“The ‘Comprendre et Parler’ Centre sees its mission as being to guarantee for all deaf children their own personal development plan which will foster their linguistic potential and capacities to the full and nurture them so that they blossom and acquire autonomy. The Centre draws on all partners involved to cooperate to these ends – child, family and professionals – and holds the various available support strings together.”
The Centre “Comprendre et Parler” was founded in 1965 by a group of parents concerned that their deaf or hard-of-hearing children should be given education of a high level. The mission of the Centre is to enable these children to blossom as human beings, to develop or recover their communication and language capacities, attain the greatest degree of autonomy possible, and integrate fully – initially in their family circle and subsequently in society in general. Deaf or hard-of-hearing children are first and foremost children like any others – even though they may have special needs of their own.
In order to meet these objectives the Centre is constantly seeking the most effective methods and techniques for launching or improving or re-establishing communication. It tries to bring together the optimum conditions wherein language can develop so that these children can not only communicate, but also think, progress on an intellectual and emotional level, read and write… The Centre’s team have a dynamic and energy of their own – and their professionalism and the way they involve the whole family in the process are now recognised the world over and acclaimed with due marks of scientific merit and congratulation.
The Centre has the status of one of functional rehabilitation. As of now there are 340 children on its books – of all ages and from all socio-economic and cultural milieus. The team is exceptionally highly motivated and qualified, 105 in number – there for both the children and their families.
What is the focus of the team?
- A personal development plan is worked out for each and every child. The parents are urgently pressed into being involved to the hilt – they are the main partners to bring on the child’s language. They are offered training courses in French Cued Speech (LPC - Langage Parlé Complété).
- A multidisciplinary team provides daily guidance in a sustained and coordinated manner – whether providing psychological care, speech therapy, interpretation, social work support, audiological care, medical care … as required. The team members will travel to wherever the children and their families may be – whether home, crèche, school …
- Methods and technical support are readjusted and reviewed on a regular basis. An intensive input into this rigorous quest for the right approach stems from tailored research undertaken in collaboration with adult deaf people and in close ongoing collaboration with various university departments (such as the Experimental Psychology Laboratory of the ULB (university of Brussels), the Huderf, Brugmann Hospital, Erasmus Hospital, the GEORRIC Group on research into Cochlear Implants …)
- The team works closely with teaching establishments both within special education (the Ecole Intégrée) and mainstream education. If required the Centre will provide interpretation or communication support for deaf children of any age who are in mainstream education (LPC, Cued Speech, Visi-C, Sign Language …)
Certain pilot projects are undertaken – examples being collaboration with the specialised crèche “Crescendo”, where deaf professionals are increasingly involved in the team, approaches based on Sign Language are used for language therapy, interpretation into foreign languages can be provided, young deaf students are given teaching support, and projects located at some distance from the specialised facilities can be supported …