Since my hearing loss was diagnosed before I started school, I was placed in a mainstreamed school in kindergarten up to the first and second marking period of first grade. I was then placed in speech therapy classes. I wanted to share some of the remarks made on my IEP (Individualized Education Plan):
- Mis-articulations make speech difficult to understand.
- Expressive vocabulary is below age appropriate levels.
- Based upon Abbie’s educational needs, it is determined that she be placed in the Lower Level Auditorially Handicapped Class, which is the least restrictive program at this time.
Then I was transferred to the
- I have serious concerns for the lack of language models in the confines of this restricted classroom.
- There is nothing more we can do for her.
I was then transferred back to the mainstreamed school the following year to start second grade. The notation made on my IEP for second grade said :
- Stress Auditory not sign – she is showing signs of confusion with dual approach.
My parents fought with the school system to continue with sign but the school refused to comply. From that point on, I was aurally mainstreamed. So,
So,I stopped signing, I was the only deaf kid in school and I spent the next five years in speech therapy. I feel that if the school continued to stress oral and ASL, I wouldn’t have felt so lost when my hearing disappeared. It would have been easier to communicate with my mom in my own home instead of having her sending me an instant message when she was just five feet away from me. A good friend of mine who is a teacher and happens to be deaf, Valerie left this as a comment that stresses the importance of quality education,
“I am a special education teacher in an at risk school, but I am also deaf…We need educators who believe in the children, educate the children, and support the children. I am not for just Deaf individuals providing support for deaf children in deaf schools. I am for qualified educators who believe in the students and provide a quality environment that is child-centered and rich in language (ASL and English).”I wish she was my teacher because she hit the nail right on the head.
Perhaps I am the poster child for the A.G. Bell Association but I sure as heck do not agree with their method of promoting an oral only environment for deaf and hard of hearing. Now according to A.G. Bell website, they seek to ensure that individuals who experience hearing loss have the opportunity to communicate, learn, and thrive through the use of spoken language. What part of their vision promotes the use of sign language? It doesn’t. What part of their so-called strategic plan helps someone that cannot listen nor speak? It doesn’t!
…Your advertisement perpetuates a common myth that all people who are deaf can only communicate using sign language and are, therefore, isolated from the rest of society.
… We would be very willing to work with Pepsi to develop some creative ideas to promote other facets of the deaf community and to highlight positive role models who have met the challenges of this condition and thrived using spoken language.
You can see that they got a little testy when Pepsi portrayed that deaf people using ASL and not their voice. This letter really burned my buns because the signing deaf and the speaking deaf represent the varying degrees of difficulty that we have communicating with the world.
Recently, there was a peaceful rally held at the
“It’s also the center of quite a bit of controversy and uncertainty – it’s a strongly ASL focused school and this is an oral world, and now there’s this device called a cochlear implant which many see as the passageway between the signing world and the oral one, and others see as the barrier. Salvation or annihilation – either way, big change is coming.”
Michael Chorost chimes in with his latest post, "We all sleep in silence"and he states,
“I’ve been to Gallaudet three times now and have been warmly welcomed each time, though I’m still a little puzzled as to why. I’m not anti-sign in any way, but I’m still the physical embodiment of much that the signing deaf community fears.”
The pair brought up valid points. Some members of the signing deaf community are apprehensive about people with cochlear implants. I can relate to how Chorost felt approaching the rally, nerves and all. I read comments every day that contribute to that uneasy feeling. For example: “CI dudes are a different set of people. I'm not saying this in a bad way” and the more extreme comments such as, “I want to kill all CI people. They ruin the Deaf world!” I read brash comments like these everyday but I see people beginning to accept that those of us with a cochlear implant are real human beings and not machines, like this blogger, Deaf Womyn Pride.
Swiller was invited as a keynote speaker to the conference and he said,
“This signing versus oral feud seems like Crips and Bloods fighting over a corner in
Watts. The rest of the world could care less, and these gangs, no one else but other gang members can understand their experience, no one else has walked in their shoes– they should be working together. Instead they’re fighting to the death. We’re not so different, or more accurately, our differences are inconsequential in light of all we share. This is what I learned in Africa, and the quality of my life has a direct correlation to the quality of my remembrance of this truth.”
When Chorost took the stand, he mentioned a line that I had written in the Deafread Controversy post, “We sleep in total silence too.” I am extremely honored that he mentioned that line (thank you Mike!) but it makes perfect sense. He further went on to say,
“It’s true, we have more in common than not. We all struggle with communication.” He went on to say that, ‘Two different worlds were living side by side that day, one in a hotel ballroom, the other in sunlight. But they shared common concerns: communication and the lack of it, and the desire for community. They should have been working together.”
They should have been working together is a powerful statement. My thoughts and ideals run parallel because I believe in deaf unity. If we could fight as a group instead fighting against one another, we could accomplish so much more. If we could help each other up instead of pushing each other down, we can stand proud and show the world what we are capable of. Instead of organization like A.G. Bell advocating for deaf people to speak, how about we come together to advocate for bridging the two languages together? We all suffer from the one loss, it is not fair to leave anyone behind since we are all created equal and each of us deserve no less then the others because we all sleep in total silence.