Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Rachel's powerful voice is rocking the Deaf Community:
COOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUGH! Same old criticism that I get all the time - My life’s not good enough without ASL. Deaf people should own deaf children, not the parents.
First of all, I believe that deaf people or ANY people do NOT have the right to make a decision for someone else’s child. ONLY the parents should make the decision for their own child. (AMEN)
I believe that deaf children who qualify for AVT and CIs should NOT learn sign language before learning spoken language; however, I will not go after parents and say to them, “Do NOT teach your child sign language.” I will just share my experiences and tell them that I got a CI when I was a toddler and a second one when I was older, I was raised with the AVT approach and did not learn ASL, and I’m very happy with my parents’ decision. If they ask me what I believe, I will tell them that I believe that deaf children who QUALIFY for CIs and AVT should get CIs as soon as possible, go with the AVT approach, and not learn sign language until they master their auditory skills, unless they find that the CI and/or AVT is not working well for their child for some reason, and then they can try a different method. As I said, I’m not going to go in parents’ faces and say, “YOU should do this and this and YOU should NOT do this and this.” Parents have the right to make their own choices. Choosing the best method is an individual choice, not one big group’s choice nor one famous leader’s choice, not anyone else but the parents’.
Wow...inspirational words for the hearing mother of a deaf child with a cochlear implant. I cannot speak for my son, I can talk about him and his progress, regression, behavior, personality, but I do not know what he will say about this entire experience ten years from now. Please, please let him be as proud of himself as Rachel is of herself. Let him find a strong voice, stronger than mine based on his life experiences.
The Deaf Community requested to hear the voices of cochlear implantees and here she is...RACHEL! Her purpose is not to grandstand, it is to be proud of who she is, what she has accomplished and where she plans to go in the future. She speaks with that young, collegiate, "I'm going to kick some serious ass, because I can" voice. There is NO subtlety of hopefulness in her voice, she is convinced and self-reliant. Independent. Amazing.
This is part of a post I wrote back in December that quotes Melissa's comments about Rachel's travels in France:
Here's a story that is a real testament to how necessary the ability to hear
and speak are to be truly independent in the hearing world. As I had
written before, Rachel was in France. She was volunteering with an
organization called Volunteers for Peace. The organization is affiliated
with UNESCO and recommended by the Princeton Review, and so it looked pretty
good. According to their write-up, she was supposed to be working with
kids, with people with disabilities, helping out in the fields on the farm,
etc. Unfortunately, it turned out that the woman who ran the farm was very
She was constantly yelling at the volunteers but especially Rachel
as she apparently does not like Americans. In addition, rather than
activities to help promote peace, she had the girls doing nothing but
cooking and cleaning the house. Rachel tried to speak to her about the
situation as she was the only one who spoke French and could communicate
with the woman, but the woman only got nastier. *There were two other volunteers with her for the week, both from Korea. The Koreans spoke English but not French. The leader spoke French but not English. So, my deaf daughter, whom the experts told me 20 years ago would probably never speak English well, acted as the translator between the leader and the Korean girls since she's fluent in both languages.*
NOTE: Rachel didn't start studying French until the second semester of her 9th grade year. Her high school was on a semester system, which enabled her
after taking French every semester to study through French 5 followed by a
full year of AP French her senior year and a semester of French in college.
Plus, she went on two exchange programs to France and then spent 3 weeks
there with her French friends last summer as well and has maintained email
and written communication in French with a couple of French pen pals since
9th grade as well.
...Rachel had spent $250 of her own money plus her frequent flyer mileage and
my parents' to get there, and so she wanted to try to salvage some of the
trip. Therefore, she opted to leave the farm and make her way to Bayonne,
France, where she has some very close friends and which is at the opposite
end of the country from where she was in the middle of rural France outside
She got a ride to the bus stop in the little town near where
she was. She knew that she needed to get to the train station in Marseilles
but didn't know anything more than that. In French, she asked two high
school students at the bus stop how to get there. They were very nice and
sat on the bus with her, showing her where to get off and telling her which
bus to transfer to. When she got off the second bus, she asked the bus
driver in French how to get to the train station. He told her how to get
there. She walked a few blocks to the train station and asked in French at
the station how to get to Bayonne. This entailed taking two trains for a
total of 7 hours, transferring in Bordeaux.
Throughout all of this, she was in constant touch with me and with her friends in Bayonne via cell phone. I cannot imagine what she would have done had she not been able to communicate as well as she can. She certainly would have been stuck at the farm for the full 2 and a half weeks. Also, being able to speak to her throughout this ordeal certainly kept me from being one basketcase of a totally anxious mom.
All's well that ends well as she's back home tonight safe and sound, having
enjoyed the last part of her trip much more than the first. Oh, one more
thing - If anyone knows of any great organizations that run volunteer
programs in Europe for college students, we'd love to hear about them
because she will be there again this summer and has about three weeks to
fill before starting her semester abroad in France in September, and she's
certainly not going through Volunteers for Peace again!
HOW'S THAT FOR AN AMAZING STORY? YEAH, SHE'LL BE AT MY HOUSE NEXT SUMMER FOR EUROPEAN VACATION PART 2 (CAN YOU BELIEVE HER MOM TRUSTS ME WITH HER?:))
Yes...Hurricane Rachel is blowing away Deafread.com with her candid and confident voice.