Here’s to the teachers

by Avril


(South Africa)

My strongest admiration goes out to those who teach deaf children and young adults – whether the teachers are themselves hearing or deaf.

Of course, from this page, all credit goes to Abbe de L’Epee for the patience and openness which he showed in learning from his students so that he could develop a proper language system. I have been a teacher for 8 years now, and I know that teachers can find it quite threatening when they don’t know “everything”, and they need to learn from their students. By being open to learning from his students, Abbe de L’Epee affirmed the identity and expertise of his students, and even in this small way he empowered each and every one of his students. Through his courage and humility, Abbe de L’Epee was able to open doors not only for his own pupils, but for many, many deaf people.

Likewise, I extend my admiration to all of those who developed this website and the learning resources found here. I am constantly aware, as I move through these units, how many thousands of hours it must have taken to get all of these resources together: videos, lesson plans, quizzes, workbooks, answer-checkers. What amazes me is the extent to which a resource like this website can empower the deaf community: empowering parents to communicate with their deaf children; empowering deaf children to master a language through which they can contribute to society; empowering hearing people to better understand the deaf community and, thus, increasing tolerance. It has been a dream of mine to become a teacher of deaf children, but here in South Africa, there are far fewer available resources to learn (South African) sign language. Through your work on this website, I am inspired to develop learning materials in order to boost the usage of South African Sign Language. While I understand that this is no small undertaking, I can fully appreciate the impact that such a website can have on both deaf and hearing people, and on society at large. So, you all are my inspirations, and I salute you! Teachers have the power to effect societal change at all levels, and I thank you for following your calling, as Abbe De L’Epee did, to bring about positive societal change.