Visually impaired student, Janeil Odle, in uniform, stands next to the equipment from the Barbados Children’s Trust, as Deputy Chief Education Officer, Idamay Denny (left), Minister of Education, Anthony Wood (centre), Principal of Combermere School, Vere Parris (second right), and one of the Directors of the Barbados Children’s Trust, Dr. Carol Jacobs, look on.  

The first student to write the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination (BSSEE) in Braille has been hailed as a model for children with disabilities.

Minister of Education, Youth Affairs and Sports, Anthony Wood, bestowed this honour upon visually impaired student, Janeil Odle, yesterday, during a short ceremony at Combermere School, where she was presented with BDS $23,000 worth of equipment by the members of the Barbados Children’s Trust.

The Minister encouraged the new Combermere student to show her classmates that “a disability does not mean lack of ability”.  “We hope that through your efforts and your achievement, other physically disabled students will be motivated in school”, he said.

Minister Wood also expressed appreciation to the Barbados Children’s Trust for their “responsiveness and willingness to support such a worthy cause.”

Director of the Trust, Michael Pemberton, explained that the equipment would help to assist visually impaired persons.  “The full range of equipment includes the Open-book Programme, which allows the blind person to scan printed documents as well as a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA),” he said.

Combermere School Principal, Vere Parris, said the school “moved into action” the same day they were told that Janeil would be attending the institution.  “We have provided the necessary training and orientation for staff…A seminar was conducted discussing communication, socio-emotional and environmental aspects and physical needs, so that her life at Combermere will be a happy one,” he stated.

Pointing out that “pampering was not part of the strategy”, he said she would be given “the same opportunities to progress like any other student, for when she leaves Combermere, she will have to adapt to the wider world”. 

Janeil Odle, whose ambition is to become a criminal lawyer, said she was excited about starting school at Combermere next week. 

The former student of Irving Wilson and Wilkie Cumberbatch Schools thanked the Ministry of Education, the Barbados Children’s Trust, her parents and all others who continued to encourage her.  She said she was also looking forward to playing blind cricket again, having taken a break from the sport to study for the BSSEE.

The Barbados Children’s Trust lends assistance and support to several children’s causes and organisations in Barbados. 


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