Tue, Nov 13, 2018 - Page 4 News List

FEATURE: Hearing-impaired students overcome barriers to perform on stage, in games

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter, in Tainan

Students from the Taipei School for the Hearing Impaired pose for photographers after performing a play in Tainan about a group of science enthusiasts’ adventures during an event at the Affiliated School for Students with Hearing Impairments of National University of Tainan on Friday.

Photo: Courtesy of Covestro Taiwan

“Sometimes when I go out, I deliberately take off my hearing aid because I do not want other people to stare at me because of it,” senior-high school student Fu Hsin-hsi (傅信熹) said.

Fu, who has a mild hearing impairment, was surprisingly energetic as one of the Taipei School for the Hearing Impaired students performing on Friday at the Affiliated School for Students with Hearing Impairments of National University of Tainan in a play about a group of science enthusiasts’ adventures.

Other performers have more serious hearing impairments or rare disorders, such as Kabuki syndrome, and have to rely on teachers’ help to communicate with others.

The performance is part of Covestro Taiwan’s corporate social responsibility project to promote science at the nation’s three schools for the hearing-impaired, which each offering preschool, elementary, junior-high and senior-high programs.

The Taipei school has 136 students, the Tainan school has 168 and the Taichung school has 259, including some with intellectual disabilities, Ministry of Education data as of last month showed.

Polymer supplier Covestro commissioned Godot Theatre Company (果陀劇場) director Joyce Tsai (蔡櫻茹) to direct the production.

Tsai said she pushed her performers to memorize their lines and told teachers not to give them cues during performances, even though it takes more time for the students to understand her instructions.

Her aim is to bring her student performers closer to ordinary audiences and help them become more independent, but she had to make adjustments at times to make the show presentable, she said.

For example, she moved Fu from the back row in a dance number to the front row a few days before the performance, because Fu appeared to have a better sense of rhythm when dancing, Tsai said.

The principal of Sanwei Elementary School in Kaohsiung, Tseng Po-chien (曾博建), changed his school’s exam schedule so his pupils could see the show.

Tseng said he was deeply moved watching the performance, which he thought would be challenging for hearing-able students.

As part of the event, Covestro also organized scientific games, including one on the “Cheerios effect,” which was demonstrated by a team of junior-high students from the Taichung school.

Game participants must put a pin and a wooden piece at designated points on the surface of a container of water.

It was interesting to guide visitors to conduct the experiment, which they could only succeed at after learning the secret from them, student demonstrator Wu Shang-tse (吳尚澤) said.

While the students had received training with the school’s science club that Covestro helped establish in March, they had to demonstrate the experiment to their audience using sign and spoken language, challenging for them because their speaking capabilities vary with their hearing levels, said Hsiao Ming-hua (蕭明華), who is secretary to the Taichung school’s principal, Lin Li-jung (林麗容).

Students at the Taichung school face a variety of learning barriers, and the job of their teachers is to guide them to overcome the barriers according to their individual aptitudes, said National Taichung University of Education (NTCU) student Chen Wen-ling (陳玟伶), who is the science club’s instructor.

People with limited hearing often pay closer attention to a speaker’s facial expressions, which actually contain many messages, and thus they are more sensitive to other people’s emotions, she said.

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