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Reaching out to deaf survivors of abuse

Dear all

The historic abuse of deaf children has long been a concern for all of us working at DeafKidz International. As a charity, we exist to work towards a world where deaf children are able to live safely and without fear of abuse and exploitation. We believe a big part of that is shining a light on the wrongdoings of the past so that there is far bigger awareness of the issues faced by deaf children.

To this end, we are working with internationally-acclaimed filmmakers producing a feature film on deaf people’s experience of abuse. We believe that by supporting this initiative, and ensuring it is authentic, we can take a huge step forward in raising awareness of these issues.

We are calling on the deaf community to tell their stories. Are you a deaf woman or man in the UK who experienced abuse as a child? Are you willing to share your experience and contribute to shining a light on this long-ignored issue?

If you are, we would love to hear from you – please email us at today. Everything you say will be treated confidentially.

We would be grateful if you could share this among your contacts and networks in the UK.

It is time that as a community we all started talking about the elephant in the room: the awful, unacceptable and truly heart-breaking abuse faced by deaf children past and present. We will drive the change needed to ensure that the deaf children of tomorrow can live in a better, safer world.

Together, we will be heard.

Best regards,

Steve Crump
Founder and Chair
DeafKidz International

If you are a deaf person currently at risk and need urgent help, please use one of these services: contact UK Relay by dialling 18000 through the app or from a textphone OR contact 999 by SMS text (must register first by texting ‘register’ to 999) OR voice call 999

Read the letter in full by clicking here

Strategic Plan 2020-23

Read DeafKidz International’s Strategic Plan for 2020-23 which charts our course for these three years, outlining how we will address the barriers deaf people face in low-resource and complex humanitarian settings, and defining our strategic goals and priorities that will respond to the protection, health, wellbeing and access to education needs of deaf children, young people and adults worldwide.

Front cover of our Strategic Plan

International Women’s Day 2021

Today marks International Women’s Day, and this year, the UN Women’s theme for 2021 is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” The theme celebrates the incredible efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

At DeafKidz International, we are proud that many of our global projects are led by strong deaf women, who are empowering deaf women and girls to build their skills and reach their potential as well as teaching them how to stay safe from abuse and exploitation.

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2021, we want to share an update on our DeafKidz Goal project in India, highlighting one of our incredible female coaches, Sheetal, and to share the impact of the project on the lives of deaf girls including 17 year old Tayyaba, especially in the midst of lockdown.


DeafKidz Goal project in India – Inclusion and equality

Our DeafKidz Goal project, in partnership with Slum Soccer, funded by Comic Relief, responds to the life skill needs of 60 deaf children and young people living in the slums and on the streets of Nagpur, through football coaching. As part of this project, we have trained deaf adults to become football coaches and providing deaf awareness and basic sign language training to Slum Soccer staff. We have delivered football tournaments with both deaf and hearing participants, breaking barriers, and promoting inclusion and equality of deaf girls and boys.


Women in leadership: Sheetal, DeafKidz Goal Coach

Sheetal was diagnosed as profoundly deaf at the age of 3. The lack of awareness and stigma surrounding deafness meant growing up, Sheetal found many of the children in her neighbourhood did not play with her and she was teased because of her disability, and she only left her house when she was with her parents. Despite there being no formal education available for deaf children beyond 10th grade, Sheetal persevered with her studies and graduated in Commerce, as well as training as a beautician to improve her job prospects. She worked as a data entry operator, however faced discrimination from her colleagues taking credit for her work as she was unable to speak. Sheetal highlights this is just one example of the many challenges and discrimination deaf people face in the workplace. Sheetal went on to explore extra-curricular opportunities in stage performing and magic shows, and in 2014 performed in the US and Europe, winning awards in performance and comedy. She is now married with a son in 6th grade.

Sheetal has always felt there were not enough opportunities in deaf schools for students to play sports or learn basic life skills, and was thrilled to discover the DeafKidz Goal project with Slum Soccer last year. At first, she was apprehensive of her ability to play football, let alone coach deaf children, however she credits Slum Soccer coaches for helping her to learn football skills so fast and she now feels empowered and proud to be a coach.

“After attending sessions at Slum Soccer’s headquarters and undergoing trainings from their international trainers and partners, I can feel the remarkable positive change in my capabilities and confidence!

“I take pride in the fact that I am not only instrumental in providing an opportunity for deaf children to play football but also, more importantly, contributing my skills to making the future of children within the deaf community better and brighter.”

Sheetal is an incredible role model and inspiration to the deaf participants she is coaching, leading by example that deaf women and girls should have equal access to life skills and opportunities as their hearing counterparts. Through our DeafKidz Goal project, Sheetal continues to inspire deaf girls to feel empowered, stay safe and reach their potential.


The impact of Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic caused disruptions to the DeafKidz Goal project over the last year, with schools closed and activities suspended. Our partner Slum Soccer reports that lockdown in India has had a disproportionately large adverse impact on the mental well-being of deaf children, including heightened sense of isolation, loneliness, and lack of purpose with schools and activities shut down. For many of the deaf participants, the DeafKidz Goal project is their only extra-curricular activity and opportunity to play sports and learn life skills, therefore without this, deaf participants are missing out on activities needed for their wellbeing, education and social development.

It was imperative to address the challenges and constraints brought about by the COVID-19 lockdown in order to safeguard the physical and mental well-being of deaf children and young people. Rather than waiting for schools to reopen to resume engagement with them, Slum Soccer’s DeafKidz Goal Team reached out far and wide into various communities in Nagpur and started to engage deaf children and youth through educational football activities in playgrounds close to the communities while maintaining COVID-19 safety measures. After 3 months of activities, Slum Soccer organized a football tournament on December 2020 where 29 deaf youth and children (age 13-20 years) from 8 communities gathered to play their first ever local football tournament amongst themselves and their hearing peers.


“DeafKidz Goal’s football sessions have filled me with joy and given my life a new meaning and direction” – Tayyaba, age 17

Tayyaba, 17 years old, is one of the deaf football participants benefiting from the DeafKidz Goal project. Tayyaba has 5 sisters and a brother and was born in a patriarchal, conservative community in the fringes of Reshimbagh, Nagpur where the role of women is seen as limited to remaining in the household. Growing up, Tayyaba faced twice the discrimination and stigma attached to being both a girl and profoundly deaf. Tayyaba went to a local deaf school, however as her parents and family members had little knowledge and awareness of sign language, they avoided speaking to her and were unable to communicate with her at home.

When Slum Soccer DeafKidz Goal team began football sessions in Reshimbagh community of Nagpur, the team met Tayyaba, clearly isolated at home, and the impact of lockdown negatively impacting her physical and mental health. Learning football brought Tayyaba out of her shell, and the Slum Soccer coaches were impressed by her enthusiasm, especially being the only girl amongst the participants. However, Tayyaba parent’s believed girls playing sports were considered a taboo, seen as unsafe and a corrupting influence, and stopped her from playing football.
Knowing her eagerness to participate, Slum Soccer coaches met with Tayyaba’s parents over multiple visits, raising awareness of the DeafKidz Goal project, and the work they are doing educating local communities, breaking down communication barriers and tackling the stigma, discrimination and inequalities surrounding deaf children, especially deaf girls.

The DeafKidz Goal team helped changed their attitudes and improve their understanding of deaf awareness and gender inequality, and Tayyaba parents gave their permission for Tayyaba to take part in the project, and soon they become supportive of Tayyaba’s passion for football.

The family were overwhelmed by the transformation in Tayyaba’s personality and confidence. Before she joined DeafKidz Goal, there was little communication with Tayyaba’s and her family, but with support and training from the Slum Soccer’s DeafKidz Goal team of deaf coaches, shadow coaches and Indian Sign Language Interpreters, there has been a paradigm shift in the way the family has started bonding and communicating.

Her father explains:

“Her DeafKidz Goal sessions start at 7 am but every day she wakes me at 6:00 am and asks to drop her to ground… Ever since she has started attending football sessions, she has become more active, engaged and focused in her life… Every day, on her return from the session, she gathers everyone and she shares her learning with us”

Tayyaba was overjoyed to participate in the DeafKidz Goal football tournament in December 2020, especially as this was an opportunity to play against hearing participants. Tayyaba felt this was the first time she was able to integrate with mainstream society and establish her individuality in an equal and inclusive society meant for all irrespective of their ability or gender.

She was also thrilled that many of the hearing participants had learned basic sign language skills through Slum Soccer, to ensure deaf participants were truly included.

“The DeafKidz Goal sessions conducted by Coach Chaya (Slum Soccer’s deaf coach) along with Coach Shiba Markas (Slum Soccer’s Shadow coach fluent in ISL) give me confidence, improves my self-esteem, and revitalizes me…

I get to learn not only football but so many life lessons in Sign Language, something that doesn’t happen even in my school. Due to lockdown I was feeling helpless, lonely, isolated, and ignored.

The uncertainty of future was causing limitless anxiety and mental trauma. The shutting down of schools was a cruel blow to the sole coping mechanism of deaf children as it caused abrupt disruption our learning journey as well as the social interactions of deaf children, especially girls like me who already restricted access to the mainstream society.. I want these sessions to carry on and on”

After obtaining first-hand experience of what she calls “the transformative power of football” she has convinced her deaf friend Lakha to joins the sessions, despite her reservations. Tayyaba enjoys sharing her football skills and is encouraging more deaf youth to join the programme.

When asked about her future plans, Tayyaba first answered ‘Keep playing football.’ She said she wishes to start a deaf girl’s football team and signed that she wants to be a DeafKidz Goal coach.

We are incredibly proud of our DeafKidz Goal program, and the efforts of the Slum Soccer team to adapt and deliver activities during lockdown, which is tackling the isolation deaf children and youth face and has strengthened their mental and physical wellbeing during the uncertainties and challenges of Covid-19.

To support our work this International Women’s Day, please donate to ensure no deaf child is left behind.

World Hearing Day 2021

Today marks World Hearing Day 2021 and the World Health Organisation’s theme this year is ‘Hearing Care for All’, launching the WHO World Report on Hearing and presenting a global call for action to address hearing loss and ear diseases across the life course.

The World Federation of the Deaf is also raising awareness of Sign Languages on World Hearing Day today, asking all “Let’s Remember to Sign!” because national sign languages are important for everyone!

DeafKidz International supports both these important messages of Hearing Care for All and Let’s Remember to Sign. Our global programmes are ensuring deaf children, children and adults have access to ear and hearing care, education and support services, all in their communication mode of choice. To celebrate World Hearing Day 2021 we are delighted to share updates on our work in Zambia and Pakistan.

Zambia – Local outreach screening

On World Hearing Day, our audiology teams in Zambia are carrying out awareness, screening and remote hearing aid fittings in local schools and communities, to raise awareness of ear and hearing care and the importance of ear identification and support for deaf children and adults. The teams are able to provide remote screening using the sound-proof booths in our fully equipped mobile ear clinics, as part of our wider 3 year ear and hearing care project in Zambia, funded by Jersey Overseas Aid and in collaboration with the Zambia Ministry of Health.

Our audiology team at University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka travelled to Kotaba Health Centre and screened 22 people for hearing loss, fitting 4 people with hearing aids, and the audiology team at Arthur Davison Children’s Hospital in Ndola visited Kabwate School, and screened 48 children for hearing loss. These outreach trips have been delivered with smaller groups to adhere to local safety protocols and guidelines in place for Covid-19.

Pakistan – Parenting Support Videos

With schools closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been working with our local partner Deaf Reach to develop parenting support videos in PSL (Pakistan Sign Language) and Urdu, aimed at providing parents of deaf children with much-needed basic life skills to support them and their child’s health and wellbeing during this challenging time at home.

Deaf Reach has provided deaf students with laptops and online resources so that vital education and communication is not lost. These parenting support videos are enabling parents the opportunity to continue to access the support that would usually be offered in person within the Deaf Reach parenting support programme. The videos will be shared to parents of 1200 pupils across the 7 Deaf Reach campuses in Pakistan and focus on Good Eating and Wellness; Basic ear care; Basic hygiene and Menstruation.

Boldspace appointed to drive DKI’s PR and Campaigning

The DeafKidz and Boldspace logo's

We are delighted to share the news that DeafKidz International has appointed Boldspace, a brand strategy and communications agency, to help raise our profile and drive our PR and Campaigns.

We are thrilled to be working with Boldspace to help raise wider awareness of the important work we do and to ensure the protection and safeguarding of deaf children is included in mainstream conversations about child protection globally.

Kavita Prasad, our CEO explains:

“We exist to ensure deaf children and young people live safely and without fear of abuse and exploitation. We will not rest until we have ended the appalling abuse deaf children face around the world. We want to empower deaf children and young people living in some of the most challenging situations, and create a platform for them to succeed, ensuring no deaf child is left behind. We are delighted to be working with Boldspace to tell our story and help us make this a reality.”

Mike Robb, Co-founder and Managing Director of Boldspace, said:

“The abuse and exploitation of deaf children in many parts of the world is simply shocking and not something any of us could have imagined to be the case before speaking to Kavita and her team. The international community must understand the scale of the issue faced by deaf children; we must do more to bring an end to the exploitation and abuse faced by so many. We can’t wait to work with DeafKidz to drive action.”

Read more here

New Intelligence Briefing published: ‘The Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Deaf and Disabled Children Online’ – Join our Webinar on 24/02/2021

This new intelligence briefing acts as a situational analysis of current perspectives and evidence on the sexual exploitation and abuse of children with disabilities online. DeafKidz International compiled this paper in partnership with WePROTECT Global Alliance and Childhood USA.

Read the paper here

The paper includes practical recommendations for the global child protection community on how to improve access to services and support for children with disabilities and to better protect them from sexual exploitation and abuse online.

Join our webinar on 24/02/2021, 16:00- 17:30 GMT

Childhood USA + WePROTECT Global Alliance, DeafKidz International and the End Violence Against Children Partnership cordially invite you to join the webinar release of the latest WePROTECT Intelligence Brief – The sexual exploitation and abuse of deaf and disabled children online.

The webinar will present the findings from our new intelligence briefing with a panel discussion of this often neglected topic.

Panelists include:

  • Iain Drennan, Executive Director, WePROTECT Global Alliance
  • Howard Taylor Executive Director, Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children
  • Maria Grazia Zedda Trustee, DeafKidz International
  • Sofiya Kalinova Chair of Human Rights Expert Group, World Federation of the Deaf


Register for the webinar here

The webinar will take place via Zoom and will include American and British Sign Language and International Sign Interpretation as well as closed captioning.

Front of invitation to the event

Back of invitation to the event

Calling all DeafKidz Heroes: Give a gift this Christmas to support deaf children worldwide

Photograph of Santa flying above a snowy sceneThis Christmas you can be a DeafKidz Hero!

Please support us with a gift this Christmas – you can select your gift on our interactive Santa Present Drop fundraising page here:

2020 has been a difficult year for small charities like ours, and we need your help now more than ever to support deaf children worldwide.

Our work at DeafKidz International ensures deaf children are able to live safely and without fear of abuse and exploitation. Our global projects respond to the protection, health, wellbeing and access to education needs of deaf children, young people and adults worldwide.

This year, please make a donation to support our life-changing work. Why not swap your Secret Santa present for a thoughtful gift supporting deaf children instead? You can make a gift in your colleague’s, friend’s or family’s name, leave a special message and they will be sent an e-card to see your kind present!

Your support means so much to us during this challenging time, and will ensure no deaf child is left behind this Christmas. Thank you.

Click here to give a Christmas Gift today!

Responding to the Online Protection Needs of Disabled children

WeProtect Global Alliance logo along with the DeafKidz International logo

A WeProtect Global Alliance Briefing Paper

The term disability mean different things to different people. Our perspective will depend on the meanings and feelings we attach to disability. Regrettably due to ignorance and fear, often these feelings will be negative reflecting the shame and fear of difference. These negative attitudes will focus on the child’s disability as opposed to their true personality and abilities.

For those who choose to perpetrate online abuse, a child’s or young person’s disability makes them easy prey; easy to corner, groom, stream and abuse. If as a result of your deafness or disability, you are excluded from education, you will often lack the means – the vocabulary and language – to recognise that through digital technologies, you are being abused; you will lack the means to self-represent, to self-assert and say ‘No!’. Furthermore, you lack the means to report and to disclose.

The evidence that deaf and disabled children experience endemic stigma, discrimination, abuse and exploitation is overwhelming. The evidence that they are subject to online abuse is less clear. Certainly there are some documented instances, but DeafKidz International takes the view that this is an area that the global child protection community has failed to explore and this gap in knowledge and response must be addressed.

One in three internet users worldwide is a child. At any one time, 750,000 individuals are estimated to be looking to connect with children for sexual purposes. WeProtect’s 2019 Global Threat Assessment reported that 94% of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) found online by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) contains images of children aged 13 or under; 39% were images of children 10 and under. With the WHO reporting that 15% of the world’s population ‘is living with some form of disability, with up to 20% of this population living in low resource settings’, the size of this issue cannot be underestimated. Here we have a huge grouping of deaf and disabled children and young people who will invariably have poor self-esteem and body-image. Negative attitudes also determine whether deaf and disabled learners are excluded from education and / or sexuality education. Without knowledge of sexuality and safe behaviours there is clearly an increased risk of abuse.

Commissioned by the WeProtect Global Alliance, this all new briefing paper will see DeafKidz International consult with the global disability community to ascertain their experience of online abuse. In addition, we will consult across the WeProtect membership to document what the INGO community is doing to counter this abuse.

The findings will be published in February 2021 and presented to the Alliance and other global child protection stakeholders at an accessible Webinar.

DeafKidz International wishes to access (not an exhaustive list):

  • Examples of online child protection response frameworks and mechanisms as developed by the membership, and how these related to children with disabilities disabled children
  • Examples of any digital mitigation strategies created specifically for safeguarding children with disabilities
  • Evidence and examples of how children with disabilities are included in ‘stay safe online’ programmes targeted at children and youth, including initiatives by tech companies
  • Recommendations on how the particular challenges faced by children with disabilities can be addressed and mitigated
  • Recommends in gaps in knowledge in relation to children with disabilities and online abuse.

Please send submissions to and by 30 November 2020.

Announcement of DeafKidz International as End Violence Safe Online Grant Winner

We are thrilled to announce that DeafKidz International is a winner of End Violence Against Children’s Safe Online funding round. We are joining forces with 14 organisations in the global fight to end online abuse and exploitation of children.

One in three internet users worldwide is a child. With the global increase in access to the internet, brings a rise in online abuse and exploitation. Deaf children are at least three times more likely to be abused than hearing children. At any one time, 750,000 individuals are estimated to be looking to connect with children for sexual purposes.

Through this funding, DeafKidz International will develop DeafKidz Defenders, an early intervention, interactive, accessible digital platform to help deaf children aged 5 to 10 stay safe from online abuse and exploitation.

Through these educational games, deaf children will learn to protect themselves from online and face to face abuse, learning what a risk situation might look like, what’s appropriate/inappropriate in different situations, building a foundation of increased knowledge and awareness. These games will reduce deaf children’s vulnerability to abuse and exploitation while also promoting their resilience and self-advocacy. This project will be implemented in South Africa and Pakistan.

This digital solution is the first of its kind and is a huge step forward in our fight to keep deaf children safe.

We are grateful to End Violence Against Children for their investment in our organisation and the impact it will have on deaf children worldwide, to ensure every deaf child can live safely and without fear of online abuse and exploitation.

Read the full announcement from End Violence Against Children here

Watch this space for regular updates on this exciting project – follow us on social media here

Played our DEAFKIDZ vs COVID-19 games? Please help us by completing our survey!

DEAFKIDZ vs COVID-19 online games logoIn May 2020 we launched our DEAFKIDZ vs COVID-19 online interactive games, designed specifically for young deaf children to understand COVID-19 protective measures including social distancing, hand-washing and not touching the face.

We’ve had lots of engagement with the DEAFKIDZ vs COVID-19 games and we invite you to help us evaluate this excellent resource if you have played the games.

There are there questionnaires so please select the one that suits you best.

Please click one of the 3 options below to take a survey on our DEAFKIDZ vs COVID-19 games:

Questionnaire for Children

Questionnaire for Parents/Carers & Teachers

Questionnaire for Organisations

As a deaf organisation we really appreciate you completing this questionnaire as this information will be useful in providing feedback to our funders, and will assist in justifying both the creation of the game in this format, and the need for further resources in a similar format specifically for deaf children in the future. By taking part in this survey, you are helping DeafKidz International to make better resources in the future.

Thank you!

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Graphic of an envelope with paper, the paper has the DeafKidz International logo printed on it