Reader Jennifer sent me a link to this interesting link about a young Deaf woman in North Carolina who's apparently doing great in a mainstream program and very involved in all activities. This girl is exceptionally lucky for three reasons: an openminded school, a determined drive, and involved parents who learned ASL.
I was lucky because my parents were involved with my life. I believe most successful Deaf people have involved families. I did not, however, have an openminded mainstream experience. Consider:
- At the age of 6 I wore my first hearing aid to school and was accosted repeatedly by a group of hearing kids who kept banging my head on the floor to try to knock out whatever was blocking my hearing.
- At 9 they finally assigned me my first terp. Who proceeded to sit in front of me and speak Italian. Not ISL, actual Italian. You know? S'io credesse che mia riposta fosse? He left soon. Two tries later I got an uncertified terp and made do.
- At the age of 10 I tried desperately to get involved with the theater group in my middle school - it looked like a ton of fun! No luck. They said I should be happy with speech class.
- At the age of 12 I was assigned to an advanced math class but the teacher threw me out because she "didn't want a deaf child in her class." I didn't protest at the time; my interpreter refused to work with her, and since she was the only one I'd been able to find that was even remotely good, I had to, as usual, make do.
This is why I still support Deaf schools. I also believe what holds true for women's schools and men's schools holds true for Deaf schools - sometimes you learn better in an environment where you don't have to compete with certain things and deal with discrimination. I still get tired of going through the Deafsplanations. Yes, I can write. Yes, I can read. Yes, I can drive. Yes, I speak well, thank you very much (that never means much to me coming from typically bad-mouthed New Yorkers, grin!)