Introduction / History The population in Brunei is very small (2-300,000), consequently the number of Deaf is very small also. There is no schooling provided for the Deaf in Brunei, including kindergarten. If the parents can afford it they send their children to the Penang School for the Deaf in Malaysia.
There was an excellent program developed by the ENT doctor and some colleagues at the hospital in Brunei for the detection and treatment of deaf ness in small children.
All babies born at the hospital were screened at birth for deaf ness, and those who proved to have hearing loss were entered into the program. A specialist in sign language was hired from Malaysia to work with the children. The children were regularly seen by the medical specialist, and their progress was followed closely.
The sign language specialist taught the children Malaysian Sign Language from birth up to 5 years of age. She also visited the homes, as the distances are not great. At age five the children were released from the program and sent to a hearing kindergarten. There was no further help extended to children after that.
About 10 years ago a Canadian lady working in Brunei tried to persuade the government to allow a kindergarten to be opened in the country for the Deaf children, but the government refused. Subsequently the economy in the country suddenly took a turn for the worse and all work with the Deaf was threatened as a result.