July 7, 2021
SCHOOLS operated by the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD) recently received a well-needed technological support boost from Proven Investments Limited which handed over 15 tablets and three laptop computers to help deaf and hard-of-hearing students access online learning.
“Deaf and hard-of-hearing students have been significantly impacted by the pandemic and have been experiencing challenges accessing the online learning environment,” said Deniese Badroe, director of business development at JAD. “This is primarily due to lack of access to reliable technological devices and Internet, or data access. The schools are also having challenges providing laptops to instructors of deaf and hard-of-hearing students who use them to assist in lesson preparation and delivery. Proven readily appreciated the existence of these gaps and stepped up to assist, accordingly. Their donation will ensure that deaf students can continue their education during the pandemic.”
Belinda Williams, head of marketing and communications at Proven, noted that they are happy to participate and support such a worthy cause. She added that they are delighted to support the children and are also pleased that teachers are benefiting from the donation of the laptops.
The handover was held at Proven’s head office and was attended by Williams; Badroe; Tisha Ewen-Smith, director of education and training at JAD; Dr Sharon Anderson Morgan, assistant chief education officer in the Special Education Unit at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information; Stacy-Ann Dockery, principal of Lister Mair/Gilby (LMG) High School for the Deaf; Michelle Wisdom, vice-principal of LMG High School for the Deaf; as well as students Jamari Thomas and Kaela Williams of LMG High School.
During the handover, Dr Anderson Morgan thanked Proven for the generous support to the students. She pointed out that a strategic objective of the Ministry of Education is to bridge the digital divide. She emphasised that to a child with special needs, a tablet is multifaceted, in addition to being an assistive device, and goes beyond regular teaching. She urged corporate Jamaica to get on board and support the initiative.
Ewen-Smith expressed her gratitude and noted that although most of the students now have devices, they still face the challenge of data affordability.
Whilst the pandemic has created disruption and has had a negative impact on students’ learning generally, learning loss has been particularly acute among deaf students who learn visually and require communication access, she said.
JAD operates seven schools across the country, including May Pen Unit Class for the Deaf, LMG High School for the Deaf, Port Antonio Unit Class for the Deaf, St Christopher’s School for the Deaf, Danny Williams School for the Deaf, Pre-School Centre for the Deaf, and Ex-Ed Unit Class.
In the obtaining of this assistance, JAD highlighted that they are particularly grateful for the role played by its board chairman, Christopher Williams, who is also CEO of Proven. Having made concerted efforts to solicit the support of various stakeholders during the pandemic, the association welcomes additional partnerships, specifically, to continue supporting teachers with devices and students with access to data.