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Volume 3 Issue 4

March 2010

Emerging Leadership in Costa Rica: Pura Vida por ANASCOR! By David Justice

feet high. Others visit the coastline Known throughout the to ride some of the world for its biodiversity, best surf in Central Costa Rica is home to America, or volunnearly 12,000 plant speteer to help protect cies and 615 wildlife speleatherback turtles cies (compared to only while they hatch 1 104 in the USA). Sloths, their eggs. With so spider monkeys, toucans, many natural reand dart frogs scatter the sources and tourism Leonel Lopez collaborates with PROGRESO, rainforests. Visitors to draws, Costa Rica a sister organization of ANASCOR. Costa Rica often head has become one of straight to the cloud forthe most economiest of Monteverde for a canopy tour where zip lines cally developed countries in Central America. Despite and suspension bridges lead through treetops over 500 such progression, however, the local deaf community continues to face struggles parallel to less-developed countries in Africa and Asia. Costa Rica harbors a population of four million people, of which 26,235 are deaf. Incidentally, less than 500 deaf “Ticos” (Costa Ricans) communicate in LESCO, Costa Rica’s sign language that the government formally recognized in Discovering Deaf Worlds is a 501(c)(3) January 2001. There are only two deaf schools and nine available interpreters, all of whom reside in the capinon-profit international deaf advocacy tal of San Jose. Employment opportunities are severely organization dedicated to empowering limited, and deaf role models are in high demand.2 deaf and hard of hearing communities Nestled in the outskirts of downtown San Jose rests in developing countries. DDW strives a humble yet determined team of deaf leaders with to advance the capacity of local deaf Asociación Nacional de Sordos de Costa Rica (ANAcommunities around the globe to meet SCOR), established in 1974. Efforts to improve accessibility and opportunity for deaf people in Costa Rica their social, educational and employare led by its president Randall Herrera and emerging ment needs. For more information, leader Leonel Lopez. “I once had a respectable highvisit

What is DDW?

Continued on page 2 March 2010 1

Emerging Leaders Continued from front page

ANASCOR President Randall Herrera outside the main office in San Jose. paying job for a publishing company,” states Lopez, who began signing at the age of 20. “But after one year of being the only deaf person in a hearing company with zero communication access or interpreting services, I had to get out of there.” Lopez then embraced the local deaf community and began teaching LESCO. “I am poorer now, but happier and more mentally healthy with my deaf and signing peers!” Herrera explains that despite the Equal Opportunity for Disabled People in Costa Rica (Law No. 7600), there continues to be a lack of resources and funding available for deaf education and communication accessibility. In addition, the government rarely consults with ANASCOR on needs assessment or policy implementation. “We severely need to improve the quality of deaf education in Costa Rica,” Herrera says. “And we need more deaf people to receive proper training to become certified teachers in math, Spanish, LESCO, et cetera. This will enable them to become role models for the next generation of deaf children.” While current reports indicate that LESCO is 60 percent the same as American Sign Language (ASL), local deaf Ticos state that the similarity is closer to 75 percent. Lopez adds, “There has been a heavy influence of ASL in Costa Rica over the years and many less educated deaf people have just accepted this.” There is also a current movement to protect LESCO. “We need to preserve our native language, our home,” continues Lopez. Currently, an ANASCOR member is filming native LESCO users to document the language’s unique signed vocabulary. There is also no written or video LESCO dictionary. 2

Discovering Deaf Worlds

Discovering Deaf Worlds has connected with ANASCOR to promote awareness of the work ANASCOR does and support its efforts to enhance opportunities for the local deaf community. For more information on ANASCOR, view their blog in Spanish at: http:// For the full World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) report on Central America (in .PDF format), visit Sources: 1 Firestone, Matthew D. Lonely Planet: Costa Rica. Oct. 2008. 2 WFD ( June 2008). Global Survey Report: WFD Regional Secretariat for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Region Survey Report #4. World Federation of the Deaf.

Welcome DDW's Latest Board Member Name: Bernard Bragg Originally From: Brooklyn, NY Occupation: Actor/Lecturer Hobbies: Painting, reading, traveling, writing Relevant Experience: Goodwill ambassador Bernard Bragg Places traveled: Too numerous to mention. I’m excited to work with DDW because... as a performer, I have traveled the world and am considered a leader in deaf theater. I am looking forward to supporting DDW’s mission. What do you hope to accomplish with DDW? I would like to help DDW promote increased understanding and appreciation of deaf culture and arts. Quote to live by: Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art. –Konstantin Stanislavsky More information about Bragg is at or

India Government Rules Against Deaf Drivers

Taxis, buses, rickshaws, bicycles, camels, and pedestrians flood the streets everyday in India.

On Dec. 9, 2009, the Indian government informed the Delhi High Court of its decision that deaf people not be granted the right to drive in India. Out of 220-plus countries in the world, 26 do not allow deaf people to drive, including India. This came as very upsetting news to the Indian deaf and hard of hearing population, numbered as high as 50 million people. The justification for this ruling: poor road conditions and alarmingly high accident rates. Regardless of the law, many deaf people in India have driven automobiles and mopeds for years with no noticeable increase in accident rates as compared to hearing people. The Indian National Association of the Deaf is petitioning to have this decision reversed, and the deaf community will continue to fight for their right to operate private transportation. The full article is available at (Photo credit: Tiffany Lane of

The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land. – G. K. Chesterton Travel With DDW and Connect with Deaf Communities Around the World! We are launching an exciting and Thailand & Cambodia Costa Rica powerful new component of our organization – Discovering Deaf Worlds: Journeys. Two exciting trips to the jungles of Costa Rica and to exotic Thailand & Cambodia will be offered beginning Fall 2010. Travelers will tour the highlights of these countries and experience unique cultural activities while also visiting various programs and schools aimed at supporting the deaf community. The deaf population is oftentimes marginalized in developing countries. DDW: Journeys will offer these programs the much needed support and exposure they need. Trips will be fully guided and arranged by DDW and, a humanitarian-based travel company. Guides fluent in ASL and the local sign language (Thai, Khmer, LESCO) will be provided. Details on these journeys will be announced shortly. If you are interested in more information please email March 2010 3

Lao Sign Language: In the Right Hands By Martin Momoda

Health rather than the Ministry of Why a book on Education and Lao Sign I have observed Language? a disappointing Laos is not a rich lack of enthusiasm country. There is a and resourcefulsevere lack of learnness among the ing resources. Getteachers. ting an education is I never saw a especially difficult book or even a notefor deaf people as book in the school they are unable to and there was little effectively express interaction initiattheir needs and be ed by the teachers. understood. I saw one teacher Although there berate a student are more than and tell him he was Students from the Luang Prabang deaf school 22,000 deaf people stupid. On another show off their copies of Thumbs Up. in the Lao People’s occasion, a teacher Democratic Repubsaid outright that lic according to a 2005 report1, only three small schools the students were unable to learn. I am convinced that are operating, serving a total of fewer than 150 students. this is not true. For several weeks, I experimented with photocopied There are no programs for early intervention and language development. Because of the lack of resources, worksheets for simple English lessons. Many are intermost students are unable to read and write well enough ested in learning English. I included pictures, signs and to find good jobs. After school, they either go back to exercises in writing and thinking. The older students assessed the worksheet levels and distributed them to the their villages or make money through heavy labor. Most rural deaf children are isolated and never de- younger children. Most students completed the workvelop a communal language. Even in semi-urban areas, sheets. They individually came to me to have me check communication is limited to small pockets of signers. the work and they showed satisfaction when they unWithout stronger social support and access to the In- derstood something new. I had never before experienced ternet and video-capable mobile phones, Lao Sign Lan- this in hearing schools. There are two other small schools, one in Luang Praguage cannot develop quickly. I hope Thumbs Up will bang and the other in Savannakhet. They will be financed help. Many students object to using the current Thai books by the Vatican through the Nuncio in Bangkok for the and there has been no Lao reference book in their hands first few years2. At these schools, I saw more nurturing until now. Thumbs Up appears to delight students since and care from the teachers and classes that are run well. most never imagined that such a book could exist. On a recent visit, I could see that all the students had copies of Thumbs Up and had lovingly covered them in What kind of education is available in Laos for deaf recycled paper for protection. One teacher adamantly people? defended the students’ ability to learn, saying that they In the capital city of Vientiane, there is one pub- were inquisitive and didn’t hesitate to ask questions. Their licly run school. Hearing teachers at the school have persistence was not dismissed. The teachers were able been trained in Thailand. It is run by the Ministry of Continued on page 5 4

Discovering Deaf Worlds

Laos Sign Language Book Continued from page 4 to articulate what they need regarding learning resources and @My Library, a community library run by Carol Kresge, which has responded by providing Lao children’s books, tools for drawing and painting and even a deaf-friendly bingo game.

ຢາກເຫັ ນທຸກໆຄ ົນໃນສ ັງຄ ົມລາວສາມາດໃຊ ້ ພາສາມືໃນການສື່ ສານ

the worst of cases, projects are stonewalled until money is paid into certain pockets. In some ways, it is a minor miracle that I could get Thumbs Up finished and to press. When insolence and greed take over, the young deaf students are the ones who lose. This is unforgivable when we have to watch the wrong people profit. Martin Momoda publishes books for language learning in the Lao PDR. Under the name of “momobooks,” 12 self-financed books have been printed since September 2008 with a total volume of over 70,000 copies. Thumbs Up includes 600 signs on 140 pages with signs represented in digital photos and directional arrows. Captions are written in Lao, English and Japanese. For more information, visit,, or

Sources: 1 What comes next? Clark, R. Service for deaf children in Cambodia and Laos. 3,000 copies of 2005. 2 Thumbs Up were printed. Four hundred copies have been distributed to 3 Probe International: all the schools. I will try to sell the rest to get a return 4 Phraxayavong, V. (2009). History of aid to Laos: Motion my investment so that I can start new projects. The vations and impacts, Mekong Press. books are not just for deaf students, but for hearing students and teachers of English as well. I have found Make a donation of any amount that using gestures and sign language is effective when teaching English to Lao students, especially with overand receive your own DVD copy sized classes of mixed levels and students with minimal of Discovering: Shuktara! experience in reading and writing. Most Lao students respond extremely well to kinesthetic learning and their Special features: concentration and retention is noticeably improved. I -More Stories will focus my efforts on teacher training to promote the from Shuktara use of Lao Sign Language as a method (Action English) for teaching English. The response so far has been very -Meet Pappu encouraging. In the future, digitally animated signing will be the -Discovering best way to develop a more comprehensive dictionary. Deaf Worlds: Digital data can be used to produce hardcopy books, Journeys videos and most appropriately for Laos, transmitted through mobile phones. Closing Notes Finally, a book has been written about the problems of development aid in Laos3. A 2006 report claims that foreign loans and aid equal about 80 percent of the state budget4. This money is not necessarily translated into human development. From my observation, dependence on foreign aid stunts initiative and resourcefulness. In

Discovering: Shuktara was edited and produced by:

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March 2010 5

Spotlight on Vietnam 300 deaf and hard of hearing students, as few as 18.8 percent of the students questioned provided correct answers about puberty, male and female reproductive organs and menstruation. The WPF has since implemented its three-part intervention, which includes: 1) developing an SRH curriculum for deaf and hard of hearing students; 2) creating the first standardized SRH sign language glossary; and 3) providing SRH teaching skills for teachers. Most deaf schools in Vietnam only provide education To date, the glossary of 500 words and concepts has up to the fifth grade. been distributed and is proving to be useful not only in the classroom, but also in the home, where parents are By Michelle King now able to communicate about SRH issues with their Vietnam is home to approximately four million children. people who are deaf or hard of hearing. There is no national standard sign language system, and for Viet- Sources: namese adolescents, this lack of standardized language • creates significant barriers in access to education. Sign languages can differ from region to region, and even • from one school to another in a given area. Accord- • “Sexuality Education in Vietnam: Benchmarks for Sign Language” by Nguyen Hai Thuong, World ing to a Global Foundation for Children with Hearing Population Foundation, Vietnam Loss report, 80 percent of Vietnam’s 180,000 deaf and hard of hearing children have no access to education. • Photo courtesy of krisvdv/336502237 Most schools can only provide education up to the fifth grade. One area of education that deaf Vietnamese adolescents are particularly lacking is sexual and reproductive health (SRH). There is a shortage of teachers equipped with any sign language skills whatsoever, and teachers with skills that can target a SRH curriculum are proving rare. Throughout Vietnam, the SRH vocabulary consists of simple words, such as “boy” or “girl.” Concepts related to reproduction, pregnancy, the transmission of diseases, and sexuality are not easily communicated within a formal classroom environment. Such concepts are also not easily communicated in informal settings between friends, because of varying signs and different gestures. Recognizing this problem, the World Population Foundation (WPF) began an SRH education intervention at Xa Dan School in Hanoi City for students who were deaf and hard of hearing in April 2007. The intervention began with a study to assess the breadth of the communication breakdown. At the onset of the study, which targeted approximately

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Did You Know...? In Costa Rica, the average hourly rate for sign language interpreters is 1600-3200 colones (approximately $3-$6 in U.S. dollars). Source: WFD ( June 2008). Global Survey Report: WFD Regional Secretariat for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Region Survey Report #4.

Travel Tidbits • The ascent and descent of a plane ride can cause your feet to swell. To minimize the chances of this happening, wear a pair of fluffy thick socks and kick your shoes off before the plane takes off. This can make all the difference for a more comfortable flight. • A quick fix to separate items in your suitcase: (1) Cut out a piece of cardboard the same length/width of your luggage; (2) Put all of your awkwardly shaped items in first (shoes, belts, toiletries, etc.); (3) Lay the cardboard in your suitcase as a divider; (4) Place your clothes folded nicely on the cardboard. You now have a makeshift divider to lift up and down that will keep your things neatly packed and easily accessible. Source: March 2010 7

Deaf Advocacy in Haiti fundraising to provide communication accessibility for relief workers and deaf Haitian survivors. Please research the following organizations for more information: • Institute Montfort Pour Enfants Sourds (Montford Institute for Deaf Children): • Cappa Sourd: cappahaiti • St. Vincent School: • PAZAPA: Center for Handicapped Children, Jacmel: • Haitian Christian Center for the Deaf – no website available On Jan. 12, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, • Deaf Welcome Foundation: just ten miles west of the capital city Port-au-Prince. The earthquake left over three million people in need of emergency aid. Limited information is available about Note: The above list was compiled to provide DDW ’s newsthe impact on the 93,549 deaf people living in Haiti. letter readers with information about resources for deaf peoAccording to the World Federation of the Deaf, the ple in Haiti. DDW has not visited Haiti, nor is DDW diearthquake in Haiti destroyed one deaf association and rectly involved with any of the listed organizations. Please two deaf schools. Fortunately, many of the children were research the organizations independently if you are consideither in a secure place during the earthquake or were ering making a donation. safely evacuated. Efforts to rebuild are currently under way. The Deaf Welcome Foundation, for example, is Sources: 1. Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 16th edition. Dallas, TX: SIL International. asp?name=haiti 2. “WFD concerned on Deaf children in Haiti.” World Federation of the Deaf. February 10, 2010. 3. “ASD in the News.” American School for the Deaf. February 2, 2010. cfm?p=392&newsid=7 4. Photo Credit: Jason Krul; Haiti/haiti.htm

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Discovering Deaf Worlds

To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries. – Aldous Huxley

Shout -Outs! Shout Shout-Outs! -Outs! Bill Keenan and Bryan Hensel: Thank you for jumpstarting DDW’s Fund Development Committee. Your guidance and call to action are leading this organization towards a sustainable and long-lasting future. Patrick Smith, Annette Quiroga, Tanya Andrews, and Kerrie Emerson: As the logistics of our board meetings become more complex, we are all the more grateful to have your services. Thank you for providing accessibility for our organization. Leonel Lopez and Randall Herrera: You have gone above and beyond the call of duty for your community in Costa Rica. Thank you for welcoming, educating, and inspiring us at DDW. You are natural-born leaders. ¡Pura Vida!

Lydia and John Dean: We’re so fortunate to have connected with you. Our co-venture with Go Philanthropic has unlimited potential to make an impact on deaf communities worldwide. Thank you for taking this leap with us! To all of you who took the time to fill out our newsletter survey: Approximately 70 percent of respondents feel that our newsletter appropriately reflects DDW’s values and mission, which means we’re on the right track! The ANASCOR team: Your genuine kindness has reinforced the unity of deaf hospitality our team has received across the globe. Thanks for making Costa Rica feel like home!

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. – Jawaharial Nehru

Survey Follow-up! We have made some changes based on our survey results, and want to know more about what you think. • Do you like the diversity of international articles in this newsletter? • Do you prefer two-page stories on back-toback pages, or stories that continue later in the newsletter? E-mail us at ddwteam@discoveringdeafworlds. org with your feedback and ideas!

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March 2010 9

March 2010 Newsletter: vol.3, iss.4  

Deaf leaders in Costa Rica; deaf right to drive denied in India; Laos sign language book, the first of its kind; health education in Vietnam...

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