What is the problem?
There are over 800 Deaf schools in India. However, less than 10 of these educational institutions provide bilingual education for Deaf children. In order to address the lack of bilingual educational resources, several non-profit organizations have collaborated with schools for the Deaf to set up after-school programs that have hired Deaf teachers to teach English. However the current Deaf education teacher training program is an oral one (which means Deaf students are expected to learn by listening and speaking) that is ironically not accessible to teacher training candidates who are Deaf themselves. This along with the limited availability of periodic professional development have led to stagnant literacy levels among Deaf children and increasing frustration among Deaf teachers.
What is the solution?
Sustainable ongoing professional development workshops and a central collection of resources related to bilingual Deaf education can equip teachers with the tools they need to improve their students’ literacy skills.
How did we contribute?
We were able to observe teachers in action at Deaf schools and provide feedback on teaching strategies to ensure quality education of Deaf children using Indian Sign Language. A detailed report was completed and shared with the school officials. A Whatsapp teacher group was set up to create a network of teachers of Deaf children from all over India.
Reflective group discussions based on class observations have helped teachers and school administrators to realize the importance of setting up mentoring programs for new teachers and Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). Administrators have initiated efforts to set up ongoing opportunities for professional development for teachers. Teachers from all over the nation have been able to share resources related to pedagogy using the Whatsapp group.