Family Friendly! Working with deaf children and their communities around the world

Family Friendly! is a new book produced by the International Deaf Children’s Society (IDCS) in collaboration with EENET. It aims to inspire others to consider the involvement of parents and families in their work with deaf children.

We gathered case studies from our network members in order to ensure that the guidance contained in the book was based on real experience from southern countries. We also wanted to bring the voices of parents and practitioners in the south to a wider audience. We will publish 35 contributions from 21 countries.

The book addresses many issues – community-based work, information, parents’ groups, keeping deaf children safe from abuse, working with deaf adults and, of course, education. For IDCS, education for deaf children can take place anywhere – in local or special schools, at home or in the community. But for inclusion to work for deaf children, they must have access to the same learning and social opportunities as other children. This means that deaf children must be supported early to learn language, and as many people as possible need to be able to communicate in a way that deaf children can understand.

The book highlights how schools, communities and families can work together to support deaf children, improve education and campaign for change.

Parents are the first teachers
“While good schools can provide a positive learning environment, it is the parents who are the first teachers of their children. The teachers provide sign language training for parents and show parents ways to assist their children to learn. This enables children and parents to communicate more effectively.”

Ms Yao Chang Zheng, mother of a deaf child, China

Parents and teachers supporting each other
“The teachers preferred children to study manual subjects like woodwork, rather than academic subjects. However, I was sure that Stephen could pass exams so I convinced the teachers to teach him these subjects. The teachers wanted parents to be more involved. When teachers see that a parent really cares for his child and is motivated to help, then they become more encouraged in their teaching role.”

Geoffrey Mukonyoro Wathigo, father of a deaf child, Kenya

“Parent trainers who are parents of deaf children have unique skills in communicating with deaf children. They speak and teach from their personal experience when they raise awareness and advocate for deaf children and their families.”

Amos Muyambo, Nyadire Primary School, Zimbabwe

“The teacher told me that if I could identify at least six deaf children in my district, I could open a deaf class. I asked my school director for permission to study Sign Language and I am now a teacher of deaf children. I have seven students, including three girls.”

Un Sileap, father of two deaf children and teacher of deaf children, Cambodia

Family Friendly! is about making a commitment to work together. It challenges practitioners to take an empowering approach to their work. This means recognising the unique expertise of families, teachers, and deaf people.

“Real inclusion requires a positive environment at school and a supportive family. We need to work hard to give more children this opportunity.”

Snigdha Sarkar, Parent Group leader, India


IDCS is dedicated to enabling deaf children to overcome poverty and isolation worldwide. We support the creation of local, national and global family-led movements to campaign for positive change for deaf children and young people. We have country programmes in Kenya and India and have supported 39 short-term projects in 27 countries worldwide.

We are a network of organisations and individuals committed to sharing information and learning. To join, see or write to us.

Family Friendly! will be available free of charge from IDCS at the end of 2007.

Kirsty Wilson, Programmes Officer
The International Deaf Children’s Society
15 Dufferin Street
London, EC1Y 8UR
Tel: +44 (0)20 7490 8656 (voice or text)
Fax: +44 (0)20 7251 5020

Fathers learning sign language, Nyadire, Kenya