Saturday, August 18, 2007

RE: Hearing student in Deaf school.

This is in response to SeekGeo's vlog on To get the initial part to this post please view his vlog below:

I hope you dont mind me posting your video here Geo!

So anyway I thought about his post and realized he made many good points.

1.) Why dont we allow 'exchange students' from American mainstream schools to spend a semester or a year enrolled in a deaf school, not mandatory but optional for those who are considering working with the Deaf as a career, whether it is Interpretation at public speaking events, or for Deaf students needing ASL interpretation at mainstream schools, a VRS/TTY Relay operator, or even Deaf ministries in churches.

2.) It will give students an exposure to a different way of life for someone who has a handicap - they cannot hear, so they must rely on a visual means of communication. This will also help people to realize just because you cannot hear does not mean that life is a silent confusing world. The Deaf can enjoy many things that hearing people do - including music. I myself often cannot hear the lyrics well enough in music to enjoy songs with words, so often I listen to techno, house, or what hearing people have termed as "video game music" (pshaw - whatever you can have fun with this - this is how I got in on the rave scene a few years back and enjoyed it.)

3.) There would be fewer stereotypes of what a deaf person is, or what they look like or how they act. So often I hear the term "deaf and dumb" and it really grinds my nerves. I grew up hearing this from my classmates, my brother, and often any boyfriend that my cousin had at the time. All during highschool I never dated. I was the odd one, the geek, whatever you want to call it. What these kids didnt understands was that I was not mentally deficient as they perceived, but rather I did not hear some things. People often do not realize that the person you could be talking to could very well be deaf. Not every deaf person signs, some grew up strictly oral for whatever reason their parents chose. There have been some successful deaf people, there are 2 deaf actresses in mainstream hollywood. Alexander Graham Bell grew up with a Deaf mother, and I should not even have to mention Helen Keller OR Beethoven, whom composed his most well known works at age 22-24 and was post-lingually deaf at age 3 or 4 if memory serves me right.

Even though these are excellent points that I agree very much with there are couple of things that are going to hinder a hearing student from enrolling in a deaf school.

1.) Deaf school enrollment is on the decline in light of student-on-student sexual assualts as well as teacher-on-student molestation. For sources on the subject click here for in-depth stories of a group of students at Seattle School for the Deaf:
It is lengthy but engrossing and well worth the read.

2.) More and more students are being mainstreamed into hearing public schools that are having specialized programs to meet the students needs such as hiring an interpreter by the district, offering CART typist - someone that types the classroom conversation on to a laptop for the deaf student to follow in real time as it happens. Also many larger public schools as well as colleges and universities are offering ASL (American Sign Language) as a foreign language for students to full-fill a foreign language requirement in order to graduate. Currently UALR offers an ITP (Interpreter Training Program) for students who wish to work at the ASD (Arkansas School for the Deaf) or as interpreters for the deaf elsewhere in the state or wherever they may be qualified to take such a position.

3.) Safety concerns - would a hearing student be able to take advantage of a deaf student that could jeopardize their safety? Maybe, maybe not - but is the risk worth it to parents and educators alike?

I am however not stating that schools should be segregated by hearing and deaf, neither should classes. The real world is not segregated - hasnt been since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's. You could be waiting in line at Wal-Mart behind someone who is deaf, but you would not know that. The car next to you on the interstate could be driven by someone who is deaf - there is nothing hindering someone who is deaf from driving, only the blind. The lady behind the jewelry counter at JC Penneys could be deaf - but how would you know? Like blindness there are also different degrees of deafness. Personally I am profoundly deaf in my right ear with a 65 db (Decibel) loss in my left ear. But you would not know that because I grew up orally, I have almost perfect speech and could easily pass as hearing. A friend of mine works as a CNA for the local hospital - she is deaf and requires hearing aids to hear well enough to do her job. But you would not know that because she too went to a mainstream school and she wears powerful BTE aids (Behind-the-ear hearing aids). Her speech is well enough that she often passes for hearing unless you noticed her aids.

Most deaf people that you meet will not tell you right off they are deaf, but they are not going to flaunt it every chance they get.
I still wish for a time for a hearing student to get the chance to spend a year at a Deaf school to learn about the deaf community - but unfortunately there are obstacles we (the deaf) have to overcome ourselves. We have to get the hearing world to take us seriously when we decide to do something that stereotypically we cant or shouldnt. It is sad today to think that some people will think or say something such as "Oh look that deaf boy wants to become a mechanic - but how will he communicate with his customers?"

or even something like this " Oh that daf girl has gotten married, I hope she can be a good wife to him because she cannot hear well."

I am for giving these same people the chance to REALLY get to know the deaf community and realize we are not just a bunch of nutcases that think we are entitled to the same rights as the hearing because we deaf. Actually we are for the most part. The only thing we cant or shouldnt do are jobs that actually do require hearing such as civil service jobs or the military.

Those are my closing thoughts - giving someone a chance to truly embrace the deaf culture would open many many doors for us, especially those in the employment sector where some employers deny us jobs simply because we cannot hear (not all employers are like this, but there are a few out there that have) and they give a different exscuse such as the position was already filled by someone who was more suited or qualified for the job.

Have a good weekend!