Dr. Iris Soutar has been Executive Officer at the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD) since September 1, 1989. Prior to that, she served as Teacher at Lister Mair/ Gilby High School for the Deaf from 1977 – 1983 and then as Principal from 1983 – 1989.
Since her appointment as Executive Officer, Dr. Soutar has led the Association in spearheading many projects associated with Deaf Education and advocacy. She placed particular attention on the recognition of Jamaican Sign Language (JSL), as a critical tool in instructional delivery and curriculum development. As such, in-service training of Teachers of the Deaf was paramount. More recently, she completed ground-breaking research in the field of Education, focusing on a Bi-lingual approach to Deaf Education. This study has revolutionized the way Deaf children are taught in schools. It is a strong foundation for both the development of literacy among Deaf Jamaicans and policies that will improve the way in which Deaf students are taught.
She has been active in areas of Deaf Education, Early Childhood Intervention and advocacy for persons with disabilities.
In addition to her role at the JAD, here are some of her other commitments:
- Chairperson – Abilities Foundation (A Pan-Disability Vocational Training Institution) – 1992 - present
- Director – Community Based Rehab Jamaica (previously RSCD/ 3D) 1992 - present
- Vice Chair – Jamaica Coalition on the Rights of the Child:
- Previously served as Chairperson and later Secretary over the period 1998-2012
- Member – National Advisory Board on Disability: 1995 - present
- Member – Discipline & Membership Development Ministry Group Hope United Church: 2011 - present