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Deaf, Blind Schools Offer Program to Students Across the State

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Cecelia Mason
/
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A new program at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind in Romney, W.Va., is making it possible for students from across the state to take advantage of specialized instruction that’s available there.

The Schools bring the students from their home counties by bus once a month for a week to spend time living and attending school at the campus.

“So that it’s really a full week immersion if you will in a culture that really provides to them role models in some ways with teachers, with dorm personnel and certainly with peers who have some of the same challenges,” Dr. Lynn Boyer, superintendent, said.

Patty Myers is the teacher who works with the students. The trip to Romney is part of the students’ Individual Education Plan, which is put together by the counties to address meeting special needs of students with special challenges.

Deaf, hard of hearing, blind and low vision students come to Romney on Sunday and bring their regular classroom work so they don’t fall behind in their studies.

“While they’re with me we are addressing that entire curriculum but we’re also looking at various strategies, some various approaches, and some aids that they can use when they go back to their county to continue using in their typical classrooms,” Myers said.

For example, during their stay on campus blind students get better access to print materials by using equipment that translates it into braille or spoken word and deaf students get additional American Sign Language and other instruction tailored to their needs.

One goal is providing services that counties can’t because there aren’t experts available to offer them. Myers said one example is teaching students with vision and hearing problems how to navigate around town.

“We have several counties who find it very difficult to find orientation mobility specialists,” she said. “We only have like eight in the state who can provide that service. Then by coming here we can make sure they get that on a monthly basis.”

Staying on campus for a week also gives the students an opportunity to interact with adults and other children who are like them. Myers said they seem to enjoy the experience.

“They come here each month already established friendships from the first month until now we get requests ‘I want to share a room with so and so’ because they have just made that close of friends,” she said.

The Schools for Deaf and Blind started offering the program in September and Boyer said anywhere from seven to 15 students each month have participated.


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