Former principal questions ‘new’ technology reasoning
Since releasing a statement to the press about the closing of the Newfoundland School for the Deaf (NSD), I have tried to monitor comments made by the Minister of Education, Darin King, to the media. It is clear to me the Minister is not well informed.
First, the Minister claims new technology like ‘cochlear implants’ have had a significant impact on enrollment at NSD. Cochlear implants have been available commercially since 1972. That was five years before the first personal computer (Commodore PET) became commercially available in 1977.
Most of us would not think of technology introduced that long ago as new technology. Like the personal computer, cochlear implants have evolved and improved, but to claim they are ‘new technology’ gives a different meaning to the word ‘new’.
In Newfoundland, children travelled to Ontario for cochlear implants as far back as 1996, and in 1997 the Newfoundland School for the Deaf was offering specialized programming for students with cochlear implants which included on site Auditory Verbal Therapy and on site audiological services in the best classroom acoustic environment in Canada.
The operation of that program was taken from the School for the Deaf by the Department of Education in 2001. Cochlear implants did not reduce enrollment, cancelling the school’s program did.
The Minister also claims there was more demand for services in an integrated setting. The School for the Deaf initiated support for deaf and hard of hearing students to attend classes with their hearing peers when this was appropriate.