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Why Should You Support Deaf Education?

The National Association of the Deaf recognizes the values of schools for the deaf and hard of hearing, such as St. Mary’s School for the Deaf (SMSD) and cherishes their contributions to the education and development of deaf and hard of hearing children.  Deaf schools are critical to the education of deaf and hard of hearing students, and every effort must be made to preserve and strengthen them.


Deaf schools are not just an educational option but are the only beneficial placement for deaf children.  Placing these children in their respective neighborhood schools is not practical; economically, or educationally.  There are not enough qualified teachers of the deaf or qualified educational interpreters to meet the current needs of mainstream schools, making schools for the deaf a cost-effective means to optimal educational services.


Deaf schools benefit from the fostering of deaf culture, heritage, and language.  Deaf schools are uniquely capable of providing the essential visual learning environment and the ideal conditions for language development for deaf children.  Deaf children can only begin to learn when they acquire language, which is a human and linguistic right.  This acquisition is optimally achieved in American Sign Language (ASL).  ASL provides a solid language base, through which deaf children can further develop and grow into self-directed, lifelong learners, who are productive members of society.  The value of teachers of the deaf cannot be emphasized enough; educating indirectly through interpreters or modern-day technologies is ineffective and costly.


There is no other institutional setting that can offer the spontaneity, ease, and freedom of communication found in deaf schools.  Deaf schools are unique and provide a community of genuine membership for deaf children.  Students in deaf schools develop emotional, social, and cognitive abilities that are critical to realizing human potential.  Deaf schools provide extracurricular activities, leadership opportunities, and mentoring by successful deaf and hard of hearing adult role models.  Some deaf schools such as St. Mary’s School for the Deaf offer a residential program.  Deaf students come from near and far to live and learn together.  This home away from home provides deaf students with a great opportunity for socialization and is a great environment for developing self-worth.


Schools for the Deaf provides students with an inclusive, high-quality education equipped with highly qualified teachers of the deaf and a rigorous educational curriculum.  Schools for the Deaf like SMSD maintain a bilingual communication policy and environment, utilizing both ASL and written and spoken American English.  These schools remain “voice on” to allow students to adapt to a world dominated by sound.


Despite the proven benefits of specialized Deaf Schools, 85% of deaf students are mainstreamed into public education.  There, they miss out on huge swaths of instruction, often becoming withdrawn and socially isolated.  Unemployment among these children is incredibly high.  Often, a deaf student in a neighborhood school may be the only deaf or hard of hearing student in a classroom.  In a specialized Deaf School, peers have a first-hand understanding of their experiences and can access peer-to-peer support and avoid experiencing discrimination and neglect.


In the United States, there are an estimated 309,000 deaf or hard of hearing students between the ages of 0 and 21.  Of these, approximately $75,000 are on Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and approximately 21% are in a specialized school for the deaf and hard of hearing.  These specialized schools are fully aware of the communication, accessibility, and learning needs of their students.  Statistics show that approximately $234,000 deaf and hard of hearing students are mainstreamed without IEPs.  These schools struggle to meet the special needs of deaf and hard of hearing students.  Our goal at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf is to convert that from 21% to 100%.  Every child deserves equitable access to exemplary education.


Kelly DeDario 716.834.7200 ext. 101 or

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