Fellow Since 2003
This profile was prepared when Tamer Bahaa was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
In Egypt, people who are deaf and mute daily face almost insurmountable obstacles. The hearing and speaking publicthe vast majority of teachers, neighbors, families, employersassumes a correlation between deafness and low intelligence, a correlation that manifests itself in damaging stereotypes and restricted opportunities for full citizenship. To integrate deaf and mute people into society and correct society's estimation of their abilities, Tamer improves their facility with written and spoken Arabic; improves their general education by teaching their teachers more effective pedagogical methods; and offers the deaf and mute exposure to a larger world through organized trips, informal meetings, and instructive lectures. Tamer's approach does not favor one therapy-based approach over another. Instead, it takes shape as a rights-based effort that aims to equip members of this group with the tools and opportunities they need to communicate clearly, gather information from the hearing world, and convene as a group to secure access to information, education, jobs, and healthcare. The main beneficiaries of this effort are those who cannot hear or speak. But groups with other physical differences stand to gain as Egyptian society opens up to these millions of citizens, now virtually invisible to mainstream society, and begin to understand them as equally, although differently gifted.