Historically, deaf people have been viewed as ‘less-than’ in Vietnamese society, often being considered as unintelligent and burdens to their families.
The following information may shed some light on the situation of the deaf in Vietnam:
- Some larger cities have “special schools” for deaf children. However, in rural areas, children often stay home and receive no formal education.
- Those who do receive schooling often complete only a few grades, and in Central Vietnam, rarely continue past fifth grade.
- Currently, when sign language is used in schools, it serves only as a supplemental aide to teaching, which is done through spoken and written Vietnamese.
- A common thought is that requiring deaf students to speak, regardless of individual ability to do so successfully, will make them “normal.”
- Teachers typically have no formal training in sign language, other than workshops they have attended or what they have learned from other teachers at their schools.
- Signs are sometimes made up and not understood outside the context of a particular classroom.
- Many deaf people cannot read or write. (One example is a 35 year-old deaf woman who, on her first day of sign language class, did not even know her own three-letter name!)
There are dedicated people working with the deaf population in Vietnam. Yet, there is still significant progress to be made in deaf education and advancing the societal acceptance of deaf people.