DCA was pleased to host the 150th anniversary celebration of our historic Bluestone Building on 13 October 2016, where we heard from past and current students and discussed the history of our organisation. Victorian College of the Deaf students Ian and Brielle presented to the crowd about the history of VCD and DCA and the importance of Deaf education.
IAN: Hi, everyone. It is great to see so many people here to celebrate this great day with us, the 150th celebration of the bluestone building. I would like to introduce ourselves. We are here for a very special day to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the bluestone. Today it is called the Victorian College of the Deaf. It had a different name when it was set up. Would you like to explain that, Brielle.
BRIELLE: It was the Victorian Deaf and Dumb Institute. It was in 1865 that it changed to the College Of the Deaf.
IAN: 1866 it was the College of the Deaf and Dumb and then became the School for Deaf Children. That was because the School for the Deaf and Dumb gave the idea that people were not intelligent and the meaning of that word had changed. So to follow along with the parlance of the day and to give the people the respect they deserved, the title was changed.
BRIELLE: From 1985 to now, the school has had a prep to year 12 constituency. It has been changed to the Victorian College of the Deaf to show that it is not only children that come to this school.
IAN: A long time ago, on the corner of High School and where St Kilda Road merges, there were four different locations. The school had moved to all four and now stands, obviously, on the grounds that we are celebrating on.
BRIELLE: The building is very important to us. It gives us a sense of belonging here and especially because of the history of the bluestone building.
IAN: That’s right, since the Deaf society has closed, the Victorian government wanted to close this school but after much advocating, and thanks very much to the deaf community for advocating for the continuation of this school, we have so much gratitude that we pulled together for that.
BRIELLE: Being a student now in 2016 we have a lot of communication with each other in Auslan.
IAN: I guess what is different from the 1860s until now, there have been many changes. There were limited options when the school first opened as to opportunities in the future, there was carpentry, cleaning for boys, there was sewing for girls and it really was a limited amount of things you could get into. Things like technology studies didn’t exist at that time but now there are a lot more options. Access to technology has really changed a great deal. We have a lot of support. We have DCA. We have VDEI all offering support to the students here. There are hearing aids and Cochlear implants that have changed from the technology available. We feel we are equal in terms of access with hearing people and we have our human rights.
BRIELLE: We do have a great connection to this building and feel a real attachment to it because it has such a strong history with the education of deaf children.
IAN: Also, it is not just students who feel a strong connection here but the wider deaf community.
BRIELLE: It is the only school that has a prep to 12 curriculum. People often come to visit this building and people do feel strong memories about the times they had here. Thanks very much for watching our speech.