The ninth Yemeni Deaf WeekHelp the deaf children, please [Archives:2007/1045/Last Page]

April 26 2007

By: Fatima Al-Ajel
[email protected]

The Foundation for Deaf-mute Care and Rehabilitation in Sana'a recently organized the ninth Yemeni Deaf Week in this week. The regional workshop for teachers of the handicapped launched on Sunday at the Sana'a-based Culture House.

Participants from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Denmark presented papers focusing on the phenomenon of weak reading and writing skills among the deaf, the reasons behind it and some solutions.

Abdo Zaid, executive manager of the deaf-mute foundation, reviewed the unusual way deaf students read and write, which relates to their brains. A deaf child receives visual signs and then retains them in the brain's language center as sign language or pictures and then reflects them back to others as visual signs. Deaf children often face difficulties recognizing the letters of the Arabic alphabet, which have a similar form, but can easily recognize the word as a drawing or picture.

Another problem is deaf writing style, which is full of grammatical mistakes because their communication is about words, not sentences. If they do write sentences, they use only simple words without any conjunctions.

A poll conducted by Al-Amel Foundation for Deaf-mutes in Sana'a found that approximately 97 percent of those who teach the deaf believe such students can't acquire reading and writing skills easily, especially after primary school, due to losing their sense of hearing. However, this belief is absolutely wrong because deaf students are smart enough to acquire language with practice and in a suitable environment.

Reasons for the deaf's weak reading and writing skills and some solutions

In Yemen, most of those who teach deaf students aren't sufficiently qualified to do so. According to another study by Al-Amel Foundation, only 22 percent of those teaching the deaf are qualified, while 78 percent then or is the first one only 12 percent are either secondary school graduates or volunteers with scant experience in sign language. This weakness in qualifying and rehabilitating such teachers is considered the main reason for the declining level of deaf students' reading and writing skills.

Sa'eed Al-Gahadani, a member of the Arab Union and chief of the Saudi participations, pointed out that in Arab countries; the deaf use only signed words. “However, these words never build into a language for the deaf, so in order to improve their reading and writing skills, we need a special dictionary and curriculum related to all aspects of deaf life and then we can join them with society,” he stated.

Basically, the age of the handicapped incident's occurrence and nonintervention at an early age in deaf cases develops the problem in a child. Additionally, generalizing a deaf individual's incapacity contributes to increasing the phenomenon. For example, some children are only partially deaf, but due to family neglect at an early age, they go completely deaf.

Moreover, providing a suitable environment helps avoid increasing the problem. “It's important for teachers and families to know individual differences. When deaf students attend school, they often join non-deaf students, without classifying their case, so they encounter difficulties following the teacher and students,” Egyptian participant Suhail Abdulhafid observed.

In his paper, Jamal Al-Mosadi, manager of general training in Damar governorate, added that most teachers use only visual signs as a simple way to communicate with their students, thus neglecting other sign language and modern technical tools. Additionally, they have neither specific programs nor a unified sign language when teaching deaf students reading and writing.