Danny Williams School for the Deaf

The Danny Williams School for the Deaf was selected as the main 50th Anniversary Outreach Project for WIGUT (Jamaica).

The school is one of seven run by the Jamaica Association for the Deaf, with limited support from the Government of Jamaica. The school received J$158,000 from WIGUT to purchase a photocopier, which will enable the staff to mass-produce printed material for their students.

Located on the Hope Estate in St Andrew, the school opened in the 1970s, triggered by the Rubella Outbreak in 1965, which left many children with impaired hearing. At that time, up to early 1978, the school was named Lister Mair-Gilby Prep School and was affiliated to the Lister Mair-Gilby High School, also located on the Hope Estate. In 1978, this school was separated from the high school and established as a primary school. It was then renamed the Danny Williams School for the Deaf, in honour of the Hon. Danny Williams who worked extensively with the deaf. Today, the Danny Williams School for the Deaf has 99 students: there is the primary school, a Unit class that is accommodated at the Excelsior primary school, and the preschool that was switched from the Administration of the Lister Mair-Gilby High School.

The school has a staff complement of 15 trained teachers and seven deaf-culture facilitators, who are themselves deaf adults, versed in the Jamaican Sign Language and deaf culture, which they impart to the students. The classes are small, with a maximum of eight students. The school’s Principal, Mrs. Maureen Simmonds, is admired and loved by the students and staff. The atmosphere in the school is happy and family-like, bursting with the energy of the young students, who range from zero to six years old in the preschool and from six to twelve years old in the primary school. The classrooms are brightly painted and well lit, while the school grounds are clean and neatly maintained. Despite its limited resources, this school exudes a celebration of life, love and commitment to the development of the students.