Engage with the deaf to solve problems

"The public think the best way to solve deafness in communication is to equip deaf people with hearing aids but this is a misconception. Deafness is a hidden disability.

Compared with blindness and physical handicap, people tend to feel less sympathy towards the deaf and communication barriers have resulted in a lack of unawareness in understanding of our needs.

There are not many local academic articles on effective methodology in educating the deaf community.

And there are no guidelines in the Education Ministry for the dispatching of teachers to deaf schools. This results in disastrous situations where teachers posted to deaf schools are not able to carry out their duties because they do not have any knowledge about deaf education.

This would in turn, causes the teachers – who have zero proficiency in Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia (BIM) – to be stressed out, while students get frustrated over the communication barrier.

According to the ministry, KTBM must be used in classroom teaching but there are not enough signing codes in the KTBM book used in our deaf schooling system to cover all the Bahasa Melayu vocabulary.

The solution to issues faced by deaf educators is straightforward. The ministry needs to heed musings of the deaf community to improve education for them.

There is a need to establish deaf studies and BIM at teacher training institutes and other institutions so that teachers who are posted to deaf schools are able to be certified with certificates on BIM proficiency – which should be compulsory for educators intending to teach at deaf schools."

Malaysian Federation of the Deaf (MFD) executive director Mohamad Sazali Shaari

"Educators have observed that the majority of teachers posted to national schools which have classes for deaf students do not know BIM and that it isn’t compulsory for teachers to master it.

There is no BIM test to assess whether the non-option teachers are qualified to teach deaf students.

Deaf teachers have also been calling for the KTBM book to be updated as many of the words are already irrelevant and outdated.

Many deaf teachers also say that upskilling, training and education opportunities are rare despite them having the qualifications.

The government has allocated 1% of civil service jobs to those with

disabilities (OKU). However, that 1% is not filled because OKUs, especially those who are deaf, are turned away.

More engagement between the ministry and the deaf community is the solution to these problems.

We hope that the ministry will have more engagements with stakeholders to resolve the problem as we see it as more of an implementation, rather than a policy, issue."

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock

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