including students with hearing loss
Great Britain is now also following the trend of integrating students with reduced hearing in primary schools. The aim is to promote the social interaction between children with handicaps and those without: an expedient approach from which both sides benefit. Yet, no one knows better than the affected children themselves how it feels to always be the only one among lots of hearing children who are able to communicate with each other with no complications. A child who often only understands half of what the other children are saying to each other in the playground can quickly feel excluded.
Place & Year
Project PartnersSaturday Club of Deaf
“Blindness separates us from things, deafness separates us from people”, is a quote from the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. Poor hearing always harbors the risk of social isolation. It is precisely when lots of children are screaming at each other during play, when two friends are sharing whispered secrets or a few lads are telling their jokes that a child with hearing loss can feel quickly left out. It is often difficult for an affected child to follow the small, but often important, details of a conversation or register the nuances and comments quickly enough.
Time to take a deep breath
The Saturday Club for Deaf Children on the British Isle of Wight was established in 1976. “Our aim in every respect is to promote the education but also the personal further development of children with hearing loss, regardless of origin, gender or family background”, says Helen Foster, Chairwoman of the Club. It is often a release for children with a hearing aid to be amongst themselves for a while. No one has to concentrate to ensure that they don’t miss anything during conversation, as everyone else knows the feeling. People are considerate towards each other.
Excursions, action weekends and adventure holidays
The 36 members of the Saturday Club for Deaf Children meet up twice a month for excursions, sport or picnics. They go rambling, sailing, act in theater plays or take cookery courses. Skiing holidays or camping weekends are on the agenda every now and again as well. Everything is with the clear goal of improving the communicative abilities. The aim is to gain self-confidence and develop one’s own independence. “We would like the children to rise positively to challenges and master set tasks with self-confidence”, says Helen Foster.
The Hear the World Foundation supports intercultural exchange
Ten children with hearing loss from Germany visited the Saturday Club in summer 2011. The two groups spent five days together on the island. They lived, worked and played together. The encounter with children from a different country who are just as affected by hearing loss as they are offers exciting possibilities, as even a sign language has its own national peculiarities. And comparing notes on different experiences, which the German and English students were always keen to report, also provided a lot of material for long discussions.
Club member Beth, aged 13, tells us why the Saturday Club is so important for her:
“At my school, I am the only person with hearing loss. That is why for me it is great to meet others at the club who have the same experience. Since I have been going there regularly, and have found lots of good friends there, my self-confidence has improved enormously. For example, we swap information about our hearing aids and talk about all sorts of things that are important for people with a hearing loss in everyday life. We also do lots of interesting and fun things, so sometimes my hearing friends are a little envious! It was really nice when a group from Neckargmünd visited us this year. I really hope that I can go to Germany too next year, because we made great friends. I think I shall now choose German as a foreign language and then I will be able to say a few sentences in their language too!”