In India, for example, most government lessons were transmitted during the pandemic via TV, to which very few families had access.
Conversely, NGOs were singled out for praise for stepping up and continuing to provide accessible education through their learning centers, including specialist staff to develop teaching materials and help with communication. If it weren’t for these centers, deaf learners would have had little or no educational support for months on end.
The reluctance of many deaf students to return to education once schools reopened was a common theme. As many couldn’t continue their studies at all during lockdown, they lacked both the confidence and the ability to return to an older year group and their teachers lacked the specific skills necessary to enable them to catch up.
For those students who never returned, lockdown had effectively ended their education.
It’s vital that we build on these positives
The delegates also shared examples of positive changes during the pandemic. One NGO in Zimbabwe started giving deaf students written learning materials, which had the added advantage of being shareable with other families, strengthening bonds between them. Through this simple tactic, deaf students could continue their education at home.