This paper focuses on the experiences of visually and hearing impaired children in Vietnam, a country where lay-based cultural beliefs predominantly shape understanding of any form of disability. The practice of ancestral worship informs a belief that disabilities are a punishment for wrong deeds in past lives, and as a result people with disabilities are often marginalized. Such reactions are sometimes taken to extremes: circumstantial evidence suggests that disabled children are even likely to be killed at birth. Others might simply be hidden away or rejected into the local orphanage. This paper discusses the therapeutic support on offer to children attending two types of educational settings, and explores how the wider school and local community considered and treated such children, examining the chosen forms of intervention in each institution from an ethnographic perspective. The first was a mainstream school with a specialist vocational training unit for visually impaired children, and the second was a specialist school for children who were hearing impaired and who were taught only to lip read and speak.
Disability and the Global South (DGS), 2015, Vol. 2 No. 2