FOJ has recently awarded funding to a project by the Deaf Empowerment Abroad Foundation (D-E-A-F) to support the professional development of educators for deaf students in Jamaica.
The grant helps in the ongoing project “Bridging The Gap." The first part of the project involved training primarily at Jamaica Association of the Deaf (JAD) Kingston campus with executive director Dr. Iris Soutar and selected Hearing teachers and Deaf teaching assistance. Focus was on educating Hearing teachers and staff of Deaf cultural sensitivity, approaches to language learning for the hearing staff and teachers, introduction to JSL (Jamaican Sign Language), the significance for the children to be instructed in their natural language, and a focus on establishing a mentorship program and incorporating ways to offer continued language support from a distance.
As Tisha Ewen-Smith, Director Education and Training of (JAD), said, “Having a successful Deaf tutor address our Deaf staff was very helpful as they were able to relate, and as you know Deaf to Deaf is always more received than Hearing to Deaf . We hope to build on this in the future shou
The D-E-A-F met its goals of training 60 Hearing teachers/staff and 25 Deaf T.A’s/staff at combined schools. The impact will extend beyond into 3 Caribbean Christian Center of the Deaf (CCCD) sister campuses and 7 JAD campuses outside of Kingston.
The foundation has been firmly laid and dialogue between two diverse cultures is underway. Through the exposure of language at use, Hearing teachers are more open to learning JSL for themselves. This will be a long process, but will ultimately better the quality of education for deaf students in Jamaica.