Archive for April, 2008

SketchUp for the Deaf

April 20, 2008

Today I started delivering my first training session in SketchUp for a group of deaf students at Resala, Nasr City. I had previously been delivering SketchUp training to regular students yet it was my first time to deliver training in SketchUp to deaf people.

I was astonished with the speed by which they understood, digested and remembered the information. From the start, I assumed that SketchUp would be a perfect match to the deaf, since they rely heavily on their visual sense to perceive the world around them so effectively their eyes act as a double purpose for them, both as eyes and as ears. Nevertheless, I was still astounded by the speed by which they absorbed the information I was giving them. Their visual abilities are superb.

When teaching to regular students, I normally repeat what I say and show them how to do something in SketchUp more than once before asking them to do it. When teaching SketchUp to regular students, I also break complex or multi-step processes into smaller parts showing students how to go ahead with each part then asking them try repeating it themselves before I go ahead with the next part of the complex or multi-step process. With the deaf, all I had to do was just show them a long complex process for once only, and they were able to repeat it after me with no mistakes even though I did it in front of them only once and without breaking it down to smaller parts! I was surprised by this despite my initial understanding that they would be faster than others and more leaned towards such a visual program.

The interesting part today was that the teaching assistant who was actually doing most of the teaching instead of me today was a 17-year old girl who had Down syndrome! I had been delivering SketchUp training sessions to her once per week for the past 5 weeks or so and now she is teaching deaf students who are older than her!

Although I had previously started learning sign language yet I seem to have forgotten almost everything I had learnt. I sure need to brush up on my sign language skills. Despite of totally forgetting almost all the signs, I was able to communicate seamlessly with the deaf most of the time. When I got stuck, I asked the girl with Down syndrome to come to the rescue. Although she has not learnt sign language before, yet she seems to communicate with them, the deaf, with ease!

There is so much to discover and so much that can delight you if you just start thinking how others, who might be less fortunate than you in some regards, can be gifted in other areas in a way that surpasses you. Only by acknowledging this truth deep within your heart will you be able to bring up the real potential of those whom others might see as incapable.

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