Monday, February 13, 2006

Monday Morning coffee & news roundup

Hope everyone's enjoying the snow! Too cold for me to sleep well.

Now, what do my teacher friends think of this?
New Initiative to improve Deaf/Family communication
I admire the idea:
When Lorna Davidson-Connelly hears a student object to a day off from school, she doesn't take it lightly.

As a counselor for deaf and other hearing-impaired students, Davidson-Connelly said the unusual complaint could be a signal that the student's family has difficulty communicating with the child at home.

''I can't tell you how many times my students will say, ''We don't want vacation to happen, we don't like weekends," she said. ''They don't like it because they don't have anybody to communicate with."

Thanks for noticing. The execution of this idea is another story:
The $75,000 grant will enable the Northeast Regional Center of Gallaudet University at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill to expand its Shared Reading program into online video instruction statewide.

The program is designed to help parents and teachers like Davidson-Connelly.

The grant will use real-time teaching over videophone by deaf tutors to teach parents the basics of sign language so they can read to their deaf children, said Kathy Vesey, executive director of the center.

I don't think you can learn sign languages over videophones. 3-D doesn't translate well to 2-D, and the non-manual elements of sign languages don't translate at all.
Secondly, this is freaky.

Thirdly, a hat tip to my friend Clark Denmark whose wonderful family was supportive when I lived in England. He seems to have started a discussion about D/deaf people and medical services.

Finally, a sad note. In my news hunting I found the following letter, and said "There but for grace go I." I've seen Deaf people physically and mentally hurt by the stupid, obstinate refusal to use sign language. Some have been consigned to mental hospitals. My mother, thank the Lord Dark and Lady Bright, had no issues about me going to a school for Deaf children. She was part of the hippie gen and thought sign language was cool, y'know? And despite the dire opinions of doctors and nurses and laywers and teachers, I still use my voice. Far too much for some! I quote the letter in full:

Deaf person seeks peers
Chico Enterprise-Record

When my 44-year-old daughter was growing up in the '60s, '70s and '80s, "they" -- the government, schools, the deaf-in-denial and the ignorant bureaucrats -- decided deaf children should not ever learn American sign language but should be mainstreamed into regular schools and learn to speak. So, my daughter is now able to speak, but she can't hear. She fits nowhere.

When she was growing up, and as recently as three years ago, I took her to speech therapy, had her hearing tested (it's deteriorating), had her fitted for different kinds of hearing aids and inquired everywhere I could to find her help.

I took her to the university and Butte College. They do not teach sign language for deaf people or know of anyplace that does. The Nor Cal Center for the Deaf is no longer in Chico, but they too only taught sign language for people who wanted to be interpreters, not to teach the deaf to communicate. My daughter is lost. Her physical and mental health is declining because of the stress she's had to live with for so long. She has no friends.

My question is, can you help her? Do you know where she can learn American sign language for the deaf, and be with her own peer group. Her emotional and physical health is of great concern. She needs to know American sign language -- and other deaf people. Please help us.

-- Marti Lorber Hicks, Chico

The letter raises two valid points. One is that there's no place to help these adults adjust to being Deaf people. The other, as my friend Michael just demonstrasted, is that hearing is unlikely to remain at the same level all your life. By the time you hit your 30's and 40's, the residual hearing you have may go - leaving you no choice but an implant, if you want it. At this time of life it's so difficult to learn ASL, maybe even impossible with the kind of stress the mother describes her daughter as having. If they even have any sanity left. Terry Pratchett says we only truly find ourselves through other people.

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