There are no publicly funded schools for deaf children in the State of Guanajuato, Mexico. If the parent of a deaf child wishes to send their child to school they have no option but to send them to languish, virtually untaught, in a public school classroom with hearing students and with no special instruction whatsoever.
Escuela de Educación Especial de San Miguel de Allende, A.C. (San Miguel School for Special Education) opened its doors on September 3, 2012 to assist these children. A group of seven dedicated local residents and professionals, who had a special interest in helping deaf students in the community, came together to form the board of trustees, have the non-profit society registered, rent and renovate suitable premises, hire three Mexican teachers and reach out into the community to bring deaf Mexican youngsters together to improve their standard of education.
The San Miguel de Allende School for the Deaf opened with six students and currently has fifteen students enrolled between the ages of 3 years and 31 years. Four of these students come from the community of Dolores Hidalgo, a one-hour bus ride from San Miguel.
A Southtowne grant is planned for Rotary year 2014-2015. Some funds for this project will be used to support Earthspeak teachers in working with the School for the Deaf to train teachers, parents and students in speech training as part of total communication skills. Earthspeak is a program that was originally designed to train parents to be speech therapists for their cleft palate children, and it has also been shown to be effective in improving the articulation skills of hard-of-hearing and deaf students.
Other project funds will help students with literacy skills by providing books and materials for the school library. Most of the books in the library at this time are for younger students, and the majority of the student population is teenagers. Lastly, some funds will provide vocational training in candle making, glass making, and stove production. There are local job possibilities, which local Rotary clubs have helped establish, in each of these skill areas.
Contact Kathi Hoffer for more information on how to get involved.