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Enrol hearing impaired children in schools to deal with challenges, parents urged

Friday, August 23, 2019

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THE Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD) is encouraging parents and guardians of children with hearing challenges to enrol them in one of the organisation's seven institutions catering to these youngsters.

“We are appealing to parents and community members who recognise that a child is not responding in the way they should, to give us a call. Even if the child is not deaf and we can't place them in a school for the deaf, our ability to assess and connect parents with other assessment agencies is something we value,” Executive Director Kimberley Sherlock Marriott-Blake said.

She was speaking during a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank at the agency's head office in Kingston on Wednesday.

Sherlock Marriott-Blake pointed out that only 400 students are currently enrolled in JAD schools, representing approximately 50 per cent of capacity.

Against this background, she said the organisation is taking steps to sensitise persons to the importance of placing children who are deaf or hearing impaired in an environment tailored to advancing their educational development.

“Our goal is that, no matter the extent of the hearing loss, the child can be supported and given the education that they deserve. We are firm believers that every child can learn and every child must learn. Education is our core focus. So ensuring that students are enrolled and adequately supported in schools is critical for us,” she emphasised.

Sherlock Marriott-Blake indicated that the JAD receives grant-aided support from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information. As such, school fees and other costs associated with enrolment are not as exorbitant, when compared to other private institutions.

The seven schools operated by the JAD are: Lister Mair Gilby High School; Danny Williams Primary School; JAD Pre-School; Ex-Ed United, located at the Excelsior Primary School; Port Antonio Unit; Woodside Unit in May Pen; and St Christopher's School for the Deaf.

All institutions utilise the National Standards Curriculum alongside the Jamaican Sign Language Grammar Programme. They also provide special education and vocational training for members of the deaf community.

The JAD also manages a Hearing Clinic and Social Services Division which oversees transitional services, advocacy and a training unit that facilitates Jamaican sign language and deaf culture education.

The association also operates a 'Fine Hand Bindery' that provides skills training and employment opportunities for members of the deaf community as well as income generation for the organisation.

“The support that we provide, as a school and organisation, goes beyond the classroom as we offer support for parents and siblings. We teach them to sign language and address the concerns they may have with raising a deaf child,” Sherlock Marriott-Blake added.

People interested in enrolling youngsters with hearing challenges may contact JAD at socialservices@jamdeaf.org.jm or call 876-970-1778 or 876-970-1779.


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