Imagine learning to speak a language that you have never heard before. Now imagine you cannot hear your own voice as you attempt to pronounce the words correctly… this is what deaf children at Carel du Toit are doing everyday at their school centre where they learn to speak spoken language.
The center currently has 190 students and because deafness can be detected at birth, Carel du Toit has children as young as 3 years old in their programme. From age 3 to grade 3, children at Carel du Toit learn to speak Xhosa, Afrikaans, or English. Although the focus is speech, the centre acts as a full school and provides classes in maths, science, and other standard school subjects. The programme hopes that by enabling children to speak, they will have more choices in their future regarding lifestyle, career, and school.
Some children come to the centre with cochlear implants, which are pieces of technology attached to the ear and head that allow a deaf child to hear. The devices are the most successful if a child begins wearing it at a young age because their brain develops at a rapid speech during infancy and soon thereafter. When teaching children with implants to hear, Carel du Toit creates a natural listening environment. Instead of speaking to the child face to face all the time, teachers will speak from behind the students so that they must listen rather than read lips.
In order to reach as many children as possible, Carel du Toit needs more funding. They currently get 18% of their funds from the government, but the rest relies heavily on donations. In addition to the center, there is also a Carel du Toit Trust where donations can be made. For more information, go to the website www.careldutoit.co.za
Presenter: Mkhuseli Khusi Veto
Producer: Sophie Breck