By Abdulfatai Kadir
The Deaf-E3 programme is a laudable venture that will trigger and accelerate the level of Education among Deaf persons in Nigeria.
Led by Gallaudet University, Deaf-E3 is a USAID-supported activity that addresses the educational disparities and marginalization faced by deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind children and youth in Nigeria. This seminar is a part of the Deaf-E3 focus area to increase the capacity of USAID and its partners to engage with deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind stakeholders nationwide.
However, this Deaf-E3 project was inspired by Dr. Isaac Agboola, a cherished Gallaudet alumnus, faculty member, and dean who died in 2017. The Late Agboola of blessed memory had a lifelong dream of self-sustainability for the Nigerian deaf community and in the end, this Deaf-E3 fulfils that wish.
Experience they say is the best teacher. It is at this point that I deem it fit to share some of my experiences acquired during the one-week multilingual multimodal and pedagogy (MMP) symposium held in Abuja from 8th-16th August 2023.
At the beginning of every young and ambitious person’s career support is essential. That is something that gives wind in one’s sails. As part of the objective of the Deaf-E3, it provided an opportunity for Nigerian Deaf teachers across the geo-political zones to have a unique to learn from the best and work with the best. To my great satisfaction, I am one of the teachers who got this great opportunity.
Meeting the organisers, lecturers and participants from the region was an invaluable experience for me. It was also a chance for me to meet some people from Gallaudet University such as Amanda Mullder, Sarah Houge, Arathy Manharan, and Umar Tukur who were part and parcel of the Deaf-E3 team. The one-week MMP training was interactive, fun, educational and inspiring. At the beginning of the first-day interactive session, the trainers urged the participants to contribute what they learned from the first Deaf-E3 activity MMP symposium held last year. From that day, new lectures went on where I learnt about Tech Set Up and Stand In My Shoes Workshop.
My experience in tech set-up was superb because I had mastered it even before I participated in the first symposium. It was a life-changing practice the words “Stand In My Shoe Workshop” have undoubtedly taught me the spirit of caring about how someone else feels in a certain situation he or she finds himself or herself and how best I can train our children how easy it is to develop empathy towards other fellows around them. I was practically trained in a method of communicating with a person with deafblindness by blindfolding my eyes and using my index finger to trace the letters on a deaf and blind person’s palm. Such communication conveyed to me a real picture that people with deafblindness will feel included in any circumstances they find themselves in.
Another wonderful lesson learnt from the symposium was Sign Language content standards and Deaf studies objectives using AI (Artificial Intelligence), bilingual literacy strategies, mini-project implementations and mini-project monitoring, the most current and effective practice in the science class, and station lesson plans.
The symposium was covered with the final proposal presentation. There was a variety of project ideas covered among sixteen MMP participants, their schools, locations and project titles. It was our school’s turn when my co-teacher and I presented our project titled “Spelling Bee for Deaf Students”. At the end of the presentation, our school came first in the top five. With this project experience, I have got so far, I will host a spelling bee and provide activities that will improve students’ spelling.
It means so much to me that the Deaf-E3 team selflessly gave me knowledge, solidarity, collegiality, understanding and most importantly professionalism. They also designed some training for me to build on what we learned in the first and second Deaf-E3 activity MMP symposium; I am upgrading my knowledge because it is essential to keep learning new things.