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October 21, 2006

Vietnam mission visit US institute for education for deaf people

From: Thanh Nien Daily - Ho Chi Minh city,Vietnam - Oct 21, 2006

A group of Vietnam government officials and two Vietnamese deaf students made a visit to the New York-based Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) to learn about educating people who are deaf.

Vietnam delegates toured RIT, attended various panels and luncheons and participated in several social functions – all to learn about how deaf students are served at RIT, and to explore ways to improve laws, programs and services for deaf people in Vietnam.

“The government has a policy for disabled people including the deaf; however we need experience, exposure to other international experiences and approaches to educating the deaf,” said Luong Phan Cu, a member of the Vietnam National Assembly.

The delegation’s visit was conducted by the Postsecondary Education Network International, a program of RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) which focuses on improving the quality of postsecondary education at colleges and universities around the world.

Focusing primarily in the Pacific region, PEN-International is funded by grants to RIT from The Nippon Foundation of Japan.

Student Le Thi Thu Huong said her visit to RIT “really opened my mind. I want to bring back the idea of what deaf people can learn and what kinds of jobs deaf people can get. I see no limitations on deaf people here.”

The visiting students mentioned that in Vietnam, there was an inequality between hearing and deaf people and a lack of adequate access to some support services like notetaking. The delegation carried back to Vietnam ideas regarding how to eliminate these inequalities.

Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz, RIT vice president and NTID CEO/dean, suggested that any improvement begins with strong education. “Education is critical for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to become productive citizens and to get good jobs and support their families.”

The delegates attended several panels that focused on student counseling, access services such as interpreting and C-Print; and services for deaf students mainstreamed across RIT. In addition, delegates participated in seminars offered by students and deaf professionals from NTID and the Rochester community.

Thu Huong, who is one of the first four deaf students to ever graduate from high school in Vietnam, had a chance to reconnect with a childhood friend who is now a student at RIT.

Linh Ha, a second-year deaf student majoring in Interior Design, and Thu Huong went to the same school in Vietnam for kindergarten through second grade and enjoyed playing together as children.

Ha’s family later moved to the United States, and 16 years elapsed before Ha and Thu Huong were reunited as a result of this visit.

Ha said improvements are indeed necessary in Vietnam, such as having more teachers and interpreters.

“The government needs to become more involved with developing the deaf community in Vietnam,” she said. “This visit to RIT could very well be a promising sign for things to come.”

Source: RIT/ NTID

© 2006 Thanh Nien Daily