Inclusion of the Hearing Impaired: A Loving Story of a Sign Language MOI Teacher 聾生的守護天使 — 手語教師的故事
BESGO*, an acronym of Business Education for Social Good, is a newly inaugurated program funded by CUHK with its aim at educating our youngsters on how social good, creating shared value (CSV), social innovation (SI), social entrepreneurship (SE) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) shape today’s economies, as well as how all these will sculpt the future of our society.
Effort for Inclusion
Recently, one of the program’s Honorary Associates, Anita Ng, divulged a loving story of her own during an interview conducted with BESGO. Miss Ng, alumna of CUHK, graduated from Professional Accountancy and minored in Linguistics (Hong Kong Sign Language). After graduation, she has started working as an Economics teacher for deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) students using sign language as medium of instruction (MOI).
What was the underlying reason that caused Anita to become a sign language Economics teacher rather than pursuing a career in the “Big Four” accounting firms? It all began when she had confirmed after a period of internship that the field of accountancy was not where her passion resided. With her newfound realization, she altered the direction of her career path by joining a program established by the CUHK Business School professors called Young Economist Scheme, which aimed at offering tutorial and mentoring service for underprivileged high school students. It was then she started to discover her real passion. She felt inspired with teaching students of different backgrounds and of different needs. Well trained in sign language, she later came into contact with some organizations that aimed to provide sign language support towards hearing-impaired people, laying the foundation to her new career path of being a sign language MOI teacher.
What It Takes to Sign
“Many people think that the skill of sign language is not an area of expertise and this belief limits the number of new teachers joining in sign language MOI teaching,” Anita said. She further explained the difficulties facing the field of sign language MOI teaching. The sign language program she attended in CUHK had once been virtually terminated due to the lack of enrollment. Thus, she very much treasured her opportunity of being able to learn and teach with sign language. As well, the sign language MOI teaching centre by which Anita has been employed almost came into closure due to severely insufficient funding for DHH students’ education at the very beginning. Despite the radical challenges, the centre managed to survive. Nonetheless, “it was sad and disappointing to learn after then that a number of DHH students did not recognize the staff and teachers’ devotion, nor did they show corresponding appreciation for this invaluable opportunity of receiving sign language MOI classes,” Miss Ng recalled. “Having no one to back up the efforts in sign language MOI teaching,” she did think of quitting it while it seemed meaningless to carry on. Even so, Anita still persistently offered support to hearing-impaired students so as to letting them receive equal opportunity in education. “I should be taking the initiative to step forward and put more effort in teaching DHH students,” she emphasized on this point when talking about the reason why she was willing to fully devoting herself into this.
Thus far, the Cantonese-based secondary school in which Anita has been teaching was the only partnering school of the Sign Bilingualism and Co-enrollment in Deaf Education Programme. This program was established in 2006 by the Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies, CUHK. The program aimed at teaming up teachers of both spoken and sign languages to administer an inclusive MOI education for the two sorts of students at the same time and in the same classroom. This created an inclusive learning environment and presented more accessible options for facilitating the comprehension of course content, like Economics. In this setting, the subject teachers using spoken language were required to have a sense of empathy to accommodate the needs of DHH students and provide adequate visual aids like notes and PowerPoint slides to better present the content of their teachings. All unexpected changes in the lesson plan would greatly increase the burden of the sign language MOI teachers. “It is tough to do live interpretation with sign language for a video if my partner teacher suddenly plays an educational clip without subtitles in the middle of a lesson,” said Anita.
Outside of the classroom, Anita also needed to deal with challenges of various kinds. For example, she had once received messages early in the morning from a hearing-impaired parent who requested her help for an urgent amendment on the schedule of a hospital appointment. Also, in case parents did not know sign language, teachers of sign language would sometimes act as a bridge for the communication between the two generations. Hence, Anita has always been passionate about her job even though the corresponding responsibilities for sign language MOI teachers were more than that of ordinary school teachers.
True Beauty Unveiled
“Care and empathy are regarded as the two major ingredients on the universal recipe for bond building between students of DHH and mainstream groups,” she believed. “All these years as a teacher, I have witnessed many touching moments brought in through the sincerest friendship between the groups. Last year, one of my mainstream students who did not know sign language took the initiative to making friend with a DHH classmate. But they found it hard to communicate with each other and I suggested them to put it in writing. Later on, they finally became very good friends through the pen-and-paper approach,” said Anita compassionately. “Isn’t that what we call intermingling and inclusion?!”
“Hearing-impaired people are the same capable as we are, yet their opportunities offered by the society are apparently thinner,” Miss Ng emphasized. “With considerably less support in Hong Kong against that of the western societies, most DHH students have no choice but to study in the unfittingly equipped mainstream schools as, for the whole city, there is only one DHH inclusive secondary school. Although the Sign Bilingualism and Co-enrollment in Deaf Education Programme generously offers funding and well-rounded supports, not much can be done so far by just a single social program. Having said that, I still wish to encourage all the hearing-impaired people to have confidence in themselves and take positively the genuine care from others.”
And You Are Welcome
This adoring anecdote of the city’s topnotch business talent tenderly demonstrates how proficient business education can do good to our beloved society in ways other than merely out of the industry. Hence, do not self-effacingly impose limitation on how to follow the passion! To date, Anita continues to keep working closely with CUHK in the advocacy of Economics on Hand, which facilitates the inclusive education between DHH and mainstream students. The scheme is managed by the mutual efforts of Miss Ng and Dr. Fred Ku, Assistant Dean of the CUHK Business School. It truly is a meaningful scheme and hopefully, more programs alike will soon be extended to other school subjects as well. If you, dear readers, also find interest in this mission and would like to connect with the scheme managers, please feel free to browse the following websites for more details.
Sign Bilingualism and Co-enrollment in Deaf Education Programme:
Economics on Hand (手說經濟) Youtube Channel:
*BESGO is a program funded by CUHK with its aim at educating our youngsters on how social good, creating shared value (CSV), social innovation (SI), social entrepreneurship (SE) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) shape today’s businesses, as well as how all these will sculpt our society’s future.
聾生的守護天使 — 手語教師的故事
「當很多人都不是很支持的時候，真的好像跌落谷底，所做的事都全無意義。」 但這些艱難經歷令她明白，不可將自己的期望硬套在學生身上，更不應苛責這群聽力較遜的學生。聾生的學習能力其實與一般學生無異，所缺的只是一個有心教學的老師。 Anita作為老師，有感自己更應踏出一步，令知識更流暢地傳達給聾生。
即使手語教學擔子不輕，但 Anita十分熱愛她的工作。「聾生與其他學生一樣的可愛，一樣的氣人。」 Anita笑道。對她而言，聾生並沒有「輸在起跑線」，他們與健聽學生能力相當，對她都一樣重要。聾生雖然聽力不足，但感覺有時比他人更為敏銳，更擅於觀人於微，在溝通方面有時比其他學生更出色。
Economics on Hand (手說經濟) Youtube 頻道:
Student Reporters: Lam Tat Hin (IBBA/2), Wong Hong Ting (IBBA/2), Chow Shuk Wa (HIST/3) and Lam Mei Suet (IBBA/2)