Manos Unidas (MU) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization located in Connecticut, United States of America that is dedicated to providing educational and vocational opportunities to deaf people in Nicaragua, Central America.
The Mission of MU is to ensure equal access to educational and vocational opportunities for deaf children and young deaf adults by providing access to sign language, Spanish literacy, numeracy, and real-life job skills so they can become contributing members of society and the Deaf community.
Our philosophy is to create employment and integrate deaf individuals into our programs every step of the way so that in the future they can be the teachers and role models in their communities.
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 their 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 "homesigns", 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 Executive Director of Manos Unidas, studies.
‘Hands On’is a community outreach program in the city of El Sauce, León and San Juan de Limay, Estelí. Students and their family members attend class every Saturday. We teach Nicaraguan Sign Language (NSL) and Spanish literacy to local deaf children and young adults, making it more possible for them to communicate and participate in a meaningful education. The sign language that we are instilling in the community through deaf individuals, teachers and their families will create a sustainable knowledge base that can be passed on from generation to generation. MU intends on extending education to vocational training for young deaf adults so they can become more productive and independent members of society.
The Equal Access Program funds interpreters for secondary education. MU employs three Nicaraguan teachers who have years of experience in NSL. These teachers are now working every Saturday as sign language interpreters to fulfill the sign language interpreting needs of 1st year, 3rd year, and the 4th year of high school. In Nicaragua, there are very few to no schools that offer post-elementary education to deaf students outside of a few small pilot programs. MU is improving equal access to education for deaf children beyond a sixth-grade level in the city of Darío by supporting interpreter training and assisting in the provision of interpreters in post-elementary classrooms. The secondary institute in Darío now assists students from Sébaco, Estelí, San Isidro, Matagalpa, Maunica, Somoto, and Waslala.
‘Cultivating a future, sign by sign’ is a scholarship program that connects deaf children with the opportunity to attend one of the few deaf schools in the country. These comprehensive scholarships cover all costs associated with attendance, including tuition, room & board and uniform expenses, which would otherwise be nearly impossible for most families to meet without assistance. Scholarships are awarded on a yearly basis and are open to renewal.
Imagine living a life without the power to fully communicate with your family, friends, husband, wife, or children.
Manos Unidas (MU) is a 501 (c)(3) organization identified by EIN# 26-0201479. All Gifts to MU are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law.