In 2010, Ms. Chencho Om introduced an after-school speech class to seven hearing-impaired students in Drukgyel, Paro, Bhutan. Although Chencho had no background in teaching speech, she felt that someone had to take the initiative to start such a program. In 2011, the Drukgyel Deaf Unit received three foreign volunteers specialized in speech therapy for a duration of two months.
â€œTheir arrival was a blessing in disguise for my speech class,â€ said Chencho. The three volunteers were very much impressed by Chenchoâ€™s progress in her speech class and invited her to Germany and Switzerland in 2012 for five weeks.
During her visit to schools for students with hearing impairments in Germany and Switzerland, Chencho was able to observe various speech classes. She noted, â€œI am very impressed by the oral language spoken by the hearing-impaired students in the schools,â€ and she knew that many students back in Bhutan could benefit from speech instruction. This encouraged her to enroll more students in her speech class.
With the help of a few teachers from the Unit, Chencho was able to divide the children into smaller groups and conduct 50-minute classes every day after school hours. Currently, there are 30 students enrolled in her after-school speech class. Chencho also dedicates 10 minutes of her teaching time to teach speech to all her other classes.
“Through the speech class, my students are able to lip read and understand what others and speaking. They are able to produce letter sounds both in English and Dzongkha and because of that they are able to read the text in both languages. The letter sounds also help them to write the spellings correctly.”