Throughout the six years I spent in Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind, I knew instinctively that our minders had no understanding of our needs. This fact was repeatedly demonstrated whenever they took us to “see” the Ice-Capades, circuses, and ON sight-seeing tours of Vancouver. Even worse, they tore up a perfectly good field, where my schoolmates enjoyed playing soccer, and replaced it with an impressive garden for sighted visitors. From Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), here is just one example of the institution’s monumental thoughtlessness.
Over the summer, the mud hole, formerly the field next to the school where my favourite tree grew, was transformed into a sunken garden. All the students were given an official tour of this replacement for our play area. A three-foot-high cement wall surrounded the garden and two sloping ramps led into it, one by the school and the other by the swimming pool and bowling alley complex. In the centre lay a grey gravel oval path inclosing a level turf. At each of the garden’s four corners, shrubs were planted.
At one end of this garden sat a jade-coloured cement statue of a girl riding a tortoise. I must admit that I envied that child. I imagined how splendid it would be to ride such a big and obliging creature. A large fountain and basin stood against the bowling alley’s wall. On occasions it would be turned on but it usually stood empty.
We immediately ran afoul of the authorities for playing in this new garden. Charlie rounded up a few boys for a soccer game one afternoon and the ball inevitably landed in the shrubs. I suppose the gardeners complained about their delicate bushes being trampled because our teachers and Mrs. Parker sternly warned us regarding our unintended vandalism. The entire junior dorm felt outraged. The adults had taken our perfectly good playing field and turned it into a garden for sighted people to look at. It abundantly proved to us how obtuse the school’s administrators were.
Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. click here to read more about this book.