A Comprehensive Methodology for the hearing impaired

Language is one of the greatest gifts ever offered to human beings by the Nature! Life without language is hard to imagine, almost paralyzing. Language is a medium not only for exchange of thoughts & ideas but also of thinking. The huge progress achieved by human beings can be attributed to the unique ability to understand & speak language. Language is one of the things which separate human beings from animals. Because of the ability to communicate using a language, we can read and understand the ancient scriptures and also know what our scientists are doing. Moreover, we can communicate beyond the boundaries of countries, with our friends & relatives thousands of miles away.
 
Since our birth, we hear the words in our mother tongue. By listening to them & imitating them, we learn to speak. This process being very natural & unintentional doesn’t make us realize the importance of language. 
 
We listen more than we speak. Our speaking is based on the premises of listening. That accounts for the inability to speak in the hearing impaired. To simplify the same… as they cannot hear, they cannot speak. The lack of hearing ability results in very limited exposure to the language. It further results in lack of clear speech and poses limitations on the social interaction of the hearing impaired, aggravating the gravity of the problem. 
 
School education for the hearing impaired started around 150 years ago. These days, there is a good awareness about them in the society. Many organizations working for making life better for these children. There is also significant progress in their education. But in comparison with the normal children, the children with the hearing disorder have lagged behind in intellectual development. 
 
Earlier, in our country, the speech therapy was used in training the hearing impaired. In 1975, Smt. Fransis Parson, a teacher with the hearing disorder, came to India. She introduced the Comprehensive therapy in India. The Comprehensive therapy is not a one-sided therapy, but a therapy combining & balancing 1) Speech & 2) Signs. This methodology gives complete freedom to use all the skills for interaction. All the hearing impaired benefit from Sign therapy & Interaction skills in their education as well as in daily routine. 
 
Comprehensive interaction skills mean the use of not only the sign language,but also other skills like Speech, Gestures, Writing and Electrical tools useful to the hearing disabled to interact with people. If taught since childhood, the children can make use of these skills for interaction & exchange of thoughts with people. 
 
We should not mix the two things – language & speech. They should not be mistaken as one and the same. It will be wrong to draw a conclusion that a hearing impaired child not having a good speech will necessarily not possess a good language. In spite of a well developed language, it may be difficult to learn the speech. 
 
In the school curriculum of the hearing impaired, along with reading & listening, the Composite method is also very important. In this method, Reading & Hand gestures complement each other. For example, words with a similar pronunciation like ‘ship’ & ‘sheep’ are difficult to comprehend just by lip reading. But the same can be better understood by hand gestures. Similarly, if the hand gestures do not express the meaning of a word properly, reading can be helpful. The Composite method not only facilitates interaction but also can be used very effectively in poems, songs, plays, stories etc. 
 
Sometimes a disabled child finds lip-reading very complex. In such a case, Audio Visual method can be very useful. It reduces the stress making teaching & learning both easy. Instead of Radio, which is an Audio medium, we find TV, an audio visual medium more effective. As the hearings impaired are more dependent on their eye sight, the Comprehensive therapy has a very close relation with Reading.
 
While speaking, the hearing impaired always use Hand Gestures. The Comprehensive therapy is not a method of education or a medium of education. It is a methodology, which relieves the hearing impaired of the stress, uncertainty & ambiguity. It empowers the hearing impaired for social interaction & acceptance. It accepts the fact that the hearing-impaired are totally dependent on the eye sight. The well developed ability of interaction with people facilitates the development of physical, mental & emotional aspects of their personality, enabling them to independently live in the society.