The British Association of Teachers of the Deaf
Promoting Excellence in Deaf Education

The Woodford Foundation

The Woodford Foundation was established in 2004 to help improve opportunities - educational, social, environmental and spiritual - for children and young people with a sensory disability who live in the world's income-poor countries. The Foundation represents a fusion of a number of previous initiatives in income poor countries, both formal and informal. This includes 'Initiatives for Deaf Education in the Third World' and 'The European Deaf Children's Trust’.

The Foundation is named 'Woodford' in recognition of Doreen Woodford's (a previous President of BATOD) substantial, long term contribution and initiative, supporting development of provision in income poor countries for children and young people who are deaf. The title was chosen by the three other Woodford Foundation Trustees: Rodney Clark (Chairman; retired Chief Executive, SENSE and SENSE International; and Management Consultant), Crispin Lewis (Trustee; retired Headteacher, Northern Counties School (for Deaf); Special Education Consultant) and David Bond (Honorary Secretary and Treasurer; retired Director/Principal The Royal School for Deaf Children Margate and Westgate College for Deaf People; Consultant Specialist Educational Psychologist and Audiologist; ex BATOD National Exec Member) .

The Trustees believe that all work should be carried out objectively and without prejudice of service approach, methodology, race, culture, gender, religious or other belief. They aim to work in cooperation with other bodies to build on local and regional skills and expertise wherever possible by establishing training and other links with neighbouring Regions and Countries. Long term partnerships will be established with the intention of supporting development of provision which can be managed and sustained by the indigenous professionals, parents and people who are deaf , including those who have other sensory or communication needs.

To date the Trustees have funded their own costs (with some help from money paid from the Inland Revenue Gift Aid tax payments), with the aim that donated funds should be used to support projects. Following Rodney, Doreen and David's visit to Tanzania and Malawi in November - December 2004, the Trustees have agreed to support the following two projects in Africa:

UWAVIKA, Tanzania

This is an organisation based in the north of Tanzania for parents of children who are deaf. UWAVIKA has been working for some years with some of the Teachers for the Deaf, hoping to start vocational training provision for their children. Most young people who are deaf in Tanzania have little opportunity to obtain work, even if they manage to obtain a very basic schooling. There is no vocational training programme for them. Many children do not get to a school for deaf or a unit class, or receive support in a mainstream school and may not receive any education in a school. As a result of low income and low expectations for many of these young people who are deaf, there is little occupation and limited hope for the future.

HIV/AIDS is contributing to very low life expectancy. Sex education in school and in vocational training facilities is desperately needed as well as practical training and preparation for work. UWAVIKA has obtained some land and we will be helping them to develop this as a Vocational Training Centre and to extend vocational training in association with other partners currently working in Tanzania.

Doreen Woodford is the Trust's coordinator for the Tanzania UWAVIKA project. An article describing the project appeared in the BATOD Magazine, September 2002.


Malawi is one of the five poorest Countries in Africa and one of the poorest in the world. In a population of approximately 12 million there are over 1.2 million children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Life expectancy for males is less than 40 years. There is no Otolaryngology provision (ENT specialist services). Audiology provision is minimal, training and support are needed. Approximately 10% of the children and young people who are deaf are in educational placements for the deaf, others may receive no education at a school, or may be unsupported in mainstream schools. Whilst we were in Malawi some young people who had disabilities were turned away from The University of Malawi as they were not able to support them. This group included students who are deaf!

But there is hope: the parents and the staff in the four Malawian schools for the deaf, are really keen to make advances in the provision for their children and pupils. They are enthusiastic about opportunity to develop and to improve their skills. They want to see a broadening of the range of education and in opportunities for vocational education. They want opportunity for appropriate inclusion of pupils in mainstream schools. Montfort College trains 30 qualified and experienced teachers as Teachers for the Deaf each year. Another 30 are trained as Teachers for the Blind/VI and another 30 as Teachers for Learning Disabilities.

The Government has very recently recognised Malawian Sign Language and it will be included in the Schools for Deaf. Development of this needs support, as do the Malawian initiatives to develop unit classes and resource facilities in main stream schools for those deaf children who are struggling in the main stream and for those who are unable to access education. Inclusion of the deaf children who are not able to access education is one of the dreams of Malawian parents and educators and they have highlighted this in a recent survey. Deafblind and MSI Education is in its infancy but has been started by the Malawians and needs support. Vocational training and opportunity for young people who are deaf is minimal, with initiatives developing from the schools for deaf which need support. Continuing Professional Development for educational and medical professionals; parent groups and MANAD, the Malawian Association for Adult Deaf, would all benefit from improved access to literature, better communication systems and links with the wider world.

David Bond is the Woodford Foundation's coordinator for Malawi and will be making a return visit there in May to assist the development of a Malawian strategic plan with their priorities for the future. This will be a long term project!

The Woodford Foundation is investigating possible projects in SE Asia. We will keep readers up to date with reports in the future.

To contact The Woodford Foundation (Charity Number 1105958) : David Bond, Hon Secretary and Treasurer, 'Taygrove', 446 Perth Road, Dundee, DD2 1JT

You can help....

Save used stamps and postcards from your incoming mail. Send them to the Woodford Foundation and they can be used to raise funds to further the work of the Foundation.

Download Woodford Foundation BATOD Magazine article May 2005