Monday, July 14, 2008

Motion: Be Dumbledore's Phoenix Bird: Resurrect Ourselves In Name Of Deaf Children


Purpose: To promote bilingualism in deaf children; to remove the misconception that oral-only approach enhances English mastery. To act as advocates for pro-option for the parents of deaf children; to present them with other alternatives/options to oral-only approach.

Resources: Research data showing early intervention to bilingualism approach strengthens and cements language development and ultimately, English mastery.

Targets: Medical professionals, Hospital social workers, pediatricians, ENTs, audiologists, pathologists, and ultimately, the parents of deaf children.

Long range goal: Legislative action to give rights to deaf children their bilingual education; adopt Swedish model. Newly diagnosed deaf child is referred to one resource agency for deaf children. This agency serves as mentor and tracks the child along with parents through their childhood. Agency and parents work together to choose from several educational approaches and options most appropriate for individual child.

Trained staff would work with parents to determine which educational approach fits the child; whether s/he benefits from aural learning, from visual-only learning, which program/educational setting fits the child the best, what accommodations this child may need, and assigns the child a mentor.

Ultimate goal: Take away the decision making in regards to the deaf child's education away from people who have pathological view on deafness. Their jobs should be limited to medical treatment, speech training, audio training, hearing aid device/CI repair/modifications rather than getting involved in their educational process, giving parents biased views and opinions on deafness.

Why new organization? DBC has failed. DBC was born out of anger. John Egbert and Barb DiGovanni went to the Marriott Hotel in Virginia to pass out flyers promoting ASL and bilingualism only to have AGB's hotel manager harrass them and grab flyers out of their hands, physically injuring Barb's daughter. Thus, anger was born. John and Barb swore to exact a retaliation - going after AGB again in Wisconsin. They planned the whole year to satisfy their thirst for revenge. Their little group grew to include Deafhood. Deafhood also has anger issues.

All that energy into DBC for all the wrong reasons. DBC tried to rub in AGB's face but it did not work. All DBC was good for was feel-good get-togetherness for the attendees. They saw what they wanted to see and believed something was accomplished when in reality, nothing was accomplished. The attendees were gypped into thinking their attending contributed to the success of DBC when in reality, all they contributed to DBC was financial profit. They cannot see beyond the exterior of what was seen at the convention. DBC accomplished nothing except draw some 800 people and some rallying with homemade signs.

However, the leaders accomplished in the task of satisfying THEIR desire to "rub it into AGB's face" or "be thorns on their sides."

This is not good movement. This is not professional.

This is not what we need. This is not what our deaf children need. This is not what the parents need. This is not what deaf educators of America need.

What we need is a real, bonafide, organization to represent the deaf children, their parents, the deaf educators and the deaf community. Put aside emotions, biases, hidden agendas, bad politics. Be a professional organization.

Who should lead this organization? Oralists, CI/ASL, CI/AVT, Deaf, deaf, Cueds, blacks, whites, Native Americans, Asians, Hispanics, urban dwellers, rural dwellers, various ethical cultures, and deaf education people from schools for the deaf, mainstreamed programs, public school districts. Diversity is key to the success of this organization which is not what DBC has now.

DBC was born out of anger.

Let's rebuild anew like Harry Potter's phoenix bird. John's anger has burst into flames and extinguished. Gone. Now is our opportunity to rebuild and start a better one.

DO IT!!!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Harsh Realities Of Deaf Students

Here are 4 different groups of students that schools for the deaf and even some mainstreamed schools have to work with:
A student who is regular CI wearer who goes to regular AVT therapy outside school whose parents do not sign at home. Sometimes this student are implanted beyond the recommended 6 months. Some of student can actually speak and hear language using CI device and some don't. This student may have delayed language due to implanting late, parents not using sign language at home, and failed AVT therapy and implantation unsuccessful for this student. As result, this student may have stunted language development in which the language expression is severely delayed.

A student who wears hearing aid, can speak, can hear, and wears the device regularly. Some of this student's family signs and some don't. This student attends speech therapy as implemented by IEP regularly at school. This student may have delayed language due to implementing sign language and speech therapy and using the hearing aid late as well as the parents not using sign language at home. This student also may have severe language development where his/her language expression is very poor. In most cases, because this child can hear and speak using a device, parents tend to continue to speak to their child without ever learning any sign language. In few cases, parents come to terms that even with a hearing device, their child continues to need a visual language, and they eventually come around to learning the language in which the child's language development may/may not improve.

This student does not wear any hearing device. This student may have little or no residual hearing and no speech. Some of this student comes from signing home and some do not. Nearly all of this student have delayed language due to acquiring sign language late. This student did not have communication access at home until entering school system. This student's language expression is severely delayed. In some cases, parents come to terms that their children need visual language at home and learn the language to communicate with their children when their children are already in grade school. At that point, their academic performance may/may not improve. This student takes a long time to catch up on language expression and language development. Some of them do catch up and some do not.

This student comes from deaf family. This student was introduced to language at birth. This student may not wear any hearing device. This student's ASL is fluent and natural. This student's language development may be more advanced and closer or on level with the national average according to standardized testings. This student's language expression may be more articulate than any other groups of students. The key word here: not ALL of this student perform above average for deaf students, but most of them do; however, all of them have fluent ASL expression - although some of them continue to struggle with written English, they perform better than the other 3 groups when it comes to written English.

This is the versatility of students with which teachers of the deaf have to work with in one classroom. Some schools operate on theory that SimCom is most effective because the top 3 are supposed to benefit from oral and aural instruction in classroom and they are in the majority. For student number 3, oral and aural instruction does not benefit this student but this is what the parents want.

The truth: Students #1 and 2 may benefit from speech and audiology therapy - key word = therapy. Not instructional tool. Speech and audiological training is not language development and not a tool for teaching. They are for mastering speaking and identifying spoken words. That is not the same as language development. This is the biggest fallacy that the schools and the parents fall for and promote. Keep speech and audiological training separate and outside the classroom. They are still visual learners and will always need ASL to develop language.

Resolution: Educate parents and medical professional where everything begun - discovering the child's deafness and taking them to see medical professionals. Educate the schools and the teachers that SimCom is ineffectual and obsolete. They can continue with speech and audiological services but keep oral and aural instruction out of the classroom. Research has proven SimCom is confusing even for students #1 and 2. Encourage the schools and teachers to face facts by seeing the end results of adult deaf people who were educated by SimCom and accept the research data offered by CAEBER and others.

It is time for the educators of the deaf to be less self-absorbed and look at the bigger picture. Time for them to be open minded about the realities of deaf education by seeing and not what they learned from books.

I would think it is not hard to hazard a guess as to which one would come to perform the best academically by time she/he reaches high school and would be college bound. I would think the picture is quite clear.

Diseases Of Schools For The Deaf

Comments seen about views of ASL made by teachers and administrators in recent months:

"This student does not have any language. He cannot learn. He doesn't understand what I am trying to teach him. He needs to move to a slower class."

A new student from mainstreamed school who never learned ASL before enrolling into the school for the deaf. The thing was the student picked up ASL very quickly, was able to interact with his peers BUT this hearing teacher's signing sucked, so he moved to a slower class. Who did the supervising teacher listen to? This teacher with bad ASL over objections of several others with whom this student had classes and were making good progresses.

This teacher concluded that this student was slow based on his lack of progress in HER/HIS class and the tragedy of it was the supervising teacher listened to this teacher because he made great progress in all of his other classes.

Diagnosis: Audism on part of both the teacher and the supervising teacher because 4 out of this student's 5 teachers were deaf.

"ASL is a social tool for deaf students. We don't have to use ASL in classroom because it is not a teaching tool."

A teacher's view on ASL. This teacher uses SimCom and considers this a tool of classroom teaching although all of her students are multi-disabled and all have varied degrees of mental retardation. These students have no intelligible speech capabilities therefore would not benefit from an oral/aural approach.

Diagnosis: Ignorance

"SimCom is still the best tool for classroom teaching because some students do benefit from listening to spoken words for some new or some familiar words they heard before but not in fingerspelled form or printed form."

This from a DEAF teacher who grew up in a mainstreamed setting. He/she doesn't believe oralism is effective but continues to believe spoken language has benefits in classroom instruction. The majority of his/her students were not oral/aural students. He/she had a few of them but those students didn't require speaking to understand language - in fact with expanded definition and prior experience using ASL, those students caught on to the what those words were rather than simply listening to the spoken version because by themselves, those spoken words are meaningless.

This deaf teacher has good speech and wears hearing aid devices daily. He/she uses speech when conversing with hearing staff.

Diagnosis: Ignorance and possibly audism.

"Fingerspelling is not important because it is not part of ASL. They only need to learn words in printed form."

Surprisingly, this was said by a deaf teacher.

Diagnosis: Ignorance

"My child can hear and speak well. That's why he/she is in the top class."

This from a deaf parent. Brainwashed parent who was told time and again that spoken language capability in a deaf student is associated with level of intelligence by his/her teachers while growing up.

Diagnosis: Ignorance and misdirected audism

"This student can hear so well. I don't understand why he is in that class (slow class)? His hearing should help him acquire language."

This from another hearing teacher who, again, associated hearing ability with intelligence.

Diagnosis: Ignorance

"Why aren't you wearing your CI? It teaches you to learn language. You need to keep it on all the time."

Of course, another hearing teacher, over student's objections that the sounds in the classroom were distracting for him/her. This student never had AVT therapy, parents who did not sign at home and had no insurance for AVT therapy, and she/he stopped wearing CI in grade school. This student doesn't speak. In fact, there are many like this student at this school. If this student never had AVT therapy following the CI surgery as a toddler or infant, it is pretty much pointless to continue wearing CI device other than hearing environmental sounds rather than language. This student's mother makes him/her wear CI at home to keep her/him safe when he/she is outside the house.

Diagnosis: Ignorance

"We are having a private conversation."

Hearing teachers' reply to a student who asked them why they were not signing in the cafeteria during their breakfast duties. This student commented that when deaf teachers needed to speak in private, they went to other place where students could not see them; it was not fair the hearing teachers took advantage and speak without signing in front of deaf students which was rude.

Diagnosis: Pure audism

"Audism is not even a word. It is a made-up word by deaf militiants."

This from an administrator during a meeting.

Diagnosis: Ignorance and audism

"We cannot teach ASL exclusively because the majority of the students in the classroom benefit from oral/aural instruction therefore we cannot teach to benefit one student but to all."

An administrator in a meeting in regards to instructional approach where he shared his educational philsophy and promoted that teachers continue with SimCom approach.

Diagnosis: Ignorance because he/she has not incorporated or accepted research data that disproved this theory that SimCom had to be implemented to meet all the needs of the individual student within a classroom. Research had showed that students with speech/aural abilities benefit from ASL instruction and even more than they would have if taught only in SimCom or even in oralism.

"ASL is not a valid classroom instruction tool because it is still in research stage."

By a supervising teacher in a meeting, essentially rejecting the ideology of CAEBER and its 10-15 years worth of research.

Diagnosis: Audism - rejecting proven data in favor of comfort zone of using SimCom to benefit themselves over the students' benefits and/or needs.

All this is happening in the recent months, not years ago. There are STILL people in employ at schools for the deaf with those attitudes and views on ASL.

To quote a parent:

"Excuse me, is this an oral school or a school for the deaf?" in reference in the school's overt emphasis on speech and audiological training and lack of focus on academics as well as apparent disregard or lack of respect for ASL.

Folks, this is not unique to ONE school but schools all over.

Ignorance and audism are diseases that are ailing those schools.