Turkey’s First Digital School for the Hearing Impaired Opens

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“Talking Hands” Project which has been realized by Math teacher Pelin Baykan in December 2016 to carry out studies in order to bring solutions for the inequality of opportunity among the education of hearing impaired individuals, has launched Turkey's first digital school for the hearing impaired. “I received a lot of messages from outside Istanbul. Most of the people who watched my videos have already been living outside of Istanbul.” says Pelin Baykan. We talked to her about the implementation of the digital school.

Talking Hands, which has aimed at solving the inequalities of opportunity in education experienced by hearing impaired individuals, completed its pilot study that had started by aiming the Mathematics section of the Impairment KPSS exam in April 2018. Afterwards, Pelin Baykan, who taught mathematics by Turkish Sign Language via Youtube, collaborated with Şişli Municipality and conducted classroom trainings in Istanbul.

How did the idea of Talking Hands digital school come out?

In the assessment we made over 30 students at the E-KPSS that was held in April 2018, individual success at high school level has increased 56 percent and individual success at university level has increased by 45 percent. This was a very proud result for the first study. Our first goal was to increase each person’s individual success by 50 percent. I received a lot of messages from outside Istanbul. Most of the people who watched my videos were already living outside of Istanbul. 74 course videos had received 116 thousand views on average. As such, I could not follow the individual achievement of the students and missed the updates. As the second study, we preferred the distance education model. In fact, we have chosen to be a social enterprise aiming digital transformation in a technological world. That’s how the idea of ​​a digital school was born. We’ve converted my Youtube videos by a more professional image and a system that we can follow up the individual success and launched the first digital school of Turkey for the hearing impaired  I can say that everything was born out of necessity

With Voice-over And Both Visual and Sign Language

How will the digital school system operate?


The Talking Hands Digital School will be no different from classroom training at the field. The beneficiary will see the instructor directly and will follow the procedures on a digital board and see the lecture with sign language support. The beauty of the system is that it is as simple as possible and completely user-friendly. It has an accessible side for the hearing impaired. In addition, individuals from different disability groups can benefit from this platform. The videos also include voiceovers. From the comments I received on the videos I shared on Youtube, I found that voice-over was beneficial even to the non-target audiences. Therefore, there is both visual and sign language.

 “We’ve Waited For The December 3rd, International Day Of Persons With Disabilities To Launch”

Digital school has completed its trial version. Editing of the videos and uploading them to the system requires a lot of work. It will also continue to be updated and uploaded daily. But we have waited for the December 3rd, International Day of Persons with Disabilities to get it online. Everyone is celebrating the day of the disabled but why? Why don’t they do something for awareness? Do something to make a difference? So, Talking Hands make a difference and raise awareness here.

The system was created with a fully participatory structure. The content has been developed and edited with the feedback we have received in the trials. We have further feedback to come. It will continue to get updated all the time.

How will students benefit from the digital school?

Talking Hands Digital School is completely free for individuals with special needs. Of course there is a subscription model. Every individual who has a disability report and / or disability card can join this school free of charge.

The beneficiaries register with a phone number. Registering with a phone number has the following importance: Email is not much used among the hearing impaired community and we want to appeal to every audience. That’s why we get membership by only a phone number without causing extra difficulty. Thanks to the telephone number, we are able to communicate directly with students and communicate primarily.

Talking Hands Digital School provides an alternative solution to the inequality of opportunities in education and we hope that this study will be a role model for different decision makers. We didn’t just say “we did it”, the impact was the most important thing. We can already foresee the effect it will make. Equality in education will create equality in social life and create economic equality. Individuals will be confident and believe in themselves.

You’re a teacher who has strong communication with her students. Does the distance and not being physically in the same environment affect the students negatively?

I am in favor of establishing a sincere and primary communication in the educational environment. Even when I was lecturing on Youtube, I kept saying that I would not get digital. But I was taking a lot of digital training and uploading videos. Then the comments on those videos and the one-to-one communications I established showed me that what I was doing was right and most importantly, it was a response to a great need. As I said at the beginning, it is necessary to target digital transformation in the technological world.

When I became the first teacher of silent mathematics, I contacted the students I had never met face to face. I did this with remote video tutorials. Realizing this makes me understand that distances do not interfere with anything.

“We Can Do Math Everywhere.”

Personally, I am in favor of the fact that the studies under the name of education should not be between four walls. I have done a lot of lessons on the streets with the students I work with one on one. There’s no need for paper or pens. We can do math everywhere; while walking, chatting, -I especially doing this with the kids-, and while playing in the park. This digital school demonstrates Pelin’s limitlessness as well; it’s the best reflection that the Talking Hands can reach everywhere.

Maybe someday if we find a supporter, we can organize meetings with students outside the city. Then we can provide face-to-face communication. Announced to all supporters.

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