Who Are We?
Manos Unidas is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization located at the University of Chicago in Chicago, IL that is dedicated to providing educational and vocational opportunities and ensuring the general well-being of deaf people in Nicaragua and their families.
A little background about Nicaragua...
Nicaragua is among the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere. Its unstable political and economic history has led to a high unemployment rate and poor quality public education. For deaf people, these limitations are even more trying; adequate job training and special education are extremely inaccessible, especially for rural families. A typical agricultural worker in Nicaragua earns $2 a day. Last year, teachers received 67% raises: a primary school teacher will now earn $112 a month, while a secondary school teacher will earn $123.
Nicaraguan Sign Language
In Nicaragua in the late 1970's, Nicaraguan Sign Language emerged through the interaction of deaf individuals that had access to neither spoken Spanish nor an already established sign language. This population has proven an incredible resource for linguists in understanding the human capacity for language and communication. The beneficiaries of Manos Unidas fundraising are those deaf individuals and there families who have as yet not benefited from learning Nicaraguan Sign Language (which is now one of the nation's official languages). These people create their own gestures, called "home signs", to communicate with their friends and family. It is out of these homesign systems that Nicaraguan Sign Language emerged, and it is these systems that Marie Coppola, Founder and Co-Chair of Manos Unidas, studies. Learn more about Marie's research here.