Thursday, December 22, 2005

mainstreaming improving?

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!)


Anonymous said...

I remember jr. high and having hearing aids. Kids would clap my ears driving the buggers painfully deep. I stopped wearing them soon after and just tried reading lips when i couldn't make out what was being said. Still do to this day.

Katie Roberts said...

Oh God. I had everything, at least, on paper, to make it a successful mainstream experience. I had good terps (although not all were certified), parents who signed, and staff/teachers who were willing to accomodate my needs.

But in reality, it SUCKED. Everybody treated me "special" and I never felt like I was really a part of anything, and I always got the message that I was an inconvenience, and that people found it easier to talk over me than to me. I was treated liek the other "special kids" you know- (I'm not being PC here) the dumb, retarded ones.

spent most of my early childhood having my Mom and my terp tell me what my coach/teacher/friend said. Almost nobody ever addressed me directly or treated me as an independent, fully-functioning person. They would praise my grades, say I was a great kid, blah, blah, but almost never to my face or on my terms.

gamma888 said...

heh... glad to see that this young lady actually played a musical instrument in school other than me! i used to play piano for 8 frigging years (asian culture thing... asian parents believe that if you play classical music, you'd excel well in academic) now, i still constantly think that earth runs in rhythmic patterns... *blip blip BLOP blip blip BLOP*

Kate O. Breen said...

a product of the mainstreamed system too. good education but treated like a second class citizen.

I had enough residual 'hearing' to take music class for nearly 10 years. not fun when you're pretending to know the musical notes..

you're a curiosty to your hearing peers.. and those who knew sign language would use it to their benefits (signing to each other while a teacher's back is turned).

social experiment but a good one.. I'd support a hybrid environment.. student attends deaf school but take few classes at a hearing school nearby.. like mssd and gongaza.