The National Association of the Deaf held its first and pioneering Consultation on Deaf Education at the Indian International Centre on Thursday 9th February. This was a unique conference and perhaps the first of its kind in India. Government officials, NGOs and experts in the field sat alongside deaf community members in order to discuss education of the deaf from a new and fresh perspective: the Deaf Perspective. Not only did this workshop offer an opportunity to debate and discuss new ideas, it also opened minds and paved the way for future developments in the field of Deaf Education.
The two presentations of the day were led by Dr. Surinder Randhawa from Rourkee, who presented on the current status of Deaf Education in India and the issues of concern and Dr. Madan Vasishta from Gallaudet University, who shared his vision about choices that should be made available to all deaf children at various ages.
Each session was followed by an open floor discussion and at the end of the day all participants at the conference culminated their thoughts and ideas in order to compile a position paper on Deaf Education, chartering a plan for further action. Several valuable points and recommendations were raised.
- The need for a mass awareness campaign promoting sign language and the rights of deaf people in general.
- That communication and the role of information were of vital importance and that early intervention was essential, targeting parents of deaf children as well as sensitising Doctors to deafness and the issues involved
- The need for networking and the sharing of skills, ideas and experience.
- The need to evolve a credible assessment system to evaluate, assess and certify trainers and trainers of trainers.
- The necessity to introduce sign language into the education of deaf children in special schools as well as being included in the school curriculum for all
- The role of interpreters emphasised as being fundamental for a deaf person to be able to fully participate in society
- The need to have more sign language courses available.
Moreover, it was stressed that this should all be done with participation of deaf people as the first precondition:
"Deaf persons themselves need to be included and involved in this process in an important way while making decisions at all levels."