Equipping Teachers for More Inclusive Classrooms

October 4th, 2023 | Stories

Ms. Shanta is a dedicated secondary school resource teacher in Nepal for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Though Ms. Shanta used basic sign language practices, her students faced challenges engaging in lessons, as well as integrating with hearing teachers and students beyond their classroom who did not sign. With limited resources at her disposal, Ms. Shanta did her best, but the absence of support in prioritizing classroom management, arranging her students’ seating, and accessing teaching and learning materials made the learning environment challenging for both her and her students.

This began to change when her school collaborated with World Education’s Leveraging Existing Accessibility Resources in Nepal (LEARN) project.

Through the project’s training on Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Ms. Shanta learned how to support and engage children with diverse needs in developing language and reading skills by presenting learning material in multiple ways and giving students a variety of opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge. The training emphasized inclusivity, personalized instruction, and the use of clear sign language.

To support these teaching practices, the LEARN project provided the school with a range of educational technology (EdTech) resources, printed materials, manipulatives, and other resources. EdTech included devices like smart TVs and tablets, as well as content such as apps and video books in Nepali Sign Language (NSL).

With UDL training and diverse learning materials like games and charts, students now have more opportunities to actively participate in activities with clear NSL instructions. Teachers select high- and low-tech materials and provide instruction as appropriate to the whole class, small groups, and individual students. They use an “I do, we do, you do” approach, allowing students to gradually build their skills with the support of NSL videos and apps, along with other educational tools like “Feed the Monster” and “Nepali Barnamala.”

Ms. Shanta supported her colleagues who don’t use sign language to learn through the app “Mero Sikai” which helps people in Nepal learn basic NSL. Students who are deaf can now better integrate with their peers, and they get support from more than a single teacher who can sign. Student attendance has increased and the quality of instructional activities and learning outcomes have improved.

In a survey at the end of the LEARN project, 100 percent of teachers reported using EdTech resources weekly, and learners who are deaf and hard of hearing showed statistically significant increases in language and literacy scores. The LEARN project was funded through the UnrestrICTed Challenge of All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD). ACR GCD is a partnership between USAID, World Vision and the Australian Government.

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