Urban Sky Trust

Hands Aloud For Partially Deaf Children

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Partially hearing children are taught sign language to give them some means of oral communication should they become profoundly deaf.

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The Urban Sky Trust, as part of the initiative of improving education for partially hearing children, undertook to provide sign language lessons in the partially hearing unit of Greenwood Primary School.

“This is a preventative method in case a child should become profoundly deaf and left with no means of oral communication,” says Janet Marneweck of the Urban Sky Trust. If they are taught sign language, they will be able to continue their education in a language they understand, and have the ability to live a normal life,” she says.

The sign language project started in October last year. The learners took on the challenge of learning the lingo. Each class is full of laughter and fun as a lot of sign language has to do with facial expressions.

“The teachers have embraced the idea as it assists them with some of the learners who have no oral communication ability. Through signing learners can understand what they can hear but do not understand. This helps them learn the oral word. In our signing classes everyone is involved no matter what the degree of hearing loss or language capability. Some of these children cannot pronounce words as basic as ‘cat’ or ‘run’ because of their profound hearing loss, but they have the opportunity to participate. Often it is difficult to tell whether certain children are grasping the concept and the meanings of the signs even with the help of visual aids; but then, out of the blue something will click and a child who cannot hear will ask when her birthday is, will understand the signing and respond with her little hands, and when that happens an almost visible glow of understanding beams from that child’s face. Every second of effort becomes worth it,” says Janet.

According to Janet it is essential for these learners to receive the same opportunities in education as those who are able to hear. “There is no reason why they do not deserve it and no reason why it should not be provided. They are as keen as, and possibly more determined than, children who can hear; they have the ability to become productive, outstanding South Africans if we will only provide them the opportunity.”

Hands Aloud For Partially Deaf Children
By: Janet Pereira