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Deaf, hearing students share unique experience at NEISD school

Regional Day School for the Deaf facilitates learning for students

SAN ANTONIO – Northeast Independent School District’s Regional Day School for the Deaf is the only elementary school within NEISD that caters to deaf students.

Not only that, Oak Meadow Elementary -- where the day school is housed -- is unique in that it combines the learning experience for deaf and hearing students so that they are together in the same classroom.

“It is very difficult to figure out which one of our students are here for the Regional Day School and which ones aren’t,” said Oak Meadow Principal Lynn Dockery. “They all look the same. Each one of our classrooms either has an (audible impaired) certified teacher, an AI signing assistant, or a mix of all of those throughout the day.”

The school pulls in deaf students from several districts including Judson ISD, parts of Comal ISD and Alamo Heights ISD.

“From the time our kids are in school as 3- and 4-year-olds, our kids are exposed to sign language, they’re exposed to students with varying degrees of hearing loss,” Dockery said. “For the most part, all of our students want to communicate with them. They respect them as people and they’re interested in their lives and they’re not interested in what they can’t do, they’re interested in what they can do.”

Seven certified audible impaired students are on staff, as well as nearly a dozen language interpreters and assistants. The staff members are assigned grade levels so that they can be in the same classroom as the students.

Noemi Delgado, one of the language interpreters, said it’s her greatest joy to connect her students to the rest of the school and, in essence, the rest of the world.

“I’ve always said I’d stand on my head if I have to to help get the message across,” Delgado said. “Whatever it takes, whether it’s one (student) or 12, you still make eye contact with everyone, you still try and meet their language level because they’re not all on the same language level and so you may have to expand a little bit more, be a little bit more clear with your mouth. There’s just different components for each child.”

It can be challenging. But the school is equipped with special amplification tools that will soon receive more upgrades. It also features special acoustic walls to provide improved sound quality for all the students, whether or not they’re deaf.

The above video is the story of Oak Meadow’s Regional School for the Deaf