2009–2010 Scholarship Recipient

MICHELE YONETANI
Attended the International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED), July 18–22, 2010

Dear QSPAS Trustees,

Firstly, I’d like to express my sincere thanks again for kindly selecting me as the recipient of the QUOTA South Pacific Area Scholarship, in honour of your dear Quotarian, the late Beryl Winckle. It is with the great trust that you all placed in me to help meet Quota’s International service goals and to uphold the motto “we share” that I boarded the plane bound for Vancouver, to attend the International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED), July 18–22, 2010. The theme of the congress had appealed to me from the outset: “Partners in Education.” I was so excited! It’s my pleasure to now share some of the highlights with you.

Receiving an invitation to attend the ICED Leaders’ Summit, as a prelude to the conference programme came as lovely surprise. Having made the11 000 kilometres to British Columbia, I grabbed the opportunity. This event was held at the WOSK Centre for Dialogue in downtown Vancouver. Participants from 29 countries attended. Seated in concentric circles like ripples of water and each with a microphone before us, participation in the dialogue was encouraged, facilitated by a moderator. The day began with listening to the perspective of deaf youth from Asia, North America, Europe and Australia; including an invited panel of four deaf students. This provided a springboard for the remainder of the day, looking at issues facing our profession, teacher preparation and resources and partnerships needed to meet the changing needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing worldwide. Communication was supported by real time captioning, an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter and an International Sign (IS) interpreter. It was a great forerunner to the conference programme.

Each day, the programme included two keynote presentations that everyone gathered together to attend—over 600 people, from 62 different countries (managing various stages of jet-lag). It was amazing! I was especially glad to have arrived punctually the morning they called out, “And do we have anyone here from New Zealand?” Following the key-note presentations, everyone would then disperse to attend one of the six sessions that were being run simultaneously in designated rooms on two levels of the convention centre. Each session consisted of up to six speakers. I attended various sessions in the areas of Language and Literacy, Educational Environments and Early Intervention.

The presentation that I felt encompassed the partnership between researchers, educators, families and the young deaf people themselves particularly well, was that given by Sue Archbold from The Ear Foundation (UK): “Early Intervention and use of technologies—the long-term impact … do we know?” Being involved in preschool residential courses with families of deaf pre-schoolers back at van Asch Deaf Education Centre in New Zealand; I found the content particularly relevant. Another presentation that I really enjoyed was by Nassozi Kiyaga from Uganda, addressing “Unique Challenges in Developing Countries: Sub-Saharan Africa.” The case studies portrayed reminded us that 80% of the world’s deaf population are in developing countries, where just one in forty children have access to hearing aids. For further information on the ICED opening ceremony address and any of the presentations, please see the full programme of abstracts available on-line.

Now comes the biggest surprise, which I’ve left until last. My attendance at ICED enabled by your generous funding, also made it possible for me to co-present with Dr Connie Mayer of Toronto University a joint research study undertaken in New Zealand, looking at literacy achievement of deaf students with cochlear implants. It’s hard to express the pride and joy I felt, as research from New Zealand made its way to the world stage, with the written work of several of the 62 students in the study appearing on the theatre size screen. It seemed the opportune time to publicly acknowledge your valued support, as seen in the slide pictured. I assure you that I shall share what I have learned with my colleagues and continue to uphold evidence-based good practise in teaching. Thank you Quotarians for your tremendous support. May our paths cross again in the future.


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