As a parent of a deaf child, I have spent many hours reading and researching how to give my daughter every advantage possible in order to balance the deficit created by her disability. That’s not to say she isn’t perfect in every way possible—she’s my daughter, the embodiment of perfection in her mother’s eyes.
However, the reality is we live in a hearing world. An English speaking, hearing world at that. I believe it’s crucial for her development that she learns English as a primary language, but the deaf community seems to disagree with this approach. On several accusations I’ve found myself under fire for it.
Even at Pierce College, an environment that is supposed to nurture tolerance as well as learning and new ideas, I’ve found prejudice against the more modern approach to deaf education.
On several occasions while walking around campus with a book on Signing Exact English, I have been approached and reprimanded by people who either aren’t deaf or don’t know anybody who is, merely because someone from their American Sign Language class told them SEE is bad.
Why? Why limit yourself to a foreign language such as ASL in a community so grounded in English? SEE provides a clear bridge between the hand gestures used in ASL and the spoken English language. To limit you in this manner is to put yourself at a disadvantage.
“Quality and quantity make the difference,” said one Puyallup school district educator who preferred to remain anonymous because of the sensitive nature of the topic. “Parents have to be strong signers and provide in every setting, communication with SEE.”
Just like with any segment of the population, with it comes the elitists and the deaf community is no different. I actually have been told that because I can hear I have no business raising a deaf child. They said I should give my daughter up for adoption. I have also taken great criticism at times for my daughter having a cochlear implant, a small microprocessor that bypasses the functions of the inner ear and allows her to hear.
Many members of the deaf community believe since God made them deaf they should remain deaf. I found this odd considering that no one questions the use of prosthetic limbs for those who are born with missing arms or legs.
We can even take this sentiment all the way to its logical conclusion and say that for all those children who are born unable to sustain their own life should be left to die with no help or intervention from man. This makes no sense to me and conflicts with my convictions as a parent which force me to provide every possible advantage I can for my child. I do understand that others may have a different view on the issue.
“ASL all the way,” Christopher Moore, a Pierce college student, said.
Moore was born deaf and he went to the Ohio School for the Deaf at 4 years old in 1966. This is when he had his first exposure to ASL. He had never seen sign language before. Moore has never used SEE and he doesn’t like it.
He has seen students use it and he understands some of it, but ASL is smoother. There is no misunderstanding and he understands it completely.
When Moore was young school districts didn’t have Individual Education Plan to help students. The teachers were deaf so communication was much easier and there was no need for interpreters. Now, there’s a lot of technology and you must have interpreters. English is not Moore’s primary language and he struggles with English in school.
Moore believes deaf culture should be cherished and if someone is born deaf you should be deaf. He believes that hearing devices are for people who were born hearing and something happened for them to lose their hearing.
“I am profoundly deaf so hearing devices will not work for me,” Moore said.
He said it’s too difficult to learn how to hear so why struggle when sign is clearer. He is happy being deaf. He encourages deaf people to have a deaf life in the deaf community.
I don’t mean to disparage anyone from the deaf community. I just find all this politically correct nonsense and the idea of forcing deaf people to stay deaf as counterproductive.
To find fault with someone who wishes to transcend beyond their current set of limitations is what sets us apart from the rest of the world.
Written language is what separates us from other primates and has been the key to our success on this planet. ASL is great for two deaf people who wish to communicate, but when writing, you need to be able to communicate in English.
Our current need for political correctness clouds this issue at the expense of our deaf youth.
Many resources are available to help the deaf and I believe if deaf individuals want to experience the hearing world they should be able to and not be remanded.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost