Special Education

Pre-School For Hearing Impaired Children (Pune)

This organization rehabilitates children with hearing impairment (HI) and enables them to hear and speak. They have been successfully running the programme which is the only pre-school for hearing impaired children of 0-6 years in Maharashtra. They also have in place a team consisting of an ENT surgeon, an audiologist, a speech therapist, a hearing aid technician, special educators, a psychologist and social workers. The NGO caters to children from the interior rural areas of Pune (Khed, Manchaar). Most are from a lower socio-economic stratum of society where their parents work either as daily wage laborers or individual farmers. The children who are part of this pre-school are not only prepared for integration into regular schools, but are also trained in language and speech. At the age of six they are admitted into class I, in regular schools. Children from the age group of 0 to 1 are in the stage of early intervention. Various therapies are applied to tackle the problem of deafness. Aid fitting is done and the parents are taught to observe and take care of the children. Children between 1 and 3 years along with their parents undergo parents-infants programme. The child generally starts babbling by this time, but since they cannot hear, they are to be trained with different methods of speaking. So the children as well as the parents are trained by special teachers. Between 3 and 6 years, communication skills are developed and the children are prepared for primary school. The programme focuses on children particularly within the low income group. The parents of these children are not well educated and do not have the knowledge to train the child before admitting him or her into school. Children are placed in classes depending on their level of impairment. The teacher to student ratio is 2:7. Like any kindergarten, children at Swaranaad enjoy all the activities that normal children do at a regular school; picnics, annual gatherings, celebrating festivals along with learning to read, write and recite, to name a few. They follow a syllabus and regular tests are conducted for the children. Once they successfully complete the programme (with a fairly good grasp on language and speech) they are integrated into mainstream schools.