(School started in July 2016 and this video was taken November 2016 thus information linked to November 2016)
Hello everyone. This is the Happy Hands deaf school. It was set up in July (2016). There have been so many problems in India with educating deaf children, with the schools, the teachers, the whole oral-based education. After 100 years of insufficient development, deaf people are still suffering.
I have been giving so many lectures and presentations about bilingual deaf education, how important it is, and so on. I wanted to not only talk about it constantly, but set up something myself, doing the research and getting the evidence how bilingual education can succeed in the future. How we apply the result in real education etc.
So I have set up a fully bilingual school here. From the cooks to the caretakers to the deaf teachers, everything is ready. There is a complete focus here on developing sign language along with cognitive capacities. In the past three months, the children have learned so much and I am really inspired.
Many deaf children come from poor backgrounds, not even having electricity in their homes. Everyone is really open-minded. The parents never asked me about getting hearing aids for their children. As long as we could promise them that their children would develop cognitively, they accepted the approach. Food and boarding is free of cost here, and I look forward to further improvements at the school.
There are always people who want to help and provide something, but it is really important that deaf people set up things ourselves. It is important that we as deaf people support such initiatives. So if anyone wants to come here and work as a volunteer, you can do that, including people from abroad. You can volunteer for a shorter or longer time period, and we welcome all support.
So many deaf people in India want to progress educationally. Here we welcome deaf children below the age of six, and we hope we can keep developing the educational program and make it a success. Thank you.
(Translation of video inside the school🙂
Hello, my name is Sibaji. I have been planning to set up a deaf school for a long time, and this has been a long-standing dream. Now in 2016, I have actually set up the school. It is in the rural part of Odisha where I grew up, in my home village. I have established the school together with my deaf brother and my hearing brother.
It is a fully bilingual school where sign language is king and is of paramount importance. Being bilingual means that signing develops alongside writing.
These children are newly admitted as of 1st July 2016. They have been here for three months now and I am impressed how much progress they have made in the bilingual environment. It is inspiring to see their development in sign language and in their cognitive abilities. I thought this setting will help me understand the various factors and also the barriers. Therefore, I am also collecting data and doing research here. This will help us make adjustments and make the bilingual programme success. I feel very positive about the future.