputy Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Thi Nghia said. “Most of them do not have access to early childhood education and their parents lack professional support. IDEO is the first project in Vietnam targeting pre-school age deaf children. Its results play a critical role in our 2011-2020 national strategy for educational development, which aims to make pre-school education universal for five-year-olds.”
The project has a budget of $2.8 million, with an additional $130,000 from the Vietnamese Government.