Friday, February 6, 2009

Enough Dialogue- Build the Bridge!

I've been reading a lot of posts on Deafread lately regarding Deaf Schools closing and the various issues regarding hearing parents and incorporating ASL.

Rachel was correct when she said:
ASL is not a "magic" method, and it requires as much effort as using the Auditory-Verbal approach or Auditory-Oral approach because parents would need to take the time to attend courses to learn ASL and to use it at home. Unfortunately, there are some parents who are not involved by not attending ASL courses and using them at home with their children.

*We fear what we do not understand: Hearing parents of newly diagnosed deaf babies are slammed with information they do not understand*

Ann C said:
...What I meant by "medical authorities" are the doctors and audiologists who are often the first contacts for parents of a deaf child. Many doctors and audiologists have little to no knowledge of the bilingualism option, so they often recommend CI's or other technology and speech therapy such as AVT, because those are options they do know about.

Ultimately, it's the parents who make the final decision for their deaf child, and hopefully they are informed of ALL options, including bilingualism, by the time a decision has to be made. That's why I mentioned that Deaf mentorship is a step in the right direction of publicizing the bilingualism option. Who better than a Deaf person to educate parents about this option?

The more often that this option is presented, the more it will come to be accepted as part of the package of different options available and the medical community will come to include it as well. That will take continued effort on the part of the deaf community to keep this option in front of hearing parents, doctors, and audiologists on a regular basis...

We have been kicking this debate around for at least the year and a half I've been on deafread. Don't you all think it's time to create a plan and put it into action? Words are strong, but meaningless without a concrete plan.

Amy Cohen Effron's video The Greatest Irony on baby signs being taught to hearing babies and not deaf babies was on target.


1. Create a pilot study program at a hospital with a Cochlear Implant Program.
2. Work with Hands and Voices to locate the perfect situation to develop and begin this program - perhaps through their Guide By Your Side program.
3. Request that NAD contact Rachel Coleman of Signing Time to create a video for parents of newly diagnosed deaf babies that begins teaching basic signs in a fun and informative way.
4. Ask Rachel Coleman to create a series specifically for parents of newly diagnosed deaf babies.


is not threatening to a hearing parent. It is fun, educational and happy- those are the elements a new mother wants to give to her baby.

I read about hearing mothers of newly diagnosed babies who begin using sign as a bridge. If the child has access to this visual language and still needs it, the child and parent will continue using it, if not, oral language skills will take over.

(Christian is saying "Barack Obama" in this video)

In the meantime, both parent and child will be communicating.
I admire Christina (Welcome to the world LILY!!) for how she approached Christian's deafness. She is a fine example of how this type of program could work. However, she did all the research herself, no one handed her the necessary materials. Think how much easier parents would have it if a program could be engineered in such a way.


We took in the gorgeous Cherry Blossoms here in DC this weekend, and Christian LOVED them. He was signing FLOWER the whole day. I was able to take a pic of the last part of his sign :)

Parents need help as soon as they receive the diagnosis, they don't need to be attacked. They need to see their babies as babies, not as community members...I think bridges can be built. Enough dialogue, start slammin' down some bricks.

PS. Congratulations to my Dad who is busting his butt to get RALLY CAPS made into a film. We walked away with an Honorable Mention in Screenplay contest!


Anonymous said...

Dang! Ann_C. is the winner! I defended Ann_C. from the assumptions that an anonymous have caused. I had to reprimand at an anonymous.

I am not too surprised that there are several deaf-residential schools which are (going to be) now closed. They have done in the past.

Congratulations on your Dad for receiving an honorable mention on your book....Go, go, go Girl! You are so lucky to have a such wonderful Dad who supports you and family all the way!

White Ghost

Anonymous said...

"Rachel was correct when she said:
ASL is not a "magic" method, and it requires as much effort as using the Auditory-Verbal approach or Auditory-Oral approach because parents would need to take the time to attend courses to learn ASL and to use it at home. Unfortunately, there are some parents who are not involved by not attending ASL courses and using them at home with their children. "

Sorry, Jodi, but Rachel was NOT correct.

First, ASL is fully accessible to ALL Deaf (and HH) children. Speech is not, not even with a CI.

Second, and this is what I wanted to emphasize -- there is NOT an equal amount of effort required for using ASL compared to Auditory-Oral approach. Yes, the parent has to take classes to learn ASL, but WHAT classes does the parent really need to take to speak to their child? In the meantime, with Auditory-Oral approach, the CHILD has to work to learn to comprehend all those sounds of speech and to produce them. With ASL, the access to the language is natural and effortless, and the child will pick it up naturally -- no classes or extra training is needed for the child.

Now, who is really EQUIPPED for making "extra efforts" -- the PARENTS or the CHILD?

I would say also it is the PARENT's RESPONSIBILITY to make the extra efforts, not force their children to have to do this.

Anonymous said...

Now, I'm not trying to disprove anything, or spark up an argument. I'm somewhat "new" to the Deaf community, with all of the news about ASL and schools closing down and whatnot. Forgive me if I rub you the wrong way. I'm just trying to absorb new information.

But the above comment made me think.

Yes, the child does have to make extra effort to comprehend the sounds of speech and to be able to produce them, as Don G said, but wouldn't life, in the long run, be easier for them? I wouldn't know what life is like living as a deaf child using only ASL for communication, but I would imagine it being a little harder to communicate with others, unless you live in a deaf community or some sort like that. If I'm wrong, don't bash on me. Like I said, I'm somewhat new to all of this, and I wouldn't know what life is like for a deaf person who uses ASL for communication.

And no, ASL does not come naturally for a deaf child. That, I know. It's not like the brains of deaf kids are wired in a special way to allow the child to be a natural at visual communication (i.e ASL).

And even if the child is implanted with a CI, the parents still make extra efforts to help their kid learn the oral language. It's not like the child can go to AVT once or twice a week and be done for the week. Most parents, as far as I know, continue the lessons at their home and teach the child themselves.

Everyone makes extra efforts, whether the child is brought up in the ASL world or in the hearing world.


Anonymous said...

Yes! Jodi, I love your action plan: concise, direct, and targeted at exactly the right audience using the most accessible channels to reach hearing parents of deaf children (to Ann C's point).

I only wish I had half your energy and I'd take it on myself! But, for those who are looking for a CI clinic for the pilot: I highly recommend Children's Hospital, Boston. Their Deaf & Hard of Hearing Dept (which includes the CI Clinic) has what seems to be a very successful program of CI toddlers and children who are developing language via spoken English AND ASL. And I'm pretty sure the head of the program, Dr. Terrell Clark, has some really interesting new work and findings that she's been introducing to the medical community, though I don't think it's ready for prime time yet -- it is all relatively new. If it weren't, I'd start throwing around reports full of the "proof" of bilingual learning as a successful method for kids with CIs. But, as it is, I'm very happy with our single proof point (Li-Li!).

Oh, and I agree entirely with Rachel's about ASL requiring work -- oh my gosh, ASL is certainly not a 'natural language' for a Deaf child in a hearing family! That would be like saying that because my daughter is Chinese, even though she lives in the US with a non-Mandarin-speaking family and never hears the language at home or in the community, she would somehow magically pick it up because of her ethnicity.

We're putting as much, if not more effort into providing ASL immersion as we are in "bathing" her in spoken language, which we do naturally, all day long. And we're incredibly lucky to be in a location and situation to make that possible -- honestly, it would be far more accessible for my entire family to learn Mandarin than it is for us to learn and use and teach ASL. But, we think it's worth it and the little one is a brilliant little code switcher. And we'll start on Mandarin ... ummm, next year :).

In the meantime, thanks for another excellent post -- build that bridge!

Mike said...

DonG, for the parents the extra effort is required regardless the preferred mode of communication. I never saw Rachel allude A-V or oral-auditory efforts as being on equal footing as ASL in terms of efforts required to learn. Just that ASL takes "as much effort" as going the A-V or oral-auditory route.

Parents have their own personal reasons for their investment in time and effort in particular communication method to see that their dividends pay off in the future for their deaf/hh child when he/she becomes an adult. Early intervention is the best approach.

Mike said...

sigh...the above comment was mine.


Mike said...

Li-Li's Mom hits it spot on one the effort it takes between speaking/listening and learning ASL. She makes a salient point about the Mandarin (Chinese dialect) language. Li-Li's Mom is in the position to see the differences and the effort it takes to learn various communication avenues. She speaks from experience.

Anonymous said...

From a Hearing Mom Who Signs...

First...let it be known that the focus should be the Deaf baby (not mom and dad) and what we can do to give Deaf babies language in the most natural form possible for them so they can grow up to use it to thrive as a whole person and feel confident, independent, and respected as a person in society.

Those of you who are new to the ASL and Deaf culture or have never learned sign language as a hearing parent, really need to be extremely careful stating that "ASL isn't a natural language for Deaf babies in hearing families". ASL IS the only naturally occurring visual language in the U.S. that provides guaranteed results of language acquisition in Deaf babies and children regardless if they go on to become oral.

It may require some work for a hearing person or a parent to acquire it because it is a SECOND language to them. This is NOT the CASE for Deaf babies.

Of course hearing parents, first language in their home is not ASL. But that doesn't mean their Deaf child's language can't be either. That is just silly.

If a hearing parent is dedicated to providing immediate language to their child, they will seek out Deaf mentors, ASL classes, online resources, early intervention specialist who sign, etc. etc. There are plenty of support systems for providing ASL in a hearing family's home environment.

Let's get something straight. Deaf babies are visual. They use their eyes to capture what is taking place around them. This is true for Deaf babies waiting for their implants. This is true for implanted babies waiting for mapping. This is true for implanted babies trying to make connections to sounds being part of words. This is true for those who get CI's in which they are not so successful in capturing speech. This is true for those whose batteries die, when they go to bed, or swim, or when the CI fails. This is true for Deaf babies and children who do not benefit from listening and speaking. Deaf people are visual. This cannot be disputed.

Jodie, while I admire you taking the opportunity to build bridges. However by highlighting Paula and Rachel in your blogs makes a case that you are still on the other side of the bridge.

Here are some suggestions: First I suggest you start by first eliminating the word "deafness" from your blog subtitle". This portrays the medical state of being deaf and focuses on the ear and not the person. It is a word not very popular in many Deaf circles.

Second I suggest that you start asking the exclusive only oral society and medical profession to stop burning bridges by devaluing ASL (sign languages) and become open minded to the fact that visual abilities are just as important to being bilingual as a Deaf person and that ASL has every right to be part of the full spectrum of language development and literacy in English or any other written or spoken language.

No one is asking for exclusive ASL only. What people are asking for is that Deaf babies are not limited to one approach to learning language. We are asking that it is a right for a Deaf baby to have a naturally occurring primary signed language in order to learn and have access to the written and spoken languages of their countries.

This is how we start to build the bridges. Strict exclusive one way approaches need to end in order that ALL Deaf babies and children have the opportunities to be fully bilingual, happy, content, independent, self confident whole Deaf person who feel a part of a community of people in this world.

Unknown said...

@ Hearing Mom who Signs,
No one is asking for exclusive ASL only. What people are asking for is that Deaf babies are not limited to one approach to learning language. We are asking that it is a right for a Deaf baby to have a naturally occurring primary signed language in order to learn and have access to the written and spoken languages of their countries.

Everyone is asking...asking. In an ideal world every parent would be able to tackle ASL and AVT, but hearing parents are overwhelmed when they get the news. They need parent mentors who they can relate to. Not all hearing parents are capable of throwing themselves into the Deaf community as soon as they have a diagnosis. There needs to be a plan, mine is just an idea, because I am tired of reading the same comments, gripes, philosophies and no one is taking any action. I have enough to do over here in Italy, you can't even imagine the situation here...Parents Need Resources. Provide them with resources. Hands and Voices is doing that. My hope is to slowly create a strong enough foundation in Italy to start a chapter here, but it takes time.
My blog title remains- I'm kind of attached to it *smile*
Paula and Rachel are my friends and I respect them and their choices- I'm attached to them too.
While your comment was kind of aggressive, I appreciated the content...Jodi

White Ghost- you seem to be rather passionate about these last posts, good to read you lol, thanks on behalf of my dad, I am very lucky...

Thanks Li-Li's Mom- for the enthusiasm, it was just an idea lol- kiss that girl for me...
Don G- I had to learn an entirely new language to communicate with my child. Not everyone is capable mentally of taking on such a challenge, we need to make it easier for these parents to do so...

Cj- your comment and thoughtfulness as well as sensitivity was greatly appreciated..

.- John Wayne was for you..

Anonymous said...

DonG, what makes you come to the conclusion that speech is not readily available with CI?

I don't even have a CI, but even with my hearing aid, speech is readily available for me and constantly is by interacting in every day listening and speaking mode with everything that is out there. People I talk to, radio, TV, etc. etc. And, I can only imagine what a person with C.I. is capable of. I really don't know and neither do you, DonG. I can only imagine because I know that having a CI would enable me to hear more distinct sounds than a HA.

Jodi...I wonder if many deaf people have this view on C.I. only because they tend to hear bad things about CI only, and ONLY because the majority of deaf people who works with deaf kids ONLY see kids with CI in their program and not the good aspects of CI ONLY because these kids like Rachel, didn't need to be in a mainstream deaf ed program. Out of sight, what does one know? That's not a fair perception.

It would make sense. Like I told my sister: "You see the bad aspects of CI only because you work with them in a deaf program. Had they been successful, they would not be in your class or your school in the first place."

Does that make sense?

Anonymous said...

Anyway, I'm ready to stop talking and built that bridge.



David said...

From a Hearing Mom Who Signs...

You hit the nail on the head!

People who said ASL is not natural language for Deaf baby, are making terrible and awful mistake. How could they say that!

ASL and English are part of the language group.

AVT, cochlear implants, oralism, and so on are NOT NATURAL IN ANY WAY. They are just communication tools. ASL is not part of communication tools. If they disagree with me, then they should include English as part of communication tools.

Thanks so much for straigthening them out.


Anonymous said...

The best people to discuss with on the bridge would be people that can communicate both spoken English and ASL fluency between 8 to 10 on the scale of 10. They can tell you from their heart the truth.

There are many oral deaf people that know some signs between 1 to 4 on the scale of 10 and they should not be listened to. Rachel and Paula have no idea what ASL is.

Mike McConnell claims that he knows sign language but so did Jane Fernandes when she told the media that she knows ASL. Deaf people have to "decode" their ASL to more of a 3rd - 4th grade level to communicate with people like Mike and Jane as well to many so-called Deaf experts with horrible signing skills.

Mike said...

Funny Shirley, have you ever met me? Ever see me sign? It's not a claim but a fact that I do know ASL. My wife of 15 years is Deaf who taught ASL for few years at one university. You don't know diddly about my signing skills. Be careful when you get into the area of assumptions about other people's signing skills.

Anonymous said...

Last night, I was having a conversation on IM with a woman who is deaf, wears bilateral cochlear implants and was raised with using ASL and SEE. We were just having a good chatting about our life in general as college students. We both have very different background of deafness, and we get along very well. From this experience as one of the experiences of socializing with other deaf people who come from different backgrounds, I personally feel that building the bridge should not be defined by the fact that everyone should use both spoken English and ASL. Building bridges should be about respecting our personal choices and seeing each other as individuals, rather than how we communicate.

I would also add this site as a source of information for parents of newly diagnosed deaf children as it provides the information about all methodologies -

And also - CICIRCLE

Also, if you think that parents of newly diagnosed deaf children should see Signing Time as an ASL resource, perhaps you could also add some videos that are based on Auditory-Verbal, Auditory-Oral, and Cued Speech to show parents what are they just to provide a more well-rounded information. There is a Facebook group that was recently created called Auditory Verbal Communications Center, and there are tons of ADORABLE videos showing AVT. I'm planning to add more to my site too when I can.

Also, I just remembered something- as someone who was raised with Auditory-Verbal, I watched Disney Sing Along all the time which was a great therapy tool for me as there were subtitles and the Micky Mouse head would point to each of the words that was being said out loud. It benefited me because it gave me great listening skills practice and plus, the videos were fun to watch. So, they're actually somewhat similar to Signing Time, but they were just practices for listening skills rather than signing skills.

To some of the commenters, I would like to disagree that all deaf children are visual learners. My sister who is also deaf and wears cochlear implants is not a visual learner. She has difficulties remembering things that are visual and prefers to listen. When she was little, she always preferred that someone read the story out loud to her because it was easier for her to understand the story than to read it.

Like Christina, my mother had to research thoroughly to see all different options on how to raise me as deaf child. She called Massachusetts Association for the Deaf, she contacted two parents of deaf children who used ASL, she visited an oral school, contacted a family who has a deaf child and used the oral approach, visited an AVT center in Pennsylvania, and also visited New York University for cochlear implants. At that time, there were no internet and thus, my parents were traveling all over northeast of US and speaking to various people in person and also on the phone just to figure out what would work the best for me. I have to say that I am so thankful for her making the effort to research thoroughly to make sure that I can live in a fulfilling and happy life.

Anonymous said...

Candy --

CIs only have 16, or is it 32 "channels" now. I am no audiologist, but I would imagine that Hearing people can hear WAY more than that. Therefore, a CI person will not hear like a Hearing person.

As part of one of my classes, I use a CI simulation demonstration (publshed online by a CI company) and my students say even with 16 channels, what they are hearing through the "CI" is not the same as what they themselves hear. Therefore, CIs do not provide Deaf people with full accessibility to speech.

And then, you get into the whole question of "mapping" the CI. Tell me, HOW is a child who has never heard normally, supposed to provide proper feedback to get a "correct" map? For all you know, that map leads to Timbuktu instead of Peoria.

Additionally, this is all assuming the CI was inserted properly or stays in good shape and the connections are not lost.

For all their hype, CIs are not the "magic bullet". They do not allow speech to be fully accessible to ALL Deaf children. Deny it all you want, but the truth is out there, despite the obfuscations of the CI corps and AGBell.

MB said...

Rachel Coleman lives in a state (Utah) with a very strong deaf mentor program. My state (Virginia) had no such program. My husband and I have probably asked 10 different Deaf adults to help us learn sign, even offering to pay out of pocket. Not one has ever come to our house once. It was truly a disappointment.

I even tried to hire a Deaf babysitter, who blew off two interviews. I never heard from her again.

Instead we learned the basics from Rachel, a ridiculously slow class at the community college, and a very, very basic class at the local Total Communication school. This is the same TC school trying to recruit our child from the oral or cueing programs, yet we still had to pay for the class.

I still want to learn to sign one day, but I've given up on the bilingual option due to lack of resources. I want to be a good language model for my child and there's no way with my limited knowledge of ASL that I could be a good signing model.

MB said...

Jodi - you should really stop allowing anonymous comments on the blog especially on a post like this! People should be willing to take ownership of their comments and not hide behind "anonymous."

MB said...

Oh - and yeah for cued speech!!

A visual system that makes the entire English language available to our daughter visually and it only takes a weekend to learn.

(Now I'll sit back and wait for the comments on THAT!) ;)

Mike said...

The key importance you're missing, DonG, is that early intervention is what makes a difference. The earlier, the better the brain is able to adapt and decode spoken words and recognize sounds more fluidly than say a deaf adult who have had limited exposure to sound will not be at all successful like the children with CIs. The brain is the key on how it can adapts to new sounds and how it can interpret those sounds into meaningful context. Which is why deaf children with bi-lateral CIs are much more successful in decoding sound and words to the point you wouldn't even tell if the child is deaf or not. Check out YouTube videos to see these amazing kids with CI respond (without even looking, too). Not like a hearing person but they are certainly getting pretty darn close to that.

Now, nobody ever said that a CI will make a deaf person hear like a hearing person. There are limitations. They already know that. However, CI does allow a deaf person (child, teen, adult, what have you) access to sound crucial to help develop speech and the recognizance of sound and words.

And no one claimed that CI is the "magic bullet" for deaf people. Just that CI is for all deaf people with severe to profound hearing loss but not everybody can use or want a cochlear implant. So, not exactly sure what you mean about that "truth out there" is all about. What truth? That CI is a sham and a fake?

And what is your PhD degree again?

Mike said...

above comment was mine.


Mike said...

MB - "A visual system that makes the entire English language available to our daughter visually.."

Technology will have that someday soon. Imagine glasses with a very small built in video screen for one eye and miniature microphone that can pick up sound and words, interpret them, and provide instant "closed captioning" for the wearer. I'd say we're 10 to 15 years off on that one considering the pace of computer miniaturization and computational calculations on the increase (e.g. core computer chips - ) that would allow instant voice recognization interpretation with real-time captioning. Just a matter of time and not that it will never happen.

Anonymous said...


Are you the one who I comment frequently on your facebook status since you and I share similar values in politics? ;)

Do you know Aaron Rose? He was raised with cued speech and has cochlear implants. He is one of the examples who was successfully raised with this approach and is a big advocate it. You should check out his YouTube videos - he speaks very well!

Anonymous said...

DonG, I don't think Jodi's post or any of the responses refer to CIs as a magic bullet (and I'm sure others here can provide you with updated info on how channels work with CIs). In fact, I believe what several people are saying is that for deaf children in predominantly hearing environments (hearing parents) both learning to listen and learning to sign take a great deal of work.

'from a hearing mom who signs' writes: "Let's get something straight. Deaf babies are visual. They use their eyes to capture what is taking place around them."
I agree there. I think most, though not all sighted babies are visual. But that's very different from saying that ASL is a 'natural language' to a deaf child in a hearing family.

But maybe the issue is one of semantics and I'm just not understanding how you are using the term 'natural language.' As far as I know, a 'natural language' is tied to a person's culture and environment, similar to native tongue -- it's the primary language a child is exposed to and uses casually at home and in the community vs. a language learned more formally in a classroom. So, for a child raised in a deaf home, where ASL is the primary language, yes! ASL is his or her 'natural language.' But in a home and community where spoken English is the primary language, ASL is not a 'natural language', even for a deaf child.

So, we utilize our amazing early intervention resources to the max and we drive the little one 3 hours a day to a school outside her community to ensure she's in an immersive signing environment for part of each day (where kids and teachers are using ASL casually, outside ASL lessons), but the input she's getting from the general community, her extended family and friends, and from media (reading aloud from books or the NYT on Sundays, tv, radio, online) is heavily oriented towards English. My husband and I continue to study ASL, but our ability is limited and keeps us just a step ahead of the little one: we're providing much more advanced and complex language input in English than we could in ASL. As Shirley noted, if even long-time ASL users, community members, and Deaf experts such as Jane Fernandes are exhibiting limited (3rd grade) language skills, what kind of language model is a relatively newly signing parent of a deaf child like me?

Even if we repeat every complex English statement with a basic signed version (which we try to do), spoken English will continually be reinforced as her 'natural language' no matter what we do short of shipping her off to live with native signers. And, that's simply not an option :) .

So, while I'm a big fan of learning to hear AND learning to sign for my little family and where I live, I certainly don't think any tool, methodology, or approach to language (deaf school, mainstream, CIs, HAs, ASL, AVT, or bilingual) is always right for all deaf kids -- every family has to use all resources available to determine what's best for the child and the family. And Jodi's proposal seems like the right approach to making that information and those resources most readily available.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen this video?

Anonymous said...

Funny you should ask that Mike. Here's what I got off of "Dr." DonG's website: Ph.D., University of Arizona: Bilingual Education and Deaf Culture Associate Professor & Coordinator, California State University - Sacramento Education: Model Secondary School for the Deaf Gallaudet University University of Arizona.

What a shame that someone who is teaching students is spreading lies about cochlear implants and what they can and cannot do and how they sound. My daughter and I have full access to all speech sounds and our articulation and voice quality improved noticeably after we traded our hearing aids in for cochlear implants. Mappings can be done with or without the patient's input though it is typically done with it. Listening for beeps and saying whether they're too loud, too soft or just right is simple enough for nearly any age.

Plus, a good mapping session will include time in an audiologist's sound booth where they are tested to see how accurately they can hear and understand words and sentences and when those are too easy, you can be tested with a noisy background and also with nonsense words.

Stick to what you know, DonG. Your background is in bilingual education and deaf culture. You can't profess to know or understand everything, especially when you don't have a cochlear implant yourself and aren't using current technology or research to make accurate, educated pronouncements.

Anonymous said...

Mike, as always, you're providing great information on early implantation, early intervention, how it works, and etc. Thanks for helping me providing the accurate information about cochlear implants. :o)

Anonymous said...

Here is what one of the many parents that have gone through this,

Life at an Oral School
My son Jaden attended an oral
school for one year—from the age of
2½ to 3½—right after having cochlear
implant surgery.
I had heard, many times, from the
audiologist, speech therapists, and
teachers that the window of opportunity
for a child to acquire speech was very
small, more specifically: 0-5 years of
age. We were told that our son was
on the older side of that window and
that he would need all the auditory
training possible—at school, during
speech therapy sessions, and from
us at home—in order to be
“successful.” Needless to say, we
spent each and every day focusing
on his hearing and his speech.
It became apparent to me, within
a few months, that our sweet little
boy was not getting what he needed.
Each day after class, I would talk to
the teacher and the speech therapist.
They told me that I needed to be
patient...that I needed to be
persistent in speaking to him and
expecting him to use his voice.
I made weekly calls to the
audiologist. Visit after visit, he
constantly told me that I just needed
to “wait and see.” How much longer
could I make my son wait?
Obviously, our concern had been on
Jaden being able to hear and speak. All
other development, at that point, was
on ‘the back burner.’ I didn’t realize the
damage that our choices were making.
“My husband and I were still
blinded and trusting of these
‘professionals’ who were
‘leading the way’ for our son—
leading him nowhere.”
Every so often, the school would
hold parent education meetings. On
this particular day, there was a parent
education meeting being held by
a woman who was writing a book on
oral deaf education, cognitive
development, and so on. As I sat and
listened to her, I came up with some
questions that I had been wanting
answers for. I assumed this woman
knew her stuff, and since we were on
the subject of cognitive development
in children after being implanted, who
better to ask?
At that time, it was apparent that
what our son was desperately in
need of was language; however, after
voicing my concern many times, they
had me believing they knew best. So,
I asked this “national level”
professional, how long a child could
go without language before cognitive
development would be affected? Be-
lieve it or not, she couldn’t answer my
question! Her answer to my question
was, “I don’t know.”
It was that day that heaven’s light
shown down and the blinders we had
been wearing were stripped away. I
was shocked! Then again, it was just
confirmation for me. My gut had told me
for some time that he needed more.
During the last few weeks
before our IEP meeting, I asked for
the teacher at the oral school to start
using signs with my son. The school
refused as they were an oral school
and couldn’t use signs in front of the
other children. The speech therapist,
who my son saw everyday for
45 minutes, chuckled when I asked
her to sign; she didn’t know ANY signs!
I began searching for a school
that would sign with my son, how-
ever, I was still unaware of American
Sign Language being a language in
itself and still unaware of how a Deaf
child acquires language. I still didn’t
know that this visual language was
what he needed. We were advised
that a total communication classroom
would be the best place for his needs
to be met; there would be signing and
talking. I started visiting total
communication classrooms and
decided that our school district’s
Deaf/Hard of Hearing classroom was
the best for him.
The Road to Enlightenment
My son spent a year in our school
district classroom. By the time he
started there, at 3½ years old, his
lack of language had affected all areas
of his development. The teacher had
very long, hard days with him and
his tantrums. Even though he had
some receptive and expressive signs,
he didn’t have language. He didn’t
socialize with the other children; he
didn’t know how. He was not able to
sit for a story during story time. He
had no understanding of his world
around him.
The teacher had other children
in the classroom with ages varying
from 3-7 years old. With a few of the
students being hard of hearing, she
felt she needed to sign to them using
more of an English word order. She
was very sensitive to my concerns
for our son and shared with me that
Jaden might need more than what
her classroom could provide. She
said that he seemed to understand
her better when she used American
Sign Language.
The teacher recommended that
Jaden be seen for a behavioral
assessment at Northern California
Diagnostic Center. I knew in my gut
that he didn’t have behavioral
issues and that it was all because of
his need for language. I decided to
research the diagnostic center and
found that it was located on the
California School for the Deaf
campus. I started to click around the
school website and contacted the
school for a tour.
A New Beginning
We were very nervous about
visiting the school. We had been told
early on that the Deaf community
would shun us and never accept
us because we implanted our son.
Also, our signing was limited, and we
weren’t sure how communication was
going to happen on this tour.
We showed up, that day, and that
one tour of the California School for
the Deaf was all it took! We saw a
light bulb go off in our little boy that
we had never seen before. He was
home—home amongst strangers. He
had the biggest smile on his face! He
joined in the classroom activity in the
preschool classroom.
The teacher was sitting with the
kids on the floor. They were playing
with a scale: putting different objects
on the balance scale, and discuss-
ing light and heavy. This was all new
to Jaden, but he was fascinated and
happy to join in the class activity.
We then went to lunch in the
cafeteria where several of the children
Jaden met tried having conversations
with him. They asked him, “What is
your name?” and, “How old are you?”
Jaden hadn’t a clue what they
were asking—or even that they were
asking him a question; he just stood
there and smiled at them. He wanted
to go from table to table and mingle
with all of the other children.
We knew, that day, that CSD
was where our son and our family
belonged. It has now been two years
that Jaden has attended CSD.
Although I was fearful leaving him in
class on his first day, my gut knew
that he was safe, and that he would
be understood there. When I say
understood, I don’t mean language-
wise, I mean that people would
understand him being Deaf—that
they would see him as a whole
human being—a smart and beautiful
little boy. All he needed was access
to an accessible language.
“CSD is the only place where
I have ever felt the assurance
that my son was understood,
quite possibly better then
we even understood him.”
Since his attendance at CSD,
the feelings of uncertainty have since
diminished and have been replaced
with ‘security’ and ‘hope.’ We have
experienced unwavering support and
an acceptance like nothing we have
ever experienced for Jaden or for our
family. And, that has come from the
Deaf community and CSD.
Mrs. D.R.
CSD Parent

Anonymous said...

I haven't been reading blogs in ages due to life being busy and getting in the way. You mention that deafread has been talking about deaf schools closing and it's timely to see that since we got an interesting note today from the director of my son's deaf school. He wrote a note home to families to assure us that our deaf school (St. Rita in Cincinnati Ohio) is NOT closing, contrary to what has been posted on various blogs on the internet. He was ticked off that people are saying something like that since it makes it even harder for him to raise money for the school. So I hope that whoever is out there listing deaf schools is doing their research and cognizant of the fact that they might be making the problem worse!

Signing Time changed our lives by the way. I can't say enough good things about Rachel Coleman and company. Spectacular series!

Anonymous said...

Interesting, Paula....

You just go on the attack, make vague slurs against my academic status and say that I'm spreading lies, when everything I said was true -- even other CI people have mentioned some of the things I have here.

But I can see that you all are determined to hold on to your "truth" despite facts staring you in the face. I'm not going to bother you anymore here -- not worth my time and aggravation.

Anonymous said...

From a hearing Mom who signs:

"Here are some suggestions: First I suggest you start by eliminating the word "deafness" from your blog subtitle. This portrays the medical state of being deaf and focuses on the ear and not the person. It is a word not very popular in many deaf circles."

Tsk, tsk, tsk.....whatever you think it's a medical word. I respectfully disagree with you. I looked up the Merriam-Webster dictionary and it states that:

deaf: adjective
1. lacking or deficient on the sense of hearing
2. unwilling to hear or listen: not to be persuaded (was overwrought and deaf to reason)

deafness (noun)

Function: noun suffix
:state:condition:quality: degree (goodness)

So, if you consider that deafness is a medical word, then, accept it. I consider the word, deafness is a "condition" word. Deafness that includes "condition" can be broad in the medical community. It can be the categories of hearing impairment which includes the quantification of hearing loss and the social impact. The medical community needs to identify this.

What about the visual impairment via blindness? The medical community needs to identify this category as well! The medical community needs to identify on cataracts, glaucoma, uveitis, age-related macalur degeneration (AMD), trachoma, corneal opacity, diabetic retinopathy and many more. Blindness considers its categories by the medical community as for instance.

Look it up in the wikipedia, Hearing impairement.

Anonymous said...

oopps! Its me, from White Ghost at 7:12 PM

White Ghost

Mike said...

DonG, you never stated any facts to begin with in regards to cochlear implants and the capability they do bring to deaf people. And provide open access to oral and auditory benefits. Real benefits I might add. Just watch those kids on YouTube talk, respond and such...without looking. Just amazing.

Bye DonG.


Anonymous said...

Don G.

Yes, you were right. CI's do have 16 or 32 channels, I don't recall which one. And yes, normal hearing people can hear way better than us. We all know that.

So no, you're not lying.

But the way you're approaching the subject seems like you're disproving the fact that the CI allows us to hear and communicate orally normally with others.

To others:

We don't NEED to learn ASL to be able to communicate. It is NOT a natural language for deaf kids. It may seem like one since that it's usually their first language.

Like, for instance, I've been speaking english ever since I was implanted at the age of 5. English seems like a natural language to me because I've been speaking it for a while. And I took spanish for four years, and even after all of that time spent on spanish, I still have to stop and think about what to say, therefore it doesn't feel "natural" for me.

Same thing with deaf people who use ASL. It may seem like their natural language because they used it first, and then if they try to learn english, it's harder.

And yes, usually deaf babies/kids/adults etc are visual, because due to the lack of one of the five senses, the result is that the other senses get heightened. So one might assume that ASL is our "natural" language, just because we were born deaf.

I don't think that kids NEED to be raised using ASL and oral english in order to bridge the gap between the two worlds.


P.S. I'm an anonymous user because I don't feel like making a profile now, to whoever demanded that anon. users shouldn't be able to post.

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow! I have got to get Jodi's blog bookmarked, whew, all those comments. And more flying in at the moment I'm typing this. Evidently your last blog touched off a major discussion, a very interesting one.

Ya know, it's taken me almost two years to get to that comment which is the premise of your newest blog on bridge-building. The actual bridge-building has been going on since a number of us came online as bloggers and commenters. We've all made contributions to a better understanding of language acquisition for deaf babies.

Double Drats ;) and Paula made some very astute comments here, but so has DonG, Li-Li's Mom, etc. Let's call off this business of who's an expert around here and concentrate on what can be done to create a package of ALL options for the hearing parents of deaf babies. Jodi's suggestions are good starters. Ya know how to take the ball and run with it, Jodi. The response has been impressive.

BTW, kudos to your dad!

Man, Jodi, that blog was enough to get you over your flu and out of that warm bed, huh? You never were one to stay in the comfort zone for very long. :)


Anonymous said...

From a hearing Mom who signs:

It's me again.....

What Jodi meant to use the word, Deafness is that she accepts everybody from hearing-loss to deaf with the respect. She will accept anybody who disagrees with her.

I thought that was a great concept.

White Ghost

Anonymous said...

Shirley said:

"The best people to discuss with on the bridge would be people that can communicate both spoken English and ASL fluency between 8 to 10 on the scale of 10. They can tell you from their heart the truth."

I would think the best people would be from all spectrum to built a bridge. So, what I'm getting here is that somehow the truth can't be from someone who doesn't know ASL? This is f**ked up.

Somehow, it isn't OK until ASL is used by every deaf people? It's like being a socialist where one is forced to adapt to something that one doesn't want to. That's messed up.

As for DonG and his supposed knowledge of CI, I know a guy who grew up oral, eventually picked up ASL, went to Gallaudet and saddles both worlds. He decided to get a C.I. in his late 30's simply because he loves music. He speaks well as it is, and when he got implanted, all he could do was to rave about it non-stop. He was telling me how he could hear notes better and how the sounds were so distinctly intense compared to a hearing aid. I asked him if it was better than HA, and he said HELL YEA! He spoke the truth, I'm sure of it.

Anonymous said...


You love to say "This is F**ked up" on all your comments.

This tells me what kind of person you are.

Anonymous said...


Don't make assumptions about other people before meeting them and knowing them personally. After all, as the saying goes:

"Assumptions make an a** out of you and me"

Now let's stop trying to find flaws in other people, and let's try to understand where they're coming from.


Anonymous said...

Shirley, all my comments has that? Hmm, I think you need to get your eyes checked. Messed up, F-Up, what have you's, it's all the same. It is what it is, just an emphasis. I apologize if it offends you. I will try not to use it when you're around. Yet, you do not know me, so please do not assume.

Anonymous said...

Li-Li's Mom's suggestion of using the Children's Hospital/Boston for a pilot study is a good one. Anybody else know of such a hospital that has initiated an ASL/ CI program in the States?

Deaf mentorship for the bilingualism option should include deaf or hearing parents of deaf children who can demonstrate the baby signs along with presenting signing videos such as SigningTimes or the online references as well. These mentors will need to know enough ASL to demonstrate signs to both the deaf child and his parents up to a certain age, perhaps up to five years of age, the age when a child reaches kindergarten and has already taken a preference for a certain communication mode, be it ASL or variants like PSE, TC, etc OR spoken English(cued, AVT, etc).

Again, these are just suggestions.

I also agree with Dianrez in that the emotional, irrational hype or criticism of one communication mode over another has to stay out of this package of ALL options. My thinking is along the lines of "whatever works best" for the deaf child. Every deaf child is different when it comes to how he communicates, and each one of them is unique enough with much potential. It's up to the parents and the deaf community to assure early language acquisition so that potential will shine thru in each and every deaf child.


Anonymous said...


Deaf mentorship in one state that I am aware of consists of pairing up a deaf person with the hearing parent and the deaf baby. The parents are given information via pamphlets, handouts, DVDs, etc and a lot of Q & A, etc. Mentors do not encourage or lean to one side or another (at least they are not supposed to) and if the parent decides to go the oral route or C.I., the mentor provide resources to the person and backs off. If the parent prefers ASL route then the mentor stays with the family for as long as the family wants them around. That's how it was explained to me.

There definitely has to be a contact point in the hospitals for parents of newly diagnosed deaf babies that is neutral and provides ALL information.

Anonymous said...

Shirley --

If you don't like someone who use the words, F-up, don't let someone upset you. You need to ignore someone who use the word, F-up. It is simple as it is. Your'e adult.

I've seen people to use the f-up towards me, it does not upset me at all. I do not tell them what to do.

This is America.

White Ghost

Anonymous said...

From a Hearing Mom that Signs:

I too am a very active advocate and do plenty of work outside of wasting my time writing on your blog. So just letting you know that I do much more "walking the talk" than "talking the talk". But I do this hand in hand with the Deaf Community instead of how some do it by Leading the way without the Deaf community in hand. Some day, your child will be part the Deaf Community, if you allow him.

I will stand by my comments:

1. Deaf babies regardless if they are getting a CI, hearing aid, or other TOOL have a right to their visual language ASL just like they have a right to access the English language--written and spoken if desired. (or whatever signed or spoken language of their country.

2. Sign Language is completely accessible and 100% natural for all Deaf babies if they are provided with language role models. And yes hearing parents learning sign can be language role models even if it is not their first language. There are ways to find sources of fluent role models. (For the person that wrote that they couldn't find a Deaf mentor, please don't stop looking. Check with the Deaf School in your state.)

3. Hearing Parents can learn to sign right along with their Deaf babies. There is early intervention programs that are required to provide training, support, and mentorship for parents to learn sign language and to provide language to their children.
The time it takes to get all the information about CI's, mapping, AVT is a lot more time than is involved in learning to sign with your baby. There is NO comparison. It all comes down to is parents and their motivation to learn their child's language instead of making their child try to learn their language (maybe it will happen,,maybe it will not).

4. Not all Deaf children can be successful orally. Waiting to provide sign language to Deaf children is a gamble and should not be considered an option. There is nothing lost by providing sign language to a Deaf child regardless if the other approach is an oral focus.

5. There is absolutely NO research that shows that ASL inhibits a persons ability to learn to speak. In fact, research has proven over and over that sign language (ASL or whatever countries sign language) benefits Deaf children and their abilities to be literate and acquire spoken language if they have the desire and motivation. (Mayberry, 1989; Strong & Prinz, 1997; Hoffmester, 2000, Padden & Ramsey, 2000; Kuntze, 2004).

Sign Language learned after speech will not affect how often a child uses their voices. (Marschark, 2007)

6. Deaf people have all different audiograms and abilities to use their residual hearing if they so desire and are motivated. However, there are plenty of Deaf people who do not have the ability or the desire to acquire speech and are visually oriented. Rather than make a choice for them as a baby, why not let them help point out the way. There is absolutely no harm done by providing a Deaf child the opportunity to have access to ASL and other tools for learning English written and spoken. This is bilingualism.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous regarding your comment about "deafness" think of "deafness" as a condition. Did you know that AGBell looked at it as a condition too? AGBell stated that Deaf people should not marry each other, should not be exposed to other Deaf people, and should not be educated by Deaf people who sign. His goal was to oralize the "condition" of being deaf.

It was the "condition" thst he dedicated his life to eliminate. This is called "eugenics". In search of a perfect species.

Currently, the medical profession is seeking this same thing. They continue to use the terms "hearing loss" and "deafness" even when the Deaf Community is screaming for this to stop. Even when the Deaf Community is asking for ASL to be respected and Deaf people to be left alone.

There is a fine line between medicine and ethics and morality.

What you view as a condition, the Deaf Community views as their life, their language and their culture.

David said...

From a Hearing Mom that Signs

You got it all. Thanks for straightening them out...


Anonymous said...

Hearing Mom that Signs, it's quite mind boggling when I see someone say something that totally contridicts the truth. If you knew Jodi by reading her blog, you'll know she has done a LOT beyond just blogging.

Bottom line here, do you respect what a very well informed parent chooses?

Jodi does not go after parents who choose ASL and tries to convince them that C.I. and AVT is the way to go. Yet, you're doing exactly that, not respecting her choice or respecting her avenue of advocacy work.

How much of Jodi's blog have you read? Please read it all.

cj said...

Hearing Mom That Signs,

What do you mean by this quote:

"Some day, your child will be part the Deaf Community, if you allow him."

I know that wasn't addressed towards me, but what exactly do you have to do to be part of the "Deaf Community"? I thought that being born deaf was instant membership.

And you're making it seem like Jodie has a grudge against the "Deaf Community", whatever that is. Now, I haven't read her blogs except for the last two ones posted, but maybe she wants her kid to take a different path in life, like my parents did for me.

Anonymous said...

Uh, "From Hearing Mom who Signs", Jodi has done plenty of "walking the talk" in a country that has virtually nothing in the way of deaf advocacy, that is, Italy.

I do wish people would do some reading of a blog's archives or read an unfamiliar blog for several days before jumping into the comment section. *sigh*

Taking a hard line about sign language being the deaf child's RIGHT versus an OPTION is creating more division. Right now the bilingualism option needs to get its toe in the damn door. Got my drift?


Anonymous said...


I've seen how you write over the years and really you are all talk.

This parent that signs, probably knows so much and maybe did a lot of advocating over the years working hard for these Deaf children.

Candy, you are very misguided that like to talk the talk, nothing productive in the community at all to help others. Just who are you?

Anonymous said...


And just who are you, Mike?

Let's knock off this criticism and stay focused on some solutions here, 'kay?


Anonymous said...

Oh gosh, this is gonna be a long it goes!
I have to concur with comments made by the Hearing Mom That Signs…. I know that the deaf community are not saying that every parent must go the way of ASL but to at least learn and use ASL while exploring options and searching for best possible route for their child. After all…hearing parents are signing to their hearing children to encourage or stimulate language/communication before their child can begin to speak so why not do the same to babies who have been diagnosed with hearing loss at the onset. I don’t get it….why parents would want to delay a second or a minute not to communicate with their deaf baby and I don’t mean ASL….but at least learn some signs at the onset and parents will pick up ASL. When I say ASL I mean sign language! I used to say that it is hard for parents to learn ASL when they live far from where there are deaf community, or school/universities that offer sign language or deaf schools but nowdays…they can go on-line and learn sign language or buy books and videotapes. When there is a will…there is a way! Problem…..medical doctors, speech therapist, audiologist do not advocate enough and do not encourage parents to learn to sign with their babies. Sure, early intervention is important but not every state or cities have good early intervention programs. Not every hospital will provide information….I know for a fact that it took the National Association of the Deaf many years to make it a state law that hospital provide newborn hearing screening…let alone that hospitals should also provide materials and referrals. Many do not refer parents to visit schools for the deaf that have early intervention programs. Lilli’s Mom….what a lucky girl they have…she’s sooo lucky to have wonderful parents that are open minded, willing to search and drive hours to get their girl into a fantastic program at Learning Center in Framingham, Mass. I know that school and they have a wonderful program…just as there are in other states. One has to either move or just get lucky to live nearby one. But again, parents should not stop at that. They can get help and support…they’re gonna have to be agressive about it and do what they can. This blog is getting a bit too much for me because it’s personal. I have to say that when I first blogged with Jodi I was enthusiastic that she was willing to learn Italian Sign Language (ISL)…and asked me for resources. I gave her a lot of information and leads but to date…she has yet to contact people I recommended her to get in touch with or learn ISL. I’m sure she had good intentions and perhaps now does not find a need to learn or know ISL. Am I disappointed...yeah, sure...she's just another person who has good intentions but does not have a need to learn ISL. I couldn’t comment on cochlear implant because I don’t know much about it but I surely can tell you that digital hearing aids are horrible and they don’t work for me while conventional hearing aid does the job for me. I could only comment on those children who had cochlear implant and had not succeeded in speech or hearing recognition….then got dumped to deaf schools after years of failure in mainstreamed school. By then…it was late for many of those children to develop language skills. I saw so many comments here today that are misrepresented in many ways…it’s hard not to take offense. So I’ll just stop here. Jodi, you have a big heart and good intentions. Your blogs encourage parents to see both sides and to ask more questions.
-Sharon (aka Divided)

Anonymous said...

ummm, some of you might wonder why I used to sign my name "Divided". I am born to 2nd generation deaf family and I am hard of hearing but consider myself deaf. ASL is my first language...I did not talk until I was 3 years old. I can speak well and talk on the phone with anyone. I went to deaf school and to hearing school. I live between 2 husband is also deaf (he's really hard of hearing too). We use ASL and also we talk ...depending on our mood. There are many days that go by when I don't wear my hearing's nice and quiet! I can hear at 50db without my aid. We have hearing friends and many deaf friends. We feel enriched by being able to interact with both worlds but our world is deaf. It's "home" for us.


Anonymous said...


This parent that signs probably did all that you said she did. I did not question that did I? I questioned her assuming things about Jodi which totally contradicts the truth. The truth is that Jodi does not go around bashing ASL, she looked into learning Italian sign language and she did a post or two about Rachel Coleman.

Mike, why does it matter who I am? This post isn't about me, is it?

It's about builting bridge and apparently we have some gung-ho that does not understand a fundamental right that every parent has when it comes to making decisions about their child. Granted, I can see where some people might be upset if a parent wasn't well informed. Jodi is and many others are just as well informed too.

cj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Not going to belabor the obvious here but is there anyone here who doesn't think that 'Hearing Mom who Signs' is actually Barbara DiGiovanni?

cj said...


I figured, haha.

That's pretty neat that you live in both worlds.

I was brought up differently. Believe it or not, I actually signed ASL with my parents until I was four or five years old, I keep forgetting. And then I got the CI and started going to AVT, and ever since then, I erased ASL from my memory. So I could say that I was bilingual at one time, but decided to choose oral over ASL.

Which brings the idea that maybe introducing oral and ASL to a young child at the same time isn't such a bad idea after all, and then the kid could choose whatever is most comfortable for them.

I mean, I dont know. I'm just throwing stuff out there.

*Sorry. I had a misspelling in my first comment post, and it was bothering me so I deleted it and fixed it.

Anonymous said...

I suggest that you have Hands and Voices contact NAD and see what they can do together. Often times, these 2 very separate organizations do their own thing....imagine what they could be doing together? That would be a start.

cj said...

Yeah that wouldn't be a bad idea. As long as they don't try to force feed the baby/child to go in the direction that they want the him/her to go, then it would be a good program. After all, we're all about "freedom" and "choices."

Anonymous said...

Each of us have our own journey that shapes us to who we are today. I am probably much more like Sharon, with 65 db and ASL was my first language, yet, I understand parental's fundamental rights simply because as a parent, I know better just as many of us do that most parents actually do their homework when it involves their child.

And like cj, I don't think it hurts to introduce ASL, but, it is NOT our call to constantly harp on that to the same individuals who has already heard the same song time and time again. Com'on where's the respect and support for parent's decisions on this matter?

Anonymous said...

yes, that's never a bad idea to learn sign language and speech at the same time. As long as the emphasis is not on one but rather, to focus on whichever one the child does better. Like you....after you got your CI you dropped ASL. Your parents were hearing (?) and they also dropped ASL with you as you progressed positively with your CI. Naturally, that's fine. The point here is to begin communicating with the child from day 1...using facial gestures and adding simple words like mommy, daddy, milk, poo poo, potty, eat, play, cow, eyes, ...then add sentences and so on. Like Christian in LiveLaughLife gosh, how hard can that be?? Anyway, you get the point.
You said...let the kid choose whatever is most comfortable for them...well, also, whatever they are able to succeed with. Some succeed with speech, AVT, CI, hearing aid users...whatever. And if not...then they already have a good basis for communication and learning language, etc. What can go wrong with that?
ok, it's getting close to midnight and I'm hitting the sack but will check again tomorrow am. good night ya'all. :)

Anonymous said...

yes, that's never a bad idea to learn sign language and speech at the same time. As long as the emphasis is not on one but rather, to focus on whichever one the child does better. Like you....after you got your CI you dropped ASL. Your parents were hearing (?) and they also dropped ASL with you as you progressed positively with your CI. Naturally, that's fine. The point here is to begin communicating with the child from day 1...using facial gestures and adding simple words like mommy, daddy, milk, poo poo, potty, eat, play, cow, eyes, ...then add sentences and so on. Like Christian in LiveLaughLife gosh, how hard can that be?? Anyway, you get the point.
You said...let the kid choose whatever is most comfortable for them...well, also, whatever they are able to succeed with. Some succeed with speech, AVT, CI, hearing aid users...whatever. And if not...then they already have a good basis for communication and learning language, etc. What can go wrong with that?
ok, it's getting close to midnight and I'm hitting the sack but will check again tomorrow am. good night ya'all. :)

Anonymous said...

I would like you all to know that several medical professionals have told my parents that they should learn ASL and teach me back when I was an infant when I didn't have a cochlear implant, but that doesn't mean that my parents should have listened to the professionals. It's really ultimately the parents' choice, and thus, as I said, my parents did the research themselves and listened to their own instincts, and they just personally felt that it wasn't the right choice for us to use ASL. Today, I'm doing perfectly well without the knowledge of sign language, and this is just my own personal experience. Again, the parents should have the right to choose. There are plenty of deaf children who are doing perfectly well without any knowledge of ASL. My parents taught me to read lips from the time when they found out about my deafness until shortly after I received my cochlear implant. Prior to my receiving a cochlear implant, I was able to understand about 100 words through lip reading.

cj said...

Yeah, even parents who having hearing kids introduce signing before the baby even speaks. I think you might have been the one that mentioned that, but that was even displayed in the movie "Meet the Fockers." It seems like it's becoming a "new" thing for new parents.
And my parents were hearing. I'm first generation of deafness in my family, so it's interesting.

Have a good night!

cj said...


My parents were the same way. When they found out that I was born deaf, they didn't have any good resources where they were located, so they stuck with ASL for four years until they found someone with knowledge of the CI. They decided to go in that direction and take me to AVT every week, because they wanted me to live the "oral" life, and I felt comfortable doing it that way. So evidently, I dropped ASL all together, and I currently have no memories of using it.
And lip reading is one of my talents, haha. I love watching football games and being able to "read" what the coaches are saying, so that I can "predict" what play they're going to do next, and then I'll get it right and my friends will be like "Omg, you're a football genius!"
Although I don't need lip reading anymore, I tend to go back to it every now and then without realizing it.

Anonymous said...


Show your full name, you huge

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, if you choose to be anonymous, then MB has the right to post herself as MB.

Cj, wow! That's cool that you can read football player's lips. I'm not the greatest lipreader as I've been relying more on hearing since I received my cochlear implant. Although, when my implant failed a few years ago, my lip reading skills improved tremendously as I had to rely on it more often. Like, you, I'll use my lipreading skills when I need to such as if I'm in the pool with friends.

Anonymous said...


You illustrate what can happen with a deaf baby in a hearing family who started with signs and the child eventually graduated to spoken English, dropping the signs, by the time he reached school age. Your parents made sure you had some kind of language to learn while trying other options, kudos to them for trying "whatever works". Their timing could not have been better.

This is why early intervention with language is paramount for a deaf baby between 0 to 3 years of age, when the baby's brain is at its most plastic stage like a sponge and can retain language for far longer than a older child's brain can.

As for sign language in the form of baby signs, this should be presented as an OPTION, not a deaf child's right. Hearing parents need assurance that this option is one of several options they can use with their child to see what their deaf child will learn. Present sign language as a deaf child's right and you're gonna see a lot of resistance among hearing parents to utilize baby signs. Need to understand where hearing parents are coming from, yes, their hearing culture, like it or not.

This is NOT an us (d/Deaf community) vs. them (parents) thing, don't make it antagonistic. The parents have got their hands full enough as it is, there's no need to trip them over and over with that guilt trip business.


Anonymous said...

Anytime, I want to feel put down, devalued as a human being, or reduced to the status of a robot, I read posts like this, where communication tools, approaches, methods, et al, are discussed ad infinitum.

I come way feeling dirty and used.

Anonymous said...

And so Jodi, since you write this post, how do u propose we build bridges? Signers take classes in AVT? Learn to queque? Get implants? Learnt to speak? How?

The divide is as wide as ever, and it is due to the frigging whatever method works best for your child approach. The differentiation in methodolgy is what contributes to the signing vs oral divide.

As for respecting orgs. such as AG Bell, I would rather slash my wrists first.

The only way we will ever unite, is to start embracing the visual aspect of our deafness. Regardless, whether you prefer to speak, queque or whatever yr favourite oral/ tech method is....

There will be exceptions, where u will be the only deafie, but in general.

Also, we gotta stop worshiping the Golden Calf!

Anonymous said...

Great Blog and proposals Jodi!
I can't add anything that others haven't already said.

Right on! The antagonism must stop.

Unknown said...

I have a lot to say and no time right now. I'll be back to comment and post. Sharon- I sent the blog to Leeanne at Hands and Voices to get her opinion on um...anything. And, you are correct, I have had nothing come through in the way of LIS- (I did contact the people you and Julie suggested) you can't even imagine what the past year has been like, but now that work is getting organized and I am establishing roots- you can be sure that it is in the near future- once again, I appreciate your assistance.

I can't remember who it was that started attacking me saying will I shove AVT down people's throats...I really don't think I even mentioned my desire to promote AVT in this post. It was my intention to try to find a way to incorporate sign based on the fact that most medical professionals do not provide such info (based on what people have been saying- as you know I'm in Italy)
Hearing Mom- I don't think you get me or what I'm about, but I find your comments interesting and the information objectively presented, so by all means keep "wasting your time" on my blog.
Candy- I love all language, bad- good, as long as it is expressive and sincere. are.

The point of my blog was to focus on Communication- not methodologies...because like the gentleman who posted a novel about his son (thank you for that)- I, too, experienced the frustration and temper tantrums with Jordan until his surgery and success with the ci. This is why I'm interested in figuring out a way to make visual communication a possibility from the start- in a way that will not scare parents.
Thank you Kim and Ann...(White Ghost- you rock:))
PS. I'll be back...

Karen Mayes said...

Wow, the comments are intense. Shucks I missed the action ;o) So I am jumping in a little too late.

Good blog... what it still comes down is that the parents do research and make the decisions and they (we) still change the decisions to ensure to help children to make the most of the opportunities (socially, medically, academically, etc.... and I am not talking about deaf children. I am talking about hearing children also.) AND we (all parents) are still learning from rights and wrongs.

I want to share one thing that might have no relations to Jodi's blog, but as a parent making the decision. My deaf daughter was attending a Bi Bi Deaf school and was doing very well. She started showing her curiousity about hearing world, having watched her older brother doing academically well in the mainstreaming. She started asking to go mainstreaming. I said no, but I then learned that I'd need to do the research to see if it would be a good idea to pull her out of the Bi Bi school, etc., so we visited a local elementary school, discussed with a few Deaf parents who pulled their Deaf child/children out of the Bi Bi school, etc. She was in 2nd grade when we went ahead and pulled her out of the Deaf school into the mainstreaming and she is LOVING it! I am aware that things could change in the next few years and my hubby and I are very willing to listen to her needs, ready to rectify the decisions, send her back to Bi Bi school if needed, etc. But I learned from one wise supervising teacher... FOLLOW YOUR CHILD'S LEAD.

No Deaf/HH children are the same... they are all different, with unique needs, ASL or not.

Karen Mayes said...

ASL has not and still does not come naturally to my son, even though he is constantly exposed to ASL since he attends the Bi Bi Deaf school in the afternoons (he attends a local middle school for academic core classes.. humanities, math, and science.) He does not have any interpreters and he has only CART and from what his teachers tell me, he understands the classes easily, being an honor roll student, he recently recited a poem in front of the class and got points for it, having confidence in his ability to speak. And he does not have a CI, but he has said a few times that if his hearing aids no longer function, he'd choose the CI avenue.

I know it is hard for the Deaf activists to believe... but I have seen several kids like my son and their parents have made it clear to them that they are OK as the way they are.

Karen Mayes said...

I want to say something. As a few of you might have noticed, I like the idea of having Deaf schools even though my children are mainstreamed. When I attended a budget meeting a few days ago, the superintendent admitted that the Bi Bi Deaf school could become LESS insular, or there'd be serious problems. WE need to focus on outreaching to the Deaf/HH children all over the state, etc. It means including Deaf/HH children even though their first language might not be ASL. Start building bridges... BUT don't force ASL down the parents' throats... you can bring the horse to water, but can't force it to drink the water unless the horse wants to.

Anonymous said...

Rachel 12:42 AM, Feb 7th,

You can't be perfect if you hear what people said things in 100 percent.

My hearing daughter had a difficult time hearing the person's voice over the phone. The person had a thick voice that my daughter could not hear the sound pretty well.

How could you tell if the person has a thick voice, Rachel?

Anonymous, Feb 6th, 9:46 PM,

Sorry to know that you made a way of the off-point. I am not talking about the AG Bell's saga. All I am talking about the medical conditions from the medical professionals and the community. You need to get yourself checked in the wikipedia on hearing impairment.

White Ghost

Anonymous said...

Rachel….when a person loses one of their six senses then something else takes over “naturally” most of the time. Lip reading comes almost naturally to many people who lose their hearing without ever realizing that they are lipreading. Some become better at lipreading than others. It’s a great tool and obviously you’ve become good at it. My husband depends on lipreading more than I do and I tell hearing people to be sure to face him….but for him that’s effort he does not want….it’s work work work and then before you know it 2 of our neighbors come over to our garage and starts chatting away then my husband is lost on them not knowing what they’re talking about. He prefers hanging out with our deaf friends. My husband has about a 70db hearing loss and does not hear in the high frequency at all. Just giving you a glimpse of our world. :-)

Hearing Mom…has made several good points. She came out rather strong though but she is right in many areas. There are parents who just DON’T GET IT! And there are parents and children that cannot and will not master ASL. So, what do we do…we can’t solve all problems because that will remain to be…unfortunately!! It’s what the world is made up of….some people just won’t open their eyes, ears and heart and do what their child wants best. I say this because I know and have met and seen children with CI that have failed miserably only because their parents are not willing to budge (as such with one parent right now at a mainstreamed school where my daughter works) and refuses to acknowledge their son cannot succeed with AVT and speech…he got his CI few years back and he is about 10 years old. He truly belongs in a deaf school but this parent refuses to place him there. Parents cannot accept their child is DEAF. This kid is failing miserably academically and socially. He is just not a happy kid except when he is around my daughter who signs fluently. So, what can we do….nothing…a big nothing because we have to “respect” this parent’s decision. Things like this drives a wedge between us and stubborn parents who refuses to see the “light”. Duh……duh…..sigh!

Nevertheless, we need to continue to work together and find ways to educate and teach parents to embrace sign language at the onset….while they learn what they can, as much as they can. They can see the child they have and how they are developing. Parents need to relax and enjoy and embrace the new experience they’re having with their children and SIGN LANGUAGE will do that during the child’s first year. My suggestion here is to encourage parents to welcome sign language and then worry about the rest later on. ENJOY the new born and have fun signing. Unfortunately, this ideal situation is for naught in many places all over the world….unless one lives close by school for the deaf that has positive attitude (not all schools are cut from the same cloth either…). Indiana has a great bi-bi program. Italy has a long long way to go….but not sure how they’re doing since I know this one deaf family (husband from USA and wife from Italy have 2 deaf children fluent in 4 languages….yes 4! English/ASL & Italian/ISL. They’re struggling with having to make decisions where their children where they will be educated—in USA or Italy.

Ok, gotta go exercise and get fit! Cheers……Sharon

Anonymous said...

Here's a few things I found on the internet from my good friend, Dr. Irene Leigh and her research/books.'CI%20&%20Mainstreaming'.ppt#257,7,Burning Research Questions…,M1

Here's one written by Karen Putz:

No easy answer!! Happy reading...


Anonymous said...

"Communication- not methodologies...because like the gentleman who posted a novel about his son (thank you for that)- I, too, experienced the frustration and temper tantrums with Jordan until his surgery and success with the ci. This is why I'm interested in figuring out a way to make visual communication a possibility from the start- in a way that will not scare parents."

Jodi, I don't know if I'm perceiving your comment correctly or not, but it sounds like you'd rather encourage parents using sign language from the start rather than letting parents have the right to choose what's best for their children. From my understanding, Jordan didn't receive his cochlear implant until eight years old. My take on this is that why don't we advocate that we provide children with the best possible quality of hearing as early as possible. For example, why don't we encourage early implantation? Nowadays, it is the norm to implant children as young as six months to 10 months so that they can go ahead and get started in learning to hear and to listen.

Oliver K. is an example of someone who benefited greatly from early implantation. He received his first implant at the age of 6 months and then his second implant at the age of 11 months and is almost three years old and is already speaking in complete sentences. Here is a video clip - which shows Oliver at the age of two years old and him talking, hearing, and communicating with his mother without any issues.

Anonymous said...

I might have misunderstood, but I think Jodi's proposal isn't to push ASL (or AVT) but to put an unbiased menu of all communication/language options and available approaches in front of parents of deaf children looking for information and direction (and in front of the various service providers supporting them). And then allow the fully informed family to decide which fits best in their child's life.

So, I don't think we'd want these objective 'first contacts' to be biased or to encourage one approach over another.

Mike said...

Exactly, information on hearing loss, language development and communication methods ought to be presented to parents of deaf/hh children in a neutral manner. This is exactly what Amy Cohen tried to suggest when it came to presenting information about ASL and not have any political attachments to it of which an another organization tried (and continues to) to do along with protests by supporters and so forth. It just gets ugly that way. Amy's approach would be far more effective on reaching out to parents so they can make an informed decision. The same goes with cochlear implants, AVT, oral-auditory approaches, communication methods, cued speech, hearing aids, support groups and so on. Politicizing it with selfish self-serving interest is not the answer.


Karen Mayes said...

t is bemusing to observe anyone calling for "unbiased" information and yet one throws in ASL or AVT or cued speech, whateva, urging it is the way to go... making it biased.

Like several people above, the final decision still rests with the parents or guardians and the information should be as much as unbiased without pushing ASL, cued speech, CI, etc...not easy task since like Mike said, the groups have their self interests. Sooo... *shrug*.

Anonymous said...

Rachel says... "why don't we advocate that we provide children with the best possible quality of hearing as early as possible. For example, why don't we encourage early implantation? Nowadays, it is the norm to implant children as young as six months to 10 months so that they can go ahead and get started in learning to hear and to listen."...
In the meantime, while the baby is from 1 day old til 6 months or whenever he/she is implanted...what kind of communication method do you propose? I'm curious to know.

Having said that... Rachel's suggestion made me shrug my head and turned one corner of my mouth up and the other down...a bit.


Unknown said...

It takes longer to scroll than to leave a comment.
First of all, thank you Li-Li's Mom, you win the prize for understanding my point- so nice to be understood.
I am starting to deal with parents, I am involved with the psychological aspects and I'm still dealing with my own psychological baggage at the same time lol. McConnell (.) I agree with you as well. I am not interested in debating communication methodologies, I'm interested in the best way to provide unbiased information for the well-being of the families who are lost in the beginning. Then, they can see what works best for them..
Just like Karen Mayes said, they will lead the way, it is our job as parents to listen.
I'm still thinking of what to post- Ann C. I've left the comfort zone.
Hugs to all, it's freakin' pouring here and Brie ate Jordan's earmold- need I say more!!!

Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

Jodi, how about a central clearing house that provides all kinds of information for parents of a deaf/hh child? An organization that holds no bias or prejudice. Have no conflict of interest other than to provide the fullest information to hearing parents so they can make a properly informed decision. An organization that do not accept money from pro-Deaf organizations, pro-CI organizations, or hearing aid or CI companies and so forth and not create an appearance of impropriety and conflict of interest?

Anonymous said...

White Ghost,

I just realized that I have not answered your question. First of all, where did I say that I can be perfect if I hear 100 percent? I never said that my hearing is 100 percent perfect, but according to my booth tests, I do hear almost like a person who hears normally. I may miss a few words if I'm having a conversation with someone in a background noise situation or if someone is whispering to me . Yes, there are some people who have thick accent who I have had trouble understanding, but usually, if I continue to communicate with this person, my understanding of their thick accents improve. For example, I had a professor two years ago who was from New Zealand, and I first struggled to understand her thick accent. As the quarter went by, my understanding the professor improved, and by the end of the quarter, I had no trouble understanding her. I think it's a matter of needing to take time to practice. I can tell if the person has a thick voice if he/she speaks with an accent that sounds very different from what I'm used to hearing. The pronounciation would just sound different.

Anonymous said...


I have some concerns about your proposal. It seems that your proposal is about promoting sign language rather than unbaised information since you said that you want to promote Signing Time and ask Rachel Coleman to help out. If you're going to promote Signing Time, may I suggest that you also promote videos that also show AVT, AO, and Cued Speech so that the information is presented in an unbaised manner?

Sharon, I'll get back to you on your question - I sent an e-mail to a few parents asking them how they handled the communication prior to their children's implantation before six months to one year old. I can only speak from my personal experience, which worked well for me personally, which was lipreading.

Anonymous said...

It's not just about providing information about services, but also about providing information about services available where the parents live. Some parents are lucky to be able to move to an area that provides the services they choose, but some parents are not in that situation and have to deal with what is available to them in their current location.

Also, ASL is NOT easy to learn and takes a huge commitment and then the parents are trying to give their child a strong language base in a language where they are far from fluent. NOT an ideal choice. Children need fluency in their first language, not a few signs here and there. When my son attended a BiBi school, I went to sign language classes about three times a week. We always had to go at the pace of the slowest signer in the class and depending on who showed up, it was usually a basic, let's learn a few more nouns, stage. It was very frustrating and if I hadn't had good support from some Deaf friends, I would never have learned to sign.

My daughter is currently attending an IPP program (interpreter for the Deaf) and to get into the program, she had to demonstrate fluency in ASL 1 and ASL 2, at 80% or better, and for ASL 3, she had classes 5 days a week. Now, in ASL 4, it isn't as intense, but still 3 days a week. This is a commitment that a parent can rarely make, especially if they are also employed outside the home. AND it costs money! She has excellent ASL skills but is still not at the stage where she could use these skills to impart a first language to a deaf baby.

If, after so many classes, her skills are not fluent enough (and even after she graduates, she will continue to learn and grow her ASL skills) how can we expect hearing parents with NO knowledge of ASL to learn enough to be an adequate language model. Many parents choose to implant their babies so they can speak to them, in their native language, (not just English), so the child gets a strong language base in a first language.

These choices are NOT easy. Hearing parents of deaf babies do NOT make these choices lightly, and to have members of the Deaf community vilify us continuously for these choices makes it even harder.

I will say this, what ever choice you make, as a parent of a deaf child, be watchful, educate yourself, know what the expectations are, and if something you have chosen to do does not appear to be working, give something else a try too. The only way we can fail our deaf children is if we choose to do nothing.


Anonymous said...

I know Jane Fernandes and she signs in ASL perfectly well. She told the media she knows how to sign ASL and she does. This nit-picking at her sign only solidifies the "not deaf enough" tactic against her and the belief that a certain core of the Deaf Culture is holding on to a narrowly defined way of life as the only acceptable way to be Deaf.

Anonymous said...

I know Jane Fernandes too, she's not a bad signer! We never said that she was a lousy signer but she sure was a lousy administrator at Gallaudet. She was not capable to come across the board for every student from diverse degree of hearing loss. She made quite few poor choices and decisions when she was an administrator and lead Gallaudet in the wrong direction...see what happened, they lost accrediation for a while after she left and it was found that the administration fixed numbers here and there. I've experienced that, first hand. We never said she shouldn't be president because she was not an effective ASL signer...that comment from some student got taken out of context and the media ran with it!


Anonymous said...

Li-Li's Mom's and OM's posts reflect what I've been thinking, too, Jodi. I certainly hope that along with the emphasis on early intervention that something will be said about going to another option if the first option the parents chose isn't working well. Thank goodness there are a lot of options out there today, as opposed to the limited options parents faced 30 to 50 years before.

Sharon, unfortunately there will always be some parents who don't get the "whole child" picture. :(

Rachel, the CI and AVT is one of the options in this package. It, too, will be presented along with baby signs as another option. It is just that sign language as an option has for too long been left out.

And lastly, these options need to be presented in what Amy and Mike describe in a "neutral manner" without all the politicizing, because that by itself is polarizing. And parents don't need that crap, they need all the help they can get. As I said earlier, this options package is NOT an "us vs. them" thing.


Anonymous said...

The protest is what led to Gallaudet's loss of accreditation! Gallaudet was accredited, had received commendations and was doing fine until the protestors took hold. Post-FSSA, the enrollment is below 800 undergraduates, graduate student enrollment is still down and donations and funding are threatened.

Jane Fernandes has a prestigious administrative job now. How did she get that great job if she is "lousy," as you say? She works quite well with a great diversity of people as long as I have known her.

Unknown said...

We (USA, Italy, Australia, Great Britain, South Africa)are currently working on establishing the GPOD: Global Coalition of Parents of Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. This organization is not affiliated with any companies, we are working to create it for the purpose of providing parents worldwide with the necessary resources to empower them in raising their child and interacting with health professionals. We are working to establish systemic protocols so that health professionals meet those needs in an objective and informative manner.
I spoke of this a while back and we have been working....I'll keep you posted.

Anonymous said...

Ann_C: I don't understand how the options are not loaded politically and every other way. If you teach your deaf child ASL, he or she will be expected to join a marginalized Deaf Culture where he or she will always be found "not good enough" to measure up to purist Deaf standards. On the other hand, if you use CIs and AVT, your child, if those things work, may be an accepted member of the greater world. Lots of deaf people with CIs, who grew up with AVT and/or Cued Speech, are doing just fine with hearing people. Interviews with deaf people who grew up with CIs and therapy are positive for socialization -- while ASL Deaf people generally feel cut off from hearing people.

To me, the choices are stark.


Anonymous said...

OM, Taking courses and learning signs through an interpreter program is way deeper than just learning ASL for every day conversation. Deaf people for the most part do not think about syntax or sign order, etc.


I do like Mike McConnell's suggestion regarding clearing house full of unbiased information. Totally agree about not getting chummy with any aspects of any organizations. I would love to see something like that popping up where we all can refer it to every parent.

I'm hopeful. This clearing house is THE best shot! So, how does one get it going off the ground? How does one get funding to get it going, if one wants it to remain unbiased without getting contributions from any organizations?

It's a beeeauuutiful day out!! I'm outta here.

Anonymous said...

Rachel….you are a dear and I know you are thankful for the decisions your parents made for you. You were born with certain hearing loss and you were lucky that the CI worked well for you. Your parents were devoted to making sure you learned, were understood and could understand communication using lipreading and whatever else worked. Asking what other parents did with their child the first few months does not answer the underlying question ….that there needs to be complete & unbiased information regarding choices what parents can do for their child. Each child is born with various degree of hearing loss and various degree of speech ability. One needs to take time to process the whole thing. Medical is a WONDERFUL technology these days and I am grateful but I would not put 100 percent faith in technology…it can fail. I would hesitate to implant a very young baby when we really don’t know whether the baby will benefit. There have been scores of other babies and children who did not succeed. I do agree early implantation makes sense…but why rush and take risks. There are so much unknown stuff out there that are still questionable. There are no guarantees. Fit the baby with a hearing aid…take time to do what you can to learn basic sign language
(….I taught sign language and parents with motivation will learn little at a time with patience…yes, this will be harder for those who live in the boondocks and there are no deaf services around ….I’m not at all impressed with what I see in regard to deaf community or services where I live)…so parents will do what they have to do. Easy out is to fit baby with CI and hope for miracles….whoa, not so fast. Find out, learn more and take time to enjoy while researching. I didn’t talk til I was 3 years old…that didn’t stop me from learning speech and I have perfect speech…but then again, I only have a 50-55 db hearing loss. I’m one of the lucky ones!!
We can all go on with our experiences….bottom line is let’s give parents the feeling that they don’t need to rush with their decision…take time, learn to sign, speak and sign to your newborn baby….use facial gestures, learn about options, talk with others, reach out. The world is not black and white…there’s so much grey out there….so much unknown.

I don’t know what the answer is…but let’s see if HLA and NAD can get together and agree to work together for a common goal….that is to give parents information. GPOD…hummmm….nice!’ll include people of all spectrum, I’m sure. Clearing house…I believe we had that at one time at MSSD….wonder if they still have it. See, parents and doctors and audiologist will need to know where to look. That’s the problem. I’ll stop and go make myself a nice drink of iced tea…it is 70 outside!! Yippeeee, we’re thawing out!


Anonymous said...

Just found this at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center...again, one would have to know where to look.


Mike said...

Um, Sharon, in my May 7, 2006 Kokonut Pundits blog a very well known Gally alumnus produced a 3rd video installment called "Unity" where he used an old video tape of I. King Jordan at the time of DPN in order to purposely use him as an example of how IKJ signed and basically mocked IKJ's signing ability in PSE where he talked and signed at the same time and used that to introduce an old ASL sign "double standard" in his video. Then in the next clip at the end it showed a very fluid style of ASL of Greg Hlibok's. This was done to purposely point outthe contrast in signing styles between IKJ's (i.e. linking it to JKF's similar signing skill and style) to that of Greg's as being better. This was all done during the protest period of 2006. Needless to say, this person yanked that video out real quickly in order to save face.

And then we had Bridgetta in that same vlog/blogsite in a signed video installment who went on record saying that a Gallaudet University president need to be more "Deaf-centered." Nothing about a bad administration but more along the line of on the need for a more "Deaf-centered" president.

Two very prominent Deaf individuals spouted on the need of a more "Deaf" president than not. And this all took place in May 2006, a month after JKF was chosen for the university president slot at Gallaudet University. And to consider that among the 6 candidates for the slot only 5 were seen as "Deaf" in the sense they were raised and used ASL exclusively. And then we probably had a racial component to this university president selection when Dr. Anderson, a black man with a PhD, who was overlooked for the final three, even though he outranked a white man, Ron Stern, with only a master degree. Dr. Anderson had more experience on an administrative level than Stern does. But the whole campus didn't stand up and screamed in a bloody protest at the unfair process when the final three were selected and Anderson was out. No. Being hypocrites they waited until the final selection was made did most of them protested. Not for an investigation but for a complete ouster.

As for a "bad administration," you mean also about the ridiculously low standards and requirements for new deaf/hh students to be admitted into Gallaudet university in the past? Or allowing a student a second chance when his first GPA grade was 0.1 and the second chance earned him a 0.0 GPA thereby blowing a whole year's worth of VR support when it could've gone to another student that was more deserving?

In other words, there are more questions about political correctness gone amok than not.

Mike said...


Don't forget AGBell and others too and see them work together.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,
True that there's a whole other side to the story about Gallaudet and I'm not even going to go there. As in other places....there are those who will practice unethical stuff and I've been one of the either try to make changes and if that doesn't work you find something else and get on with your life. Let's not forget that Gallaudet has done many wonderful things for students over it's 125+ years of existence. Let's not lose our perspective over a few bad apples. There everywhere, even on Wall Street!!
Anyway, this post is not about Gallaudet but about how to get information to parents who need it most.
Your ball.... ;)

Cheers, Sharon

Unknown said...

Professor Ferdinando Grandori is responsible for the Newborn Hearing Screening 2010 International Conference. In his invitation that went out to a mailing list of 13,000, a commitment to more of a focus on a health professional- parental collaboration was a key element. See blog
The "Clearing-house" that Mike proposed is in the beginning phase-and there is such a need worldwide.

Unknown said...

Btw, Sharon- enjoy the 70° weather- freezing my arse off.

Dianrez said...

Rachel said:
" sounds like you'd rather encourage parents using sign language from the start rather than letting parents have the right to choose what's best for their children."

Just because Jodi mentions inclusion of sign language doesn't mean she is a proponent of it. Reading her comments, I see a balanced viewpoint that attempts to include all methods.

And, Rachel, your comment sounds like parents have no choice if they use sign language. Perhaps it was just the wording, but parents DO have choices all along even when sign language is among them.

People on this thread are attempting to find a way to be inclusive of all methods AND to give parents support in all their choices.

This isn't an either-or-type of choice. One can choose both the CI and ASL, and this is what most people are talking about here.

Anonymous said...

Mike McConnell,

I am not too sure about AGBell after how they wrote the letter to Pepsi complaining about the Deaf commercial.

Mike said...



Anonymous said...


That is exactly what has been the problem with options for hearing parents of deaf babies-- this issue has been politicized to death. The politicizing doesn't help parents make an INFORMED decision.

Language acquisition is critical for the baby from 0 to 3 years of age, at the time the brain is at its most plastic stage to acquire language, be it spoken English or ASL. LANGUAGE,PERIOD.

If the deaf child doesn't acquire some language by age 3, he will be behind in language development and the entirety of his school education will be spent just trying to catch up or never.

Some deaf babies do very well in their language acquisition via CI and AVT. Others don't, for one reason or another, and this is where other options come in. Some deaf babies may have a moderate loss that can be assisted with hearing aids, and parents may choose a combo of signs and lipreading, or just one method. If the deaf baby's hearing loss deepens, then parents may choose CI and AVT route at that time or choose not to implant and go with ASL.

Again, as I've said before, it is the parents' decision, and hopefully it is an INFORMED one.


Anonymous said...


Why should AGBell represent the deaf issues when only 9 % are deaf members? 53% of the members of AGBell are medical professionals! Their greed is more important than morality.

Mike said...

Kim, you're twisting it. They have an interest on deafness issue regardless of the percentages. What you are saying is that you are allowing politics (and even political correctness) dictate who is acceptable and who is not.

Anonymous said...

Dear .said,
Your comment;
"Kim, you're twisting it. They have an interest on deafness issue regardless of the percentages."

These are quotes from A.G. Bell himself:

“We should try ourselves to forget that they are deaf. We should teach them to forget that they are deaf.”

“I would urge the abolition of signed languages.”

This is AGBell and their interest in deafness is greed, not morality!

Anonymous said...

ahhhh....110 comments and still no good answer to the solution how parents can make an informed decision. There won't be one single answer. My take is that Jodi should focus on the small things first. Work with GPOD and see where you go with this. Get deaf Italians involved with you (in order to do that you really need to get hold of Terry Giansanti to find a group of Deaf Italians that has what it takes to speak out). See what comes between NAD and HLA...they are 2 very different organizations with different missions but..who knows. I hate to say this but forget AGBell unless they are willing to change their mission and encourage all aspect of communication, including sign language...ASL.
As for the rest of with organizations in your community, town, city...whatever. Find out about what resources are already there and if not, see how you can help provide with organization, volunteer your time.
You can build small bridges starting right in where you live. That's what I'm doing.

Making popcorm for a good movie tonite! Cheers....Sharon

Anonymous said...

I find it funny that one would hold an organization liable for something someone said years ago. People and organizations do change with time. AGBell is dead. New President of AGB appears to be a level headed person who respects signing deaf people, in fact, he knows a few signs himself. Does the current president of AGB hold the same view as the deceased AGBell?

Mike said...

Kim, you're twisting it again. Only this time using a quote from AGBell himself and not about the organization's motto. You're playing politics and political correctness.

Mike said...

Sharon, I've already proposed a solution. Jodi agreed.

Anonymous said...

Said and Candy

The new AGBell CEO, Alexander Graham wrote that letter to Pepsi last year and marginalized Deaf people of their Sign Language.

And that is their motto!

Don't be gullible.

Joseph Pietro Riolo said...

The first quotation that Kim presented in her comment dated February 7, 2009 at 6:16pm is taken out of context. Here is the context:

.... Dr. Bell replied: "I would, certainly, I think we should aim to be as natural as we can. I think we should get accustomed to treat our deaf children as if they could hear, as if we get into the habit of articulating to deaf children without voice in this way we make a distinction between them and hearing persons. We should try ourselves to forget that they are deaf. We should teach them to forget that they are deaf. We should speak to them naturally and with the same voice that we speak to other people, and avoid unnatural movements of the mouth or anything that would mark them out as different from others." ...

The above is quoted from page 418 in The Volta Reiew's volume 24 in the year of 1922. It is available at Google’s Book Search.

I am not able to find the source for the second quotation in Kim's comment. Apparently, it was copied from "When the Mind Hears: A History of the Deaf" by Harlan L. Lane. The closest source I could find is the following three paragraphs:

The original stock or stocks from which our languages are derived must have disappeared from earth ages before historic times; but in the gesture-speech of the deaf we have a language whose history can be traced ab origine, and it has appeared to me that this fact should give it a unique and independent value. In the year 1878, in a paper read before the Anthropological Society of London, I advocated the study of the gesture-language by men of science; for it seemed to me tat the study of the mode in which the sign-language has arisen from pantomime might throw a flood of light upon the origin and mode of growth of all languages.

You may ask why it is that with my high appreciation of this language, as a language, I should advocate its entire abolition in our institutions for the deaf.

I admit all that has been urged by experienced teachers concerning the ease with which a deaf child acquires this language, and its perfect adaptability for the purpose of developing his mind; but after all it is not the language of the millions of people among whom his lot in life is cast. It is to them a foreign tongue, and the more he becomes habituated to its use, the more he becomes a stranger in his own country.

The above is quoted from page 161 in "Education of Deaf Children: Evidence of Edward Miner Gallaudet and Alexander Graham Bell" by many authors that I don't want to list here. It was published in the year 1892. Again, it is available at Google's Book Search.

Joseph Pietro Riolo

Anonymous said...

Somebody tell me what the hell AGBell has got to do with the original topic of this thread?


Anonymous said...

Ann C

I believe it was Mike McConnell....

. said...

Don't forget AGBell and others too and see them work together.

FEBRUARY 7, 2009 3:39 PM

Anonymous said...


I'm not sure if you're completely familiar with my background. I was born with residual hearing, but my hearing dropped over time, and I lost all of my hearing completely at the age of 18 months. I did not receive a CI until the age of two and a half. So, I was 100 percent completely deaf for a year. My younger sister who was also born deaf, had ABSOLUTELY NO hearing from day one. She got her first CI at the age of 15 months, and her verbal communication skills is very good. Also, my sister had apraxia, but that did not stop her from being able to learn learn to speak well. What I'm saying is that we're doing perfectly well without our parents having tried to use some signs. There are several other families who have been the same boat as my family, and I think that we also need to give some credit to those parents who never learned sign language and are raising their deaf children very well.

The reason I asked other parents is because so that I can share their experiences and show that baby signs is not the only option and to present other options. One mother told me that she just used facial expressions and gesturing to communicate with her child who was implanted at the age of six months. She personally felt that baby signs was not necessary because she found research studies stating that children DO NOT learn to sign during the first six months of life because they are unable to track the manual pattern in their newly developing visual field. So, she felt that there were no point doing it as her child was getting an implant by six months.

I think that parents should act swiftly with their decision because the first three years of the child's life is very crucial for language development. If any parents take their time and then wait until the child is two years old to implant their children, the parents will have to work even harder than the parents who implanted their children 12 months and younger. The earlier the child is implanted, the greater the benefits that the child will receive and also the child will have an easier time developing his/her language. One thing that I think that is important is that ALL newborn babies should have hearing screening. If any newborn babies fail their hearing screening, they should not wait for another several months for a follow up. They should have a follow up within weeks. Also, usually OAE and ABR usually give very accurate results and can give a good idea of whether the children can be good hearing aid candidates or not. You have to also realize that there are some children who will have absolutely NO residual hearing and will not be able to benefit from hearing aids at all.

Also, parents should have the right to choose whether they want to try sign language or not. I think if you're going to tell parents that they should try sign language, then you're being biased. If we want to be unbiased, I think that we need to say, "Sign language is one of the options that you can try."


What I was saying is that it seems that Jodi would rather encourage parents to use sign language whether if they choose to teach children to hear and to speak or not. Parents should have the option of using just sign language, or sign language and auditory-oral, or sign language and cued speech, or just auditory-oral, or just cued speech and auditory-oral, or just auditory-verbal.

MB said...


Yes, that's me. Me and Aaron are BFFs. Well, maybe not BFFs but I have met him (and his MB) several times.

MB said...


I don't post my last name because I blog about my daughter. Plus there are fewer than 20 people in the entire world with my last name, so for stalkers it would be pretty easy to find me/us/her.

But you are welcome to click on my name and read all 4 of my blogs and find out anything and everything you want to know about me.

If you want to know my last name, you can e-mail me.

MKChaikof said...

What is ironic to me is that the uproar now is that the professionals are not presenting sign as an option. When Rachel was first diagnosed in 1987 with a "severe-to-profound hearing loss," the audiologist and social worker the hospital immediately stuck us with told us about one option, TC and a school for the deaf that was supposedly TC but which was known by many hearing parents as the school where "the silence is deafening." Spoken language was actually only taught one 40 minute period a day.

We were fortunate that we found other connections and learned about other options because Rachel and Jessica would be in a far different place now had we listened to the original advice.

After a few years passed, and we had become parents very well versed in the subjects of deafness and deaf education, I became increasingly furious at the professionals, and that led to my spending the next 20 years fighting to ensure that parents receive accurate and thorough unbiased information about all the options.

Knowing what I know how, I believe very strongly that the professionals need to keep their biases out of their counseling of parents. The most valuable information to me was being given contact information for families who chose the various options. My husband and I took the time to meet several families and their deaf children. After doing that, it became very clear to us that we wanted the Auditory-Verbal route for Rachel.

Any program that provides information for parents needs to include information about all the options and should also have a list of parent volunteers who are willing to speak to parents of newly diagnosed deaf babies.

Most of the commments here are all about ensuring that parents use sign. This is wrong. It may be what you believe it is right, but I do not, and there are many others who agree with me. Regardless of how you feel or I feel, we cannot and should not dictate to these parents what to do. They need to be provided with the necessary information to make the right decision for their family.

Anonymous said...

It amazes me how people cannot take the time to understand the whole content of a letter. I am very well aware of the letter to Pepsi. Suppose if Pepsi made a commercial about deaf people speaking, I can guarantee you the deaf community would write a letter and say that it does not reflect all deaf people. That's what AGB did, telling Pepsi that it was not an accurate reflection of ALL deaf people. And, you know what? They're right. It seems like no matter what, no one can please anyone these days.

Mike said...


I know about the pepsi commercial. There were some valid questions in the Pepsi letter. Not everybody with a hearing loss communicate with ASL. That was the point.

Anonymous said...


I think that the ones that agreed that a clearing house is a good idea also agrees that everything presented to the parent be unbiased.

I see your concern here, and I think that the topic of signs came up as a way for some of us to to show examples which wasn't different for others with different views such as yours or Rachel's choice in CI and AVT. Obviously we have more than two things going on here, one - find a way to bridge. two - sharing our individual experience which isn't really unbiased and, three - off topic stuffs such as AGB. ;)

Definitely, information given out to parents has to be unbiased, that much I do agree.

Mike said...

MKChaikof speaks from experience and knowledge as a parent of a deaf child. She made an informed decision at the time. It'd be a good idea not to chastise her for her decisions.

Mike said...

Candy, which is why Amy Cohen's approach on how to disseminate information about ASL is spot on and not in the position to coerce, belittle, or make parents feel guilty. She tries to be in a more neutral position with the offer of support.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, whoa, Melissa!

"Most of the comments here are all about ensuring that parents use sign.."

Many of us are NOT saying that!!!

What many of us are trying to say is, sign language (baby signs) should be one of ALL options presented to hearing parents of deaf babies.

Parents can elect to choose whatever options they believe fit their situation and their deaf child the best. Some parents either lack the resources because of where they live or the expense. It's my hope that parents will look into all options, as you and your husband did for Rachel, before making a decision for their deaf child's language acquisition.

And as I understand it, Rachel was first fitted with hearings aids and learned lipreading, which was the first decision you and her father made.

Oftentimes more than one decision has to be made. From what Rachel has said, her hearing loss took another dive as she got a little older, and you and your husband made the decision to have her implanted and started with AVT. You'd been doing your due diligence in research all the while. And this was back in the day when resources were difficult to track down.

You and her father put in a lot of commitment to make this option work, and that's half the equation. Jodi herself has illustrated this herself with her commitment to Jordan's language acquisition. And on top of all that, she had to learn Italian along the way.

OTOH the d/Deaf community KNOWS that there are deaf children, implanted or not, who suffer from language deprivation because there wasn't early intervention, or the deaf child was way more visual than auditory, or there was a lack of parental involvement in speech therapy, a combination of above, whatever, so there needs to be other options that parents can utilize, sign language included.

There has been a lot of frustration on the part of the deaf community when they see these "CI failures" or "oral failures" in deaf schools, as much as I don't like to describe these individuals as such, it's a damn friggin' label for these individuals to live with. :(

Indeed I agree with you that the professionals involved in advising hearing parents of deaf children should leave their personal biases out of it. And that's why I also believe ALL options need to be presented in a neutral manner, without all the hype or criticism.

Sorry, this is such a winded comment...


Dianrez said...

A point of annoyance to me is that certain people are still saying that people are pushing the option of "sign only".

In all my life, in all my experiences with education of deaf people at all levels, I have never heard of the sign only option. EVERY option has always included speech and hearing training, even when the child is so profoundly deaf that hearing is totally absent.

EVERY program for the deaf has always included hearing aids, boom-box earphones, pianos, the see-say method, the whole thing. And even signing schools for the deaf today are implementing CI programs as well.

If this is what is causing unneccessary controversy, let's put it to rest. ALL methods of teaching the deaf include oral/auditory methods. Unfortunately, not all methods also include sign.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Dianrez!

What you said is true.

Anonymous said...

I'll just say that before we build a bridge, we must have a mutual understanding from both sides.


With ASL as a fundamental means of communication, anything else is possible with it. Speech training. Auditoty training. Et al.

Yet when it comes to those who press for AVT and the like, there is great opposition to using any visual means of communication other than lip-reading.

Which of the two camps are the most discriminating?

You don't have to answer because it is all there for the world to see.

I cannot tell you how often I am baffled by the way some people continue to think. You would think, in 2009, people would be open minded enough to be tolerant of everyone, but I will say this, I have never seen discrimination as bad as the hearing person who judges the deaf person that doesn't use speech as a means of communication.

Maybe I jumped into this way late. Now at over 130 comments, who gives a phuck eh?

My point is:

ASL is a great foundation to build upon because it allows every deaf person to connect with another deaf person.

That is, unless one deaf person happened to be raised under the oralist/audist camp.

It's much harder for them to relate and associate with the Deaf community.

Which is, in itself, the aim of the hearing world.

To assimilate their ass into a world that they are least compatible with.

Heck, A deaf person can do many things but naturally hearing isn't one of them.

Deaf is deaf like hearing is hearing.

We already have enough puppets as it is.

But right, who gives a smack what us deaf fools think.

Anonymous said...

Just finished watching Brideshead Revisited...good movie!!

Ok, Jodi...I think you asked for a tall order. Dinarez has made a lot of sense as few others have...there are stuff on the internet that parents can find. Go small...check out resources that are already available locally. If not, get busy and volunteer to work with group/organization/whatever to ensure that materials are available for parents when a child is identified with hearing loss. Do some with both deaf and hearing parents of deaf children.
I'm outta here....enuff said... brain drain...good night!


Anonymous said...

It is no question that Deaf ERA today is so much different than my educational time as I cherish my memory of rearing at residental school and Gallaudet.

I am hearing some stories from or seeing some happpy prelingual CIers today and the number of students attending deaf school is drastically declining. Today parents of deaf children have more educational choices for them than my parents had.

Best solution is to give full support to parents regardless what choice they make than criticize them.

I haven't seen any lawsuit such as education malpractice or misinformation of education for deaf children such as CI, AVT or cued by grown up prelingual CIers as well as their parent so

I hope that I will see all of deaf people regardless their primary language embrace each other and move on to enjoy our life. Will it become realistic?

Anonymous said...

Contrary to what you might think Melissa, your comments, Rachel's comments, and quite a few pothers, are some of the most biased posted in response to Jodi's article. At the mere mention of sign, you froth and foam.

The problem is, there is an undercurrent of aversion to being Deaf and using sign language.

As I've said in my recent posts on my blog, us Deafies are alot more accepting and pragmatic than hearies or oralies are.

If this bridge doesn't get built, it will be your fault. Not mine!

mishkazena said...


At least you did try. Best I can recommend is to work with people who are able to present the options objectively without any personal bias. As long as there are biased people, there can be no bridge being built among them. Some people are against the idea of deaf babies and children learning ASL while some of others are against cochlear implants and AVT for that group. Of course they are entitled to their opinions, but it does make working together difficult as they tend to rub off each other the wrong way.

I think Hands and Voices is the most neutral organization to work with. You may want to start with that group.

Mike said...

Aversion to being Deaf? Just because a person with a hearing loss prefers to be in the world of sound and communicate best by listening and talking isn't about aversion but simply a preference. Just like I prefer to listen to talk radio while others prefer to listen to music instead. Though that doesn't mean I have an aversion to music. Hardly. Not when I am ragtime pianist. There are 27 million Americans with mild to moderate hearing loss and 3 million with severe to profound hearing loss. There are far more deaf/hh than Deaf and many lead live uninterrupted with the fitting of hearing aids and cochlear implants. Aversion to being Deaf? Sure, some may feel that way but not all only because they are simply not interested.

What doesn't help is when a Deaf person presents an attitude and with an implied representation for the Deaf community by claiming some sort of "ownership" over babies born with a hearing loss. Like, for example, calling babies born with hearing loss to hearing parents as "Deaf" babies. Other bridge burning results when we see attitudes of bias and disrespect towards a Deaf person by making fun of former university president of Gallaudet I.K. Jordan's signing style (PSE/SEE) in a video tape. Or have a Deaf person threaten those who dare talk on a cell phone on the campus of Gallaudet University by not acknowledging and accepting students' preferences to use phones instead of text and so on. Guess which camp you belong to? Right, I can use the same guilt by association as you've just done when those instances aren't exactly bridge buildiing efforts.

Now, it doesn't matter whether "Deafies" are more pragmatic and acceptable of sign language than "oralies" or hearing people when the idea is to simply respect a person's preference and parents' informed decision regarding their deaf/hh child.

So, is this an underlying issue you have against parents making an informed decision for their deaf/hh child on communication methods or those who have derived immense benefits from hearing aids or cochlear implants? Just because a Deaf person cannot or does not want to derive any benefits from a hearing aid, a cochlear implant, cued speech, oral speech, aural training and the likes does not give him the right to put down others non-Deaf for their successes and their communication preferences.

Anonymous said...

Yes indeed ...Said, and vice versa!

Anonymous said...

Jodi, I agree with mishkazena, if you are going to work towards building bridges, then you need to work with a group of people who are prepared to embrace both the audio and the visual.

MM said...

Biased people cannot enter into meaningful dialogue regarding building bridges, it has to be left to those more open-minded. Dedicated CI supporters, and oral users, dedicated ASL or BSL users none of these are going to give an inch and accuse the other of attempts to assimilate, then demand the other assimilates with them, so on it goes.

Aint no bridge big enough to bridge that cultural chasm, but a bridge of sighs.... for what could be... Where a sector is dependent on deafness for its social avenues and culture, and another promotes alleviations, improved hearing opytions and research, then it is the immovable object, being hit by an unstoppable force, and each, just cancel each out.

Matter versus anti-matter, it can only end one way. Only education can free us from this interminable merry-go-around, or we just face 300 spartan martyrs at the bridge prepared to fight everyone off to no purpose... but to die so doing.

I think it is a generational thing,the next one hopefully will think "How sad, they were unable to find any common ground at all...." Some recent blog responses to Jodi have proved the point... they aren't for turning, they aren't for building bridges either. We should prehaps NOT engage with them, it will go nowhere... seek out those prepared to listen instead.

David said...

I agree with Jeff's comment. What he said is perfect true!

How can we work with audists? How can we build bridge? It does not work due to audists who will never accept Sign Language and Deaf Culture at all. We want to work but they reject and degrade our values, our rights, our beliefs and dignity. They promote the tools that have threatened us and cleansed our culture and language.

To build the bridge, we are ready. We believe in bilingualism (both languages and balance rights for all Deaf children) and parents can add anything they want on the top of bilingualism.


Unknown said...

I can't do it, I just can't scroll down. The flu thing is not going away- I've read bits and pieces of the comments. I see that Sharon has decided to proceed with her life- glad you liked the film. I also see that somehow things got way off topic with AgBell and the Pepsi commercial. ????
Rachel- For some reason you do not understand me. My point is to provide information and resources to parents. I spoke of using baby signs because parents are automatically led to AVT and speech options. I know what your mom went through and the difficulties she had. You are both strong proponents of AVT and I appreciate your perspective.
I am taking a neutral approach and I am only interested in giving parents access to ALL resources to assist them in finding the best communication method for their kids. I am not ADVOCATING a method, I am just saying that there needs to be access to parent-friendly resources.
Not all parents are your mom. One of the greatest problems is that babies who are screened and do not pass are lost to follow-up. THIS is a big problem. I am not on a soapbox, I'm just trying to generate some ideas for unintimidating resources.
Everyone throws out research studies, why can't we create our own pilot study in collaboration with a ci center?
Anyway, the whole Audist thing is getting old and is counterproductive- namecalling is not going to help the situation.
There are plenty of people who have been commenting who are neutral and interested in optimizing communication with newborns- not the communication methodologies they will incorporate for the rest of their lives...Mother- child communication- that's what I'm talking about.
Going to eat..Jodi

Karen Mayes said...


I remember there were blog postings about building bridges last year or was it two years ago? Everyone, or so it seemed to me, had his/her different idea of what building bridges meant.

I think it is great that Jodi brought up the idea. I am bemused to see the reactions.

Good job, Jodi, and I am glad to see there are people like you who are making efforts to building bridges, in the ways that we all know how, with our experiences and perspectives.

Anonymous said...

You're on the flu zone. May we be comfort you.

Over 142 and still're popular. I still fist-smack you..... ;-)

I'm not going to discuss the audist/audism chaos. It's getting old. I am so tired of dealing with all the behavioral thing that have caused us to become isolating and depressing. I won't let audist/audsim to get back to me. All we have to educate people to respect and deal with the crises. That's our job. In USA, Over 200+ million people who are hearing VS. Over 30+ million people who are hearing loss. How can we build the bridges? IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!

White Ghost

Unknown said...

Tony, MM and White Ghost,
Neither side is saying they don't want to collaborate, they are just asserting their perspectives. I believe we have reached the point where we understand both sides and can reach a type of approach that respects both points of view. Why does everyone have to be so damn negative? All I'm saying is to create some parent-friendly resources that provide information for all options- and that health professionals are held accountable for providing such information.
Everyone has their own experiences and are happy in his/her own skin. Perfect.
Enough negativity- mi sta sulle palle.

Karen Mayes said...

Well said, Jodi... MOVE FORWARD. Sounds like you are moving forward, go gal! ;o)

Anonymous said...

Well said, Jodi.

Yes, move on, get a new topic we need to discuss!

I am not interested in audist/audism at all.

Move forward!

Hurry up, Jodi get the F**k out of your bed! ;-)

White Ghost

Anonymous said...

buon giorno Jodi!

Ok....let me know if you need information, or have questions. I'd be happy to give you leads in spite of fact that there are information already out there. You do have good intentions Jodi! gotta include us deafies in your endeavor...don't go at it alone. ;-)

By the way...Catania and Juventus are playing soccer in Milan and we've been watching them on cable tv. We (my hubby and I) just love how those Italian players are expressive. Gosh, how I miss Italy!! Ok, gotta get off my fanny and go work off those 7 lbs of winter blubber I've managed to put on. Hope you'll feel better soon, Jodi!


Unknown said...

New post up and running--naptime lol, Jodi

MKChaikof said...

My final post to address a few comments because this is the same endless debate that never ends. -

First of all, yes, I am biased, but so are all of you. I haven't heard one person who is a proponent of babies using ASL say that it is okay for them not to. Building a bridge does not mean having all babies use ASL and speech. Rather, it means acceptance of all choices. I can accept those parents who choose to teach their children ASL, but it does not appear that many of you can accept parents who go the A-V route and choose never to teach their children ASL.

You say that I and others who choose the path that I did are not listening to you "deafies." On the contrary, I listened to several deaf adults, but they were oral deaf adults who told me why they were happy being oral, why they felt that they never needed sign and desired not to learn it, and why they would choose the same option for their children. You see, you don't have a monopoly on being deaf adults.

So, am I biased? - absolutely! I would follow exactly the same path that I did the first time around because my girls are very happy, well adjusted oral communicators. The only difference is that, had it been an option when they were babies, I would have had them bilaterally implanted at age 6 months. When parents of deaf babies contact me, I tell them about early implantation and the A-V approach, why I believe it is the best option and why we chose not to incorporate sign into our lives. What I also tell them, though, is to speak to families and meet their children using all the options so that they can make an educated decision.

So, call me biased, an "audist," or whatever. I don't really care because I know that I have almost 22 years of experience in raising and educating deaf children, that my girls, as well as the children of so many of my friends and acquaintances, are proof that A-V works beautifully with committed parents. So, I will continue doing what I'm doing, and you can keep doing what you're doing. We can then leave it to the parents to make their own decisions.

MKChaikof said...

There is already a wonderful, completely unbiased resource for parents. It's called "Choices in Deafness" by Sue Schwartz. Check it out on Amazon. To me, a grant that allowed hospitals to give a free copy of this book to all parents would be the way to go. It's updated every few years, with the latest version from June 2007.

Anonymous said...

This website, Baby Hearing, is another fantastic unbiased resource that exists -

It was created by a hospital, Boys Town National Research Hospital.

Anonymous said...

Someone once said to me, all information is biased. Subtle, maybe. I totally advocate for parents to be given ALL information. Many of the materials online may seem to be unbiased, but if you read closely, there are some bias. The boystown site is awesome, I agree. Here's another one:

Deaf Chip, Please re-consider throwing labels at people such as "Audist." because it is not constructive.

Anonymous said...

Melissa said " I haven't heard one person who is a proponent of babies using ASL say that it is okay for them not to."

I wanted to fix that impression, it's really the opposite of what I intended to get across, and I think the same is true of many others. It's OK not to use ASL!

I'm all for ASL + spoken English -- for my little CIborg. But you are right: that's absolutely not the right mix of options for every child. I think AVT-only is a perfectly valid (and well-proven) option. I think that unaided ASL-only is also a perfectly valid (and equally well-proven) option. And so are so many other choices (PSE, Cueing etc.) and the many combinations of these with or without aids that work beautifully for individuals.

In fact, the choice we've made for our child to learn to listen with bilateral CIs (including lots of formal aural rehab) and to sign (attending school at a signing school for the deaf) is probably the least documented/studied option. But that was a decision for us to make, knowing our child's capabilities, our access to an immersive ASL environment (which again, is very difficult for the average hearing family and is NOT fully accessible to all deaf children and their families).

And I am so grateful that my state (MA), our early intervention services, and our hospital's Deaf & HOH program are currently aware and supportive of such a wide range of approaches. We found no bias or pressure, and so much information available.
Thanks to the pioneering efforts of those like Melissa to ensure that AVT is presented as an option along with ASL for CI kids, we learned of a full range of CI-related learning models. And thanks to the efforts of those whose children are happy and successful without using aids such as HAs or CIs, we were informed of ASL-only options and knew that a CI was just one option, and not the only direction. No one told us what to do. And while that's an awesomely sobering situation to be in, it's a a very good thing.

So, we "own" our decisions and won't ever feel that we were backed into something, or made life-altering decisions without being fully informed or to fit someone else's idea of what works. Jodi's communication plan could make every parent feel as we do: that we take full responsibility and are doing what's best for Li-Li (and it's a really good feeling, one I highly recommend).

Anonymous said...


Candy asking you to reconsider throwing labels at people such as "Audist."

Back in 1960's, Black culture people threw a lot of labels at people that were racist, "Racist".

And look what happened, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed in Congress and the ramification was the Obama became educated.

Deaf children in schools need to be educated but the "Audist" continues to misinform many parents that ASL deprives the ability to learn English language.

Chip, now I am asking you to continue throw labels at the audist people, "Audist" and they deserve it.

I strongly believe that you want Deaf babies to be educated in their minds first with a visual language which is more important so that they can learn speech, schools or whatever in a intelligent method.

Anonymous said...

Shirley --

I must admit that I am no longer a fan of yours.

You continue telling Deafchip and others it is okay for calling other people an audist.

Bad tasteful. Bad education.

I want to point out is that millions of people have not seen any CIs, hearing aids and many more before. It does not matter if they are oral, ASL, Total communication, SimCom and many more.

How would you feel if someone calls you a sightist, Shirley?

I'm finished with you, Shirley.

White Ghost

Anonymous said...

It's rather unfortunate that there are many methods to use for a deaf child. If there was one method to use, then we wouldn't be having this kind of conversation, parents would not be so guilt-ridden and deaf people wouldn't be so angry if a wrong method is chosen for them. I often wonder about other disabled children, if parents are often torn about which method to use for their disabled children?

I know with the sensory processing disorder children, they are often recommended to go occupational therapist, go on specialized diet and receive specialized accomodations for the classroom to function better. There is no division among parents in choosing which method because it is straightforward and easy to follow. With deaf children, the methods range from using ASL to AVT therapy which is extremely opposite on the line.

And then parents forget that deaf people can and do get isolated at times which is the worst thing a human being can ever experience in their life. A deaf person could be surrounded by hearing friends but it is never a complete feeling to have. It is a lot more work involved and you are missing out little details that can go on. Like for example if a deaf person is at a swimming pool with hearing people, they can easily miss out small details. Hearing people don't always tell us everything. So it is very very very important for hearing people to be conscious that it can happen to their deaf child and make sure that they have some deaf friends to hang around and not to reject them if they decide to learn ASL or go in the deaf world as a lot of hearing parents get really upset if they have spent hours and money in educating their deaf child in oralism or AVT and then all of sudden the deeaf child wants to learn ASL and go to deaf school. As someone said above, the parents should follow their child's lead. And promise that they wont get upset at all. I have had some friends whose parents were very upset and wouldn't have anything to do with them once they learned ASL and refused to acknowledge their happiness. So parents need to keep that in mind and that informaiton should also be in the clearinghouse.

Unknown said...

Choices in Deafness was the first book I ever found and was my CI Circle for ten years. Might kind of give you an idea as to the lack of support. I gave it to my CI equipe trying to encourage them to create their own Italian version.
I've been consulting babyhearing to develop resources, very good site.

Anonymous said...

White Ghost,

You don't understand.

I have many CI, oral friends and they are not audist.

It is the attitudes like the mother and daughter above, thinking that ASL is not necessary.

I have nothing against if the Deaf child wants CI or Hearing aids or speech.

The audist have an attitude that disgusts me and they are biased just like the mother above. We are not biased and we have experienced both reality, oral speech and ASL. These audist have no idea about ASL except their own negative bias thoughts of ASL.

Are you comprehendible?

Anonymous said...

As for using the word, "audist", it is something for us to express the feelings of being oppressed, not listened to and respected.

We often feel that hearing parents do not really seek us out or take our advice about raising a deaf child. I'm not sure why. Our question remains, "Why don't some hearing parents take our advice or listen to us?" Instead they prefer to listen to medical professionals who proclaim that they know what it is like to raise a deaf child.

This is hurtful and we feel betrayed. If you had a child with Asperger's Syndrome, would you seek out Asperger adults to ask for their advice and suggestion? There is a website that was designed by Asperger adults where people can go and ask questions about how to raise an Asperger's child. Parents really listen to them and it is a wonderful site. SO I guess deaf people may need to develop a website and answer questions. This will empower us and maybe then we will be taken seriously.

Anonymous said...


Of course, I comprehend things like that.

Think about the visual-impaired people. I would *NOT* call them sightists.

Now, I am getting out of yours. Your'e finished. My mind is now closing on you. Good bye.

White Ghost

Anonymous said...

Yippee, I found this website -- please take a look and see what it is like. I think we should start a website like this.

MM said...

To Karen.

Indeed there were a number of blogs about building bridges, I did a lot of them and still do, but we cannot approach the issue unless we (A) Ignore the past and start anew, or (B)leave it to brought up ever-defending their own corner.

I took the stance of taking on the more extreme elements of each anti-sector, on both sides, it is naive to think the deaf-Deaf divide is a cocoa-cola advert, this is real people in real time, living real lives.

I don't think it negative to address this extremism, as I see it is a vital part of laying down the foundations for bridges to be built, in part, I accept that taking on this extremism, means, I will be a (Not in a pretentious way !), like a latter-day Moses, and like him, not allowed into the promised land as a result.

Only the meek and moderate inherit unity, and can make it work, but it takes the strong and immoderate to lay the foundations. We each have our part to play.

Anonymous said...

White Ghost,

I will still continue to educate parents in a non-biased way, the truth, nothing but the truth from my own experience in both worlds, oral and ASL.

If you are finished here, then you may go back to Deaf Village and talk the talk.

David said...

I agree with Shirley. It is all about attitudes.

My best friend is CI user and my friends are hearing aid users, audiologists, and so on. I am hearing aid user. They are not audists because of their positive attitudes. That is the difference. They have respected and recognized Deaf culture. They even encourage all Deaf children to take bilingual approach with or without any additional communication tool whatever parents want as long as their babies' natural rights are protected.

Did i name specific people in the public as audists? No I didn't!

Yes it is very very important for people to be aware of audism. People need to be educated about audism that will make the difference and that will eliminate genocide of Deaf culture and Sign Language. It is not about choices, it is about rights.

We cannot hide from the issue of audism. We must face that. It is too bad people dont want to face the fact. Where is ostrich's head?

We have to work together to solve the audism issues, then we have a better chance of building a bridge. We cannot mop any problem under the carpet and forget about them and ask to work together to build a fragile bridge (due to too many gaps - no solved issues)


mishkazena said...

Being unbiased means appraising both the pros and cons of different communication methods realistically and fairly. There is NO one cookie cutter for all Deaf and HoH kids. Compounding the problem is the value of hearing in two distinct cultures. One culture values hearing and speaking orally while the other culture devalues hearing, preferring a visible language. Then one needs to deal with differing attitudes toward certain groups of people, based on their cultural beliefs. Some people spoke of personal experiences only to see themselves repeatedly dismissed. Being unbiased means knowing people using different communication methods, not one group who has positive experiences with one certain method. Being unbiased means no use of scare tactics to coerce parents into a particular communication philosophy or badmouthing communication methods or certain groups.

Not everybody can put aside their personal bias and work with the parents, letting the parents decide for themselves what is the best approach for their Deaf children. Not everybody can put aside their personal bias and work with others who don't share their beliefs. For them, I suggest that they work with people they feel most comfortable with.

Find those who are moderates, especially those who have traveled both worlds. They can understand the needs of the Deaf children and the desires of the hearing parents, yet have no personal bias against certain people based on cultural mores and communication methods.

Anonymous said...


You made the assumption on me. I still read the deafread. I'm entitled to read the deafread. Don't tell me what to do. I'm an adult. This is America.

Deafchip, Thanks for the clarification.

You stated that "Did I name specific people in the public as audists? No, I didn't"

You need to reprimand Shirley.

White Ghost

Anonymous said...

White Ghost,

You want DeafChip to reprimand me?

And you made no effort to reprimand MFChaikof and Rachel Chaikof for being biased with an audist attitude above?

Another typical deafie that never reprimands hearing people but always whipping Deaf people.

That's call crab theory, deaf people never crab theory hearing people but weak enough to crab theory Deaf People.

I am not finish with you, you need to be educated.
Stick around.

Anonymous said...

I know this is off topic, but it has reared its ugly head again. Calling people names, like audist, doesn't do much to help dialog. Someone recently commented that words like 'deafness' are audist. Actually that's not new information to me. However, I use the term all the time in regard to my personal experience as a late-deafened person.

My definitions of deaf and deafness have changed over time. In fact, I consider losing your hearing a loss if you were born with perfect hearing. Deafness is a different state of being for me. I was not born this way.

I don't expect others on either side --hearing or Deaf-- to fully understand my deaf experience or how I describe it.

Sometimes it almost seems that no matter what word a non-Deaf person uses to describe the condition of having little or no hearing, it is considered offensive. Unless of course one uses the term Deaf and Deafhood-- which I can't. It doesn't apply to me since my primary language is English and I still communicate that way most of the time.

Here are some examples of offensive words-- deaf (offensive because it's not capitalized); hearing-impaired (offensive because it places too much emphasis on impairment, instead of ability); deafness (offensive because it insinuates a state of being, rather than a culture). . .

But my culture is hearing, and deafness IS a state of being in my case. Within the deaf community all of these terms have their place when used appropriately. Still, I can see how confusing it can be for a hearing person. It's no wonder they may find it difficult to be politically correct at all times.

Instead of looking for ways to be offended, it could do a lot of good to look at the overall message-- the intention of the commenter, rather than picking apart langauge.

We must realize we are two different cultures speaking two different languages. There are bound to be some misunderstandings. Let's try to be a little more charitable towards each other-- OK?

Anonymous said...

Kim, exactly. Being HOH from a culturally deaf family, I do use "hearing impaired." when speaking to hearing people because they understand the term better (And then I educate them and say that certain members of deaf community do NOT like that term, just so you know - lol), I may say HOH at times, it all depends. And I don't take offense to words like deafness and so on. Some of us are just more accommodating and understanding than others to some degree. I just find it silly to get upset over some terminology. Because there are bigger things to deal with and eventually, hopefully the issues of bridging or let's put it this way, perhaps one day all deaf people will have more tolerance of differing views and choices and not use terminology as a weapon. I do not devalue myself in any way by calling myself a hearing impaired person no more than the ADA in defining us as disabled.

Attitudes eventually rectify itself with education, but views and attitudes are two separate things. Assuming that one has a certain view does not always define the attitude at best.

I try to step back and imagine what if I was a hearing parent, what if I never met a deaf person before. Try walking into other people's shoe first.

To wait until everyone stops being an audist is going to take another 50 to 100 years, perhaps never.. and we don't have time to wait. There will always be someone who is an "ist" and who is guilty of "ism." Just get that fricking bridge built somehow and give Jodi ideas!

Anonymous said...

I am hard of hearing born to culturally deaf family with 2 sets of aunts and uncles who were deaf. I like calling myself deaf notice that I don't use little d or big D..because I am not fond of using labels) although I do respect anyone who wishes to use the term differently to define themselves. That's ok by me.
All this bashing and name calling is totally unnecessary and it is not me. I would prefer to stay away from people who have such strong feeling and will impose their thoughts and opinions in manner that's unbecoming.

I reasonate with Li-Li's Mom...she's such a calm and centered person who has obviously influenced Li-Li to be such a delightful little girl. I enjoy reading about her progress and know she'll go far in life. Her parents are so cool and even tempered. They are admirable. They are also lucky to have found such wonderful support and hopefully, other parents will seek them out for the experiences they've had.

I don't have anything more to add here except I'm saddened to see it come to this. As for Rachel and her Mom...I wish them nothing but the best. I don't share anything with them but I also don't have any ill feelings toward them. They are biased. I like to think I am not biased and I will talk about good experiences I've had thus far in my life. I said, I'm there anytime you need pep talk or info. ;-) I think you and I could have been friends if our paths should ever cross.


Anonymous said...

Nice try, Shirley.

Rachel and MFChaikof have never called us audists, even, *IF* we don't sign and have CIs. You have assumed many people's minds and attitudes. I don't need you to educate me. Your'e *not* my Momma.

Kim at 2:22 PM and Candy at 2:46 PM,

Well said! That's very, very true!

White Ghost

Unknown said...

Would anyone mind carrying the comments over to the next blog post? The scrolling is getting exhausting.
Night night,

Anonymous said...

I agree with Candy, the frickin' labels are getting in the way and there's really no time to lose in getting a package of ALL options in front of parents of deaf babies.

We're all biased in many ways, each of us has a preferred communication mode for primary language, each of us know what his/her own views are, each of us has a view of the definition of deafness (I'm not going to go there), likewise parents are of either the hearing culture or the deaf culture, and so on.

But it's realizing that there is something much bigger than any of us, the future of deaf babies and their potential, that d/Deaf people and concerned parents should try to rise above their differing biases and the labeling or name-calling, and stop criticising other views. This petty business of bias is what causes a dialogue to go nowhere and pffft! nothing gets accomplished. Jodi is trying to stay focused on the goal of building bridges.

On another note, bias tend to creep in when an option is presented, and this is another problem altogether. Which is why presenters have to use neutral language to inform parents of deaf babies of the options available to them. The presenters have to leave out their own personal bias, otherwise we're gonna hear accusations from all sides about undue influence.


MM said...

Not often I disgaree with Mishka but.... it is always an over simplification to suggest the issue we face are orals or sign language, even discrimination at most points, once you narrow it down to that, there is no place for compromise to go. It's a source of people trying to justify each other all the time..

I do NOT believe communications are the real issue here, but, entrenched and negative ATTITUDES, and cultural clashes. So people sign, it is NOT a big deal and many can acquire enough basic skills to talk things over, it requires the will, not necessarily the skills.

I've lived with and loved a born-deaf signing partner from the deaf community for over 18 years, I'd be the last to claim I am a perfect sign user, or, a member of the 'community' of cultural deaf people, it made no difference. It won't make a difference unless you make it so.

People respond (I find anyway), to care, love, understanding, and patience and a prepardeness to compromise, I don't give any more or less than I would wish for myself, this doesn't mean either party have to give up what they are, or how they feel.

I appear to have already built MY bridge sucessfuly for 18 years. The politics of deafness really does leave me angry, and it's true, those who want to maintain divides, are usually those who cannot cross the divide anyway. So scared others will try, they oppose, and are bent on preventing it happening. So far there is not much to choose between either sector...

It's driven by fear, not culture, or CI implantions... We are all so scared....