:: The Columbus Dispatch | Deaf community opposes merger of schools ::

Deaf community opposes merger of schools

Sunday, April 08, 2007

As board president of the Ohio School for the Deaf Alumni Association, representing some 850 members, I wish to join with the growing number of persons publicly opposing the planned merger of the Ohio School for the Deaf and Ohio State School for the Blind onto a single campus.

Those on the record thus far supporting this merger, solely for perceived cost efficiencies (which are debatable), are mostly nondeaf people who claim to know what is in the best interests of those who will be most directly affected by and have to live with the consequences of this ill-advised plan.

However, deaf people, who, after all, know best what is best for deaf people, overwhelmingly oppose this move for several reasons.

One of these is that most deaf people, who communicate through sign language, cannot effectively communicate one-on-one with blind people.

To be forced to share facilities with and encounter on a daily basis people with whom communication is impossible can only be frustrating to both the deaf and the blind. Furthermore, members of the blind and deaf communities have very different needs, and we are greatly concerned that combining the campuses will lead to a disastrous one-size-fits-all approach that will fail both communities.

While it may be difficult for nondeaf people to relate to these particular concerns, believe me, they are very real and disturbing to the deaf. We urge The Dispatch to oppose this unnecessary merger.

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