Tuesday 19 November, 2019

Advocate: Education system failing nation’s children with disabilities

Sandra White-Belgrave

Sandra White-Belgrave

One of the Directors of the Barbados Council for the Disabled, Sandra White-Belgrave has suggested a good set of children who leave the two main schools on the island which cater to those with learning disabilities, The Ann Hill School and The Irving Wilson School, were being disadvantaged.

“It is saddening to see a child enter school at three years old and when they are 18 [or] 19, they still cannot comprehend Class One work . . . That is something that needs deep investigation . . . At 18 years old you cannot have a full high school education or certificate?

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“Something is wrong in that system because there are children leaving school, they are not dumb, they are smart. It is just they do not have the kind of education that [other] schools would have,” she told Loop News.

Belgrave, who herself is hard of hearing has also suggested that there needs to be better communication between persons who have disabilities and those who do not, for example, persons who are deaf and hard of hearing.

She noted currently, the deaf and hard of hearing were communicating one way with those in their own [deaf] community and another way with those in wider society.

“For true change to take place there needs to be communication. The deaf have been communicating two ways - in their culture and the hearing culture. The hearing world has been focusing on one world - theirs.

“If both can come to the same point to understand each other so that when the deaf tries to communicate they understand clearly and when the hearing is communicating with the deaf, they understand; there would have balance, not a [disparity],” Belgrave added.

The BCD Director noted that although the current level of inclusion of persons with disabilities into Barbadian society still leaves a lot to be desired, the effort was being made to address the topic, considered by many still to be taboo.

She said there were still the perceptions that they could do nothing for themselves or the society, and in some instances are a burden.

“With all the technology and all the services that we have right now, there is still not enough being done for the deaf community. Look at accessibility. 

"There are not enough services there that persons who are deaf or hard of hearing can access information or assistance and we saw it some weeks ago we had the passage then Tropical Storm Dorian,” Belgrave added, pointing to the measures that were put in place by state broadcaster the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and the Ministry of Home Affairs, through the Department of Emergency Management to ensure that they were included.

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