45 children receive hearing aids at Mandalay School for the Deaf
INITIALLY a one-to-one class run out of the home of a British expat, the Mandalay School for the Deaf is now providing students with hearing aids and integrating them into hearingmixed classes.
Since his wife’s passing in 2013, David Blakeway-Smith has made it his mission to ensure that the deaf children of Mandalay Region have adequate and equal access to education. Currently, the school has more than 200 children enrolled.
Since 2014, the Mandalay School for the Deaf has been tracking children’s hearing ability to see whether they are eligible to use hearing aids. If their hearing number falls between 30 and 90 decibels, children are given hearing aids and put in speech therapy classes.
Forty-five children – 30 this year and 15 last year – were screened and passed an audiometer test, making them eligible to use hearing aids in the classroom.
The children placed in daily speech therapy classes are taught to speak from scratch, starting from every infant’s first words, phay phay (father) and may may (mother), and onwards.
“If they are taught every day, then they can speak,” deputy headmistress Daw Ohnmar Oo told The Myanmar Times on November 3. “Sign language is still needed to teach the deaf children, even when they’re using hearing aids.”
The school is currently run by Mr Blakeway-Smith along with the help of seven English aids, three specially trained local teachers from a deaf school, and a team of Mandalay doctors specialising in eye, ear, nose and neck health.
“This year, I met with social ministers and asked for help by writing a letter to the English government,” said Mr Blakeway-Smith, who was touched by a recent trip to Myanmar wherein he witnessed a young child hearing for the first time through the help of a hearing aid. The British government granted him a loan in Myanmar from 2011 to 2016. Most of the funds go to the Save the Children and Oxfam charities.
“I want to do all that I can for the children,” he said.
A deaf child receives a hearing aid in Mandalay Region.