I have been asked various “Why” questions by friends and acquaintances curious about the Global Foundation’s work. For our final blog entry, I thought it might be useful to sum up the answers to what I am calling “The Why Factor”….

Why a teacher training program? When Thuy and I assessed potential projects to help children with hearing loss in Vietnam,we agreed that a teacher training program offered the greatest potential reward. We will bring about 10 experts to Thuan An to mentor 85 teachers of the deaf from 35 schools throughout South Vietnam. Since one teacher of the deaf works with 10 children, a single workshop has the potential to directly impact the education of 850 children. Furthermore, the teachers who attend the workshop will share their learning with other teachers, making the benefits exponential.

Why Vietnam? The government recently started providing resources to support special education services. In a culture that puts great value on education, the teachers have asked for more training to secure the additional expertise they need to help these children develop listening and spoken language skills. Thuan An is a recognized leader in deaf education in Vietnam and conducted training in the past before funding provided by another NGO expired.The foundation hopes to eventually expand its model of partnership to other countries that need deaf education teacher training.

Why oral deaf education? The foundation supports all modalities of communication for children with hearing loss. The most important thing is that the child has a language at all – whether through signs, the spoken word, or some combination of the two. Our first workshop will focus on oral deaf education (communicating through spoken language) because teachers in Vietnam only have a basic understanding of how to implement such practices. The teachers have asked for more expertise in the areas of audiology, speech language pathology, auditory verbal education, and early intervention. They recognize that with such knowledge, they can help children with hearing loss integrate more successfully into mainstream hearing society.

Why the focus on infants and children 0-6? A child’s potential for language acquisition is established in the first six years of life. For children with hearing loss, this is a crucial window of time. With access to appropriate technology and expertise, they can develop spoken language and listening skills. For this reason, our first workshop will concentrate on empowering teachers and families to work with this age group.

Why should the Global Foundation do this? The Global Foundation has a stellar team of experts representing fields of audiology, speech therapy, auditory verbal education, and early intervention. In collaboration with Thuan An Center, our core team has developed a program that will benefit 80 teachers and has the endorsement of Ho Chi Minh City University. This is an investment in human potential -we teach the teachers and they will eventually be able to teach themselves.

Why is this project important? Unlike other disabilities, hearing loss can be overcome. With the right framework of technology, teachers, and family awareness, children with hearing loss can assimilate into regular society alongside their hearing peers. This equates to better education opportunities, improved job prospects, and overall improved quality of life – not to mention monetary savings to society that no longer have to provide disability support. Our project will facilitate the knowledge transfer needed to benefit thousands of children with hearing loss in Vietnam.

On a personal note, I benefited from early intervention and expert teachers to lead a successful life in mainstream hearing society. I have since seen the amazing advancements in technology and deaf education and believe that children with hearing loss should be afforded access to such resources no matter where in the world they live.

My time in Vietnam has grown small. I’m heading to Cambodia to revisit the wonderful temples at Angkor before meeting with the directors of the All Ears Cambodia clinic and the Deaf Development Programme. Then it is on to Thailand before heading home to the USA at the end of October.

Thank You for following this blog. It is always an honor and privilege when our supporters take time out of their busy days to read about what we are doing. I am sincerely grateful for your interest and support. As always, please feel free to contact me through the foundation website. For more travel stories, please visit http://www.paigestringer.com/published.shtml