Jamaica News: Parents and guardians of children who are deaf or hard of hearing are being encouraged to enrol them into one of the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD) seven schools.
Executive Director of the JAD, Kimberley Sherlock Marriott-Blake, told JIS News that education is the core focus of the institution.
“At the Jamaica Association for the Deaf, education is our core focus, so ensuring that students are enrolled and adequately supported in schools is critical for us. Currently, we are at 50 per cent capacity and across the system we have approximately 400 students enrolled,” she said.
Mrs. Sherlock Marriott-Blake who was addressing a JIS Think Tank held today (August 21) pointed out that based on estimates, the JAD should have at least 1,000 students enrolled in its schools.
“Based on how (mainstream) education system is structured, you have on average a classroom with 44 students. Now, if you are a student who has hearing loss and uses a hearing aid and is seated in a classroom with 44 teachers and a blackboard dividing the classroom, nine out of 10 times you are not catching much in that classroom,” she stated.
“The impact this has on the student is… for a number of years they are performing at a bare minimum or below bare minimum and unfortunately they just pass through the (education) system,” Mrs. Sherlock Marriott-Blake added.
She informed that the JAD is working on sensitising persons at the community level, on the importance of having a deaf or hard-of-hearing child learning in an environment which is tailored to their specific needs.
“Our goal is that no matter the extent of the hearing loss, the child can be supported and the child can be given the education that they deserve because we are firm believers that every child can learn and every child must learn,” Mrs. Sherlock Marriott-Blake stated.
The Executive Director also appealed to parents and guardians to have their children assessed, if they are not responding the way they should.
“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,” she said.
The seven schools at the JAD include: Lister Mair/Gilby High School for the Deaf, Kingston; Danny Williams School for the Deaf, Kingston; Pre-School Centre for the Deaf, Kingston; Ex-Ed Unit Class at the Excelsior Primary School, Kingston; Port Antonio Unit Class for the Deaf, Portland; May Pen Unit Class for the Deaf, Woodside District, Clarendon; and the St. Christopher’s School for the Deaf in Brown’s Town, St. Ann.
The schools provide lessons from the National Standards Curriculum, alongside the Jamaican Sign Language Grammar Programme.
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 is aimed at providing skills training and employment opportunities for the Deaf community as well as income generation for the Association.
“The support that we provide as a school and organisation go beyond the classroom, as we offer support for parents and siblings. We teach them sign language and address the concerns they may have with raising a deaf child,” Mrs. Sherlock Marriott-Blake shared.
Person’s interested in enrolling a deaf or hard-of-hearing student may contact JAD at [email protected] or call 876-970-1778 or 876- 970-1779.
Source: JIS News