The talking hands

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Watching Hung play with his older brother happily, his mother Huyen said: “Since the day he was born, knowing that he couldn’t hear, I have brought him to the hospital many times and the doctor diagnosed that he is deaf at birth. I was thinking about cochlear implant but the expense is too high. I cannot even afford any hearing aid for my son, let alone a cochlear implant.”

Truong Thi Huyen is a mother of 2 children in Quang Binh province. Her first child hearing, but during the pregnancy of the second child, she was affected by Rubella. In 2011, Hung was born and later the family found out that he was deaf at birth.

When Hung reached 3, his family brought him to a kindergarten, but as he could not hear and speak, he was unable to learn alongside his hearing friends. During the day, either at school or at home, he couldn’t communicate with anyone, even his parents. His mother Huyen was always worried about her son’s future.

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One day, Huyen happened to hear about the IDEO project. After getting to know more about it, she decided to contact our Family Support Team (FST) with the wish to give her son an opportunity to study in sign language.

We remember quite well when we began to teach Hung. He was still small and very playful; he was only interested in colorful toys and never paid attention to the Family Deaf Mentor. However, his mother said: “Although he didn’t follow the teacher during the lesson, at home whenever he was alone or when we asked him something, he always used sign language to respond.” We were put in a challenging situation: how to support a child if he doesn’t cooperate?

At first, we taught all his family members sign language so that they could support Hung at home. We also asked his parents to teach him sign language and to use sign language with him as much as possible. After 2 months, his sign language vocabulary had improved significantly, but he still wouldn’t cooperated with the deaf mentor.

One day, we found out that Hung was very interested in assembling toys. Since then, whenever we wanted to teach a topic, we used an assembly toy relating to the topic, such as fruits, animals, colors…and that made Hung very excited.

Due to the efforts of the FST, his family and his interest in sign language, Hung has changed a lot. He follows our instruction, even though he isn’t fluent in sign language yet, his hands are much more flexible than before. More importantly, now there is a common language that connects everyone in the family and brings them close to each other.

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Hung’ mother said: “Now, as Hung has been learning more and more sign language words, he is eager to tell us about things that happen around him. Whenever his father does something, he always follows and uses sign language to ask to help his father. Without the project and sign language, I don’t know if my son would ever be able to communicate with us and with people around him.

I have a very strong hope for his future and I believe that with sign language, deaf children like my son can be integrated into the society. I wish the project would last longer so as to bring sign language to many more deaf children in Vietnam.”