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Deaf Education

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Deaf Education
If your child was Deaf, what would
YOU do?
A bit of history…
• Up until the 1860s Sign Language
was used to educate the Deaf.
• Then some parents and educators
felt that the Deaf children should
also learn how to talk which lead to
the creation of pure oral schools.
The Milan Conference
• Twenty years later there was an even
bigger push for schools to use oral
methods instead of manual methods.
• In 1880 the second International
Congress of Education of the Deaf
met in Milan, Italy
• There were a total of 164
• Only 5 were American
• Only 1 was Deaf (James Denison)
• The 5 represented 51 schools with a
total of over 6,000 students.
– This was more than the total of all the
other 159 participants combined
• Despite their opposition (plus one
educator from Great Britain), those
present at the conference voted that
Sign Language was no
longer to be used when
educating Deaf children.
• As a result many Deaf schools
became more oral.
• Some refused to change completely
and opted for a combination of both
sign language and speech.
– This was called the combined system.
• For the next 100 years there was a
“war of methods” in which both sides
of the education debate fought
– It still continues today
“For a Deaf Son.”
Indiana School for the Deaf
• Attempts were made to suppress sign
language until the 1960’s when a
linguistic study by William Stokoe
proved that ASL was a language in
and of itself.
Laws regarding
educating the Deaf
• IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act) was signed into law in
1990. (formerly Educ for all HC children act)
– Should be designed to meet the unique
learning needs of children with
disabilities. (pre-K - 21 years old)
– Should prepare students for further
education, employment & independent
Individualized Education
Plan (IEP)
– Anyone with a disability (Deaf or other)
must have an IEP.
• Specifies what services and how
• Specifies current levels of
• Specifies how disability affects
academic achievement
• Specifies accommodations &
modifications that will be provided
Least Restrictive
Environment (LRE)
This part of the law states that children
are to be educated with non-disabled
students unless the nature or severity
of their disability would be better
served in an different environment.
This is not always the best option for
Deaf children and we will look at why.
Why is it difficult to
educate the Deaf?
• Students start out behind their
hearing counterparts because they
have limited language. (only 5-10%
acquire ASL from Deaf parents)
• Most of the money for their
education is spent on teaching them
to talk instead of other curricula.
Deaf Education
• Curriculum focuses on:
– Teaching speech
– The psychology of deafness – how to
adjust to the hearing world
– Audiology
– Spoken English development
Deaf Education Programs
• Curriculum DOES NOT focus on:
– Deaf people interacting with each other
– The role that ASL plays in the
development of Deaf children
– Teaching them how to understand or
produce ASL
Different Approaches to
Deaf Education
• Methods of teaching are really just
policies of how teachers and students
should communicate with each other
instead of HOW they should be taught.
Simultaneous Communication (Sim-Com)
Cued Speech
• Spoken English is the sole mode of
– The assumption is made that students will
acquire English through seeing and hearing it.
This will “help” them fit in better with the
hearing world.
– Even students with some residual hearing don’t
do well because some of the sounds can’t be
seen visually. (60%)
– They miss out on other curricula because they
spend so much time on speech.
Oralism cont…
• They are expected to learn from a person who is
speaking a language they do not understand nor
have access to.
• They suffer socially as well because they are
forbidden to sign and can’t communicate easily
with others.
• They can’t “overhear” conversations so they also
miss out on general cultural knowledge, socioeconomic experiences, and other interactions that
help them develop cognitively.
• Also called Sim-Com
• Been around since the 1970s.
• Is a little more accepted by the Deaf
community because it allows signs.
• The mode of communication is spoken
English supported by simultaneous signs.
(Sign Supported Speech – SSS)
• Special signs are developed so that it
represents English.
Sim-Com cont.
• SSS is sometimes referred to as
“sign language” but it is not a
language. Unlike ASL and English it
doesn’t have:
– Natural development over time
– Acquisition by children who are exposed
to it.
– Grammatical structure that makes it
unique to any other language
Signing Exact English
• Every English word and parts of a
word has its own sign.
• SEE – I am go+ing to the store.
• Uses the same sign for each word
regardless of the meaning
• Can you can a can or corn?
Signing Exact English
• Many initialized signs were
introduced at this time in order to
clarify which exact English word was
being said. Still based on words
instead of concept.
– We, Our, Path, Road, etc
PSE – Pidgin Signed
This code is a mixture of ASL signs
and English word order.
A lot of times, Deaf people will “codeswitch” to PSE when talking to
hearing people.
Sim-Com cont.
• It is IMPOSSIBLE to speak English
and sign ASL at the same time
because they have different
grammatical structures.
• Either the signs are randomly
omitted or the English “flow” is
altered. (example)
No orange. He's sorry but he's out of orange. Pick another
No Purple? What's wrong with this Easter Bunny? ...
[-unintelligible----] YELLOW FLOWER [--] OTHER 1
Tell tell… the Easter Bunny · ... He said, “No”
all out. You can take a different color.
Well, tell him. He can hear you. He can hear you ...
Those В·are purple flowers. I said yellow flowers. Get another
Sim-Com cont.
• The teachers assume the students
have access to the curricula so they
aren’t able to make accurate
judgments of who is getting the info.
– Biased towards students with some
residual hearing. They become the basis
from whom the teachers make their
Sim-Com cont.
• Students still have to be competent
in English before this is an effective
mode of teaching.
• Proponents say it’s difficult for
hearing parents to learn ASL, so it’s
just “better” for everyone to use
signed English.
Sim-Com cont.
• There is NO PROOF that SSS has
helped a Deaf child acquire English or
be competent in it.
• Research DOES show that Deaf
students’ English grammar is not
comparable to their hearing
Cued Speech
• A visual communication system that
makes the sounds of spoken language
look different from each other.
– 8 handshapes in 4 different placements
on the face
– Combined with mouth movement
Cued Speech
Cued Speech cont…
• Positive: helps clarify lipreading
• Negative: only good in an educational
setting because it won’t work in
everyday communication. (The
average person – Deaf or hearingdoesn’t know these handshapes)
• Student(s) has an interpreter in each
class in a regular public school.
• Positives:
– Can take a variety of classes and
exposed to more curriculum at the
higher levels
Mainstreaming cont…
• Negatives:
– The interpreter may not be qualified.
• Ex. Small school districts.
– The student is isolated…sometimes the
only Deaf student in the class/school.
– The student must have good ASL/signing
skills for this to be an effective learning
• So…what’s a parent
with a Deaf child to
do then?
• Foundational belief:
– Deaf children should be
taught/modeled/allowed to use ASL
– They will be taught English as a 2nd
language and follow the principles other
ESL students learn by
Current Bi/Bi Programs
in the U.S.
• There are several schools across the
U.S. that have this kind of program
although they have different guiding
Some common guiding
principles are…
• Deaf students can learn if the
information is given in a language the
child has access to – ASL.
– How can a child learn without language?
– Thus, the teachers and staff must be
proficient in ASL.
– Evidence shows a student who signs
proficiently does better in English. (true
with any language)
Guiding principles…
• The earlier a Deaf child acquires
language, the more opportunity
he/she will have to learn about the
world (linguistically and culturally).
– This makes him/her more prepared to
learn in an educational setting.
– Once identified as Deaf, it’s vital to
expose them to adult signers and to
educate parents in ASL and Deaf
Guiding principles…
• The best place for Deaf children to
acquire ASL is from Deaf/native
– As time goes on, they will learn from
older Deaf students, Deaf peers and
proficient hearing signers.
– It’s important that some of their
teachers are Deaf.
Guiding principles…
• Content classes are taught in ASL.
(Science, math, etc)
• English is taught as a second
language. As the child gets older,
more emphasis is placed on English so
that he/she becomes bi-lingual.
Guiding principles…
• Speech training is not ignored (esp
for those who have some residual
hearing), it’s just not the PRIMARY
means of teaching.
• No child will be expected to learn
acquire knowledge at the same time
they are learning to understand
Guiding principles…
• The goal is not to “fix” Deaf
students and make them like hearing
students; the goal is to give them
equitable access to all curriculum.
• The Deaf community and culture will
be promoted and reinforced to all
students, parents and staff.
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