A new world for deaf children

 

Sir, – Róisín Ingle’s article about a hands-free approach to the teaching of deaf children and teenagers through a “no pens day” (Home News, October 12th) rightly highlights the need for more imaginative ways of teaching and learning by deaf children.

As someone who was born profoundly deaf in the 1970s and who was mainstream educated with hearing peers at primary, secondary and university level by lip-reading my teachers and lecturers, my experience was indeed demanding, but hugely rewarding.

Rapid advances in modern technology make possible a mainstream approach to education for deaf children. A combination of early diagnosis and advanced hearing devices, such as digital hearing-aids and cochlear implants, has changed the landscape of educational opportunities for all deaf children.

Consequently, demand is growing for mainstream teachers with expertise in teaching listening and spoken-language skills to deaf children, plus a knowledge of modern audiology, speech and hearing sciences. Integration, not segregation, is key to the development of a deaf child. It is essential to allow children who have hearing devices to learn and play in an everyday environment surrounded by children who do not have hearing issues.

In the classroom, technology is at the point where voice synthesis allows a teacher’s words to be displayed on a tablet or smartphone screen in near-real time for lip-reading scholars. Furthermore, we are close to having a teacher’s words displayed in real time as captions on an interactive whiteboard or white-screen, just like the television news services.

The rapid advances in medical and communications technology is making a whole new world possible for deaf children. Text messaging is merely a start. – Yours, etc,

CAROLINE CARSWELL,

CEO Irish Deaf Kids,

Terenure Enterprise Centre,

Rathfarnham Road,

Dublin 6W.