Introduction / History
Hearing impairment and deafness are serious disabilities that can impose a heavy social and economic burden on individuals, families, communities and countries. More than 260,000 people in Ghana are deaf. Hearing parents often consider a deaf child to be a curse as a result of sin. This causes them to not value the deaf child. Most deaf children learn their values, morals and social behaviors from older deaf children, television or movies.
Children with hearing impairment often experience delayed development of speech, language and cognitive skills. They are often very frustrated with hearing people, especially their parents, siblings, teachers, classmates and pastors. They often say, "If you really valued (loved) me, you could learn to Sign, but I cannot learn to hear!"
Most teachers of Ghana's deaf children are hearing, so they do not know nor understand true Sign Language. Like hearing parents, they are unable to transmit cultural values and beliefs to deaf children. The average deaf child with hearing parents, enters school with a 30-100 word vocabulary and has never understood the nuances of communication. Consequently, he has an extremely difficult time learning to read and write.
In adults, hearing impairment and deafness make it difficult to obtain, perform and keep employment. 80% of deaf and hearing-impaired people live in low- and middle-income communities. Many are either dependent on their extended family for support or resort to immoral activities to survive.
The vast majority of the deaf have no religion at all. Most have only visually seen the outward trappings of religion, and have never had it explained to them. Hearing Sunday School teachers and pastors, like hearing parents, are unable to communicate with the deaf. A Bible in sign language will finally give deaf teachers and leaders the materials they need to lead deaf communities to know the Lord. D.O.O.R. International (Deaf Opportunity OutReach), SIL and deaf churches and fellowships are working toward this end.
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