Safe Space

What do you think of once you see the title ‘Safe Space’?

A safe space is safe as long as people within that space respects those who are within that space. Whether they agree to disagree, ask for better understanding or acknowledge that there is difference in who we are.

My classroom, I have noticed, is often a safe space for students. I tend to have different kinds of people; whether they be people of color, LGBT, a person with disability or bilingual. I attended a professional development presentation on campus where I realized that I tend to not send students of color outside of my classroom for the slightest thing.

While my classroom is a safe space for students, it is not one for me. How can a classroom not be a safe space for someone like me?

SafeSpaceIntersectionality

Created by me…

I teach American Sign Language and I am deaf. Naturally, I do struggle with students speaking in the classroom where I practice 90% or more use of target language with pictorial and written English supplemental information. One thing that has been constant, students thinking that I cannot tell if they are speaking (there are some exceptions…) or I am faking my own deafness (vibrations!).

I deal with a wide range of people who hear on a daily basis, approximately 80% of my time. It can get tiring and frustrating, at the same time excited, especially when someone tries to sign back or efficient communication.

I consider my classroom my own personal safe space where I can teach students about ASL, Deaf culture and the people who live within this community. Yet one thing that could make a personal difference within this space that can be transferred out to the real world…is the consistent use of spoken English.

This includes signing and speaking at the same time, which is deteremental to the ability to understand ASL, especially when it is signed. Like learning any language and I can share this from my personal experience learning French, it is not enough just knowing vocabulary and grammar, it is the ability to be able to converse in the language one is learning – at any level.

When a simple policy of not speaking English but signing or using other communication method is established, there is a reason for that – language wise; human wise or for real world application.  Is it a wonder that my safe space is also threatened?  How can I encourage consistent safe space for my students?

I wonder if it is the same for those who are like a fish out of water – marginalized and minority people teaching in majority population locations.

 

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Life…Meaningless?

Life without technology or global communications would be as complicated as it is now.  Dying one day without knowing why allows us to revere the natural world and our part in it, as well as resepcting the inclusion of our species within its circle of life.

why am I being fatalistic today?  The ways of the world for a long time has weighed heavily on my mind and my soul.  I fear nothing but death. Death, why? I do not like missing out on anything, thanks to my experience and an aspect of myself – curiousity.

April’s National Geographic covered the topic of future of humans, climate change, degradation of natural resources (due to climate change, human practices and behaviors).

Changes have been coming and they still will be coming. Genetic change? Here. Bionic implants are already here. Superiority, thanks to Darwin, already been here for a thousand years thanks to European “civilization”. Thank you, Charles Darwin and the scientists whom have followed afterwards.

Most of the time I wish Darwin never got anywhere.  The survival of the fittest doesn’t mean humans should go willy nilly on making changes on a genetic level that will impact our species and the world in so few generations.  Well, that’s already happening despite what Congress or the climate change naysayers are telling us.

Being deaf is a way of life just as being a short lady with curly hair and blue eyes. Despite the gains that we bring to the world, we still will be eradicated.  Someone who is colorblind appreciates what life has to offer until an implant allows them to ‘see’ beyond.  The gap will continue widen between people as they have done today with wealth and intelligence.  The next gap is between those who choose the natural path and those who choose bionics.

Bionics are just tools that will take the human extreme of ‘survival of the fittest’ to a level where ethics will ignored, be damned the human species.

With what we are doing to the world, ourselves with technology and war, has not life become meaningless?  Am I raising my children to value life, only to have it turned back on me just because I happened to be different from them? Am I teaching children to value the world more than technology only to have them make the decision to support linguicide as well as genocide?

I will continue to live…when death comes at my door, I welcome it.  No longer shall I look to the future with such curiousity.

Love.Hate.G.March2017

Drawing by my soon to be 8 year old. 

via Daily Prompt: Meaningless

The Wholeness of Deaf Children

 

DeafchildrenentiledDeafcultureAs a parent and as a deaf child of hearing parents, I find myself frequently disappointed that parents do not take their deaf kids out to meet others who are like them, regardless of what language is used by individuals.

Why is this important?  I believe strongly that deaf children need to know that they are human beings, who happen to be deaf.  How in the world of creation (Nature or God) can a group of deaf people create a language and culture out of ‘deficiency’ or an absence of sense?  How?!

HearingparentDeafAdult

From ASL 4 Deaf Kids page on Facebook

The medical profession likes to believe that their answers are the accurate pathways for parents to take. This prevents parents from being able to be encouraged, learn and grow as human beings, in turn their kids to do the same as they grow up into their lifetime journey.

What this means for parents is that they need to take advantage of events that bring a wholeness to individuals and to families.  Whether it be a deaf/ASL Coffee Chat event, a community event such as Deaf Kids Fair (Cincinnati, OH), NWIDHHC Deaf Festival (Northwest Indiana), or American Society for Deaf Children (2015 Conference in Indianapolis, IN), a parent gathering with their kids (for socialization) or basically anything that gives parents and children a chance to be whole – TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THOSE EVENTS.

A child’s life should need not be dictated by medical opinions or the fanciness of technology. The child’s life needs to be encompassed by the WHOLE. Denial of the ‘whole’ is denying the opportunity for growth, adaptation, experience that builds into the mind, soul, body and spirit of self.  If this is not denied to most children who have their hearing, why should it be denied to deaf children?

Remember, we have defied and defined the concept of human culture and language by introducing our own signed languages and cultures. Why deny this natural occurrence for deaf children?

Everything is WHOLE

Don’t change your plans for education, discipline, communication or socialization. What you would do is change how you would approach those avenues when you meet your child for the first time, deaf.

A common theme touted by the people in the oral education profession is “Doing Deaf Differently”.  The problem with this is that doing deaf is still no different from what is real.  The excuse is cochlear implants.

Being deaf differently is embracing your child’s deaf as a part of it – not ignoring or denying it.  By embracing the whole and while in process, not making it the ultimate aspect of the child.  Incorporate the deaf in the child, keep the child WHOLE.

Do not pick or choose which is primary – deaf or the perception of ‘hearing’.  When a choice is made either way, it severely limits the WHOLE child.  What many do not realize is that what you do to a child at the age of 2 or 7 will have a lasting impression as an adult.  The limits will severely limit the child from becoming a WHOLE adult.

Do not limit yourself to short-term goals or achievements.  Life is a journey. By creating limits without going with your instincts will produce an environment of reduced self-esteem, poor language skills and inadequate communication/socialization skills.  A child does not live to be a child forever. Allowing the deaf aspect to be ultimate or ignoring the deaf aspect will shunt the child even as he/she grows to become an adult.

Give your child EVERYTHING you can.  Remember that the illusion of a child to be like you is the disillusion of reality. The ability to naturally grow with nature and/or nurture will be limited on the glorification of ‘deaf’.  Embrace the child.

A parent of a deaf or hard of hearing child will face the extreme ends of language acquisition and educational method arguments. Ever rarely will they hear the real stories of those who are smack dab in the middle.  One side celebrates with false stories while the other side lives in an oppressed reality.  They TELL you what is right or wrong.

There is no right or wrong answer, only answers that fit your child, your family and you the best.  The answer for you may not be the right answer for your child or your family.  A child’s journey needs not be limited to one method.  When the child grows up provided with everything, he/she will choose the paths that open for them.  They will take what they have learned and make choices – sometimes not wise but if we cannot let the children learn, how can they be successful adults?  Limiting the child to one way of life is limiting the opportunities and potential for access to resources which will fit the person they will become.

Expect the unexpected and still prepare for the lifetime of those who are involved to be impacted by your child you are raising. Do not lose your dreams, challenge them and find resources and tools to enhance; not limit the potential.

Everything IS a choice, an option. This is your child; whether he/she is deaf, male/female, blonde, brown-eyed, music lover, a tree hugger or so on.  This little kid is ultimately a child and in the long run, an adult.  You will be overwhelmed.  You will go through dark periods in life – what human does not?

A person who is Deaf is unique to the gift they bring to life, yet they are not unique.  Why? They are ultimately human.

Technology is not a miracle.  The reality of technology is that they are and function similar to a human body.  Like the human body, technology ages, gets upgrades, fails and lasts only a lifetime.  Technology is just a tool, not the ultimate solution or a miracle. It is never a full answer to an issue.

As the misconception shared with the world, “doing deaf differently” is not ignoring the deaf, but embracing it, making it a part of a WHOLE.  Not denying its existence, like those who prefer the oral method.

Life is chaos. Everything we go through; its ups and downs, the good and the bad. Life is a journey, it is not meant to be limited. How many opportunities will a parent miss because of the limitations placed on the child?  Limitations to the child is not the only aspect, when limits are placed, the parents, family members and the community is equally limited, even with the best resources. One cannot deny a part of the whole which they are.  When the denial of a part of whole happens, the sense of identity “wanderlust” takes place.  The concept of self is less explicit.

Embrace the world. Do not ever hide your child. They are a gift within ourselves to remind us of a childhood we outgrew. Even as parents, we are reminded of the freedom to do what one wants to do in the perception of education, socialization and communication.  Life is an education, a gift. Do not limit life with one option – give EVERYTHING, share EVERYTHING.

Be unlimited in life. Be responsible. Be REAL! Do not be blinded by illusions. Get everything. Life is a responsibility. There is no right or wrong answer, only everything which you get and share.

a Journey

Identity: MINE

Growing up, I have always been categorized in two groups when asked: “Is your family all deaf?” and “No, you are faking it, you’re hearing.”  The answer to both is No, I have a whole hearing family and I am not faking it.  I may sign proficiently at the age of 11 (when the ‘deaf family’ was asked), more likely as an Easterner (while I am a Midwestern) and respond proficiently as a hearing speaker with excellent speech reading skills…

I still remain who I am. Even with the decisions I make in attempt to compartmentalize my life according to the wishes of both cultures and languages, I live MY life.  Honestly, I cannot compartmentalize myself.

I posted this on my profile at Facebook on 30 March: Statement of the day: I never thought about what they wanted me to do at home – I separated two languages and cultures – one at home and one at school. I made the decision for my family – when they really wanted me to shut up and start signing. My parents made the decision for me to have both – be bilingual and bi-cultural as is my natural right as a human being. I denied them the same right they gave me. They were not aggressive with themselves to demand the same right. Love can make us blind. Society uses that love to create barriers on all sides. It is natural and God’s gift for all of us to be diverse, to be who we are intended to be. I was accused by my mother at a soccer game for not signing at home – 100% – I told her that she never told me to shut up and start signing. My parents took all of my siblings to ISD for sports or some activities, I went to theirs when I was home. I thank God for my parents every chance I get. I’m sure my siblings will say the same, our mother always told us how proud of us she and Dad are, I often said back – we are too of you. Dad doesn’t have to say it – he shows it. This is a relationship I would like to see in all families but as we are naturally human, it will be difficult, but not impossible.

I was at a playgroup recently and the deaf adults who have an active role with families were asked to share their experience growing up which included the communication range in which we were expressive or receptive. It is certainly informative.  I mentioned that we continue to struggle with our identity because of the demands society wants us to be in compliance.  We do know who we are but we have a hard time being true to ourselves.  While the other two grew up oral, they are currently bilingual.

Somewhere in the aegis of AG Bell is a comment oft heard: “Do not acknowledge that your child is deaf. The deafness will go away.”  The problem with this is if we deny a part of who we are… a key ingredient to a whole person, we will live a life that is not our own. The child will grow into an adult struggling doubly because the child/adult has yet to accept the fact that he/she is deaf and that it is only a part of who they are.

Deny the deafness, is to make it prominent. Stand out. It becomes painfully obvious that the person is deaf when it is denied. I am not saying that one should publicize that one is deaf but to accept the deaf within self and approach life as he/she is within, not so demanded by society to conform.  One simple fact, we will never be hearing, ever.

Yeah … but but but … technology… we’re still deaf (or hard of hearing).

Back to me (not my favorite topic): So growing up in both cultures and languages, how did that happen?  I was ‘kicked’ out of the house at 8 years old to deaf clubs, organizations, deaf church, playing with children like me; however, I was not limited to that side of my life.  I also participated in Girl Scouts, did songs for several performances (signed not spoken, y’all would need good earplugs), went to visit my family and did whatever I had to do as a growing child – as any other child, even played baseball.  Heck, I went to London to cheer in the Westminister’s New Year Parade, a sole deaf girl with no official interpreter and oy, I cannot remember how many gals and guys were there, probably over a hundred.

I ALWAYS KNEW I AM DEAF. ALLOWING THAT TO BE A PART OF ME ENABLED ME TO ACHIEVE MORE, RECEIVE RESOURCES, TOOLS AND SUPPORT AND DID NOT LET ME STAND OUT ON BASIS OF THAT PARTICULAR ASPECT THAT MANY DO NOT LIKE.  I am sorry, not for me, but for those who keep on denying that I am deaf (others as well).  I only stood out because of ME.

MEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEME.  NOT THEM or DEAF

The same can be said for the other side; however, my being deaf has allowed me to say what I want to say.  The deaf community may not be happy with what resources and tools I have in my bags to communicate with the world or to find ways to work with the people.  Their experience is different from mine whether in past generations or current generations; however, I feel for them.  It pains me the most because of experience with my family and my life which I still live.  If the deaf community remains closed to the world, it will be difficult to work on a level of comprehension, enlightenment and equal compassion.

That is something most people will not understand, the identity is not meant to be society’s, it is meant to be mine.

I am deaf and danging proud of it.

Just remember, it is only a part of me. Pieces of the puzzle. A petal on a rose. A leaf on a tree. A poison on a poisonous frog.

I am the part of the sum of whole.

Beyond the Ear: Why Say No?

The title does not intend for the concept of no being permissive but a responsible and logical answer.

A deaf teen asks his/her parents and the parents answer:

Can I learn how to drive?  No  Can I learn how to do the dishes? No  Can I feed the dog? No… Can I, Can I and the ‘can I’s go on… each with an answer of ‘No’. Finally the teen asks, ‘Why are you saying no?’, the parents answer back, “Because you are deaf”.

So the power of No when it comes to doing what basically are daily life skills can be demeaning to a child or an teen who has been constantly told “No” all his/her life.  Why should being deaf or a person with a disability be a barrier to living life to its fullest?

What happens to this person when his parents passes away? Everything has been done for him/her and he/she is dependent on his/her parents to do the job that he/she needed to learn years ago. Not only is it essential, these daily life skills such as cleaning the room, doing dishes, taking out the dog for a walk or driving enables a person to be independent most of the time. What I mean by “most of the time” is that it is okay to ask for help when needed. Really, it is okay to let them live and learn and help when they ask for it. Really.

The word “No” often is a negative term and can act as a double stigmata when it comes to allowing people with disabilities to learn various skills, find their limits and create solutions to those limits. Often, ‘no’ is a discipline tool, intended to teach a lesson or provide a rationale to why an action should not be done; however, when it comes to people who are deaf or others who have disabilities, it is a barrier.

A barrier, yes. It is a barrier between this person’s ability to achieve to his/her fullest, accessing resources available in the environment and becoming who they are intended to be. It is also a barrier to the parents, they will not be able to see their child become independent. They will probably endure complaints about the inability of their child to function without their help.

It is astonishing to see that the children of ‘no’s can be found in nursing homes, group homes, in jails, in mental health institutes because they are unable or limited to skills that they have learned because of one single word that is pretty much a stigmata thanks to the medical field (the media holds some responsibility as well), ‘deaf’.

Being deaf is not whole of each individual. There are many parts to this individual, once you say ‘no’, you are saying no to the whole on basis of one little part.  Saying “no” is a huge responsibility, often with repercussions.

Go beyond the ear and see the person for the whole, who they are, will be and can be. Be responsible for their life and future.  Why say no?  Let them live their life with your experience and education, let them experience life on their terms with your support.

Deaf or Hearing – this is your child…

I have struggled with this “parental codeswitching” issue. You may wonder “codeswitching”? What is this? It has to do with communication switch – this is common among bilingual families. Oftentimes the mother language is the language the family speaks while the community/society speaks another language. Bilingual (or multilingual) families are common in Europe, but not so here in America because of the American “Dream”.

There are no true monolingual countries out there, even if you may have either a dominant or official language, there are going to be regional differences and creole languages.  We will agree that communication is essential in whichever language is being used at the home while acknowledging what is being used out there in society.

So back to point, parental codeswitching. How relevant is this to me as a parent and a multi community participator? I am a parent who is deaf and I have two children, one hearing and one hard of hearing. Ninety percent of deaf parents have hearing children. A true bilingual family is where parents have accepted two languages and cultures and incorporated that into their home with little or no difficulty, meaning that whomever we are in the family, there are respect towards both.

A true bilingual is rare here in America. Deaf people from hearing families often are confused between both languages and cultures because of the pressure from both to become a part – being monolingual/cultural. The pressure is heaviest when it comes from the ‘hearing’ side because of conformity issues. This is carried down to the next generation – where codeswitching happens heavily.

A hearing child is born to deaf parents – often the parents are relieved when their child is identified to be hearing. My view is that from day one – ‘hearing’ becomes a dominant character for the child, the same as ‘deaf’ becoming dominant in an all-hearing family.

So codeswitching happens when the family decides to go one way with the children and another way with themselves. In this case, Signed English/Spoken English/Simultaneous Communication (even when a large percent of parents do not speak that well) for the children, while the parents stick with ASL/advanced Signed English (quicker and more fluid than the usual Signed English taught/used in schools) for themselves.

This I have seen beforehand does more harm to the family than benefits them. Yes the children are hearing, yet… they are my/your children. Being a child – a human child needs to be foremost, not secondary.  Separating the two languages between parents and children causes miscommunication and frustration levels to go up.

You may think… hey what about the research out there, which talks about the benefits of baby signs and basic sign language. Key words here – baby and basic. They do not encourage higher language function that children acquire as they grow older, becoming teens and adults themselves.  Baby and basic signs do not have adequate linguistic structure or grammar which are applicable when the family dynamics begin to change as the children grow older.

Placing two languages in the same communication process further diminishes the capability of a full language acquisition and application as individual languages. A story here: A friend shared with me the communication frustration between her son and her husband. Typically they communicate in simultaneous communication – sign and speaking at the same time.  I encouraged her to tell her husband to pick one language and communicate in that only, since her husband is deaf, signing would be effective (have you ever tried lipreading children?) but it is his choice. That was continued to be reinforced, then a couple of months later, my friend mentioned that the guys were communicating better. I asked how that was being done. The guys are sports freaks so comparing before and now, when they sign the son is able to share more information with the father, giving out  elaborated and detailed information than when signing and speaking at the same time.

Yes, the children are hearing (or deaf), just don’t make them suffer segregation of languages based on that. They need parental support and clear communication lines from day one. They are babies and they will be adults. Language gets complicated when one gets older, so baby and basic signs only go so far.

Mothers and children have the stable communication groundwork. Fathers are men by nature and communicate differently from mothers.  That does not mean fathers are excused from not communicating with their children. This is where another situation came into place: a daughter speaks to someone (ignorant about deaf and family dynamics with deaf-hearing) about an issue that was going on with her father. That someone called the police and took the daughter out of the house. The basic issue was communication between the father and the daughter – language and teenage issues that the someone did not understand. The father went to jail and now the daughter is not on speaking terms with the family.  That hurts, it does.

I may have sounded mean when I told my in-laws to stop speaking and signing at the same time to my children or be mean to my friends’ children when I sign only to them.  I am only thinking of the children’s well being as humans and as bilingual speakers. What I do now, I believe will give them linguistic/cultural foundation as they get older.

In a healthy hearing parent-deaf child relationship, where the child is treated as a child with needs to be met and communication is all over the place, not limited to one language – the better chance of a healthy relationship between a deaf parent and a hearing child.  I am fortunate that I have been surrounded by family, friends and teachers who saw me for who I am and that has allowed me to see my children for who they are and can be.

Time to Shake: School Board Changes.

In the last week or two, Indiana School for the Deaf (ISD), which I am a proud alumna, had its school shaken to its core. Governor Daniels appointed 4 new members to the School Board. After 3 years, we have an alumna on the board and three new members…

Why are we shaken?  ISD is a strong bilingual education school bridging American Sign Language (ASL) and English as linguistic peers in instruction to deaf and hard of hearing students. It is the only school in the state of Indiana with this method of instruction.

Ok, what’s the point, you ask? The two of the three new members are  strong oral education supporters. In fact, they are parents of deaf children who do not attend ISD.
Scott Rigney is also a board member at St. Joseph Oral School for the Deaf based in Indianapolis. This school is among many schools across the state which provide oral instruction. The third member has ties to an organization, HEAR Indiana. This organization is an state offshoot of AG Bell organization, an organization which has proven time to time its anti-ASL propaganda.

Let us get back to the point. Why is this relevant? They are representing a higher percentage of deaf students not enrolled at ISD. They are there to bring in “new” ideas and methods.

Lets go on to a relevant connection. Are you saying it is appropriate for a majority of the board to not have an overall understanding of ASL, the deaf community and the mission, vision and philosophies of ISD?  It is equivalent of allowing a large percentage of KKK supporters on the board of Howard University or men on the board at Wellsey College. Imagine the rights of the Blacks/African-Americans and Women being removed from both campuses, further reverting back to the old days of oppression and denial of civil rights.

We are here to preserve the linguistic, human and civil right for deaf and hard of hearing, their families and friends right to access ASL and bridge ASL with English in all forms in an educational setting well suited for this advantage (did I mention that ISD is the only school which provides bilingual instruction?).

So in this, our demands are:
1. To rescind the appointments of Mary Sue Buhner, Scot Rigney and Lucy Witte.
2. To establish 51% majority board members who are deaf and hard of hearing.
3. To establish a transparent procedure of the selection of qualified board members who understand the educational issues students face, respect the mission, vision and philosophies of ISD, and promote ASL & Deaf Culture.

As a bilingual user and alumna of ISD, the shaking will not cease!

Identity

I have yet to create a vlog (video log similar to blog) about another pet peeve of mine.

Identity: as adults it is a better idea to ask how one identifies self.  We all stereotype; I believe is unqiue to the human species, no matter what, who or why. Blacks and Deafies do the same within their culture.

Hence is why we are sensitive to our identity, we are assigned the identity label from birth or recognition of diference. Society bestows us identity without the development of the ‘meat’ of self.

I can passbly speak at an equivalent of an average hearing person, never mind my accent. It does not make me hard of hearing. I am severely-profoundly deaf and identitfy myself as Deaf. Darn proud of myself!  Many deaf do not have that opportunity to appreciate self because of the stigmata (mostly myths) that comes with being Deaf.

Yet see, being Deaf is not my only identity. Identity is a fluid character of being a human. You could also have 2 or more identities at a given time.  I am a woman, daughter, sister, a nature lover, a mother, wife, bilingual speaker and so on. All that is an embodiment of self, me who is a basic human.

Identity needs the body to hold its essence; therefore, the understanding and development of self depends largely on the fluid environment one lives in. Society’s “rules” are an intrusion on the concept of self, its incessant need for conformity. Denial to unique diversity will stunt the growth of self, identity acknowledgement and accepting of others identities regardless of stereotypical attitudes.

You may then ask, should not being Deaf be a driving force of my self identity?  It only plays a supporting role, it has allowed me to experience life as it was given to me; its good times, bad times and everything in between. It does not define my identity; yet has a dominant role in the myriad identities I possess.

In essence, never assume my identity if not clearly stated. Always ask and avoid stereotypical behaviors and attitudes. 

To Listen or Not to Listen

“The problem is not that students do not hear. The problem is that the hearing world does not listen.” – Reverend Jesse Jackson, 1988 Deaf President Now*

I have been waiting for a time to talk about listening in today’s society. The majority of the people consider “listening” to be synonymous to “hearing”. What I mean by “hearing” is the physical action of hearing something in the environment.

Merriam-Webster defines listen as: verb 1. (archaic): to give ear to. 2: to pay attention to sound 3: to hearing something with thoughtful attention, give consideration. 4: to be alert to catch an expected sound.

Yes they all rely on the concept of sound. Now let’s not take ‘listen’ literally here. Dame Evelyn Glennie, a percussionist who is deaf, introduces the concept of ‘listen’ with her music. She did a performance/presentation (link at end) for TED that shows how you can listen, even when you can’t hear. Music is more than just sound, it includes the vibrations that create sound. Sound is the production of vibration. Without vibration, there would be no sound.

There is a way to listen even if you cannot or do not want to ‘hear’. Let’s use our eyes. For those who cannot hear, our eyes become acute, not necessary better; just enhanced in the ways of listening to information. Lipreading (or speechreading) is one skill; yet, in any spoken language, the capacity to speechread can be maxed out at 40% of the spoken language due to homonyms and speech production apparatus (tongue, lip movements) that can or cannot be seen. The rest is guesswork if you don’t know the topic.

One can listen to the weather, action of the environment, or any thing essentially visual. You can also listen through taste, touch and smell. Deaf-blind individuals are acutely tactile, because they have the loss or reduced of visual and hearing senses.

Try standing in the middle of a field and listen with everything. Even if a person who cannot hear or smell, can feel the wind blowing, the grass/rocks crinkling under his/her feet and see the colors move in the air (blades of grass, birds, flowers, etc) and wax poetry from it.

Reverend Jackson stated at the Deaf President Now (DPN) 1988 that the problem is that the world at large is not listening to the students, or essentially the deaf population at large. Oppression of language, identity, and educational opportunities have gone too far. The students wanted someone who was in their shoes, had the experience and the attitude to promote Gallaudet as a premier university for students who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Listening is the action of receiving information, one can ‘hear’ information in different ways. As a bilingual person, using American Sign Language (ASL) and written/spoken English, I can listen in various ways.  I find it sad that children who are deaf and hard of hearing are not given the option to ‘listen’ in two languages. If children who can hear are encouraged to take up ASL, why cannot those deaf and hard of hearing children do the same? Oh no, they must be able to listen with their ears (period!).

Sorry to say, reality doesn’t work that way. There are people who learn through listening to sound (deaf and hearing alike) and people who learn through listening to tactile or visual information (deaf and hearing alike). So why place emphasis on sound as a mandatory life skill? There’s a resource site where you can answer questions to find  your learning style. Love this one, took it twice!  VARK – Guide to learning styles (link below), you’d be surprised to find out what your learning style is.  You will find it also amazing that direct listening skills development are also being abandoned for the bilingual approach for a wholesome successful child.

The majority is not ‘listening’, they are not ‘hearing’ the issues today. Our major issue now days despite economical difficulties is the discrimination – silent discrimination – of deaf people in employment. The same goes for quality education for deaf and hard of hearing children in the K-12 system (check out New York and Utah school systems).

*Deaf President Now History: in 1988, when President Lee retired, a search of presidents resulted in 3 applicants – 2 are deaf and 1 is hearing. All of them were qualified for the position of presidency. The hearing person did not know sign language (but was willing to do so). The students erupted and shut down Gallaudet for a week in March to protest the choosing of a hearing president (it was not personal) by the trustees. The result was the choosing of I. King Jordan as Gallaudet’s first deaf president. (link below)

Links:
http://www.ted.com/talks/evelyn_glennie_shows_how_to_listen.html

http://www.vark-learn.com/english/index.asp

http://president.gallaudet.edu/x42164.xml (Deaf President Now History)