Fark Yaratanlar

Kenan Zülaloğlu

Education for Young People with Hearing Impairments

On 2 December 2010 Sabancı Foundation's "Turkey's Changemakers" program hosts Kenan Zülaloğlu, an educational volunteer who devotes himself to teaching disadvantaged students.

With 30 years of experience in education, Kenan Zülaloğlu established a youth center in İstanbul. Mobilizing a team of volunteer teachers and collaborating with a sign-language teacher, Zülaloğlu offers free tutoring classes to low-income students and students with hearing impairments at the center. There is a sign-language teacher in the classroom who simultaneously translates between the teachers and the students.

In Turkey, as in many other countries, there is a widely acknowledged fact that is backed by both qualitative and quantitative statistics: Access to education determines opportunities in life. Youth who inherit economic disadvantages from their families have less access to education compared to their counterparts. So are youth with disabilities. Another way to look at the problem is that educational systems are not inclusive enough to provide for all students regardless of their backgrounds.

Establishing a youth center and leading a team of volunteer educators, Zülaloğlu aims to fill the gaps in the Turkish education system. Working collaboratively with local governance bodies, civil society institutions, and media, Zülaloğlu reaches students whom education systems cannot reach.

"We are the ones who should be called people with disabilities unless we create accessible societies." Zülaloğlu said on Dec. 3, International Day of People with Disabilities.

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