Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bi-Lingual & Bi-Cultural Deaf School

I watched an interesting programme on TV this morning. Attitude. It deals with disabilities and the people that overcome them, from blind, deaf, or disabled. It's a great programme and one that has a very positive outlook and leaves you with a real 'feel good' feeling at the end.

You can check out the programme here... Attitude.

Anyway - this morning they had a very interesting segment on a bi-lingual and bi-cultural school in Brisbane, Australia. Each classroom has a teacher, and a teacher of the Deaf, and a member of the Deaf community in the classroom. Both hearing and Deaf children sign Auslan throughout the day. Occasionally, there will be a period for sign only, and the hearing children have to learn this way, and likewise, there will be a period for speaking only, and the Deaf children need to learn to lipread during these periods.

It looked very successful - with both hearing and deaf children integrating easily, and communicating with each other succesfully. All children were succeeding well with this program in place.

I've always been a strong advocator for sign language in children, after seeing my friend's child start communicating with his parents in sign at about 9 months old. Far earlier than any hearing babies. This made me see that sign language as a valuable tool in educating any child, whether they be hearing, deaf, Deaf or have a cochlear implant.

I think this school is spot on with their education program. I would love to see something like it in New Zealand. Am unsure if they have education programmes like this in the USA but I think it's wonderful.

I taught my daughter as a child to sign (she's now 22), to help me out when I couldn't hear. Even at 22, although she rarely signs now (she no longer lives at home), it is still remembered if needed. I doubt she'll ever forget.

I doubt any of these hearing children at this school will forget either. They might get a bit rusty, but they won't forget.

I just googled the school and found the webpage if anyone else wants to take a look at it.

Toowong State School Bi-lingual & Bi-Cultural

The other segment this morning was about a young Deaf man who raps in sign language. He was incredible, and makes very powerful and moving statements within his music, all in sign. There may be a video on the Attitude site up tomorrow if you want to watch it. I loved it, and I'm sure many of you will too.. Look out for any video that has Episode 9 as that is the episode that played this morning.

Now - if Deafside was up and running, those there wouldn't have seen this, as I have the big bad cochlear implant, and wouldn't be allowed to post there. This discrimination reminds me a lot of apartheid. It's like because I have a cochlear implant, I'm of a different colour to the rest of the Deaf community. Yet I'm still totally utterly deaf, and still get by on lipreading. I've just chosen to make life a little easier for myself. And for that, the online Deaf community have labelled me, as unclean, needing to be segregated.

Yet I share many of the same frustrations of not hearing. I share much of the same life experiences of being discriminated against, I share your humour, I find life difficult and hard at times.

So, no, I cannot understand why one would want to cut off other Deaf or deaf people from each other. We're all deaf, we just choose different modes of communication, and we can all learn things from each other.

Thats my take anyway.


Bron said...

I find that weird that deaf people would discriminate against people with implants. After all, they probably hate hearing-people discriminating against them so you would think that they wouldn't do it themselves. I am keen to learn sign but that is my only concern - someone bitching that I'm not deaf. I suppose that is irrational but you never know.

Dianrez said...

That isn't my take on the DeafSide issue at all...people who use CI's will be welcomed there when they explore the joys of ASL and Deaf Culture in their blogs. The CI isn't an issue at all.

It probably was the blogs that extolled the joys of CI and hearing/speech that rankled the DeafRead audience. Some of those really went overboard in selling the Hearing aspects as if THAT was the ultimate goal. For most Deaf people, that is a limited topic given too much weight leaving out more important issues.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dianrez,

Your comment makes a lot more sense to some of the blogs I have been reading.

As for the blogs that extolled the joys of CI and hearing/speech, whilst I can understand it can rankle the Deafread audience, I would say the majority of those blogs, were people just caught up in the moment, and I'm sure MOST of them did not mean any offence to the Deaf community. However, I know some of them would also probably be lighting some political agendas, but in saying that, there are stirrers in every camp unfortunately.

Thank you for leavinbg a comment though - much appreciate you putting me right.


Abbie said...

The people on deafread are much more abrasive then people in real life. They don't see us as people, they see us as machines because they are staring right at one (the monitor). I will admit that there are some CI blogs that are lacking tact when dealing with the deaf culture, they are simply preaching to the wrong group about their AVT/Speech therapy methods.

I am remaining neutral until the launch to this new found entrepreneurial decision to keep Deafread afloat.