As an organization, ‘Deaf Open World’ reflects a vision where deaf youth are able to navigate their environment without Hesitation, Resistance or Barriers, components that impede open access to the world around them.
Parents and families of deaf youth can serve as valuable stakeholders in advancing education for the deaf in Eswatini, however, parents and family members rarely receive education and training that could enable them to serve as advocates for their children and other deaf youth. Moreover, most parents do not know how to communicate in SSL, thus limiting their ability to nurture their child’s cognitive, social and linguistic development, or even sometimes communicate basic needs. Thus, parents and families of deaf youth will be trained through a series of workshops on advocacy skills, including understanding the policies, laws and educational infrastructure that deaf youth are legally entitled to. A group of master trainers will also be trained to serve as peer educators and mentors to other parents and family members to identify strategies and activities that they can engage in, in order to advocate for advancing deaf education in Eswatini.
Parents and family members will also receive training in SSL so that they are able to communicate with their children and strengthen the linguistic development and social support while at home.
Key policy areas that we hope to address include:
The need for universal hearing screenings for early identification of deaf and hard of hearing children and family intervention initiatives;
Requiring that teachers and staff employed at the schools for the deaf are trained and evaluated on their SSL skills and knowledge;
Advocate for SSL to be an official third language in the country of Eswatini;
Expanding available interpreting services in educational institutions and other government facilities;
Work place discrimination laws to ensure that deaf individuals have equal opportunities to enter the workforce, and so on. As is evident, there is a great opportunity to expand policy that supports the educational advancement of deaf youth in Eswatini, policies that are necessary in order for DOW’s mission and vision to be reached.