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Cuban Institute of Radio and Television Provides Televised Classes with Closed Captioning

June 08, 2020

At his home in Havana's Boyeros district, Alejandro Gonzalez, a 10-year-old hearing-impaired student, is learning Cuban history taught by sign language via televised classes with closed caption amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

"Learning the history of my country is like traveling in time and discovering a whole new world," Gonzalez told Xinhua.

Two weeks after the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported in Cuba on March 11, the island's nearly 2,000 schools were closed.

In a bid to help students continue the academic year disrupted by COVID-19, Cuba's education officials worked together with the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television to develop closed-captioned televised classes, including those tailored to students with special needs.

Gonzalez's mother Yakelin Sanchez, a 36-year-old architect, has always been giving her son a helping hand during the classes.

She has learned sign language herself, so she could share with her son "the beauty and complexity of a world where more inclusion for people with disabilities is needed," she said.

"Lessons help to not only break the communication barrier but also to provide disadvantaged students with crucial information and messages during the COVID-19 pandemic," Sanchez said.

The classes are broadcast on Canal Educativo, one of the two educational TV channels in the island country.

Founded in 2002 by then Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro, Canal Educativo is designed to supplement the educational system with classes that could be watched at home, and to cultivate Cubans' interest in history, culture and arts.

However, classes taught by sign language had not been aired to complement school curriculum until the COVID-19 lockdown.

"With sign language classes available for the first time on TV, we are reaching a wider audience. That is very positive," said Aniuska Riquenes, director general at Canal Educativo, noting that a studio has been set up for sign language interpreters.

Saray Tamayo, a 19-year-old who has taken a two-year sign language course, is now on the team that broadcasts live lessons.

"Minorities matter too," Tamayo said. Enditem

Source: Xinhua