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November 27, 2002

Concert is music to school's ears

From: Montreal West Island Chronicle, Canada
Nov. 27, 2002

The Chronicle
With finances at a minimum and new programs and equipment sorely needed, a concert to benefit the Montreal Oral School for the Deaf (MOSD) has been scheduled for Dec. 5 at Place des Arts.

Montreal violinist Angèle Dubeau, who is in the midst of releasing a new CD and is the founder and director of the Music in the Mountains series at Mont Tremblant, will be the principal performer along with La Pieta Orchestra.

Since 1950, the school has been recognized as a leader in auditory-oral education. Contrary to signing, it emphasizes the importance of intensively stimulating hearing and speech in the child's early years.

Dollard des Ormeaux resident Jacqui Taschereau is an example of the good the MOSD can do. A hockey player, Brownie and true Simpsons fan, the eight-year-old is full of energy and spunk. But she was diagnosed with profound bilateral sensoryneural hearing loss when she was only one.

"It was a pretty devastating time," her father Jean recalled while sitting at home with wife Joann Baskin and son David, 9, last Friday. "David got the chicken pox, then I was in the hospital for five days with them, then we figured something was going on with Jacqui all at about the same time."

A diagnosis like that requires time to come to terms with, but the young parents weren't given that luxury.

"At one year you're not thinking of education, you're thinking of diapers," Baskin said.

"We had such a big decision to make, and we weren't finished grieving."

The future was suddenly very uncertain. There were numerous options, so many treatments, but it wasn't long before they decided to enroll Jacqui in the MOSD. Parent participation is a vital aspect of the school and is crucial to the development of the child. Parents are actively involved in all aspects from infancy to adulthood, and as members of the MOSD board of directors.

"Repeat, repeat and repeat," said MOSD director Martha Perusse. "We put a lot of emphasis on key words and they learn over time."

Perusse said about 220 children receive services from the school, and 50 of those are seen every day.

The MOSD boasts with early diagnosis, hearing aid use, cochlear implants, and speech/language stimulation, the prognosis for the child's later development is markedly improved. An intensive educational program lays the foundation for later success. Over the years, an increasing number of MOSD students have completed high school and continued to post-secondary education.

At four, Jacqui was fitted with a cochlear implant that allows her to hear at a much-higher level. That means she was able to enter mainstream schooling in grade three at Pierrefonds' Herbert Purcell school, but it also has spawned a surprise or two along the way.

"Her teacher, Mrs. Scott, has been extraordinary," Basking smiled. "She wears a microphone and Jacqui has a speaker at her desk that lets her hear the teacher even when she's turned around writing on the blackboard."

"Sometimes I make mistakes when I can't hear," Jacqui admitted.

But that seems to be more the exception than the rule for the quick-witted girl with the flashy smile.

"She's been lucky because she's had a phenomenal mainstreaming program," Baskin added. "We've always tried to encourage her to be part of the hearing world."

Still, the implant also has an off button, something Jacqui has learned to use when she gets in trouble.

"She's done that to us a few times," laughed Taschereau as his daughter giggled beside him.

For tickets or more information, call 488-4946 or visit

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