Though important steps have been made in deaf education, sign-language recognition and the rights of people who are deaf and hard of hearing, more work needs to be done for the deaf community. That was the statement made by the TT Association for the Hearing Impaired (TTAHI) as it celebrated its 76th anniversary on July 29.
In a press release last Tuesday, the association looked back on what it had done thus far and said, from its founding in 1943 to now, it had made strides in realising the vision of improving the lives of the deaf and hard-of-hearing people in TT.
The association said in July 2018 and 2019, it supported professional development workshops for teachers, interpreters and Ministry of Education student support services staff working with deaf and hard-of-hearing students.
The association has partnered with the University of the West Indies (UWI), School of Education with a reading and writing programme designed for the deaf which will be taught by both deaf and hearing educators using the Bedrock Literacy Programme – an English literacy curriculum designed for deaf and hard-of-hearing sign-language users.
It has also been working with the Ministry of Education at strengthening their partnership to provide higher-quality deaf education, as well as the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services to ensure subventions are issued to aid TTAHI in meeting its mandate.
It has also been working with the Ministry of Health in raising awareness of issues surrounding hearing loss and ensuring more children are given hearing screenings.
The association, with non-profit organisation Quota International TT, launched an educational scholarship programme for young deaf and hard-of- hearing individuals as well as a risk management project which was launched with the Disaster Management Unit and the Red Cross. The association said those programmes sought to empower deaf and hard-of-hearing people in the event of natural disasters.
Its DRETCHI Unit (Diagnostic, Research, Educational, Therapeutic, Centre) has worked at increasing the visibility of the association and the awareness of the needs of deaf people and sign language by expanding its outreach programmes. Its
early intervention programme will also be back on stream to address the issue of language deprivation as it continues
providing people with free hearing aids to meet their needs.
The association said there had been an increase in deaf and hard-of-hearing people in the workplace as well as deaf and hearing interpreters providing access on the news and at major events.
TTAHI said its ultimate goal was to see every deaf person
afforded the same rights as any other member of the national community.