Program Profile

Feature Issue on Transition in a Global Context for People with Intellectual, Developmental, and Other Disabilities

First Steps


Chencho Om is a senior teacher at the Wangsel Institute for the Deaf in Drukgyel, Paro, Bhutan. She may be reached at

Transition services for students who are deaf or hard of hearing is a collaborative process that requires active participation from students, teachers, parents, related agencies, and community organizations.

In Bhutan today, the transition of students who are deaf or hard of hearing is not facilitated formally by government institutions or agents. This could be mainly because there is only one institution that caters to their educational needs, which was started about two decades ago. The only civil service employment opportunity is a contractual employment program created by the Wangsel Institute for the Deaf, which hires them as teaching assistants. Wangsel, the only school or institute for people who are deaf or hard of hearing in Bhutan, is working towards the transition of students from school to higher learning institutions, and employment in collaboration with ministries of education, labour and human resources.

At Wangsel, we have vocational training programs, such as wood carving, tailoring, traditional Bhutanese painting, and carpentry. Certification for employment after the training is still at its initial stage, however. The Institute is still in the process of exploring some more vocational training opportunities, including those in food and beverage industries. This is being done in collaboration with Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) under the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources, Royal Government of Bhutan.

Recently, with financial support from Germany, the Institute has also initiated a mechanized agricultural program for commercial farming using modern technology. At the moment, the Institute is in the process of leasing land from a locality, which will be used to train and employ a few students who will soon be graduating.

Informal transition efforts for a few students who studied and graduated from Wangsel have been done by teachers who have taken short courses abroad and some training from organizations working with people with disabilities. These students completed internship programs during school breaks in nearby five-star hotels, learning about housekeeping, laundry, chef, and other positions. Organizations supporting people with disabilities provide some additional financial aid and vocational trainings, such as tailoring, baking, wood carving, and carpentry.

Within the past two decades, we have seen significant progress within the Institute. Staff, students, and parents are equally excited with the development taking place, and Wangsel and the Ministry of Education are collaborating to achieve more progress. Our goal for the future is full independence for the Deaf community in Bhutan.