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Papua New Guinea

Photo: Sign language class in Papua New Guinea. Credit: Light for the World

Giving a sign

In Papua New Guinea, 3.6 million people have ear problems and hearing problems, often caused by malaria, middle ear inflammation or other untreated diseases. Light for the World supports projects for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, reaching people all over the country with community-based rehabilitation and inclusive education. We have been actively involved in  developing and encouraging the use of sign language, training teachers and advocating for it to become an official language. 2018 will see the publication of the very first sign language dictionary in Papua New Guinea. In 2017, 25,186 people benefitted from our work, 15,643 of them hard of hearing or deaf.

Featured project: National Hearing Programme in PNG

34% of the population of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is under 15 years old. Child deafness is often referred to as the “hidden disability”, often caused by untreated malaria or meningitis and non-existing maternal health services. Traditional belief systems and lack of awareness add to the barriers for accessing existing services.

The overall goal of the project is to empower deaf and hard of hearing persons to fully and equally participate in the social, cultural, political and economic life of PNG.

Callan Services has been involved in this field for many years and has developed courses in special needs education for teachers including courses on PNG Sign Language, CBR, physiotherapy, identification of persons with disabilities, and community participation.

The project builds on previous work supported by LIGHT FOR THE WORLD and the European Commission.

25% of children in PNG have hearing problems, 1/3 of them have a form of hearing loss. Child deafness is the leading cause of school drop-out and exclusion in PNG.

Project Activities

  • Further developing and formalising PNG Sign Language
  • Strengthening CBR services
  • Supporting teachers and schools to deliver Inclusive Education
  • Advocating for increased support for inclusion from governmental agencies

Partner: Callan Services
Time frame: 01/01/2018 – 31/12/2020
Budget: € 150,000 annually


  • Sign Language training for over 7.000 children and adults
  • Development and distribution of the new PNG sign language dictionary
  • Screening of 72.000 children and family members
  • Training on Disability and Human Rights for the Deaf Community
  • Training of teachers and community workers on early childhood development and care for deaf and hard of hearing children

>> Download the project brief (pdf/a) here

Papua New Guinea
Map: Papua New Guinea
  • Area: 462,859 km2
  • Population: 7.3 million
  • Expectancy of life: 67.2 years
  • Ophthalmologists: 6
  • Ophthalmologists supported by us: 1
Ursula Miller. Credit: Gregor Kuntscher

Your contact person for our programmes in Inclusive Education and PNG: Ursula Miller

+43 1 810 13 00 - 65
u.miller [at]

Where we work