Schools using SignWriting

K.J. Boal kjoanne403 at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 8 03:04:47 UTC 2007

>Kelly Jo,
>SW is not taught to Deaf kids throughout Nicaragua.  The only place that SW
>is used nowadays is in Bluefields.  I could not tell you the extent that it
>is now used because I don't have a volunteer down there anymore.  Back when
>Nicaraguan Sign Language Projects (which my wife and I set up) operated a
>school, SW was integral to the program and back then it was working great.
>Kids loved it and we were churning out storybooks.  The school is now run 
>the government, which means that SW is not officially part of the
>curriculum.  The local hearing teachers, because they see SW and therefore
>appreciate it, continue to encourage children to learn the system and the
>local Deaf teachers use it regularly.  But, as funding dwindles, so does
>innovation.  (NSLP continues to produce reading material in SW for the
>school, but at too slow a rate.  And we cannot afford to distribute copies
>to students anymore, either.)

I did wonder if that would be a problem by now.  Unfortunate.

>As for learning life skills, I regret that I do not really understand your
>question. What kind of life skills does one need in a place devoid of
>interpreters and more or less devoid of employment opportunities (other 
>foreign owned sweat shops -- Bluefields does not even have those.)

I expected that even as I asked the question, but I hoped you might know of 
some Deaf individuals who had "overcome the odds", so to speak.  I 
suspected, though, that the situation of the Deaf in Nicaragua - literate or 
not - would not be very good.

>Certain Deaf individuals in Bluefields have a better access to certain 
>of information because they are literate and it is available.  The best SW
>readers ultimately become the best Spanish readers, too.

THAT'S an exciting observation, the kind of information I was hoping for!  
It shows a correlation between SW literacy skills and other-language 
literacy skills.

That is in part
>because through SW they are better able to learn Spanish, and in part
>because the students who achieved most in SW (mainly because we devoted 
>time to them) are also the people most likely to have access to email (and
>with it a motivation to use Spanish on a daily basis.)  Specifically, I am
>referring to the Deaf teachers who were initially our students.  As
>teachers, and signing role models, they have salaries and therefore email

Even so, it is evidence of SW being helpful in overall education levels.

>You cannot compare programs in a Third World country with schools in the
>U.S. or Canada, however.  The annual funds spent on one Deaf student in the
>U.S. can exceed the annual budget for an entire school in Nicaragua.

Very true.  Still, overall achievement given certain opportunities can be 
evidence supporting the value of certain programs.

Thanks for your response, James!

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