Deaf ed branches out


May 4, 2014

A program at Mosman Park School for Deaf Education and adjacent Shenton College to get hearing-impaired students and non-hearing-impaired students studying and socialising together has been running for well over a decade now.

West Australian Institute of Deaf Education access and equity co-ordinator Leanne Potter says the program operated by the two schools that allows deaf students to interact with students who can hear is based on the concept of a school within a school.

“Shenton and Mosman Park are co-located which allows students to get the specialist deaf education,” Ms Potter says of the program which started up in 2001.

A Deaf student studyingEx Shenton College Deaf Education student Mohammad Ahmed says the program opened doors for him.

“The program is a good one, as it gives deaf students a chance to learn and develop as an individual,” he says.

Hearing-impaired students learn sign language at the deaf centre while attending classes at Shenton College.

Ms Potter says she hopes that one day Auslan – short for ‘Australian sign language’ which is used among the Australian deaf community – will count twoard students’ tertiary entrance scores.

“Auslan was introduced at Shenton to teach the students as a subject,” she says.

Unless mainstream students are taught Auslan, the only way heavily deaf students can communicate with them is by lip-reading.

Ex Shenton College student Caileigh Oswald, who is not hearing-impaired, says it was really cool learning Auslan and being able to communicate without talking.

“One of my good friends Megan taught me how to sign which was really difficult to begin with, but really good once I got it,” Ms Oswald says.

The schools help hearing-impaired students with social interactions, which Ms Potter says is something that was missing when she started in deaf education.

“At a deaf specialist school I don’t think that the students’ behaviour was moderated very well, because they never saw what was typical teenage behaviour,” she says.

The benefit of deaf and mainstream students working together is that they teach each other different social skills.

Mr Melling and Mr Ahmed signing

Former Shenton College student Mohammad Ahmed says the program allowed him to open up and speak more.

“It was great mixing with the mainstream students,” he says.

“It helped me grow in both areas: sign language and speaking.”

Mr Ahmed hopes to get into spray-painting and panel beating.

Ex Shenton College student David Melling, who is hearing-impaired, says he enjoyed studying at Shenton, learning different subjects and making good friends among deaf and mainstream students.

Mr Melling is studying to become a light vehicle automotive mechanic.

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