What is a hearing aid? Will it cure my child’s hearing loss? Hearing aids are devices which make sounds louder. Different models are chosen to suit an individual’s unique needs. Hearing aids do not make hearing “normal.” Depending on the loss, there may be some “holes” in what is heard, even with the best hearing aid. Some children may hear some sounds, but not others; other children may not hear any speech at all. Some children with hearing losses can use hearing aids to understand environmental sounds, words, or phrases. Others may not be able to understand any sounds through listening skills alone but can use a hearing aid to help with speech reading. A child’s ability to understand sound through listening skills will depend both on the degree of hearing loss and the amount of exposure to sound.

They’re children who have a disability or a combination of disabilities that makes learning or other activities difficult. Special-needs children include those who have: Mental Retardation, which causes them to develop more slowly than other children. Speech and Language Impairment, such as a problem expressing themselves or understanding others. Physical Disability, such as vision problem, cerebral palsy, or other conditions. Learning Disabilities, which distort messages from their senses. Emotional Disabilities, such as antisocial or other behavioral problems.

The diagnosis of hearing hearting loss is often a shock and brings with it a need to know why and how such a thing could have happened. Often it is difficult to determine the cause of a child’s hearing loss. There may be several factors that contribute to the hearing loss. Questions parents may have, include: Why did this happen? Will my child be normal? What caused it? What will my child be like when he or she grows up? Why do I feel responsible? How will my deaf child and I communicate with each other? How well will my child be able to speak? What impact will hearing loss have on my family relationship? What do I do when other people treat my child differently? How can I get other family members involved? How can I help hearing siblings adjust to a deaf or hard of hearing brother or sister? Parents with a child who has a hearing loss have many anxieties, concerns, and questions that are normal for concerned parents of any child.

A child with a disability is but a child first and therefore has a right to enjoy all Child Rights as other children do. However, enjoyment of these Rights often requires “equalisation of opportunities”. That is, recognition of the need for special provisions to ensure access to these Rights. Central to the work of the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD) with children, is this consciousness of the special needs of Deaf children and their families. The Coalition for the Rights of the Child (CRC) provides a framework for structuring programmes for child survival, development, protection and participation and has had a significant impact on the work of this Association with children. It has assisted in: defining the scope of the services and programmes developed providing justification for programmes and providing a focal point for mobilising support for programme implementation.

The work of the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD) over the past 64 years has been made possible through a number of invaluable partnerships. One such partnership is that with JAMALCO and the ALCOA Foundation.

As part of the JAD’s strategic effort to shift towards, and implement, a bilingual/bicultural pedagogical approach in its schools, it sponsored a small pilot project between January and June 2002. The project focused on a core group of 20 Deaf students, as well as six Deaf adults, who were employed as Deaf Culture Facilitators in JAD classrooms.

Jamaican Sign Language and English: Using Different Tools to Express the Same Meaning Part One: Prepositions versus Classifiers During July 15-19, 2002, Dr. Pauline Christie, a former lecturer of the Department of Linguistics at UWI, led a workshop on English Language structures for JAD staff members. A team of interpreters assisted in the presentation, shedding light on Sign Language structures. A definite highlight of the workshop was the opportunity to compare English, Jamaican Sign Language and Jamaican (Patois) grammar. We continue that comparison with the below thoughts from Dawn Smith-Raymond who is doing some voluntary research and analysis on the structure and syntax of Jamaican Sign Language.

In 1998 the JAD celebrated sixty years of service to the Jamaican community and grasped the opportunity to commence the documentation of its history. This cronicle of the first sixty years has been entitled “Hearing Hands”. Bound up in these two words is a symbolic representation of the evolution of the JAD over this period. The twin concepts of “Hearing” and “Hands” have been focal points in our perception of and response to our context over these years. Our interpretation of our reality has shifted from the perception of Deafness as “the half empty glass” to Deafness as “the half full glass”.

Action Research, Phase II At the May 2002 Schools’ Management Meeting, feedback was collated from the different school sites in the JAD system, and analysed to determine the best course for the renewed direction of the Action Research efforts. Recognising the difficulty in providing adequate support to the Action Research Teams, the decision was made to consolidate the project at the JAD Pre-School Centre/Danny Williams School site for the 2002-03 academic year. The proximity to the JAD Administration and Training Departments permits extensive monitoring and support from additional personnel. In addition, gathering the Deaf Culture Facilitators (DCFs) at the Papine site allows them to take advantage of the CXC evening programme offered at Lister Mair/Gilby High School. This factor is crucial as the DCFs are expected to earn the requisite CXCs necessary for entry into Mico Teachers’ College within the next three years.

Over 150 persons from the JAD family met at James Bond Beach in Oracabessa, St. Mary to swim, eat, dance, talk, and play games for the first annual JAD Fun Day.

25 persons from Jamaica attended the Deaf Way II Conference in Washington, DC during July 8 – 13, 2002. The conference was an international gathering of over 10,000 participants from every corner of the United States and the world to share and celebrate the experiences of Deaf people.

Under the inspired direction of David Robertson, the Western Union – GKRS Deaf Cricket League held its first match in June and continued play into July.

As of August 7th, the Social Services Department moved to new quarters on South Camp Road. The move provides the Social Services Department with a more spacious layout that is conducive to an improved service delivery for their clientele.

Because of the large number of graduates from Lister Mair/Gilby this year, the Continuing Education Unit programmes have been revised and expanded to provide young adults with adequate resources and training opportunities for their intellectual and vocational self-development.

For the first time in its history, JAD Binders recently hosted and concluded an exciting adrenalin-high two-week workshop entitled Bindings of Excellence. There were nine deaf and five hearing individuals, a total of fourteen including the facilitator Prof. Charles Jones a and Project Coordinator, Miriam Hinds. The focus of the workshop was to assess and hone the skills of the current bindery compliment in new techniques and verify our current binding practices and procedures. Other objectives of the workshop were also to develop additional instructional training materials, to experience first hand demonstrations of new styles and techniques in finishing processes. This workshop is also a precursor to our accreditation as a training facility with HEART/NCTVET in this skill area.

The Starkey Hearing Foundation, which is based in the United States, conducts more than 150 missions in countries across the globe "So the World May Hear." These missions include giving away hearing instruments and promoting hearing impairment education. Since 2000, The Starkey Hearing Foundation has touched more than 78,000 lives worldwide and in December 2005 it was Jamaica’s turn to benefit from their generosity.

In keeping with its goal of increasing public awareness of hearing health, The Hearing Services Division of the Jamaica Association for the Deaf had its first Health Fair on Saturday March 25, 2006 at the Social Development Commission (SDC) at 1 Springfield Road, Morant Bay, St. Thomas. The aim of the Heath Fair was to provide free medical consultation for members of the community and to increase the awareness on the care of the body and maintenance of healthy lifestyles.

The Ministries of Education and Health have recognized the importance of screening, and assessment in order to identify children with disabilities for early intervention. However, the infrastructure to support these activities is inadequate and as a result the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD) wants to build awareness and strengthen the capacity to support these services. The JAD has identified as a priority the need for public awareness of hearing health in order to provide comprehensive hearing enhancement and conservation programs. With this awareness, JAD can more easily identify children at risk for hearing loss and deafness through screening methodologies in the communities. By conducting screenings, a referral process can take place to ensure early and appropriate interventions.

A fabulous new book has been published by the Hesperian Foundation, Berley, California, USA. "Helping Children Who Are Deaf" is an open source of activities aimed at assisiting families and communities promote the healthy development of children who are Deaf or who do not hear well.