Towards Participation of Hearing-Impaired Learners from the South: Implications of Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

 

By Ngozi Chuma Umeh, who obtained the degrees LLB, LLM from Imo and Abia State University respectively, and LLD from the University of Pretoria South Africa. She is a lecturer in the department of Jurisprudence and International Law at Imo State University Owerri, Nigeria. The title of her doctoral thesis was ‘Realising the right to inclusive education for hearing-impaired learners in Nigerian Primary schools’.

 

Abstract

 

The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) global reports show that the current literacy rate of persons who are hearing-impaired is very low, with the implication that most hearing-impaired learners after going through primary school, both in special and regular schools still tend to find it very difficult to read and write. They also do not do well in achievement scores. They remain emotionally and economically dependent on other people and find it very difficult to claim constitutionally specified rights as well as participate fully in society. The CRPD encourages us to contemplate how states can mutually take advantage of it. Hence, this paper adopts a prescriptive approach to focus on aspects of early child learning and formal and informal education as constituent parts of how arguments for inclusive education for hearing-impaired learners is conceptualised and developed. This article has implications, mainly towards participation of persons with disabilities, including hearing-impaired learners from the South. The term ‘South’ as used is synonymous with ‘transitional countries’ or ‘developing countries’. The term is technically used to differentiate technically advanced countries and recipient countries without the connotation that ‘North’ presents a perfect model in terms of the human rights of persons with disabilities, including hearing-impaired learners. For our purpose, the hearing-impaired is a word used to render visible the extreme kind of invisibility which is experienced by learners when they do not participate in society. This paper uses examples from Nigeria and South Africa to contextualise its arguments and it has three sections, excluding the introductory and concluding parts. The first section presents the relevance of inclusive education. Lots has been written about inclusive education, but thinking on its relevance for hearing-impaired learners is rare. Section two and three then explore issues of early child learning and formal and informal learning, as constituent parts of how arguments for the inclusive education of the hearing-impaired learner is conceptualised. The fifth section is the conclusion.

 

Introduction

 

In 2012, the World Health Organisation estimated that disabling hearing loss in children is worst in South Asia, Asia Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa.[1] According to the report, sub-Saharan Africa has approximately seven million children with disabling hearing loss. Additionally, the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) global reports[2] show that the current literacy rate of hearing-impaired learner is very low, with the implication that most hearing-impaired learners after going through primary school, both in special and regular schools still tend to find it very difficult to read and write. Education for persons with disabilities is not prioritised in the financial planning in many countries in the South. For instance, most hearing-learners in Nigeria do not benefit from the general education system or disability-specific prerogatives.[3] Most Nigerian hearing-impaired learners are illiterate without opportunities for quality education. Consequently, they do not have a means to communicate because they often use foreign sign language rather than establish Nigerian sign language or even home signs/gestures. This is reflected in the fact that it is difficult to come across a hearing-impaired person occupying top executive positions or among members of the Nigerian National Assembly or any of the various state Houses of Assembly in Nigeria. Without a doubt, similar situations surely exist in other countries.

 

 

 

 

 

Relevance of Achieving Inclusive Education for Hearing-Impaired Learners

 

As highlighted earlier, the proportion of children with disabling hearing loss is significant.[4] It has also been indicated that the current literacy rate of hearing-impaired learners is very low.[5] Hearing impairment is usually not noticed and not discussed, yet it is a condition growing in magnitude and prevalence. This demonstrates the importance of inclusive education for hearing-impaired learners in all the countries in the world, and most particularly in South Asia, Asia Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa. There is no record that any country has achieved equality for and non-discrimination in education of all its citizens, including persons with disabilities and particularly for hearing-impaired learners. For example, in South Africa, you cannot measure discrimination well enough with the number of learners in primary schools when learners with disabilities, including hearing-impaired learners have not been registered as part of the general education system, and when they do not receive necessary accommodation within that system.[6]

 

The underlining idea here is that inclusive education, particularly concerning the inclusion of hearing-impaired learners, matters. This requires “actively seeking out children who are enrolled, and responding flexibly to the circumstances and needs of all learners”[7] from which the state will eventually benefit in the future. The following examples are from Nigeria and South Africa. They persuasively speak to the necessity for inclusive education for hearing-impaired learners.

 

“I lost my hearing at the age of one, following a fever. It was very difficult for my parents. It was only when I went to a primary school for the deaf that my parents began to think that I would have a future. I often have to travel many kilometres to attend school. I could not achieve high level of education because teaching methodologies were not adapted to my needs. After primary my school, due to low grades, my family decided that I would no longer attend school. During these years I taught myself to plait hair. Thanks to the owner of a local hair salon who saw me and took me as a suitable candidate to train in modern hair dressing. My apprenticeship of eight months strengthened my hairdressing skills. This became my profession”.[8]

 

“In South Africa, when I was working for my LLD, my housemate told me her elder sister who is a pharmacist has a hearing problem. She said that at first, her hearing problem came with a lot of challenges because there was no program supporting early identification and so the recognition and diagnosis of her hearing loss happened late, when she was taken to primary school. But because her parents understood that hearing-impairment does not mean having no future, they enrolled her in a special school for the deaf because she could not get a place in a regular school. They also got her a speech and language therapist. In the end her sister was able to achieve a high level of education because she had access to specialised professional in early child training and development. My housemate said her families difficulties would have been less if they got professional services for her sister earlier.”[9]

 

The above examples present persons with hearing-impairment as individuals wishing to lead a full and interesting life. It also shows that education is a powerful tool for hearing-impaired learners. Education equips people with the knowledge, self-reliance and valuable communication skills to surmount systemic obstacles and barriers to inclusion. Although there are special schools for hearing-impaired learners, the most widely advocated approach under the CRPD is inclusive education. This inclusive education approach can effectively take place either in a regular school or a special school.[10] This approach requires early specialist support, accommodations and the development of teachers’ skills in formal and informal education.[11]    

To better meet the needs of hearing-impaired learners it is considered that the integration of informal and non-formal learning approaches, and early child learning and language development in the formal education of hearing-impaired learners can secure full participation for hearing-impaired learners. Early child intervention services have particularly been implicated in the development of communication skills for the hearing-impaired learner for purposes of achieving inclusive education.[12] Several scholars emphasise that lack of early identification of hearing loss as well as delay in providing accommodations, affect the linguistic, social and educational development of the hearing-impaired learner.[13]

 

Accordingly, the conceptualisation of inclusive education for hearing-impaired learners in this paper promotes the appreciation of learner diversities as a way of enhancing and democratising learning opportunities. Informal and non-formal learning, which will be discussed in this contribution, is also implicated in soliciting personalised approaches about the inclusive need of every learner. However, in the broadest sense, one important remark to make about achieving inclusive education for hearing-impaired learners is that a combination of strong points of core universal concepts like the universal design learning,[14] early child care and education, and informal and non-formal learning would practically have positive consequences for hearing-impaired learners. Personalised approaches as conceived are expected to happen within the general education system. This is in connection with the call that the major aspect of inclusion is not the individualisation but the diversification of educational provision and the personalisation of common learning experiences.[15] Indeed the idea tilts towards universal concepts that contemplate diversity in the education of learners within the general education system right from the proposal stage.[16] The next section will discuss universal concepts like early child learning and language development and informal and non-formal learning approaches in turn.

 

Early Childhood Care Education

 

On considerations of morality, no one category of learner is better than the other, but rather, every child possesses the potential to learn and will learn differently from other peers. However, it needs to be stated that early childhood care and education is considered a critical step in equipping a hearing-impaired child for lifelong learning and development, as it increases self-sufficiency and diminishes a child’s risk of social-emotional academic challenges.[17] Early identification (from zero to six months) and early intervention are closely related and are part of the same process towards natural language development for the hearing-impaired.[18] Childhood usually extends from zero to the age of compulsory primary education which is about the age of five.[19] Consequently early childhood screening and education assists in exploring different facets of child development as well as learning in order to gain understanding on how to support infants and pre-school learning before the start of formal or informal schooling.[20]

 

Early child care and education can be understood as providing education in a learner’s most determinative years. This is in line with ‘facilitating integral human fulfilment’ as it encompasses shaping lives and directing choices as reason requires.[21] A child at this stage has been identified as steadily discovering different avenues to personal fulfilment.[22] The child then uses language not only to explain what he wants but to choose what he wants. Research has shown that early child care and education increases a child’s IQ scores by 4-11 points, improves childhood performance, increases vocabulary acquisition, improves cognitive skills as well as the ability to interact and work with classmates.[23] Likewise, from zero to two years has been stated to be a very significant period for cognitive and language development of every child.[24] It is also within this period that the hearing-impaired learner is possessed or dispossessed of practices and processes that advance and facilitate healthy language development.[25] 

 

Philosophically, the terms ‘early’ and ‘care’ considerably imply something additional to education in the sense of identifying the strength in every child, and moving the state and other stakeholders to adopt policies and practices that incorporate each learner’s needs and interests within the general education system soon enough. In effect, a lack of early language development and limited exposure to necessary communicative skills/modes consequently results in low academic performance and difficulties for the hearing-impaired learner at the primary and other levels of schooling.[26]

 

Studies have concluded that signed language is equivalent to spoken language in certain respects.[27] Hence language deprivation as Humphries et al teach is the disadvantage that the hearing-impaired learner suffers where he does not obtain adequate language input to acquire or learn, or be eagerly disposed to grow cognitive abilities early enough.[28] Early exposure to signed language from date of birth, however, diminishes this disadvantage.[29] Research has further indicated that early exposure to local/home signs and access to substantial language background developed along the line of language conversant to the hearing-impaired child enhances early vocabulary build up and increases opportunities for learning.[30] Another study has shown that children who are bilingual do not experience delays in the achievement of early language goals when they use their respective native/local languages.[31] More so, Berens et al, Jasinska and Petitto provide the understanding that the age of first language and first bilingual language exposure (a process of linking the first language and the second language) also influences to a greater extent the hearing-impaired learner’s ability to develop reading skills.[32] Consequently, it could be taken that visual learning if developed alongside early acquisition of local signed language contributes to the hearing-impaired learner’s literacy development.

 

Furthermore, research has shown that early visual language environment affects visual processing and increases skill in joint-attention that assists children to shift eye gaze which facilitates vocabulary development.[33] Early visual language exposure (home/local signs), together with early visual attention developed by the hearing-impaired child has also been found to contribute to reading and language development.[34] Studies in bilingual education further exemplify that cognitive advantage, the ability to manipulate languages, problem-solving, attention control and task exchange can be derived from learning two languages.[35] In addition, children that are bilingual have been found to have greater intellectual flexibility and understanding to language meanings than those who are monolingual.[36] Bilingual language exposure is synonymous with the use of signed language in a language that the learner is familiar with as first language and another spoken language as a second language. This approach is less confusing to learners.[37]

 

These findings illustrate that the hearing-impaired learner in Nigeria can also experience analogous academic benefits from learning local Nigerian signs and spoken English and signs through print, visual processing and listening (depending on the individual learner’s disposition).[38] Moreover, it has been demonstrated that early signed language acquisition does not inhibit hearing-impaired children from adopting or learning speech, rather early signed language acquisition enhances the possibility of spoken language development for children who prefer to use spoken language.[39] Accordingly, learning to read and write language is a very necessary educational component for hearing-impaired learners in Nigeria, and early exposure to signed language and other communicative modes has implications for cognitive and literacy development.

 

Hence, there is a connection between local signed language and language of instruction in the pre-school and early stage of primary school, which is fundamental. It is at this stage that support for families and support for the learner between the home and the school begins. It should reasonably start by sensitising families and the society to appreciate the necessity for a holistic development approach for every learner in terms of substantial language exposure before school age.  

 

All children have a right to language[40] and that of the hearing-impaired child cannot be an exception. Signed language as visual language is an accessible language for most hearing-impaired learners and timely exposure to this language as early as possible is critical to education and academic success. Thus any hope for improvement in the education of the hearing-impaired learner lies in timely advancement of signed language and other communicative skills and modes. Achieving meaningful participation within Nigeria’s socio-economic and political environment for hearing-impaired learners will require appropriate early visual language input, visual learning and spoken English language. Here, spoken English language is considered necessary because of its use in Nigeria as formal language.

 

Early child care and education are practical approaches that enhance lifelong learning for a child, and has to be realised through policy and practice for every learner in Nigeria – particularly hearing-impaired learners and other learners with disabilities. It is also an augmentative process.[41] The state has the responsibility to ensure that its institutions, agencies and policy-makers in education recognise the importance of early visual language needs of the hearing-impaired learner, which has been noted to enhance progressive development for the hearing-impaired learner on a level commensurate with learners who hear.[42] In fact, this parallels Stein’s ‘disability human rights paradigm’ which like the prescriptive approach, argues for the development of individual talent based on individual worth and value.[43] Stein further lays emphasis on the society’s role in creating disability and its responsibility to compensate disability-based marginalisation.[44]  Admittedly, Nigerian citizenship belongs to us all and it is the responsibility of the Nigerian government to provide safeguards through regulations and policy in order to ensure that each hearing-impaired learner is accessing an education comparable with hearing learners’ academic outcomes. This is based on the moral imperative that every individual is entitled to the means necessary to develop individual potential.

 

Informal and Non-Formal Learning 

 

Along the line of lifelong learning and social development of children with disabilities as emphasised under the CRPD, informal and non-formal education is considered relevant under formal primary education within the general education system.[45] In construing informal and non-formal education as part of how inclusive education for the hearing-impaired learner is conceptualised in this study, it is pointed out that the idea is not to provide a detailed discourse or explore the assumptions underlying the concepts of informal and non-formal education. Rather, the centrality lies in establishing linkages with the different forms of learning (formal primary education, non-formal and informal learning) while highlighting the priorities of inclusive equality.

 

Thus, informal and formal learning as used in this context basically refer to the system of continuous learning, where the curriculum is expanded in line with capacity and confidence building, using various sources of communication, and where every learner is patiently motivated towards attitudes, principles and skills that are inclusion oriented.[46] In this light, there is the understanding that each learner is welcomed and is considered unique in terms of learning needs.[47]

 

Critically, people could see non-formal or informal learning as education for persons we perceive as ‘other’. But it is a legitimate form of education that is also for all and needs to be incorporated into formal education curriculum so that its benefits can be universalised.[48] To participate fully in the society is not only a struggle for vulnerable groups like persons with disabilities, including the hearing-impaired learner,[49] but is about human development and it is the struggle of any human person as has been aptly stated.[50] Historical evidence demonstrates that within and even outside the Nigerian context, individuals gain frequently from non-formal or informal learning.[51]

 

Kisanji argues that several approaches and methods believed to facilitate learning in contemporary schools have been the natural part of African indigenous education.[52] African indigenous education was considered informal but was collaborative, continuing and substantially diversified.[53] The wider community as well as the age grade and apprenticeship system encouraged learning practices which were woven around the political, financial, religious and physical life of the people.[54] Learning was responsive, democratised as well as remedial in emphasising relevance, respect for all, fairness and socio-economic and political justice. Within this process, individuals implicitly derive a purpose as it promotes skills acquisition and encourages self-reliance. It also facilitates the development of participatory values as well as basic standards of justice.[55]

 

Nigeria as an African state can still adapt and integrate these indigenous practices in the interest of primary school learners and especially for the hearing-impaired learner to promote learning.  Formal education has been found unable to cater to the needs of every learner as its curriculum is often directed at responding to the academic needs of the dominant majority.[56] Discriminatory attitudes and practices that promote unequal treatment in the education of persons with disabilities including the hearing-impaired is a major challenge that limits opportunities for them. Consequently, our values as a nation as well as socio-economic and cultural contexts ought to inform what learners are taught and how they are taught.

 

While appreciating the benefits of informal and non-formal education as an inclusive part of how the hearing-impaired learner should learn, it is necessary to emphasise that informal and non-formal learning should not become a substitute or an excuse for not abating discriminatory laws and practices inherent in formal education delivery for the hearing-impaired learner. It must also not be an alternative towards making the needed accommodations which are significant for the formal education of the hearing-impaired learner. In other words, we must try to create a balance. This balance lies in having the necessary knowledge to be both creative and flexible in the classroom .[57] The imperative of exemplifying commitment within the general education system is also implicated.[58]

 

Facilitating inclusive learning, imagining a feasible future and developing skills and potentials towards actualising what has been learnt is considered an objective good. By thinking about a feasible future for learners, we need to imagine a society that promotes integral human flourishing, appreciates difference and values human dignity and respect. This must be why Ferreira da Cunha in her natural law theory of social justice insisted that every citizen, has a right to free development of his person in recognition of his dignity. The scholar explains it thus: 

 

“A person, citizen A, B, C, etc with no discrimination has a general right to the free development of his/her personality and to the real, effective, practical recognition of his/her dignity. This obligates that those among A, B, C, etc., who have nothing or almost nothing by the strict iron logic of the juridical title should be helped (of course, being not a slave, one has at least some recognisable rights to himself or herself: it seems that nobody is absolutely deprived of everything...). They should not however, be helped by charity, but by solidarity, and not through the mere free will of private philanthropies, but through a political means: Social justice. Namely this help must be given by means of social security.”[59] 

Ferreira da Cunha’s perception reinforces the understanding of transforming the society and the general education system through supportive practices, culture and structures that accommodate diversity as many have accentuated.[60] Hence, it supports the normative directive that the general school system must be restructured to accommodate all learners, including learners with disabilities.[61]

 

The school system is expected to focus on training the abilities of children with disabilities, including the hearing-impaired learner instead of highlighting deficits. Other responsibilities involve awakening the interest of learners within friendly environments, improving teachers’ commitment towards all learners and the curricula content made learner centred.  The removal of labels like ‘mute’, ‘deaf mute’, ‘onye ogbu’ which means ‘a dumb person’ as the hearing-impaired is popularly referred to in the Igbo language in Nigeria is also considered necessary. As a nation, there is need to have insights concerning the future and the situations that individuals face so that committed plans and coordinated decisions can be made in other to harmonise individual opportunities.

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

From the foregoing discussions, it can be drawn that inclusive education for the hearing-impaired learner does not lie merely in placement options. It is therefore prescribed that achieving inclusive participation for hearing-impaired learners must start from the general education system. It is argued that equality and non-discrimination principles underscore any choice between a regular school and special school placement for the hearing-impaired learner. Ideas of the universal design learning, early child education and informal and non-formal approaches are also considered as constituent parts of how inclusive education is to be conceived for the hearing-impaired learners. Article 24 of the CRPD - in demanding for the inclusive education hearing-impaired learner - does not affirm the promotion of hierarchical difference. Due to the heterogeneity of hearing impairment, the impact or effect of hearing impairment on learners will depend not only on the type of hearing impairment but on the attitude and values of the community learners live in. Certainly, valuing the dignity and personhood of hearing-impaired learners require the socio-political and cultural environment to respond positively to human diversity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

Bauman, HL ‘Introduction: Listening to Deaf Studies’ in H-Dirksen L. Bauman (ed) Open

Ferreira da Cunha, PF Rethinking natural law (Springer: New York 2013) 

Finnis, J Natural law and natural rights (Oxford University Press: Oxford 1980)

Neaum, N Child development for early childhood studies (Sage: London 2013)

Omolewa, M ‘The practice of lifelong learning in indigenous Africa’ in Carolyn, Medel- A (ed) Integrating lifelong learning perspectives (UNESCO Institute for Education: Hamburg, Germany 2002)

Somtrakod, S ‘Lifelong learning for a modern society’ in Carolyn, Medel- A (ed) Integrating lifelong learning perspectives (UNESCO Institute for Education: Hamburg, Germany 2002)

Stein, MA ‘Disability human rights’ in Waissbrodt, D & Rumsey, M (eds) Vulnerable and marginalised groups and human rights (Edward Elger: Cheltenham 2011)

Torres, RM ‘Lifelong learning in the North, education for all in the south’ in Carolyn, Medel- A (ed) Integrating lifelong learning perspectives (UNESCO Institute for Education: Hamburg, Germany 2002)

Jasinka, kk & Petitto, LA ‘How age of bilingual exposure can change the neural systems for language in the developing brain: A functional near infrared spectroscopy investigation of syntactic processing in monolingual and bilingual children’ (2013) 6 Development Cognitive Neuroscience 87

Ngwena, CG ‘Western Cape forum for intellectual disability v Government of South Africa:  A case study of contradictions in inclusive education’ (2013) 1 African Yearbook on disability 139

Petitto, LA; Zatorre RJ; Gauna, K; Nikelski, EJ; Dostie, D &Evans, AC ‘Speech-like cerebral activity in profoundly deaf people processing signed languages: Implications for the neural basis of human language’ (2000) 97 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 13961

Petitto, LA & Holowka, S ‘Evaluating attributions of delay and confusion in young bilinguals: Special insights from infants acquiring a signed and a spoken language’ (2002) 3 Sign Language Studies 4

Philpot, S ‘Too little, Too small? The CRPD as a standard to evaluate South African legislation and policies for early childhood development’ (2014) 2 African Disability Rights Yearbook  51

Stein, MA ‘Disability human rights’ (2007) 95 California Law Review 75

International human rights instruments, declaration guidelines and other statements

Unite Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities General Comment No 4: Right to inclusive education CRPD/C/GC/4 (2016)

United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities GA Res. 61/611, adopted on 13 December 2006, and entered into force on 3 May 2008

World Education Forum, the Dakar Framework for Action, Education for All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments Dakar, Senegal, 26-28 April 2000

Case South Africa

Western Cape Forum for Intellectual Disability v Government of the Republic of South Africa & Another 2011 5 SA 87 (WCC) Western Cape High Court.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] WHO factsheet 2012 http://www.who.int/mediacenter/factsheets/fs300/en/ (accessed 24 October 2013).

[2] H Hauland & C Allen ‘Deaf people and human rights’ (2009) Report of the World Federation of the Deaf 34.

[3] See Unpublished: NC Umeh ‘Realising the right to inclusive education for hearing-impaired learners in Nigeria’ unpublished PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, 2017.

[4] WHO factsheet 2012 (n 1 above).

[5] Hauland & Allen (n 2 above)

[6] As can be drawn from a reading of Western Cape Forum for Intellectual Disability v Government of the Republic of South Africa & Another 2011 5 SA 87 (WCC). Where a High Court found the state policy (White paper 6) as inter alia violating the children’s right to human dignity and amounting to stigmatisation. In this case, the South African White Paper 6 policy excluded learners with severe and profound intellectual disabilities in the provision of schools and in the funding of their education.

[7] Dakar Framwork of Action, 2000.

[8] Experience of growing up in a rural Nigerian community, as described by my hair stylist.

[9] Experience of my housemate’s sister.

[10] For a detailed understanding of this approach see Umeh (n 3 above).

[11] As above.

[12] D Chen et al L ‘Lessons from project PLAI (Promoting Learning through Active Interaction) in California and Utah: Implications for early intervention services to infants who are deaf-blind and their families’ (2000) 7 Deaf-Blind Perspectives 1.

[13] Articulated from a reading of Karamicheal’s work see Unpublished: JP Karamicheal ‘Experiences of a deaf learner in a mainstream high school’ unpublished  PhD thesis, University of Johannesburg  2004 25; C Padden ‘Early bilingual lives of deaf children’ in I Parasnis (ed) Cultural and language diversity: Reflections on the deaf experience (1996) 99; T Humphries et al ‘Language acquisition for deaf children: Reducing the harms of zero tolerance to the use of alternative approaches’ (2012) 9 Harm Reduction Journal 1.

[14] This has been discussed elsewhere.

[15] BR Guijarro ‘Conceptual framework of inclusive education’ in Acedo C, Amadio M, & Opertti R (eds) Defining an inclusive education Agenda: Reflections around the 48th session of the International Conference on Education (2009) 11.

[16] As above.

[17] See General Comment No 4 on inclusive education, adopted by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2 September 2016, CRPD/C/GC/4, paras 12(c) & 65; S Philpot ‘Too little, too small? The CRPD as a standard to evaluate South African legislation and policies for early childhood development’ (2014) 2 African Disability Rights Yearbook  51.

[18] C Yoshinaga-Itano & ML Apuzzo ‘The development of deaf and hard of hearing children identified early through the high risk registry’ (1998) 143 American Annals of the Deaf 416.

[19] International Standard of Education (ISCED) (1997) para 46; UNESCO Holistic Early Childhood Development Index (HECDI) framework: A technical guide (2014) 12.

[20] S Philpot ‘Too little, too small? The CRPD as a standard to evaluate South African legislation and policies for early childhood development’ (2014) 2 African Disability Rights Yearbook 55.

[21] Grisez et al ‘Practical principles, moral truth and ultimate ends’ (1987) 32 American Journal of Jurisprudence 119.

[22] S Neaum Child development for early childhood studies (2013) 23

[23] SW Barnett  ‘Long term effects of early childhood programs on cognitive and school outcomes’ (1995) 5 The Future of Children  25;  Neaum (n 20 above) 24.

[24] T Humphries et al ‘Language acquisition for deaf children: Reducing the harms of zero tolerance to the use of alternative approaches’ (2012) 9 Harm Reduction Journal 45.

[25] As above.

[26] See General Comment No 4 (n 15 above) para 34(b)&(c).

[27] LA Petitto et al ‘Speech-like cerebral activity in profoundly deaf people processing signed languages; Implications for the neural basis of human language’ (2000) 97 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 13961; WFD Policy ‘WFD Statement on the Unification of Sign Languages’ January 2007http://www.wfdeaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/statement-on-the-unification-of-sign-languages-_january-2007_1.pdf. (accessed 19 December 2015).

[28] As above.

[29] As above.

[30] PA Ajavon ‘An overview of deaf education in Nigeria’ (2006) http://www.deafchildworldwide.info/document.mr?id=2875 (accessed 11 May 2015).

[31] LA Petitto & S Holowka ‘Evaluating attributions of delay and confusion in young bilinguals: Special insights from infants acquiring a signed and a spoken language’ (2002) 3 Sign Language Studies 4.

[32] M Berens et al ‘Learning to read in two languages; Should bilingual children learn reading in two languages at the same time or in sequence? Evidence of a bilingual reading advantage in children in bilingual schools from English-only homes’ (2013) 36 Bilingual Research Journal 35; KK Jasinka & LA Petitto‘How age of bilingual exposure can change the neural systems for language in the developing brain: A functional near infrared spectroscopy investigation of syntactic processing in monolingual and bilingual children’ (2013) 6 Development Cognitive Neuroscience 87.

[33] National Association of the Deaf ‘Position statement on early cognitive and language development and education of deaf and hard of hearing children’ https://www.nad.org/position-statement-early-cognitive-and-language-development-and-education-dhh-children (accessed 11 May 2014).

[34] C Chaberlain & R Mayberry ‘Theorising about the relationship between sign language and reading’ in CJ Morford & R Mayberry (eds) Language acquisition by eye ( 2000) 221.

[35] K Hakuta Mirror of language: The debate on bilingualism (1986); J Cummins Negotiating identities: Education for empowerment in a diverse society (2001); P Hauser et al ‘Development of deaf and hard of hearing students executive function’ in M Marschark & P Hauser (eds) Deaf cognition: Foundations and outcomes (2008) 286.

[36] As above.

[37] T Humphries ‘Schooling in American Sign Language: A paradigm shift from a deficit model to a bilingual model in deaf education’ (2013) 4 Berkeley Review of Education 7; P Crume ‘Teachers’ perception of promoting sign language phonological awareness in an ASL/English bilingual program’ (2013) 18 Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education 464.

[38] Inspired from a reading of S Easterbrooks & S Baker Language learning in children who are deaf and hard of hearing: Multiple pathways (2001).

[39] K Davidson et al ‘Spoken English language development among native signing children with cochlear implants’  (2014) 19 Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education 238; R Swanwick ‘The demands of a sign bilingual context for teachers and learners: An observation of language use and learning experiences’ (2001) 3 Deafness and Education International 62.

[40] CRPD, arts 21, 24(3)(a) & (b); National Association of the Deaf ‘Position statement’ (n 31 above). 

[41] CRPD, art 24(3)(a).

[42] National Association of the Deaf ‘Position statement’ (n 31 above).

[43] MA Stein ‘Disability human rights’ in D Weissbrodt & M Rumsey (eds) Vulnerable and marginalised groups and human rights (2011) 665.

[44] As above.

[45] General Comment No 4 (n 15 above) paras 8-9.

[46] See General Comment No 4 (n 15 above) para 12(g); M Omolewa ‘The practice of lifelong learning in indigenous Africa’ in Carolyn Medel- Aonuevo (ed) Integrating lifelong learning perspectives (2002) 13.

[47] As above; RM Torres ‘Lifelong learning in the north, education for all in the south’ in Medel- Aonuevo (n 44 above) 3-12. 

[48] Torres (n 45 above) 3-12. 

[49] As above.

[50] As above.

[51] Omolewa (n 44 above) 14.

[52] J Kisanji ‘Historical and theoretical basis of inclusive education’ Keynote address for the workshop on Inclusive education in Namibia: The challenge for teacher education March (1999) 11.

[53]As above; UNESCO Special needs in the classroom: Teacher resource pack (1993).

[54] Omolewa (n 44 above) 13.

[55] As above.

[56] K Somtrakod ‘Lifelong learning for a modern society’ in Medel- Aonuevo (n 44 above) 30.

[57] See General Comments No 4 (n 15 above) para 25.

[58] For these thoughts, I am grateful to Robert Dinerstein, of the American University Washington College of Law for providing these insights during discussions with him at the Disability Rights in an African Context Short Course 14-18 March 15, 2016.

[59] PF Ferreira da Cunha  Rethinking natural law (2013) 53.

[60] A Dyson et al ‘Making space in the standard agenda: Developing inclusive practices in schools’ (2003) 2 European Educational Research Journal 228 244; CG Ngwena ‘Western Cape Forum for Intellectual Disability v Government Republic of South Africa: A case study of contradictions in inclusive education’ (2013) 1 African Disability Rights Yearbook 142.

[61] See CRPD art 24, para 1; General Comment No 4 (n 15 above) para 8.