The last week of September is celebrated as the Deaf Awareness Week by the Global Deaf Community who comprise mainly three groups – deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing (HoH). This year, the deaf community faces new challenges especially due to the move to online education as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Let’s explore how deaf students in India are coping with online education in the new normal.
Problems with Online Learning
The greatest challenge that deaf students in India are facing in online education is the lack of interpreters. Mostly, organisers of webinars do not engage the services of a sign language interpreter, which make it almost impossible for deaf students to understand what is being said.
Another issue that adds to the difficulty is the usage of masks and poor internet connectivity. For an HoH student, it can be difficult to understand anything during online interactions due to weak connections, absence of captions, muffled voices and poor lighting. For students who can understand through lip-reading, the usage of masks denies them the chance.
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Technological Challenges and Infeasibility
Getting used to technology video call apps are especially difficult for deaf or partially deaf students, who have to make great efforts to familiarise themselves with such online platforms. Also, for deaf-blind students, tactile communication is the primary mode of education i.e. real objects are used by special teachers to help them learn different concepts by touching and exploring the objects. This is a major challenge posed by online education for deaf students in India.
Ways to Resolve the Problems
While the presence of a sign language interpreter is a major solution in facing the challenges of online education, some other methods can also make it easier for deaf students to cope with online learning. Improved lighting conditions and the use of captions in the online platform can go a long way in making it more understandable for deaf students, as can the usage of presentations and interactive visual content.
Also, students can understand better if they access the online session on larger screens, such as laptops or desktops. Parents can also assist their wards by putting in the effort to learn sign language to better communicate with them.
Thus, in spite of ongoing modifications in curriculum and other efforts to make online education a smoother and inclusive process for deaf students, there is still a long way to go before India emerges successful in making some visible changes in this area.
Also Read: Homeschooling in India
Keep watching this space as we keep you updated about how the new normal is transforming our educational spheres! Stay tuned to Leverage Edu for more such news updates on education from around the world and until then, check out our amazing blogs on emerging careers, courses & more!