As I mentioned in my first blog post, Canales Asociación Civil, the organization I founded and where I serve as director, works to improve the education of deaf children in Argentina and beyond. Often, deaf children do not have adult deaf role models that can help their fluency in sign language or show them the richness of deaf culture and community. Approximately 95% of deaf children are born into hearing families, which means that the vast majority have no deaf family members, and in many cases, not even their immediate family members learn sign language. This means that the children’s language development is not as rich as it should be. In Canales, one of our main goals is to enrich the language development of deaf children and ensure access to materials in sign language and contact with deaf adults.
One of our most exciting ongoing projects is entitled “Deaf Grandmothers Telling Stories” and connects deaf grandmothers with children in deaf schools. This way, the deaf kids get to connect with deaf senior citizens and the women get to pass on the storytelling tradition that is so central to deaf culture. The grandmothers are currently working with other deaf and hearing professionals to develop their stories – some will present classic fairy tales, others will tell stories from their childhood. Four pairs of women will visit four different deaf schools during September and October and tell their stories to the children. The stories will be filmed and uploaded to a website so deaf children, their friends, siblings and family members all over Argentina can enjoy them.
The project is proving to be an amazing way of connecting generations – the grandmothers are proud to be empowered as transmitters of important cultural traditions and the children are fascinated that deaf senior citizens even exist! Many have never met older deaf people before. The project came about when several older ladies participated in the filming of our Videobooks and then decided they wanted to be the protagonists of the next projects. ¡Vamos abuelas!WWW: Women Weave the Web