I have more than 20 years experience as a Canadian Soldier, standing up for the rights of Canadians and our values. I have volunteered countless hours of my time to advocate on behalf of the rights for children in Ontario who are deaf or hard of hearing. I lead a coalition of organizations of families and professionals to Queen’s Park in 2009 under the banner “Project Kids H.E.A.R.” in order to raise awareness about the modern realities affecting the majority of children who are deaf or hard of hearing in our province.
But what makes me most qualified to have an opinion isn’t the thousands of hours I have invested in mastering the modern realities. I am most qualified because of my two children, Marc and Jenna, who were born deaf but can now hear and speak both official languages in mainstream schools thanks to technology and specialized supports.
So should we be treating children who are deaf or hard of hearing equitably? I believe that we must treat all children who are deaf or hard of hearing equitably regardless of how they communicate. Unfortunately groups like the Ontario Association for the Deaf (OAD) don’t agree. The OAD wants the more than 94% of children who are deaf or hard of hearing choosing to hear through technology to suffer.
The OAD tells us this by spreading untruths about the modern reality of these children. In a recent letter to the London Free Press the OAD has launched a campaign of misrepresented facts and discrimination against children like mine. To this I take great offense. If we are to treat all Ontario children who are deaf or hard of hearing equitably we must have an honest conversation rooted in today’s facts.
The Drummond report has gotten it right in regards to the Provincial schools. The status quo is not sustainable nor is it fair in its allocation of resources to support all of the children in question. Why shouldn’t the provincial schools be absorbed into the existing school boards? Why shouldn’t the teachers and other staff who support the students in the provincial schools be treated the same as teachers in mainstream schools? Why shouldn’t the $72 million be used in the most effective and efficient manner possible to support all children who are deaf or hard of hearing? That means finding efficiencies in the way the students of the provincial schools are supported from here forward. This must happen so that money can be fairly reallocated to support the more than 94% of children using technology and attending mainstream schools so that they can succeed. The need of the children using technology is as real as the children using sign language. All children deserve to succeed.
All children who are deaf or hard of hearing deserve to be educated and supported equitably. In order for this to happen Ontario must address the inequality that the current provincial school system represents. This will only happen by having an open and honest conversation based on the modern realities of these children. By equitably supporting these children they can all reach the fullness of their individual potential.
It is time for the silent majority to speak up and be heard.
On the web: www.JamesBorer.ca
(Comments and opinions of Editorials, Letters to the Editor, and comments from readers are purely their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the owners of this site, their staff, or sponsors.)