For Immediate Release Sept 20, 2014
The Vermont Association of the Deaf invites you to come to the “VERMONT DEAF RIGHTS, Save Austine School and Services Rally” at the State House on Saturday September 27, 2014 12:30 to 5pm at the Statehouse in Montpelier VT.
We want the State to take over the Austine School property and make it a State School for the Deaf. The Austine School for the Deaf in Brattleboro has provided over 100 years of quality education and prepared students for life after graduation. This past spring the school’s Board of Trustees voted to close its doors. In the past two weeks the Board of Trustees also voted to cease operations of its other programs which are vital to the quality of life for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Vermonters.
Deaf and hard of hearing children in Vermont are now scattered all over Vermont. They are isolated in their public schools, and often are the only student who use sign language or have no access to sign language at all. Learning is severely limited when a student needs to watch an interpreter every day, and has no one to sign to or talk with. The Austine School provides a community of learners where everyone can sign and speak to each other. Teaching and learning at Austine is language rich, barrier-free, and unfiltered. The Austine School and its Outreach program provided consultation to public school districts across the state to ensure that their students were receiving appropriate access to education. That service is gone. Those Deaf children are left behind. This will have a negative impact on education and employment opportunities and general well-being of Deaf Vermonters and come at an additional cost to the state.
The State of Vermont needs to step up to the plate and ensure that those children and families get the support they deserve by establishing an independent agency within the state that operates the Austine School and its services to Deaf and hard of hearing babies and students.
This event coincides with the International Deaf Awareness Day. Come and celebrate our rights to equal communication, education and opportunities.