Deaf Children In Pakistan
In Pakistan, there are an estimated 1.25 million deaf children. Out of these 1.25 million, only 2% are lucky enough to attend schools. Although we’re talking about a third world country here, we cannot forget that every child has a right to education and every child deserves to go to school. However, the reason behind such a huge number of children not being able to attend school is mainly the lack of financial resources that their families have, or the lack of special schools Pakistan has to offer.
Deaf children are no different than hearing children. Very few people understand the fact that the deaf can do everything and anything that hearing people can, except hear. Many often mistake the deaf people as being mentally disabled or incapable of doing the same tasks that hearing people can do. The sad truth is that in Pakistan, like many other countries, deaf children are not exposed to the same learning environments or given the same opportunities as the hearing children are. There are many children who are not completely deaf but are only slightly hard of hearing and all they may need is a hearing aid to live like any other child. There are also treatments such as the cochlear transplants that help children lose their disability of not being able to hear well. However, majority of the families with a deaf child in Pakistan cannot afford such treatments. What may seem like a simple $100 hearing aid for anyone living in the U.S, that very same hearing aid is something the families can only dream of getting. It’s hard to digest the fact that the cost of a hearing aid ranges from $100 to $300 only yet these families are unable to afford them due to the extreme poverty they are living in.
In Pakistan, health and education are not the only obstacles deaf children have to face. For them, every living day is a struggle to survive. Language poses as a huge barrier as sign language is not known by many. Even the families of majority of the deaf children are unaware of the sign language and its usage. This is one of the main reasons why deaf children in Pakistan are still lagging behind in life and often end up being forever dependent on their families.
To overcome these problems and to ensure that the deaf children grow up to be independent and successful individuals, FESF has incorporated digital learning resources in the curriculum for the deaf at Deaf Reach schools. For the first time in Pakistan, digital Pakistan Sign Language (PSL) resources have been developed to bridge the existing gap in educational materials for the Deaf. These Resources are developed by FESF and sponsored by ILM Ideas. They feature a 5,000 word visual lexicon in Pakistan Sign Language, English and Urdu on a searchable Web portal, DVD and Phone app. The book, 1000 Basic Signs, also contains translations from PSL into Pakistan’s four main regional languages. PSL resources are being widely used in Deaf Reach schools and aim to empower the deaf children.