Problems and Needs

According to the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), approximately 66 percent of Deaf people live in developing countries, where authorities are rarely familiar with their needs and where very few Deaf children have access to employment and education. Only about 10 percent of the world's Deaf population receive any education at all, and only one percent receives this education in sign language - even though the majority of Deaf people worldwide use sign language in their daily lives. Reflecting this educational disadvantage, unemployment rates are extremely high in the Deaf community. Many nations even deny basic civil rights to their Deaf and hard of hearing citizens (i.e., driving, voting, employment options).

In Kenya, for example, there are over 14,000 children with hearing impairments. Only a small percentage of these children will attend school, receiving limited resources because of the stereotype that "[Deaf] education is a waste of time and money... Deaf people will never become productive members in society." To serve those who do have access to education, Kenya has 41 schools for Deaf children, with over 100 students at each school. Most of the teachers do not know sign language or understand Deaf culture. They write lessons on blackboards and point as primary teaching methods. Only five percent of these young people go on to secondary school, and there is no mechanism to help them attend college.

Another major problem these children face is the lack of positive Deaf role models who can communicate successfully and mentor the children to reach their full potential. As a result, most of the young people are doing poorly or failing their classes. They cannot imagine attending college, let alone becoming a successful professional. Society tells them that they are "dumb."

This is a problem worldwide. Deaf children and adults are relegated to a low social status without economic opportunities as a direct result of the poor or nonexistent education they receive, the stigma they face, and the lack of awareness of their full potential as active members of society.

Although there are organizations within most developing countries that provide services to Deaf people for Deaf people, GDC addresses directly the challenge of helping children succeed in the education system and become certified professionals able to pursue employment and economic opportunities. Without proper education and the tools to gain acceptance in society, Deaf people will continue to encounter stereotypes.

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