Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Deaf School Cuts: A Mother Speaks

There has been a very interesting discussion ensuing on the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Circle regarding Deaf School Closings. I have stayed out of the discussion as I have no experience in the matter of Deaf schools. However, one of the comments left by this mother, who will remain anonymous by choice, touched me and I wanted to share it with you...

There are certainly transitions and changes in deaf education that need to happen and that are happening. Cochlear implants (CIs) have certainly had a great impact on deaf education. I even wonder myself how long my own child's deaf school will be able to survive financially, if student numbers dwindle as the number of deaf babies being implanted grows. Currently they appear to be in good shape, with a core group of deaf families who support its existence. My hope is her school is secure and she can at least get through elementary school, if she still needs to be there. But my gut sense is they will still be up and running, even if she needs to graduate from there.

Mainstreaming is not the answer for all children.... equal access to curriculum is. In an ideal world, every single school in this country or world would have all the financial resources and supports needed to be in every local school to meet the needs of every single child with a disability, deaf or otherwise. I don't see it happening any time soon. I work for my own district school. If I thought, for one minute, they were able to educate my own child in a mainstream classroom, don't you think I would send her there ???

How much easier to not have to put her on a bus at 6:30 am so she can arrive for her deaf school's 8:00 start time; and not see her again until almost 4:00. Don't you think I would much prefer to skip the hour and more drive to get to her school functions or for meetings or when I volunteer; and instead take a ten minute ride to my local school? Do I hate the fact all her classmates live an hour away so arranging playdates is a challenge?

Yes, of course I do....

I had to quit my full time position and take part-time so I'd have free time to run back and forth to her school - and was lucky enough to be able to do it. Financially I need to be working full time. My debt keeps piling up; but my daughter is only a first grader once! So, why don't I send her locally anymore, and let her be mainstreamed?

The simplified answer - she would NOT have equal access to the school curriculum. She would be being pulled out constantly to have curriculum retaught in ASL. Hmmmmmm.... that translates into less time in the mainstream class anyway! Not to mention what she would be missing while she was being pulled out. Not just academics, but the social aspect of being a first grader.

And who suggested teaching the rest of the class to sign???? In my greatest fantasies - that would be one! I've been signing for five years and I'm still learning every single day!! That would be like suggesting we teach all the English speaking kids to learn Spanish fluently so they could converse with the one Spanish kid in class. That is assuming all the kids even spoke English....While I'd love to see all kids learn Spanish or any second language, how do you propose teachers fit this in, while still teaching standard academics? I know from experience a handful of kids would love to sign and could learn the basic labeling and other basic signs, like - hi, thank you, toilet, help, more and maybe a few phrases. But what happens when my child wants to have a lengthy conversation about the new waterpark she just went to... what hearing classmate is going to be able to keep up with her??? My child loves school now and has many friends - some with CIs, some with hearing aides, some with no auditory access and yes, even some who are hearing - all kids she meet at her deaf school. (The hearing children have deaf parents; so they are bilingual).

I tried my child in a local school, her first year - she attended one of our local elementary schools. She is so much happier and is learning so much more at her deaf school. The supports and services are incredible. Are they perfect? Absolutely not - what school is??? Do I need to stay in constant contact? Yes. I go in and do observations, volunteer, meet with her staff on a regular basis.

I could go on and on - and already have to some extent - but bottom line is - all kids deserve options and all kids deserve equal access to the curriculum in a supportive environment.


Anonymous said...

Buon Giorno cyberland...
This mother said it all...however, I would also like to add that at many deaf schools include the opportunity for high school students to attend 1 or 2 classes or even a half day at a nearby high school so the deaf child could benefit mainstreaming part-time. Even students from public school can attend 1 or 2 classes at the deaf school if he/she took sign language. It has worked quite well and many have gone on to college. There are so many opportunities out there for every child. And that is why I say parents need to take the time, observe, visit, meet with various deaf kids with, without hearing aids, cochlear implants, orals, and what not. Nobody can predict the outcome...but at least the parents can see the various choices and options that are there and make the decision that meets their needs.

It's nearly 8am and I'm going for my coffee. Enjoy the day!


Anonymous said...

Here are 2 parents that seem to set their children in a path where they will succeed no matter what. I'm not saying that those 2 parents on LifeLaughLoveFamily (Christian) and Li-Li at Grendel'skitchen.com blog are what all parents do...but should their child not succeed with their CI they have ASL to fall back. Their learning process were not delayed. Maybe in a few years....they won't be using much ASL and that's OK! At least their child has had a head start in language development...from the beginning. Is all I was trying to emphasize to give ASL a chance from day one. But again, that's my personal opinion...so I'm biased here.

Rachel Chaikoff's mom did the right thing for her daughters...they made the decision to go the CI/oral route after exploring and it worked well for them.

My deaf school forced my parents to put me in public school when I was 9 years old...it was the worst experience I've had and I was not happy. I would have been happier staying at the deaf school but we had no choice...in those days the school made many decisions for parents. Would I be who I am today and had the success I've had? Who knows....I couldn't say.


Danielle said...

great topic.. thanks for posting

Dianrez said...

Thanks for posting this mom's experience and the followup comments. All are absolutely true, the variety of experiences available nowadays are greater than in my day and do not necessarily depend on the success of the CI or other aids to hearing.

The biggest value in deaf schools, however, is not the quality of education (and that varies from school to school) but in the social environment. When one is equal to everybody else and can comprehend what happens around them, that is a priceless experience of normality unavailable in the outside world.

It is educational because it gives one an idea of what life would be like if one were hearing and/or treated like hearing people. With that insight, one can face the outside world and rightfully expect equal access.

For example, watching teachers discuss topics among themselves, watching peers argue about events, or just discussing things that do not directly involve oneself gives a child the feeling that he is not the center of his universe. This means not merely seeing people flap their mouths, but understanding them.

This prepares the child to give input, to contribute, to make choices, to ask questions. This teaches the child that there are bigger things out there that they need to know about.

When the child reaches his teens, this environment teaches him interactive skills that will impact his choice of a mate, raising his family, and keeping his professional and family relationships in order.

All of this can be available in the hearing environment, but is much harder to obtain, takes longer to understand, and teaches one a sense of helplessness before it teaches a sense of involvement. If it happens that the child learns a dependent state of mind, the hearing school does not offer much in learning independence.

Yes, keep all the options open for a variety of educational experiences, but do not close the schools for the deaf.

Anonymous said...

You got to read this blog in DeafRead from Deaf Bilingual Coalition,
A Family's Journey


Anonymous said...

I just read the link that Kim enclosed and one thing that I question - did this boy have any oral motor testing? Perhaps could he have apraxia or oral motor issues? Did any of the professionals at the oral school or the audiologist raise this? My sister, Jessica, received her first cochlear implant at the age of 15 months and was not talking at all during the first year of her hearing with a cochlear implant. So, my mom had Jessica tested for apraxia or oral motor issues, and Jessica did have apraxia. As soon as Jessica started seeing a therapist who specialized in treating apraxia, she went from not talking at all to talking non-stop.

Anonymous said...


Your question,
"Did any of the professionals at the oral school or the audiologist raise this?"

You mean that there are professionals or audiologist in the oral field that may not have the knowledge about deaf children and be lead to ruined years later?

But maybe not, he may have been tested about oral motor skills or whatever. But nonetheless, the alternative for him to enter the real reality of visual education was a simple answer to the problem.

And Rachel, he is not the only one, there are many of them out there. These kids just need ASL to start learning and then speech or whatever.

Are you able to understand that? Simple realistic concept!

Shel said...

Rachel, perhaps it has not occurred to you that the reason Jaden wasn't benefitting from the CI has nothing to do with any underlying medical conditions, and everything to do with the need for an actual language that is accessible? Perhaps it hasn't occurred to you that he's a normal child who has been denied access to a visible signed language (ASL)because well-meaning but ill-informed proponents of ORAL and AVT approaches determined that the best thing for a Deaf child is to listen and speak even at the cost of the development of the WHOLE child?
I wasn't surprised that the presenter to whom the mother asked the question about cognitive development had no idea. That is par for the course.

Anonymous said...

Copy and paste this url about Japan Bilingual School.


Anonymous said...

very enlightening blog .

Anonymous said...

Rachel, you have such a one track mind. You only see deaf issues within the parameters of the implant, oral programmes, et al.

Give it up girl! You can't do unbiased!

Anonymous said...

Rachel is not the only one who can not do unbiased.

Anonymous said...

I'm just simply raising the awareness of apraxia and oral motor issues because it is an issue that is unheard of by many professionals in the hearing and spoken language community. I'm here to help to create an awareness of what can help deaf children become successful in having the ability to hear and speak and be part of the world at wide.

Anonymous said...

Rachel: "I'm here to help to create an awareness of what can help deaf children become successful in having the ability to hear and speak and be part of the world at wide."

Many will not be successful and that is what others are trying to create an awareness that we should not disregard those. Bilingual is the answer that no one Deaf child will be left out.

Anonymous said...


"Bilingual is the answer that no one Deaf child will be left out."
If it were that easy we would not be having an on going debate.

Let's follow Jodi's lead and try to provide unbiased information on all options.

Dianrez said...

Rachel said "...deaf children become successful in having the ability to hear and speak and be part of the world at wide."

Is success defined as the ability to hear and speak?

Is being part of the world contingent on the ability to hear and speak?

Deaf people are all taught to "hear" and speak. That only a relative few come close to approaching useful levels is understood.

This does not affect their ability to be successful people and part of the world.

Unneccessary wording such as this is bound to make many deaf people bristle.

Anonymous said...

You may not like my personal thoughts, but parents of deaf children need to hear from the perspective of a cochlear implant user who was raised with the AV approach and who is happy with her life while they hear from the perspective of deaf people who were raised with ASL and are happy with their life or deaf people who were raised with oral approach and are not satisfied with it.

Anonymous said...

I think that Rachel brought up something that is worth checking out. Nothing wrong with ruling out things. There are deaf kids who uses ASL that does not communicate at all and professionals will do several test to rule out things. I personally know someone who was like that and turns out it was a condition that just needed to be treated. Just because Rachel is promoting listening and speaking and not promoting ASL, doesn't mean she does not have anything worthwhile to share.

Anonymous said...


I think it is good that Rachel mentioned axprasia and the outcome of her sister. Perhaps Jaden's mother will read it and may or may not follow-through.
In the meantime, Jaden has a lot to catch up...and the family does too. He's in the place where he should be and is doing very well. I'm glad for Jaden and his family.

In the meantime...let's all appreciate the fact we learned something from this family, that they tried this one approach and it didn't work. Accept it...move on. Jaden has got a lot of work to catch up with learning language and communicating in ASL and making friends with his peers. Speech can come later...anytime when he is ready, when his parents are ready to explore. And if they don't...well, heck...Jaden will still be a fine boy having discovered his language and being able to move on. No need to hound on him or his parents to see what else may work, they've wasted 3-1/2 years and lost a lot of time.


Anonymous said...

Had you ended your comment with some positives for Jaden and his parents. I think that your comment on apraxia would have been perceived with less criticism. I truly don't know if you are capable of saying, yeah...that the ASL approach may be the best thing for this child. I have yet to hear you say that on any of your posts. You highlight a great deal about the AVT/Oral approach....but I don't feel that you are open to ASL/signing approach. It's not a one way street....the "bridge" usually has more than 2 lanes


Anonymous said...

"Bilingual is the answer that no one Deaf child will be left out."

"...but I don't feel that you are open to ASL/signing approach. It's not a one way street....the "bridge" usually has more than 2 lanes"

The "bridge" will never be built if we continue with personal attacks.

AVT/Oral,ASL, etc. Let's give the information that parents need to hear not the personal attacks.

Anonymous said...

I'm not attacking one person. Yes, the bilingual approach may be the right approach for this child, but I was just offering some educational thoughts from the perspective of a cochlear implant user who was raised with the AV approach that the parents and the readers may have not been aware of.

"Bilingual is the answer that no one Deaf child will be left out."

I feel that this comment is ironic. Yes, bilingual may be the right fit for some children who will never able to learn to hear and to speak. However, I feel that some children will still be left out because from my personal experiences, when my cochlear implant failed twice a few years ago and when I had no hearing for a few weeks, I felt left out as I was not able to participate in group conversations with people who hear normally, hear people's chit chats in the background, hear the music, play the piano, hear the sounds of the movies, and etc. I'm not only talking about my experiences in school, but also outside of the school. For example, I could not have a group conversation with my neighbors or go out with friends.

Anonymous said...

"Bilingual is the answer that no deaf child will be left out."

Only parents will support the child to make sure her/his needs that is all met. It's the parental involvement. Don't you guys forget that.

That's their choice. For instance, Jordan speaks Italian language, it is okay for him to speak in Spanish language. It's the bilingual. Does not have to learn in an ASL.

White Ghost

Anonymous said...

White Ghost,

Very true that parents need to make the final informed decisions!

But how can they be fully informed in the first place and who does the most informing. Are the real Deaf people with experiences allow to give unbiased informations?

This is where the big problem is, AGBell and its associates dominates the biased informations to the parents the minute their Deaf babies are identified.

Read that mother's experience in DBC post, The Family's Journey.

The parents needs all the unbiased information to make the FULLY informed decision.

And you know fully well that AGBell and their associates don't support bilingual approach(ASL&ENGLISH) and tell parents not to use sign language and that is VERY BIASED.

They (AGBell) is the root of the whole problem!

mishkazena said...

"deaf children become successful in having the ability to hear and speak and be part of the world at wide."

Be part of the world at wide? Say again? The last time I checked, Deaf people, including Deaf kids, using ASL are part of the world.

I fail to understand why anyone would make this statement.. unless this person implies that the Deaf people are not part of the world. This is grossly inaccurate and misleading. It's also a slap to the culturally Deaf people who are actively engaging with the world.

MKChaikof said...

Apraxia is a condition where the signal from the mouth to the brain gets jumbled, in particular the voluntary pathway, as opposed to the spontaneous pathway. While I hadn't heard of it before I had Jessica, I knew something was wrong because, as a young toddler, she would point to a tree and say "ee," but when I asked her to imitate "ee," she said "mm" and could not produce "ee." She did similar things for other sounds. Her receptive language was age appropriate by age 3, but her expressive was lagging much behind. Our Cert. AVT directed us to an incredible oral motor therapist who specialized in apraxia. Within 2 months of seeing her, Jessica started to speak. Within 5 months, her expressive language jumped an entire year. By age 6, her language was age level to above both receptively and expressively. As Rachel said, she then turned into an incredible chatterbox whom we even have to ask sometimes to be quiet.

During the time that we were at our oral motor therapist, she was seeing one other deaf child, but the rest of her children with apraxia all had normal hearing. However, apraxia is slightly more common among deaf children because its roots lie in the vestibular system, something commonly affected in profoundly deaf children.

I would assume that most deaf educators have heard of apraxia. Certainly, all SLPs have. Whether or not the boy in the blog was ever checked for apraxia none of us can say, but it would be a shame if a child's apraxia was not identified and treated. Last week, Jessica had her first lead role in a school play. She did a great job and loved the experience. Giving her the ability to express herself orally was no small gift. Regardless of where a deaf child is in school, apraxia should be identified, addressed and treated.

MKChaikof said...

Small correction - In apraxia, the signal from the brain to the mouth gets jumbled.

Anonymous said...

Having taught public speaking in the past...I had to to this...if anything, hopefully some have learned and can leave constructive comments in future blogs.

"Always Start With A Positive
If an article has moved you to post a comment, then more than likely there is a positive you can find. Even if it is something like "Your article was very moving." Then go into the constructive issues you would like to address. Even just thanking a writer for addressing a specific topic can be complimentary.

Only say something that you would want said to you
The golden rule is something that applies to all areas of life. Leaving comments is no different. It is important to think how you would feel if someone left the comment you left. If you would find it helpful or thought provoking-it is worth leaving. If you found it hurtful or demeaning-maybe you should delete and try again.

These tips are not to discourage you from leaving constructive comments. It is just designed to make disagreements and conversations on the web become more cordial. I always say that the best thing about the internet is to bring together different views, opinions, conversations all to one place. Comments allow this to happen. So enjoy talking with the authors, but remember basic respect." --Stephany Springer


Anonymous said...

Look what I found,

ASL & English Bilingual Education
Assures No Deaf Child is Left Behind

I find this better than...

Bilingual is the answer that no one Deaf child will be left out.

What you think?

Anonymous said...

There is no one size fits all! Not in deafness, not in life itself. Thankfully we are all given the right to make informed choices for ourselves and our children. Most of us do so by educating ourselves and looking at all options.

Mike said...

Kim - "And you know fully well that AGBell and their associates don't support bilingual approach(ASL&ENGLISH) and tell parents not to use sign language and that is VERY BIASED."

Not quite.

AGBell's June 11, 2008 position - "

"AG Bell acknowledges that a chosen approach depends on culture, family interests, and desired communication outcome. AG Bell believes that the language and communication approach chosen should be based on an informed decision made by the child’s parents/family and based on their own unique circumstances.

With respect to American Sign Language (ASL), AG Bell acknowledges ASL as a language in and of itself. AG Bell also recognizes ASL’s importance in Deaf culture as a unique feature, and a language that many take pride in learning. AG Bell does not believe that ASL should be prohibited or restricted as a choice, nor does AG Bell advocate against learning ASL as part of a child’s overall development if that is what the child’s parents desire.

Regardless of chosen language or communication approach, AG Bell believes that families should have early access to professionals with specialized education and training in the desired language or communication method."

They believe that making an informed decision is key for any parents of a deaf/hh.


Mike said...


They believe that making an informed decision is key for any parents of a deaf or hh child.

Dianrez said...

Apraxia is part of a spectrum of learning or language disorders that can affect deaf children as well as other children. Related problems are: aphasia, dyslexia, dysgraphia, and so on.

It is a worthwhile point that Rachel and her mother make: not all educators of the deaf are also expert in these learning disorders. My Deaf son struggled with a learning disorder despite a high IQ and now is a college student in a hearing college using ASL interpreters. While he was in primary school, his teachers had to research materials to find methods that would enable him to learn best.

It's probably safe to say that these learning disorders are more common among deaf children than they are in the hearing population, so educators need to be armed with materials in this area before they get their M. Ed. degrees.

Perhaps much of the controversy over whether oral/aural or comprehensive ASL education works best is confused by the existence of these disorders.

Anonymous said...

The points you made in the last comment are excellent; however not exclusive to deaf educators. I would venture to say that more often than not, in any school, too little is understood about the multitude of learning disorders. How to best provide for the educational needs of children with learning disabilities has been and always will be ever changing, as is education period. Seems the more we know the more we need to know. M. Ed. degrees vary from institution to institution, state to state, etc. Again, no cookie cutters here.

Anonymous said...

I second mcconnell's comments about AGBell.

Kim mentioned "...AGBell and their associates don't support bilingual approach(ASL&ENGLISH) and tell parents not to use sign language and that is VERY BIASED." I can't speak for any historical encounters you may have had when you last contacted AGBell for information about using ASL, but throughout the past couple of years I have found them completely supportive and have never heard anyone speaking on behalf of AGBell advise against using ASL. Both our local chapter of AGBell AND the national organization have provided me with resources for learning ASL, for instructing our child in ASL, and for contacting teachers and interpreters. They've also been instrumental in recommending that ASL be presented as one of several options for parents of deaf children (and in pushing statewide best practices and legislation).

Here's an excerpt of what they present on their site and in printed materials:
1. Parent(s) who have children identified with hearing loss must receive a printed, standardized resource manual that includes clear, objective, explanatory information on each communication option:
a. Auditory-Verbal (Unisensory),
b. Oral or Auditory/Oral,
c. Bilingual/Bicultural (ASL/ESL),
d. Cued Speech, and
e. Total Communication

Anonymous said...

Mike McConnell,

AGBell posted that info;

This was posted not even a year ago and they did it because the Deaf community was concern about AGBell being biased towards ASL hoping people will assume that AGBell is not against ASL. They ARE!

And what they print or say doesn't mean it is from their heart. They will NEVER promote ASL for Deaf babies or children in schools.

MKChaikof said...

Why do you or anyone else expect AG Bell to promote ASL? I don't expect NAD to promote AV or oralism. AG Bell exists to support the oral and AV approaches, which are perfectly viable and acceptable approaches. If one doesn't agree with AG Bell or doesn't believe in the approaches that they are there to support, then don't join the organization. Join NAD or Hands and Voices or the American Society for Deaf Children instead. This whole campaign against AG Bell is absurd. All of these organizations can peacefully coexist because they are serving different populations. I'm a member of Bell but not of NAD or of the other organizations. That's fine for me, but I don't expect it to be for others. We all have a choice. If AG Bell were not there supporting parents and professionals who choose AV and oral, then who would be?

Anonymous said...


Do you support AGBell telling lies that ASL deprives Deaf children learning English?

The Deaf community have plenty of research that ASL does not deprive ability to learn English language.

Most of the Deaf children that have a hard time learning English language started off with AGBell's ideology of "forbidding" any sign language for Deaf babies in the beginning. Your daughter is the cream of the crop, what about the others that failed?

We all seem to see the young "AGBellized" deaf children but after the age of 8, They seem to disappear and AGBell and its associates never keep the statistic if their program is actually a success. And the answer is that most became frustrated when social communication at an adult level became very hard.

MKChaikof said...


I am a proponent of the AV approach having raised both of my girls that way very successfully. Neither has ever learned ASL or desires to. They are now ages 21 and 14. Over the years, I have gotten to know a great deal of happy oral and AV adults and children like them. I believe that for my girls learning ASL would have hindered the development of their hearing and spoken language, but I'm not even going to get into a discussion as to why I believe that because it would be futile. I can cite research that supports my belief just as you say that you can cite research showing that ASL will not hinder the development of spoken language. The fact is that no one can say how each deaf child is best taught language and educated. It depends upon each individual child and his/her family.

You would be better off advocating the positives that you see to including ASL just as I advocate for the AV approach and what it's done for my daughters without knocking the other approaches. Presenting the positive rather than focusing on the negative is always more effective.

Anonymous said...


"Presenting the positive rather than focusing on the negative is always more effective."

The difference is that your side of malice advocating is the million dollars profiteering,donating industry i.e. CI, against the other side that got their sign language holocaust-ed starting back 1880 and they are starting with their own morality to help spread the truth.

It is Goliath versus David.

It is a shame that there are people that feels good about their selfish, one-sided philosophy.

Anonymous said...

I'll write a letter to President Obama and the Secretary of Health and Human Services to stop Medicaid or Medicare to pay more than $60,000 for deaf kids' CI. It isn't right to use money from American taxpayers' pockets. Why not middle class and well-to-do hearing parents become beggers on a busy street and wave with a sign "Please help pay for my child's CI?" Deaf people must wake up about economic crisis and must petition to Obama, demanding to stop paying for CI.

Anonymous said...

You're right about that!

If we taxpayers are paying CI's, then we have the voice of concerns when there are many failures and AGBell/its associates are hiding the failures all over the country.

If you pay your own expense for CI, then it is not our problem how you treat your own deaf child.

If I pay for CI's as a taxpayer, then I demand statistic of results to the age of 18.

Isn't it that fair?

MKChaikof said...

You are perpetuating lies and myths about CIs. Why don't you keep an open mind and visit an AV center or auditory oral school to see the truth? You come across as amazingly bitter, angry and ill informed. No one in any position of power is going to take you seriously if you continue to spew lines such as, "The difference is that your side of malice advocating is the million dollars profiteering,donating industry i.e. CI, against the other side that got their sign language holocaust-ed starting back 1880 and they are starting with their own morality to help spread the truth." Time has advanced a great deal since 1880, and with it, technology that is allowing today's deaf children to do amazing things. You should be rejoicing for them.

Mike said...


AGBell wrote a position paper about ASL and was positive and netural about it. Just as NAD also wrote a position paper that was positive and even neutral to a degree about cochlear implants. Does that mean NAD is really lying about cochlear implants since it was all on paper anyway? According to you logic that'd be the case.

Sorry but I don't deal with vapid thinking when people constantly use excuses as a crutch.

Dianrez said...

It is encouraging that both NAD and AG Bell are conceding the benefits of the other's methods.

There is a history here, though. Bell himself has repudiated and refused to respond to NAD and has actively fought the development of ASL in theatrical and TV productions. It is no wonder the two camps don't trust each other.

Today you will still hear AVT proponents insisting that ASL will harm the progress of AVT therapy and an equal number insisting that it does not, but aids the process.

We still have a long way to go before each can truly respect the other and it involves giving up some diehard ideas since the research to date has so far produced conflicting results.

mishkazena said...

I would recommend the proponents of each ideology to visit both AVT/oral centers and Deaf schools. This way, they can see for themselves both the successes of AVT approach and also that there are 'failures' of AVT approaches. This way they will be able to see the whole picture.

As long as the Deaf children have good access to spoken language (meaning hearing aids or c.i. works fine and their brain centers can decipher the speech), learning another language, including ASL, doesn't hurt their speech. Look at countless hearing and hard of hearing children raised in Deaf families with both spoken and signed linguistic capacities. Many children with cochlear implants in Deaf families are able to utilize speech and listening when they are sufficiently exposed to spoken language.

The claim of ASL hurting the development of speech and listening is an outdated scare tactic. I am glad to see more and more parents using c.i. route recognizing that ASL does help the Deaf children acquire language faster and that they are combining both spoken language and ASL. The kids will use the most accessible language, whether it is ASL or spoken English. If the spoken English remains fully accessible, the child will use it. If the access of a spoken language remains problematic, the child will feel more comfortable with signed language. The bottom line is that NO child should be deprived of a fully accessible language, especially due to xenophobia and phobia of a visual language.

Joseph Pietro Riolo said...

The mantra saying that ASL does not hurt the development of speech is not always cut and dry. It seems that this theory is based on how one interprets the data or how one selects data (known as selection bias). Some moons ago, I happened to come across the newsletter at http://www.bionicear.com/userfiles/File/Issue2-2006.pdf . I want to quote a paragraph to illustrate the difficulty in drawing conclusions from the data:

[Start of quote]

Recent evidence shows that, on average, children with cochlear implants educated in programs emphasizing oral communication outperform children in TC programs on a variety of outcome measures (Tobey, Rekart, Buckley, & Geers, 2004; Geers, Nicholas, & Sedey, 2003). How should TC programs interpret these findings? Should they be seen as a wake-up call for TC programs? Some professionals point to these findings as evidence that signs interfere with spoken language development. They may take the view that total communication is usually, if not always, counterproductive for children with cochlear implants. Some take a more conservative view, noting that there may be inherent differences between children enrolled in oral and TC groups, making group comparisons from research impossible to interpret. Others claim that there is no evidence that sign interferes with spoken language development. Perhaps what we need to avoid is all-or-none thinking. Perhaps the evaluation tools we use should depend on the learner and where that child is positioned at a particular time on an auditory to visual continuum of perceptual skills (Robbins, 2001; McClatchie & Therres, 2003).

[End of quote]

The above paragraph gives an indication that there is a bit of, but not necessarily the whole, truth in the theory that signs can impair the development of speech. But, whether it is as strong and valid as the theory that signs do not impair the development of speech is debatable.

Joseph Pietro Riolo

Dianrez said...

Such studies quoted above need to be closely examined. How were the subjects selected? Were they the same subjects used in other studies? What was the total number of subjects, and was there also a control group of matched subjects?

Also: what are the backgrounds of the researchers? Do the researchers have a history of balanced viewpoints? Does the researchers' employer have a vested interest in the methods being studied?

What are the characteristics of the experimental and the control group? How closely matched were they? How involved were their parents and community?

It is so easy to pick apart such studies when examined this closely, and far too easy to quote selected studies to support any one viewpoint.

I'm not impressed when studies are thrown at parents trying to find the best methods for their child. Let them have their heads and seek what works best for their child, and just give them information.

Joseph Pietro Riolo said...

The questions as posed by Dianrez are all excellent. But, I wonder if the proponents of the theory that signs do not impair the development of speech apply the questions to the researches supporting their theory. It seems that if a research shows that signs do impair the development of speech, it is subjected to all the demanding questions. But, if a research shows that signs are not obstacle to the development of speech, it is accepted without question.

I do not have the time and resources to check and validate each research. So are the parents. But, the parents are entitled to know that there exist researches supporting both theories (signs that impair the development of speech and signs that do not impair the development of speech), don't they?

Joseph Pietro Riolo

Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this post in the public domain.

mishkazena said...

Joseph, I said as long as they have sufficient exposure to a spoken language, the acquisition of spoken language should be fine, provided that the cochlear implants and ability of the brain to translate sounds to meaningful words are intact.

Why did the children end in TC programs? Perhaps they went to TC programs in the first place as they weren't able to benefit from the cochlear implants. Often that is the case as cochlear implants do not have the stellar records their proponents claim.

I see many Deaf kids with cochlear implants being raised in Deaf families and they are able to use the speech and listening skills very well. So if ASL does affect the development of speaking and listening skills, then please tell me how some of these kids with c.i. from Deaf families are able to use these skills.

I also have heard stories of Deaf children with c.i. from hearing parents using ASL while then gradually discontinued that as their mastery of spoken English increased. This shouldn't be happening if ASL does hurt their development. So we need to look at other factors.

Having conducted research myself, data are frightening easy to manipulate, especially when the researchers are biased. One also needs to examine how the research is done and replicate it repeatedly.

mishkazena said...

they, not then sorry for my typos

Joseph Pietro Riolo said...

Responding to the comment made by Mishka Zena (the previous one):

I am questioning the theory that signs including ASL will ever never impair the development of speech and hearing. It is the absolute of the theory that bothers me. Is it possible that for few or some deaf children with cochlear implant, using signs may pose problems? Apparently, there exist researches that answer the question affirmatively. Parents need to know this so that they will be prepared if they decide to use signs and cochlear implant at the same time. For example, they should be prepared for the possibility that the effectiveness of cochlear implant may be lower than their expectation.

Collection and interpretation of data is not infallible. This is not limited to researches that show how signs can impair development of speech but also happens to researches that show otherwise. Parents who are not well versed in statistics and logic have no choice but to depend on the experts (and non-experts) for information.

Joseph Pietro Riolo

Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this post in the public domain.

mishkazena said...

I truly believe that if the cochlear implant works properly and the brain is capable of deciphering the sounds, that the Deaf children can handle both ASL and spoken English. The brain is versatile enough to handle two languages. The issue is sufficient exposure to each language to enable full mastery of each. I've heard enough stories confirming this.

It's my personal opinion that ignorance, audism, and xenophobia play a significant role in scaring parents into thinking ASL hurts oracy skills. This is based on the extent of audism observed in the strong oracy proponents' attitudes to culturally Deaf people and children. There should be some research into this area, but I am not aware of any so far.

We may need to agree to disagree in this area.

mishkazena said...

Oh, to answer your question,

Please notice my emphasis on this: as long as the cochlear implants work perfectly and that the brain centers are up to its task in making sense of the sounds they process.

If the cochlear implants aren't working perfectly or if there are some limitations in the ability the brain processing sounds, then the ability to convert sounds to meaningful words is affected.

These inherent weaknesses contradict the claims of the c.i. proponents, so naturally they try to avoid that, making ASL the scapegoat.

Am I to imply that ASL is for all deaf children? No, that's not intention. Some Deaf children can use their ears successfully, with auxillary aids.

It's the false generalization of ASL hurting the development of oracy that I find disturbing

mishkazena said...

correction: ability of the brain in processing sounds

Sheesh, please excuse my mistakes again. I need to be more alert.