Education is a basic human right. To deprive someone of it is like blindfolding them at the top of the mountains so they could never see the picturesque view ever again. And when this someone is of special-needs, our responsibility as a community doubles to support them in receiving the knowledge.
“If deaf people could get an education, their minds would be set free and the kingdom of the world would be theirs” - Lawrence R. Newman
Commemorating the International Week of the Deaf (IWD) (21-27 September), an initiative of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), here’s a list of some of the most impactful educators from around the world who’ve truly set an example in the deaf community. Over the years, they’ve worked tirelessly to uplift the education scheme for millions of deaf children. Read about them here:
Andrew Jackson Foster
He was born on June 27, 1925, in Ensley, Alabama. At the age of 11, both he and his brother contracted spinal meningitis and subsequently became deaf. Amongst other significant work, Foster established Christian Mission for Deaf in Africa, a missionary organization whose goal was to bring education to every deaf child. Similarly, in Ghana, he established Ghana Mission School for the Deaf, the first school for the deaf in West Africa. To work toward educating deaf children, especially African because of all the lack of opportunities for them, Foster ended up establishing 32 schools for the deaf throughout 13 African nations.
Helen Adams Keller
She was born on June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, Alabama to Arthur and Catherine Keller. At the age of about 1.5 years, she contracted an unknown disease that left her both deaf and blind. Anne Sullivan was her educator for a very long time, who was visually impaired herself. Keller learnt how to speak and gave lectures and speeches for most of her life. She became a great author and social worker, supported causes like anti-racism, health, human rights and many more. Her organisation, Helen Keller International Organisation, is devoted to research in vision, health and nutrition. She became quite famous because of her autobiography ‘The Story of My Life’ and the movie made on her and her teacher called ‘The Miracle Worker.’ Her work always inclined toward helping deaf and blind people all over the world.
Lawrence R. Newman
Born on March 23, 1925, in Brooklyn, he turned deaf at the age of 5 due to mastoiditis. He taught at a school for 20 years and was chosen California Teacher of the Year by the state Department of Education. He was also elected for the President position at the American Society for Deaf Children and twice elected for the President of National Association of the Deaf. He fought and advocated for the rights of deaf children’s education all his life. He strongly supported for captioned television which became widely available. Newman also wrote two books named ‘Sands of Time’ & ‘I Fill This Small Space.’
Michael M. Ndurumo
He was born on 10 April 1952. He was a PhD in educational administration with related areas in psychology and special education. He was majorly responsible for the development of special education curricula for both undergraduate and graduate levels in Kenya. He developed several other programs both to educate children and to enable educators to teach deaf children. He was one of the founders of Kenya National Association of the Deaf.
Marie Jean Philip
She was born on April 20, 1953, in Massachusettes to John and Doris Philip who were deaf as well. She became an advocate for American Sign Language as a real language. Philip was a pioneer in the Bilingual-Bicultural (Bi-Bi) movement. She travelled to many countries and supported causes regarding education and programs for the deaf. She also developed a reputation as a children’s favourite storyteller. She has a prekindergarten school in Massachusettes named after her, where she was once a beloved teacher, advisor, mentor, mediator, counsellor, and friend.
Note: This goes out to all the special-ed teachers who are striving harder and harder every day for their students, especially now in the COVID-times. Thank you!
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