World Bank gives deaf children a voice in Vietnam

By    June 17, 2016 | 12:10 am PT
Vietnamese children who are hard of hearing have been given the tools they need to attend school following a World Bank pilot scheme that has delivered sign language-based education to first graders, the financial institution said in a press release on Thursday.

Over the past five years, the project has provided home-based sign language lessons for 255 children under six years old in Hanoi, Thai Nguyen, Quang Binh, and Ho Chi Minh City.

Under the project, a hearing-impaired mentor, a sign language interpreter and a hearing teacher are hired to teach sign language to these children and their families in their own homes.

Initial evaluations show that using sign language has helped improve hearing-impaired children’s language and cognitive development, as well as their communication skills.

The Language and Cognitive Development score of these children aged five to seven is 7.6 out of 10, compared to eight out of 10 for five-year-old hearing children.


The World Bank-supported project has helped about 150 deaf Vietnamese children learn sign language in preperation for school. Photo from IDEO Project

The project has also trained more than 50 adults with hearing impairment to become mentors for deaf children, and helped about 200 hearing teachers to improve their sign language skills so they can support deaf children more effectively. More than 50 hearing people have also been trained as sign-language interpreters to help with communication.

“Most deaf children in Vietnam do not have access to early childhood education and their parents lack professional support,” said Achim Fock, the World Bank’s acting country director for Vietnam.

“The positive results of the project affirm the support of their learning in schools with trained hearing and deaf teachers and sign language interpreters essential for the deaf children to develop to their full potential,” he added.

The project has also launched an interactive website to provide online sign language lessons, sign language vocabulary, games and other educational material for deaf children and their families, educators and the public. A series of short sign language videos is expected to be broadcast on the national education channel (VTV7) to reach out to a wider audience.

“The project has not only launched a new method of teaching sign language to deaf children, it has also strengthened the participating schools and other relevant organizations in supporting deaf education in Vietnam,” said Deputy Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Thi Nghia.

The project is funded by the Japanese Social Development Fund, administered by the World Bank, and implemented by World Concern Development Organization. It has a budget of $2.8 million, with an additional $130,000 from the Vietnamese government.

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