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Monday, 1 April, 2002, 07:28 GMT 08:28 UK
Deaf Kazakh pupils go online
Dr David Mikosz, regional director of a US Government internet project in Central Asia, explains how deaf teenagers are being introduced to the web.

A school in Almaty is opening the online world to the deaf and hearing impaired in central Asian republic of Kazakhstan.

The Almaty School for the Deaf has worked with a US Government agency and local businesses to develop computers and internet courses.

Several of the school's students recently attended the first of several national training sessions for deaf teenagers and adults in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana.

Pupils pleased with the course
Pupils: 'Enormous satisfaction'
"The whole training was fascinating, exciting, amazing, I cannot even express it in words," said one of the students, Elena Pegina.

Other students were equally enthusiastic.

"We received enormous satisfaction that we could pass our knowledge of the internet to others in the same way that we received it," said Katherine Nigmatulina.

Elena and Katherine are looking for jobs with businesses in Almaty and plan on using their computers skills in them.

Ambitious

Trainers from the school are now planning an ambitious training schedule to include several other cities in Kazakhstan.

The project was organized through the US State Department's Internet Access and Training Program (IATP).

David Mikosz
Mikosz: Ambitious programme in Central Asia
This program is in operation in all of the former Soviet Union. In Central Asia and several other regions, it is administered by an American organization, IREX (International Research & Exchanges Board).

The IATP in Central Asia has developed the first internet courses for the deaf and disabled in countries across Central Asia.

It sent a deaf trainer from Tashkent in Uzbekistan to the Almaty School for the Deaf who introduced the internet to students in November 2000.

Donations

Teachers from the school were able to get computers donated from local businesses and set up one of the first computer labs for deaf students in the former Soviet Union.

After winning a small grant, the school went on to create a website which defined in sign language technical and internet-specific terms needed by deaf students.

For example, there were no gestures for words such as "browser", "host" or even "internet".

The school worked with deaf scholars to create this language and make it available on their website.

Teachers from the school are impressed with how the internet has increased the children's' vocabulary, made them more curious about the world and given them career aspirations far and above what they had before.

See also:

01 Aug 01 | Media reports
Azerbaijan says it in Latin
09 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Azerbaijan
14 Aug 01 | Europe
Azeris grapple with alphabet soup
02 Nov 01 | Sci/Tech
Networking Central Asia's Silk Road
08 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Kazakhstan
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