Deaf Canadians rally to demand action on “backsliding” education

News & Events

Deaf Canadians rally to demand action on “backsliding” education

May 8, 2007

FOR RELEASE: 11 May 2007
The Canadian Association of the Deaf

203 – 251 Bank Street Ottawa ON K2P 1X3

Voice: 613-565-2882 TTY: 613-565-8882

Ottawa ON – Thousands of Deaf people rallied in several cities across Canada today, demanding action to improve the education of children who are deaf.

“Exactly 18 years ago, we marched in every major city across the country to demand better education,” – said Sheila Carlin, President of the Canadian Association of the Deaf (CAD). – “There were a few years of improvements, but over the past decade the situation has been backsliding, with horrifying results.

“We are seeing the impact of years of funding cuts, downsizing, elimination of support services, biased and short-sighted policy decisions, and the marginalizing of Deaf educators, administrators, and advisors.”

Today’s rallies, expected to take place in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC and several other cities, was initiated by the Ontario Association of the Deaf with the support of the CAD and the Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf.

According to the organizers, – 93% of deaf children are enrolled in oral programs, yet 62% of them will drop out of the program by the time they reach high school. -Only 1.7% of Deaf people earn a university degree. -The number of Deaf students enrolled in post-secondary institutions has fallen by 50% in just two years – “Provincial Ministries of Education claim their Deaf education programs will enable us to be successful in non-Deaf – society,” – notes James Roots, Executive Director of the CAD. – “But how can you be successful in any society if you don’t have a real education?”

The CAD identifies “Four Keys to Better Deaf Education”. – They are:

  1. -Sign language must be recognized in legislation as languages of education for Deaf Canadians.
  2. -Sufficient funding must be provided for support services to Deaf students, whether they are mainstreamed, integrated, or enrolled in the provincial Deaf institutes.
  3. -Standards must be raised and enforced for teachers of the Deaf and also for support-services personnel, including mental health services, educational assistants, and interpreters.
  4. -Gaps in all transition phases must be eliminated to ensure seamless and consistent educational services and programs throughout the Deaf child’s development.

Sheila Carlin, President
James Roots, Executive Director
204-284-9373 TTY: 613-565-8882 TTY

Both contact persons are Deaf and are best reached via email.

The Canadian Association of the Deaf ( is the national consumer organization of Canada’s 310,000 Deaf citizens. The CAD provides consultation and information on Deaf needs and interests to the public, business, media, educators, governments and others. The Association conducts research and collects data regarding Deaf issues; issue reports on these studies; and provide expertise on them; develop and implement pilot programs. CAD offers assistance to Deaf organizations and service agencies across the country, and also provides a major library and resource centre on deafness at our office in Ottawa, Ontario.

Photo courtesy of Genvieve Deguire