Open Letter - Newfoundland and Labrador Association of the Deaf

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Open Letter - Newfoundland and Labrador Association of the Deaf



Newfoundland and Labrador Association of the Deaf

21 Merrymeeting Road

St. John’s, NL A1C 2V6



September 3, 2010



Honourable Darin King

Minister of Education

Department of Education

P.O. Box 8700

3rd Floor, West Block

St. John’s, NL A1B 4J6



Dear Minister:


Re: Newfoundland School for the Deaf Closure


The Newfoundland and Labrador Association of the Deaf (NLAD) is deeply concerned with your decision to close our Provincial School for the Deaf.


We are aware that the enrolment at Newfoundland School for the Deaf (NSD) has declined in recent years. Educators of students who are deaf and hard of hearing in this province have indicated a cancelling of many of the schools specialized programming as a reason for this decline.


Removal of much of the framework and structured programming such as on-site auditory verbal therapy and on-site audiological services with the best acoustics in the nation has led to the demise of our school system for the Deaf and hard of Hearing. While there are Deaf and Hard of Hearing students attending classes with their hearing peers who will thrive and achieve great successes there are those students who will not.


It is these students whose life has been diminished by this decision that is of utmost concern to the membership of NLAD and the Deaf community.


We are now faced with the regressive circumstance whereby students who are Deaf attend Schools for the Deaf in other Provinces just as many us did several years ago.


Throughout the years we have been promised a school with individualized programming and supports only to have these same services discontinued by the Department of Education which has led to the inevitable closure of the Newfoundland School for the Deaf.


While integration in the perfect world offers many benefits it can be especially isolating to be transferred from an environment whereby you can communicate with everyone to an environment whereby your only daily communication is with a sign language interpreter.


Physically we are integrated but certainly at great cost of emotional isolation in the educational setting. This is certainly not conductive to learning. It does nothing to enhance the profound loss of the innate sense of self while being unable to communicate with your hearing peers.


Success of development, self concept and identity are achieved through the ongoing process of social interaction. Communication is the key to interaction. The most effective communication for the hearing is through their sense of hearing but for a person who is Deaf it is through their sense of vision.


People who are Deaf require unique and comprehensive supports to become successful and contributing members of society. An integration plan should include a cultural transmission which cannot be underscored as well as the importance of role models, peers and colleagues who are Deaf which are vitally necessary as a key function and an educational tool for learning cultural rules, values and specific competence. This is true for the culture of Deaf people as for any other.


Integration will require many supports including interpreting services. Practically this presents concern as we have a bare minimum of human resources necessary for interpretation and have begun to recruit from outside the Province.


In 2010 the International Congress on the Education of the Deaf  (ICED) “New Era” document and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, both of which support Deaf schools was signed off on by the Newfoundland Provincial Government.


We ask the Government to abide by the resolutions they have endorsed.


We call on the Minister of Education to heed the advice and expertise of many of the educators and professionals who have a combined experience of numerous years in particular Canadian Association of the Deaf (CAD), Ontario Association of the Deaf (OAD), Saskatchewan Deaf Association (SDA), Mr. Charles Harkins (former principal of the Newfoundland School for the Deaf (NSD) 1978-2001 and Dr. Barbara O’Dea of Canadian Hearing Society (CHS).


In closing I wish to encourage collaboration among government officials and all stakeholders. At the end of the process we will not say we did not speak but that we were not heard.






Myles Murphy on behalf of NLAD Board of Directors

Past President NLAD

Past Vice-President CAD


cc:        Premier Danny Williams, Newfoundland and Labrador

            Yvonne Jones, Liberal Leader of Official Opposition, Newfoundland and Labrador

            Lorraine Michael, NDP Leader, Newfoundland and Labrador

            Jim Roots, Executive Director, Canadian Association of the Deaf

            Jodie Burke, President, Newfoundland and Labrador Association of the Deaf


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Recent comments

  • harrison nojang agbor
    April 09, 2013 - 09:58

    We are writing this letter as a follow up to your letter and our recent open letter regarding the process of making the town hall meetings accessible to the Deaf queer community. Thank you for your prompt response to this situation on behalf of Pride cameroon. We appreciate Pride Cameroon’s and the Committees’ efforts in trying to amend this situation. We would like to focus on the impact this situation has had on the Deaf queer community. The last minute cancellation of interpreters for the Trans Pride Town Hall meeting had a significant impact on the Deaf queer and trans community. The information received by the Deaf community leading up to the two town hall meetings was inadequate. In particular, four hours before this meeting, a member of E.I.D was informed via text message that there would be no ASL interpreters followed by a request to share this with the community. Although E.I.D is happy to assist Pride cameroon and its committees in relaying this information, it is Pride cameroon’s responsibility to be the primary agent in disseminating critical information. Although Facebook, skype and other forms of social media seem common forums for Pride cameroon to share information, it needs to be understood that not everyone in the Deaf community can access information in English. Thus, last minute notifications via Facebook does not provide us with adequate time to inform our community in ASL (via video messages or “vlogs” as we call them). As a result, we have fewer or sometimes no Deaf people in attendance.okay