Parents and teachers at a unique school for Deaf students within a school believe more children in Wellington could benefit from the service.
And they are calling for a high school to be set up to teach Deaf students across the region.
Linden School in Tawa is the only school in the Wellington region where Deaf students are taught entirely through sign language.
Four primary-aged students attend the school each day, which has been operating since February 2021. They are enrolled through Ko Taku Reo Deaf Education New Zealand, but attend classes, assemblies, and participate in sports days at Linden.
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But Deaf Aotearoa general manager Bridget Ferguson whose 6-year-old son Carter attends the school, said there are likely more children in the Wellington region who need the school.
“People don’t know what’s possible. Carter has come from a family of three generations who have been to Deaf schools, who have seen Deaf schools, seen Deaf professionals, but if 95% of these kids are born to families who have never experienced that, you don’t know what you don’t know.”
Carter Ferguson, 6 a student at Linden school, says he loves school because “the Deaf are together chatting and chatting and chatting”.
Ferguson said parents of Deaf students had been fighting for a Wellington Deaf school for the past 20 years. Her daughter, also Deaf, had only intermittent access to teachers of the Deaf within the mainstream school system when she attended school in the 2010s.
“This is inclusion, this is access. At Linden, it’s a win-win…Carter gets to see other kids around and gets to be confident going out there as a Deaf kid.”
Teacher Mary Sleep said the school provides a turangawaewae (place to stand) for Deaf children.
“[The Deaf community] wanted a place for our Deaf children to grow, and make connections – lifelong connections. Lots of people in the Deaf community, they started being friends at school, that’s how they met people.”
Many Deaf students in New Zealand are enrolled within mainstream schools, where they can access …….