Province’s School for Deaf will not reopen
“Profound,” came the tearful voice of Angela Hibbs when asked about the degree of her son Roger’s hearing impairment. The Peterview resident was reacting to the news that the provincial government was closing the Newfoundland School for the Deaf by the end of August.
Once a vibrant asset for students with major hearing impairment, the Newfoundland School for the Deaf is closing this year. Enrollment has declined over the years, with many students taking advantage of new technology such as cochlear implants. However, there are issues that deaf children may encounter when they are mainstreamed into the regular school system, and people like Angela Hibbs of Peterview wonders how her son Roger, who went to NSD, will fare in his new school this September. Gary Hebbard-Transcontinental Media photo
“Profound,” came the tearful voice of Angela Hibbs when asked about the degree of her son Roger’s hearing impairment.
The Peterview resident was reacting to the news that the provincial government was closing the Newfoundland School for the Deaf by the end of August.
Roger, who will be in Grade 10 in September, had been a student at the school since he was four years old.
Now he will have to study, with the aid of an interpreter, at Botwood Collegiate.
Only four students attended the facility in St. John’s during the last school year; there are 199 students who are deaf or hard of hearing in the province.
Provincial Education Minister Darin King stated government was committed to providing the “best possible educational opportunities” to students who are deaf and hard of hearing.
He added with a major shift in technology, including new cochlear impacts, the time has come for change. As well, the minister stated other major shifts include ways to deliver the best form of education to students who are hearing-impaired, and parental choices to have children remain at home with the necessary supports provided in school.
“This shift is clearly reflected in enrolment at the school. Given these factors, maintaining an empty school is not justifiable,” he stated.
But those explanations are difficult to listen to, according to Ms. Hibbs.
She said the news the school was closing in September this year came as a total surprise to her.
“It’s terrible and hurtful, but what do they care?” she said. “It's not their child or their family that has to go through it. Decisions were made very underhanded and we had no say or no choice. That’s the saddest part of all. My child and his friend Damian have to suffer because the Department of Education and government wanted to save a few dollars.”