The Association for Children with Language, Speech and Hearing Impairments of Namibia (CLaSH) is an officially registered Namibian welfare organisation (WO70) that depends on donations, voluntary help and material assistance. The services offered include screening of hearing, provision of hearing aids, speech and language development, parents’ guidance and counselling, public awareness, training workshops and seminars and specialised early education.
CLaSH was founded in 1989 by a group of concerned parents of children with communication difficulties and some experts in the field. The association has grown from an enthusiastic self-help group to a well-known, respected and accountable service provider. CLaSH maintains and expands national and international contacts, explores and pursues new ideas and develops innovative approaches. Membership in the association is open to people from all language groups and from all walks of life.
CLaSH believes in an integrated interdisciplinary approach to service provision and seeks close cooperation with Government Ministries, local and international NGOs. The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Ministry of Health and Social Services and Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare are the specific line ministries CLaSH is collaborating with.
CLaSH plays a unique role in Namibia’s civil society in two fundamental ways:
– CLaSH is the only provider of early intervention strategies and pre-school education designed specifically for children, who are deaf and
– CLaSH is the only NGO in Namibia, representing and working with children, who have hearing loss, their families and communities.
CLaSH’s mission is to promote services that meet the needs of children with hearing loss as early as possible and to facilitate development that leads to equal opportunities and ensures equal access to education, training and all other facilities for these children.
In 1994 CLaSH set up Namibia’s first – and to date still only – specialised pre-school unit for deaf children in Windhoek. This was based on the firm belief that with holistic specialist support young deaf children can learn just as easily and just as much as any other child. Since its inception nearly 150 children benefited from specialised early education at the CLaSH Unit and the relevance and value of this early intervention has been widely acknowledged and recognised.
2019, in the year of its 30th anniversary, CLaSH completed a new building on the premises of NISE’s School for the Hearing Impaired in Windhoek.
Under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture it will host the CLaSH Pre-School and Day-Care Unit, a specialised ECD facility for children who are deaf.
With the inauguration of the new building and the handing over to the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture the partners have taken a visionary step towards an integrated education system for learners with hearing impairment. The newly built ECD Centre will feed well-prepared learners into the formal Deaf Education system and is envisaged to develop into Namibia’s first Early Intervention Centre for children with hearing loss.