Primary and secondary students with hearing loss to get more help in designated schools

Students in Boon Lay Secondary School using sign language to communicate during class.
Students in Boon Lay Secondary School using sign language to communicate during class.PHOTO: MOE

SINGAPORE - Students with hearing loss will receive more support from designated schools, said the Ministry of Education (MOE) in a statement on Tuesday (Sept 20).

Having a designated mainstream primary and secondary school will allow students with moderate to severe hearing loss to study and play alongside their mainstream peers in and out of class, said the MOE.

Starting next year (2017), Beatty Secondary School will take in Secondary 1 students with moderate to severe hearing loss who use sign language. It will replace Balestier Hill Secondary - one of the schools that does not have a Secondary 1 cohort this year (2016) and Boon Lay Secondary School as the designated secondary school for these students.

There are currently fewer than 15 students with hearing loss who use sign language in the two designated secondary schools.

In its statement, MOE said: "With a small number of these students, locating them in a single designated secondary school will provide students with a greater sense of community, with more opportunities for mutual communication through signing, social interactions and peer support. This will also allow better pooling and strengthening of specialised resources within one location."

At the primary level, from 2018, pupils with hearing loss will also be admitted to a designated primary school located in a central location. Currently, they attend either the Lighthouse School or the Canossian School, which are Special Education schools.

These designated schools have teachers trained to support students with hearing loss, in ways such as sign interpretation, social emotional support and help in the use of assistive technology devices, said MOE. The ministry will also continue to tap the expertise of the Singapore Association of the Deaf (SADeaf) to increase the number of trained staff in the schools.

Dr Janil Puthucheary, Minister of State for Education, said that these efforts are an extension of the support programmes the ministry has for such students.

"Giving our students the opportunity to interact with and learn from one another is a very encouraging step towards forging a more inclusive society," he said.

Ms Irene Yee, president of SADeaf, said that sign language will be used as the language of conversation and to support instruction for such students in the schools. "We are certain that deaf students will benefit tremendously from the integration with their hearing peers in the mainstream designated primary school."