Eighteen year-old Ricky Barry, of the Castle Bruce Secondary School (CBSS), has made history as the first hearing and speech impaired Dominican to attempt the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.
Barry, who hails from Mahaut River, in the Kalinago Territory, passed five of the six subjects he attempted at the CSEC exams, with the help of teacher and language interpreter, Abrahim Fontaine.
In an interview with Dominica News Online (DNO), on Thursday, Fontaine stated that his “main purpose” at the school was to work with Barry, whom he described as well-integrated and diligent.
“During his time at the school… he was part of the classroom session. He wasn’t taught individually, by himself. He was placed within the classroom environment. So, during his time at the school, most of the students, they treated Ricky like a normal student,” Fontaine said. “…Overall, Ricky Barry, he really worked hard… It was a challenge, but I think he did well. He worked hard, and I think it shows.”
He attributed Barry’s success partly to early intervention and his sociable nature, which allowed him to make friends.
Fontaine showed pride in his student’s accomplishment, and explained that the teachers were “very supportive” and “very helpful” in providing the assistance and equipment needed for special education.
Barry, who is fluent in American Sign Language, obtained passes in Agricultural Science, Electronic Documentation Preparation and Management, Integrated Science, Mathematics, and Physical Education.
The language interpreter encouraged other differently abled to actively pursue opportunities for self-improvement.
“Give yourself a chance… people with special needs… I feel that if the system or if there is a way for you to develop yourself professionally, I think that you should take advantage of it,” he urged.
Fontaine noted that the Ministry of Education worked to accommodate Barry’s special needs, providing language specialists to assist him throughout his high school journey.