The first day of the new academic year for deaf students at the Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services. Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News

Sharjah: From a new sign language class to the use of advanced technology, the Al Amal School and Kindergarten for deaf students will be introducing new teaching methods this academic year.

Welcoming 65 students back to school yesterday, Bassim Abdul Gaffar, Supervisor of Rehabilitation and Education at the school, said that the school will be introducing an American Sign Language class in the school’s curriculum with the aim of preparing students who want to continue their education in universities abroad.

“The official language in the school is Emirati sign language, but we will start implementing American Sign Language to help students who want to study in the US after they graduate save money and time,” he told Gulf News.

Following the mainstream curriculum and books fixed by the UAE government, the school will also be adopting a new method of teaching through iPads this year.

“We started using iPads last year which proved to be very beneficial so we will be spreading the use of iPads to most students as we mainly focus on visual learning in our classes,” said Abdul Gaffar.

Using visual methods of teaching such as models, power-point presentations, special software, and learning through class trips, the school provides the students with classes in all educational fields.

“We take students on class trips to different places like pharmaceutical companies for their chemistry class where they can learn visually,” said Abdul Gaffar.

He added that students attend all academic classes such as Arabic and English language classes, science classes, math and social studies classes as well as art, physical education and music classes.

Advanced help

Listed as one of the school’s latest services, a new class for students who suffer from hearing difficulties as well as any other disability has been opened in line with the new academic year.

“We have five students so far and two more on the waiting list,” said Abdul Gaffar. The school will allow children with multiple disabilities integrate into the school system.

Another afternoon school for adults with hearing disabilities will also be opened this year. “This school is for adults who may have not been able to start or continue their education because they didn’t get the chance or were living in rural areas,” explained Abdul Gaffar.

The school for adults starts next Sunday.

Music class

Despite not being able to hear the music, students attending music class at Al Amal School learn how to read musical notes and feel the melody in their own special way.

“We use three different methods to deliver the music to the students,” said Abdul Gaffar.

For students with hearing aids and cochlear implants, music is played out loud as they are able to hear some sound. Music is however played in low frequency sound for students who are completely deaf so that they can feel the melody and beats through vibrations. “With low frequency sound, the students can feel the vibrations through their bodies,” he added.

Other students feel and understand the music through light perception. “We use different colours for each note so that students can learn to read and write musical notes,” he said.

Operating under the Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, the school for students with hearing disabilities which was established in 1979 has 12 classes starting at grade 1 up to grade 12 as well as kindergarten.

Located in the Yarmouk area in Sharjah, the school has a total of 36 staff members ranging from teachers, speech and language therapists to special workers and sign language interpreters.