Inclusive education is at the centre of CBM's celebrations during this week's 'International Week of the Deaf'.
According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are more than 70 million deaf people in the world, 80% of whom live in developing countries. CBM has been working with local partners to remove social communication barriers in some of the poorest countries of the world.
Mike Davies OBE, Head of Programme Development at CBM UK, spent 13 years as CBM's Regional Director for East and South-East Asia, where he helped establish inclusive programmes in countries like the Philippines.
For more than half of its 30 year history, the Bohol Island Deaf Project has received financial support from CBM. During this time, it has been able to train teachers of the deaf, who in turn then teach sign language to hundreds of children.
Most classes are integrated into mainstream schools, giving deaf children more opportunities to learn and play with children their age. Some are able to attend regular classes after being fitted with hearing aids that their parents would otherwise not be able to afford. The project is currently field-testing a solar powered unit for recharging hearing aid batteries.
The project has a comprehensive hearing screening programme, and also gives deaf adults a better chance to earn a living wage through the thriving Garden Café.
Of the estimated 1 million people living in the island province, as many as 4,000 are deaf - which is why the Bohol Island Deaf Project continues to offer services to the deaf and to educate the general public about their daily lives as people with a disability.
'Tremendous challenges' in education
CBM's Sian Tesni is a specialist teacher and co-ordinates the CBM Advisory Working Group in the Education of People who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deafblind.
"There are tremendous challenges in making education truly accessible to all people who are deaf, hard of hearing or deafblind, but in-roads are being made through the work of people in the field including deaf and deafblind teachers themselves."
The CBM-supported Arca Maranatha school in Bolivia teaches sign language to children and their parents. Photo: CBM.
CBM-supported since 2000, the ARCA Maranatha school in Bolivia, has an established education programme for people who are deaf. All of the school's pupils and most of the teaching staff are deaf or hearing impaired.
The school works hard in the community to raise awareness of its aims and it also provides sign language training for the parents of its pupils.
In 2003, CBM joined with the World Health Organization (WHO) to launch WWHearing with the aim of promoting the provision of affordable hearing aids and appropriate services.
CBM is committed to the aims of WWHearing for the optimum benefit of hearing impaired people worldwide, but with a particular focus on the needs of children and adults in developing countries and the poorest communities of the world.
CBM UK-supported projects in the Philippines
CBM UK-supported projects in Bolivia
WWHearing - official website
World Federation of the Deaf 2011 - event website.