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A culture different from others… learning to « hear » the difference!

Institute for the deaf – Colombia

The Institute “NuestraSeñora de la Sabiduria para sordos” (Our Lady of Wisdom School for the Deaf), was founded by the Daughters of Wisdom on March 17, 1924, in Bogota Colombia. From its origin, the institute has always had as a major concern: working with families confronted with the great difficulty of helping their deaf children become more socialized and more autonomous.

In its 90 years existence, the Institute has become known nationally, and, at one time, even offered a boarding school for the children. It has always promoted inclusivity of deaf persons into a hearing society. Since the beginning, this school, whose education process is approved by the Ministry of Education of Colombia, has helped more than 40 000 students obtain their diploma. The Institute has progressively developed and now offers primary and secondary courses as well as technical workshops (woodworking, metal works, tailoring).

The Institute is a non-profit private school welcoming approximately 300 students per year. Most of our student population is vulnerable in more than one way- added to their hearing loss; these students come from disadvantaged areas. Some of them also have socialization problems or learning difficulties which make access to formal education very difficult. In the last years, children with cochlear implants have been welcomed so that they can learn to hear again.

INSABI has always promoted the identity of the deaf community as having its own language “Colombian sign language”, its own culture and identity, always keeping at heart the integration of the deaf into the hearing world of Colombia.

The education policy of the country has changed in the last years, favouring the integration of children with a handicap into an education system not adapted to their specific needs. The Institute, as a consequence, is experiencing difficulty in assuring its sustainability and future.

INSABI, as the students love to call their Institute, is for them the heart, the welcoming centre, their home. It is the great hope of the students and their families that the Institute continue to pursue its personalised work and its capacity to offer answers to the specific needs of the deaf community.