Late in 2009, South Africa’s “Got Talent” show announced its winner, a deaf hip-hop dancer named Darren Rajibal. The 19 year-old had danced for just four years when during a power cut he decided to entertain family and friends by dancing. Many of his moves were learned from internet videos.
After the show, the lead judge said: “We shouldn’t even mention the fact he has a hearing disability. The guy can dance.” Rajibal’s plans to invest his winnings (USD 33,000) into opening a dance school for deaf students.
Ultimately, children who’re deaf or hard-of-hearing can learn to dance with the benefit of new web technologies and systems.
Deaf or hard of hearing kids can access web systems with live captioning or sign language. Learning to dance can open up opportunities in life to have fun, keep fit, to get a college scholarship, or enter a talent competition.
Students at Northern Elementary School in Minnesota are among the first to use these web systems. The distance-learning classes are taught by varied dance instructors who teach everything from African dance to hip hop.
All that’s needed is a large screen to project images and two-way webcams. This means dance teachers can teach moves from anywhere in the world for broadcast to a small class group, or even many school groups at a time.
In this school, the images are projected onto a screen in the gymnasium through video-conferencing technology. The classes are free for schools and taught through the Minnesota Schubert Centre.
The classes are taught in real-time so the teacher can stop for a break if required, or comment on the childrens’ performance. “It’s neat because even though the instructor is on a big white screen, he can say to the kids, ‘Hey, you, in front wearing purple,” said instructor Sherry Holloway.
The kids enjoy their fun, and the technology is not only limited to dance. In the classroom, it can be used for subjects such as geography, maths and history, maybe by video-conferencing with classrooms in schools overseas.
(compiled by Miriam Walsh)
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