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Vietnam: innovations help deaf children prepare for school

World Bank, June 17, 2016 Adjust font size:

Almost 50 Deaf children in first grade received sign language-based education by both Deaf teachers and hearing teachers in the 2015/16 school year through a pilot scheme under the Intergenerational Deaf Education Outreach Project (IDEO).

IDEO adopted the innovative model of family-support teams, including a Deaf mentor, a sign language interpreter and a hearing teacher, to teach sign language to Deaf children and their families in their own homes. In the past five years, the project provided home-based sign language lessons for 255 Deaf children under six years old in Hanoi, Thai Nguyen, Quang Binh, and Ho Chi Minh City.

Initial project evaluations show that using sign language has helped improve deaf children’s language and cognitive development, as well as their communications ability. The Language and Cognitive Development score of IDEO children aged 5 to 7 is 7.6 out of 10, compared with 8 out of 10 for five-year-old hearing children.

The project also trained more than 50 Deaf adults to become mentors to Deaf children. It also helped train, about 200 hearing teachers in the use of sign language, so that they could support Deaf children more effectively. More than 50 hearing people were trained as communication facilitators or sign-language interpreters.

“Most of Deaf children in Vietnam do not have access to early childhood education and their parents lack professional support,” says Achim Fock, the World Bank’s Acting Country Director for Vietnam. “The positive results of IDEO affirm the support of their learning in schools with trained hearing and Deaf teachers and sign language interpreters is essential for the Deaf children to develop to their full potential.”

The project also launched an interactive website ( to provide online sign language learning videos, sign language vocabulary, games, and other materials on Deaf education for Deaf children and their families, educators and the public. A series of short sign language videos is expected to be broadcast on the national education channel (VTV7) to reach out to a wider audience.

“The IDEO project has not only opened a new and appropriate method to teach sign language for the Deaf children, it has also strengthened the participating schools and other relevant organizations in supporting Deaf education in Vietnam,” said Vice Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Thi Nghia.

The project is funded by the Japanese Social Development Fund, administered by the World Bank, and implemented by World Concern Development Organization. It has a budget of $2.8 million, with an additional $130,000 from the Vietnamese government.