Thursday, 15 October 2015 18:00

The possibilities of mobile phones for deaf education in south africa

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Amazing and radical transformation is possible if the realm in which we exercise our thoughts and explore prospects presents us with, literally, ENDLESS possibilities!

I know without a doubt that it would be a transformation of Deaf education unlike anything we have seen to date and would set a far higher bar in terms of quality of teaching and learning.

The legacy of apartheid and audist attitudes to Deaf education have left deep, festering wounds in schools for the Deaf in South Africa. In 21 years ofdemocracy little meaningful healing has taken place and Deaf learners are largely subjected to inferior education. This limits potential for meaningful employment and access to life-long learning opportunities. A significant transformation is needed and I believe that the use of Mobile Phones holds some of the promise for radical change.

In 2015 South African Sign Language was introduced as a subject in schools for the Deaf. It is well documented that children who have a solid first language will be more successful in learning a second language. Thus the introduction of SASL as a subject, so that Deaf learners can analyse and understand their L1 completely and transfer language knowledge to learning to read and write English is a great step forward. However, SASL is very technology intensive and without adequate access to recording and viewing devices and editing software, the subject stands to become another good idea that didn’t work.

Even in schools where there are one or two video recorders, learners will never have access to “play” with their language and be able to self-evaluate. Mobile phones, however, hold tremendous potential for ubiquitous access to both recording and viewing devices and possibly even simple editing.

At KwaVulindlebe School where, with the support of Learning Academy Worldwide, we have achieved a 100% mobile saturation rate, early indications are that mobile phones will provide a very effective salve to the festering wound.Learners are engaged, interested and in awe of their own signing. The teachers need more support and guidance to venture past what is “possible” in their minds but without a doubt, the potential uses are infinite! And once we are able to explore these possibilities in more depth, I know that the healing balm will be liberally applied to these young minds and transformation will be inevitable.

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