Career & Education

DEAFinitely readers

Sunday, January 06, 2019

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Eleven students from schools for the deaf across the island participated in the Jamaica Association for the Deaf's (JAD) inaugural reading competition late last year, vying for prizes including Most Outstanding Reader and Vocabulary Genius.

The competition, called We Are DEAFinitely Readers, was open to secondary level students.

It featured four age categories — 12-13, where the was A Goatboy Never Cries by Hazel D Campbell; 14-15, where the book was Project Climate Save by Petre Williams-Raynor; 16-17, where the book was Anancy's African Adventure by Beulah Richmond; and 18-20, where Jenny and the General by Jean D'Costa was the featured text.

First, second and third place was awarded in each category.

Azaliah Walker from Lister Mair/Gilby High School for the Deaf won in the 12-13 category, with second going to Trishan Campbell from Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf (CCCD) Kingston. For the 14-15 age group, Sherda-Anna Brown from May Pen Unit (MPU) for the Deaf placed first and Kalea Williams from Lister Mair Gilby placed second. In the 16-17 category, Damion Stewart from the Manchester campus of CCCD placed first, Abigail Swaby from Lister Mair/Gilby placed second, and Tashana Papley from May Pen Unit was third. In the 18-20 age group Shanel Bowlyn from CCCD Manchester was first, while Shaniel Brown from Lister Mair/Gilby and Anecia Allen from May Pen Unit tied for second place.

The JAD explained that the competition was designed to inspire deaf children to become voracious readers and to boost their literacy standards. Specifically, the JAD said, it was intended to:

•encourage reading engagement,

• provide incentives to increase reading volume and comprehension among deaf and hard of hearing students,

• promote a spirit of academic competition and good sportsmanship; and

• encourage critical thinking skills among deaf students.

Project Manager Tisha Ewen-Smith told Career & Education that she believes the competition gave a competitive spur to reluctant readers who previously missed out on the vast world of literature, and that it will ultimately enhance their literacy skills.

“To ensure that deaf students receive the quality education they deserve, their learning needs have to be fully taken into consideration. With this understanding, JAD is working to create a new generation of deaf students with excellent literacy skills. A primary factor that has been considered is their language development by way of a bilingual approach to their education, which uses both Jamaican Sign Language and written English. The ultimate goal is to have every deaf child leave school with a lifelong love of reading and the necessary literacy skills to succeed in life,” she said.

We Are DEAFinitely Readers was executed under the United States Agency for International Development-sponsored Partnership for Literacy Enhancement for the Deaf project, and was staged on November 29, 2018 in the Neville Hall Lecture Theatre at the University of the West Indies.

Specially invited guests in attendance included Alando Terrelonge, state minister in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport; and Valerie Facey and Carol Christian, JAD board members. The keynote speaker was Robin Levy, a member of the Kingston East and Port Royal Rotary Club.

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