Closure means heartbreak for Peterview family

Sue Hickey
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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, t

“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.”

 

Organizations: Newfoundland School for the Deaf, American Sign Language, Department of Education

Geographic location: Province, Ontario, Newfoundland

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  • Heidi Power
    August 12, 2010 - 14:30

    I am sorry to hear that the school will be closing, but do you really think the Governement should keep a school open for four students! That is not going to happen. Maybe the Government can offer some help in another way through private teachers/assistants such as what they do with autistic children, but for you expect a school to remain open for such a small number of people that is not sensible. They are clsoing down schools in small communities for the same reason, it is not feasible! Check out the options before you condemn.

  • Marilyn Hunter
    August 10, 2010 - 15:34

    I feel that something is not right for the Deaf students who have to move on to an another school when they can get the best education at the Deaf school and have friends and staff who uses ASL or MSL (Maritimes Sign Language). It sad that no one from the gov't asked for opionions and etc. from the Deaf Community, Parents and former students plus staff who work there. Look what happened to Saskatchewan School for the Deaf. We can not loose another school for the Deaf in Canada. All Deaf children have the right to their education and ASL/MSL whether they are Deaf/HH or CI. Another question: Are there plenty of Sign Language interpreters in NFLD?

  • Lacey Rowsell
    August 10, 2010 - 15:00

    I agree with angela one hundred percent its not fair what they are doing for the children roger is my brother in law and he is heart broken over this decision they say it will be just like hes back at school but he will never have the advantages he would have in the newfoundland school for the deaf and about the implants not all families can afford them so unless the goverment is willing to pay for them to have the implants that shouldnt even be brought up and if they are going to close down the school then they should have an optional sign language course in all the schools in newfoundland

  • Mad
    August 10, 2010 - 14:04

    I think along with this change.The teachers should have to do a sign language course to help these students.The barrier that the hard of hearing or Deaf Mute children are going to have to face is phenomenal.This is like a second language , they do teach it, but lets see the Government pay for this one, not going to happen in this life time. Keep them home, that's a way to teach them that they are accepted in society . Doesn't the Government care about the people and children of NL ,no by...I was in support of the William's government but because of this I will Not be voting next time for anyone.SHAME,SHAME,SHAME on you all.