The start of a new term can be a daunting but exciting time for students - especially children with visual or hearing impairments who are starting school for the first time. Humanity & Inclusion (HI) is working to support these students every step of the way.
Communicating with new people
HI is teaching sign language to children with hearing impairments, including the basics such as the alphabet in sign language and writing vowels and consonants. We do this in stages. We also introduce visually impaired children to read and write in Braille.
A gentle start to school
Children with disabilities arriving at school for the first time enter a completely new world with lots of other children and new friends. Sometimes students need some extra guidance on their first day, so HI teams work to support students; such as familiarising children with the school rules and treating everyone with respect.
Feeling comfortable in a new environment
On their first day, new students with impairments are given a tour of the school to familiarise them with their environment, find the toilets, and understand the layout of the classroom, for example.
Before they arrive, HI teams work with children with visual impairments to scan their surroundings and move around with any assistive devices they may need, such as canes.
HI provides teachers with training on the special needs of children with additional needs For example, to help them follow lessons, students should be seated at the front of the class to ensure they are able to hear what the teacher is saying clearly. Students are encouraged to familiarise themselves with their desk area by touching objects - chalk, slate, bags, pens, and so on – to better understand what is going on around them.
Teachers are also advised to keep in mind the importance of lip reading for children with hearing impairments. HI staff advise teachers to always speak facing the class.
HI has seen the positive impacts
HI has more than 15 years of experience in inclusive education and has seen the positive impacts of its projects including children with disabilities in mainstream schools with non-disabled children. HI has seen the improved integration of children with and without disabilities inside and outside of the classroom; playing and travelling to school together.
HI and inclusive education
In 2020, HI has implemented 52 projects in 27 countries in West, Central, North and East Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Its work focuses in particular on children with disabilities - the most vulnerable and excluded young learners in the world - in low-income countries and in development and emergency contexts. HI aims to encourage the school enrolment of children and young adults with disabilities.