Backing up Deaf Children

Deaf young people from a school that supports their need
Deaf young people from a school that supports their need

A longtime friend of ours with experience in North Korea and engaged in working with Korean handicapped would like to have a booklet printed for deaf children.

The deaf in North Korea are often mute as well – not because they have no voice, but because they are not taken seriously, because they have not had any occasion to learn how to use their voices. Their ‘voices’ are their hands. I was not aware until recently that the sign languages are so manifold and differ from each other like spoken languages. There are even many dialects.

Model of a page of an English version
‘My First Book of Sign Language’ – Model of a page of an English version

Most of the deaf children have parents who can hear. All over the world it is like that. Therefore, ‘My First Book of Sign Language’ will help the hearing parents to learn a common language with their children as soon as possible: the sign language.

This way the child can learn the Korean language. The parents ‘spell’ new words with their fingers by using the ‘finger alphabet’, and they show the children the sign for each word, i.e. a hand sign. So the deaf children do not stay behind in their development towards the hearing children and are prepared for schooling as early as possible.

The booklet will be assembled by young deaf and illustrated by deaf artists. It will be distributed by the Educational Ministry and the Korean Federation for the Protection of the Disabled (KFPD) to the families and will help the parents and the children to understand each other better. The idea is based on a 32-page booklet, illustrated by Joan Holub. On each page, there will be a letter in the finger alphabet. Moreover, signs will be illustrated for things and activities beginning by the letter shown.

Warm slippers: In 2011, young deaf people were learning the art of felting under the instruction of a Swiss expert
Warm slippers: In 2011, young deaf people were learning the art of felting under the instruction of a Swiss expert

Also collaborators of the Educational Ministry, the People’s Committee and of the KFPD will be part of the work group for this spelling and sign language booklet, thus showing the participating groups how important the early teaching of the sign language is. Deaf are ignored in many countries. The handicap of the deaf is the most ignored handicap because it is not visible.

Solely in the capital of Pyongyang there are about 5,000 to 10,000 deaf children, between 0 and 9 years old (estimated according to the international average of 1 to 2 per cent of deaf among the population of developing countries)!

The German organisation TOGETHER – Educational Centre for Deaf, Blind and Nondisabled Children Hamhung e.V. (registered association) is the supporter and mentor of this project. Its president is deaf himself. We have been in contact for a rather long time. A few years ago we were teaching felting to deaf people.  

We move hearts

We would like to help finance as much as possible from the printing costs of about 15,000. Do you help us?

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