Monday, February 27, 2012

Thank You, Anonymous - Part Three (response to "Feeling guilty your child is deaf? One CODAs advice...")

"It is my experience that most of the students (that I have met) coming out of deaf institutes today lack the ability to read and write English fluently. I believe in the past the curriculum for deaf institutes was more oral and English based, so a lot of deaf people who attended them were able to obtain adequate lessons in English. What a blessing for them!"
                                                                                                            - Anonymous
Ok, Anonymous. If that is your experience, then that is your experience. Many students coming out of deaf institutes lack the ability to read and write English fluently. The truth is, most deaf students have historically been far less than fluent when reading and writing English, and it doesn’t matter what school they attended, because just about all of them have been failures. Mainstream, deaf institute, Total Communication, Signed Exact English I and II, oral programs… they all fail more often than not. That is the reality. As for your comment on about past curriculums being English and oral based, so what a blessing?!?!?! Oh my, not a blessing at all, I can assure you.
Let me tell about my parents' experience with oral based education. They attended a deaf institute in the fifties to mid sixties. Back then everything taught in the classroom was done orally. Signing was not allowed in the classroom, and the punishment for using it was often physically abusive in nature, let alone emotionally nearly 100% of the time. Signing went on in the residential dorms, at recess, and during meal times. The staff never signed with them at any of these times, they just simply let the students do their thing. This is how my parents learned ASL. It was the same ASL Deaf people were using around the country, though it had its own regional dialect. They used this language to interact with each other daily, and it was fully accessible.
You think oral and English based education was a blessing for deaf students in the past? I'm sorry to have to tell you what a naïve statement that truly is. Your lack of knowledge of Deaf history shows like a bright star on a clear night. To know anything about Deaf people and their history is to know of their struggle for equality in a world full of Audism, of hearing people whose belief in their superiority to be able to hear was projected onto deaf adults and children so they could be assimilated and oppressed with things like hearing aids and cochlear implants, et cetera, et cetera. This is not a knock on those accommodations because when used to enhance a deaf person's senses it can be an accommodation with purpose. History shows again and again that instead of being used to enhance, it has been the focal point to make deaf people different from who they truly are. This is a cultural issue and it always has been for Deaf people. It was always hearing people telling deaf people what to do and how to do it, and it still goes on today all over the world. Audism is something you committed yourself with that naïve statement I refer to, the one that goes as quoted at the beginning of this post. Your belief in the superiority of a historically documented failure that so many deaf people have had to endure in their own education is naïve. Congrats to your son for being one of the few successes, but that's all it is - one of the few. For every English success you show me, I can show ten English failures. And if one wants to make the argument that I have no experience or sense of modern mainstreaming or oral based educational practices, or the SEE methods, or even the Total Communication methods, then you would be wrong. I have worked in most of these settings as an educator myself. But to best illustrate my point, I will once again refer to the experiences of my parents.
Both of my parents attended the same deaf institute during the fifties to mid sixties. My father started at age 5, while my mother attended public school until the age of 13, which showed her parents no significant improvement, so from there on she attended the institute. Back then everything taught in the classroom was done orally. Signing was not allowed in the classroom, and the punishment for using it was often physically abusive in nature, let alone emotionally nearly 100% of the time. Signing went on in the residential dorms, at recess, and during meal times. The staff never signed with them at any of these times, they just simply let the students do their thing. This is how my parents learned ASL. It was the same ASL Deaf people were using around the country, though it had its own regional dialect. They used this language to interact with each other daily, and it was fully accessible. Through this interaction they learned socially, something that oral education could not provide them.
Conversations I had with my father revealed a lot of what really went on in those classrooms. He recalls being able to understand very little of what was instructed in his classes, until the one year he had a teacher who signed in the classroom. This teacher was a brave person who went against the current educational philosophy of the school, and taught lessons in ASL whenever superiors and peers were not around to see it. My father told me that was the best year he ever had at the school. It was the first and only time he understood the lessons being presented, and he was able to digest them easily. He did not get punished for using sign in the classroom. When that happened with other teachers, he would often have his hands tied with rope or be slapped in the face in front of his peers. What a year that must have been for him. He said that the teacher never returned the following year, and he guessed it had to do with the administration catching wind of signing in the classroom. Do you think they ever bothered to look at the overall improvement in student's grades?
This is what oral based education looked like in most of the institutes across the country until the mid seventies and later on. We as a society condoned and endorsed educational practices that were oppressive to deaf students all over the country. It's still oppressive today, for it claims that a non-fully accessible language (English) is superior to ASL, which is fully accessible for every deaf student. English is the primary language in this country, and there is no question that deaf people need to be able to read and write fluently if they are to have an equal chance to succeed in the hearing world. It's a fact that will never change.
This brings me to an educational approach that current research data shows has been the most effective in improving a deaf student's ability to read and write English. That is the bilingual method. The bilingual method recognizes that a deaf child's most natural and fully accessible language is visual (ASL), and therefore the one that needs to be mastered first. This means all lessons are taught in ASL from day one, and as the students learn to master their native language, they also begin to learn to read and write English. By learning about English through a fully accessible language (ASL), they have an opportunity to understand the language of English in ways that were not possible for many in the past. They use their mastery of ASL to analyze English and break down its grammar structure and syntax. It's possible because of the use and mastery of ASL.
Think about all the world knowledge you acquire as a hearing person everyday at home, school, and in social situations. Think of how limiting it is for a deaf child who lives in a home where everyone speaks and no one signs and attends school where the oral method is used. Pair that with the current mainstream movement having placed most deaf students in local public schools that have few deaf peers, and one can see the opportunity for social interaction in a fully accessible language is also significantly reduced. At least when my parents were in school they had their peers going for them.
If deaf students were able to get instruction in a fully accessible language, and be encouraged to interact socially with their deaf peers in that same language, imagine the improvement for what they can understand about the world. If hearing parents of deaf children learned ASL for their children and used it at home, think of the additional improvement.
Many deaf students in oral and mainstream programs often struggle with identity issues. An alarming number of these deaf children believe they will grow up to be hearing people. ?????????? In a setting with other deaf peers and Deaf role models, an identity can be easily seen and attained, and with that comes a sense of pride in oneself. What could be more valuable to a person's self-esteem?
This doesn't mean that parents have to send their child away to be raised by others. If a parent learns ASL and becomes supportive of Deaf culture, they likely become the biggest role model of all to their child. What it means is that a parent recognized that their deaf child IS different, and decided it IS ok, even if it means needing Deaf people to help show them the world. In short, as a parent you would be giving your child the world. Isn’t that what every parent wants? Imagine how that child will look to that parent with respect for what they did. To me that is the ultimate sacrifice a hearing parent can make for their deaf child, and speaking from experience I believe it to also offer the ultimate reward to a parent. It is giving that child all the tools to be the most successful person they can be.
Of course I think it goes without saying that this is the goal for every caring parent, regardless of how they decide to raise their deaf child. However, from my standpoint, the bilingual method is the best way to educate a deaf child. There are some schools out there using this approach right now, and when deaf students are fortunate enough to have been in such a program from the day they enroll in school until the day they graduate, the world will get to see Deaf people who can read and write just as well as they can. Deaf people have always held to power to make change for themselves, and at times they have. When the average Deaf person is able to read and write just as well as their hearing peers, they will perhaps acquire the best weapon available in destroying the many obstacles that stand in the way of ending Audism.
Anonymous stated that deaf student in deaf institutes today lack the ability to read and write fluently. Please keep in mind that most deaf institutes still do not employ the bilingual method. I would encourage you to see the results for the ones that do, and compare them to every deaf education practice out there. Through my work as a deaf educator, I have my certification from Gallaudet University in the bilingual educational method. From my past experiences in SEE II and Total Communication instruction, and everything I know from Deaf history and oral education, I have 100% conviction that the bilingual method is the best way to go for all deaf students. The oral method may be successful for a handful of deaf people, and I do not wish to diminish their success, but the truth is that the oral method leaves far too many deaf children behind.
This is my final post in response to Anonymous. Anonymous, you may still wish to disagree, and that's your right, but I want to thank you for your comments and your opinion, and for allowing me to voice mine.
R. M.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fraser Reviews JJF

Recently I was at a show at the Precinct in Somerville, Massachussets. ELF and I were there to see the Froggy and the Friendship, formerly known as just the Frog. It’s nice to see the backing band has a name for itself now. Their set was great, as I knew it would be. It was off the wall, silly, and it rocked. No surprise to me there, really. The real surprise was the following act, JJF.

JJF is friends with Froggy and the Friendship, having been featured in a song on the album, T3RD. I knew of them through that, but not for their own music. What I heard was good alternative rock, and watching the three piece band play, I could easily tell they were enjoying themselves and not being too serious. Good on you, JJF, good on you. Before I had left I mentioned to Froggy that I wanted to review the band on the blog. It was a few weeks later that I received a copy of JJF’s album. After having listened to it a few times, here’s what I have to say;

The Jimmy Johnson Files, otherwise known as JJF, comprise of Dan Goldberg on drums, Scooba Dooba on bass/vocals, and Dv L Baronson on guitar/vocals. Normally a three piece alternative rock band sounds very rough live. Think about all the “grunge” bands you may have heard in years past, even their studio stuff was rough, and that was the style. Nothing but raw rock. Live, JJF was no different. Raw music, and a lot of fun.

Listening to the studio recording still had a bit of a raw feel, but what a difference from them live. Maybe it was the acoustics in the club, or something else I cannot pin down, but in the studio there is a lot more polish, and it absolutely 100% works. Give credit to Sean Cahalin for mixing it down, and Nick Dragoni to the mastering. I heard so much more in the guitar work than when live, and that was a pleasant surprise.

JJF is definitely not a band that takes lyrics too seriously. They do what works, and what is fun for them. It fits in great to what they do musically, and is so much more different than a lot of bands that come to mind. Fun is fun, and the energy it creates live is even better. The track “Beer & Cigarettes” mentions that ‘yogurt is nutritious’ and makes it work wonderfully. I actually laughed the first time I heard the line, and immediately thought of songs like “Chic n Stu” by System of a Down, and the old Roger Miller (points for you if you know who he is) song that mentions ‘maple syrple’ (rhymes with purple). I laughed the first time I heard Sirge sing about ‘pizza pizza pie’, too. Anyone that can do that is awesome in my book, and I don’t care if its country music, either.

Tracks like “FuckShit” and “Two Chords” poke fun in their own way. They are also a tribute to what can be done with so little in terms of music and lyrics. It’s the fun behind it that drives these tracks, as it seems to do on several others. Look at their NWO style shirts. How can you take a bunch of guys who love wrestling that much so seriously? I get the feeling that any day with JJF is a good time. Who can’t love that?

So what do you get when you take solid alternative rock, fun lyrics, and a good time? Three letters, J – J – F. Go see them live and get their album. Even if their genre isn’t tops on your list of favorites to listen to, they are too much fun to miss live, and it spills over into their album, too. Their picture is on this page above the Frog's, so click it to find their Facebook page. Also visit for JJF video clips. It's got some other good stuff on there too. Listening to JJF is like drinking a bottle of good. Pop the top and chug it.

R. M.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Allesandra's Bequest Giveaway Winners Announced!

The winners of the Allesandra's Bequest Giveaway have been selected! The 5 winners are:

Melinda Clarkson

Bridget Bowers

Jennifer Allen


Tina Jo Breindel

Congratulations! Private messages will be sent to all of you. Please respond with the information requested.

I hope you enjoy the read, and please feel free to leave reviews, good or bad. Honest feedback is always appreciated.

R. M.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Thank You, Anonymous - Part Two (response to "Feeling guilty your child is deaf? One CODAs advice...")

Anonymous wrote, “He wore hearing aids, which didn't help much because the sound was so distorted. Our son opted for a cochlear implant starting at 12 years old, and was finally allowed one at 15. He enjoys the pure sound that hearing aids could not provide.”

Anonymous made mention of using hearing aids, which were not working very well at all, and then moving to a cochlear implant, which their son was able to use and eventually earned an AS degree at a community college. This is an example of a deaf person using accommodations to get by in the hearing world. Accommodations are what I’d like to talk about today. Please keep in mind that the story of Anonymous’s son is in the very small minority of deaf people who are the closest to fully accessing spoken English with their accommodations. Anonymous says he enjoys the pure sound that hearing aids could not provide. Kudos to you, but for most deaf children, that is far from the reality. Technology cannot consistently provide full access to spoken language, and it is fairly rare to find a ‘success’, though the ones that are often become the spokespeople for such technology. Have you ever heard from the ones who weren’t successful? My intuition and experience tells me it’s probably a no, and it’s not because they aren’t out there. They far outnumber the successes. The success of Anonymous's son does not represent the majority of deaf childrens experiences with cochlear implants.

That covers deaf people in terms of accommodations for accessing spoken language. There are more accommodations I did not mention, but I’m sure you get the idea.

For Deaf people, using hearing aids or cochlear implants is not generally for accessing spoken English. It’s used primarily for catching background noises or alarms, etc. Because Deaf people us ASL, there is already full, 100% access to a language, which is something most deaf people don’t have. Instead of using a technological accommodation to gain access to a spoken language, they use a different kind of accommodation – certified ASL/English interpreters. Deaf people use interpreters for doctor’s appointments, meetings, graduation ceremonies, classes, etc. The interpreter relays the spoken communication into ASL while also relaying the signed language to spoken, effectively facilitating conversations between hearing and Deaf. This is just as much an accommodation as hearing aids and cochlear implants, the difference being that certified ASL/English interpreters allow Deaf people to fully access spoken English, which is something hearing aids and cochlear implants cannot consistently do. Also, this an accommodation for hearing people who cannot access ASL. Imagine that, we need an accommodation, too. Or, we could just learn ASL ourselves and eliminate the need.

The whole point of my writing this is to show how much easier ASL is and can be than technological accommodations that encourage trying to do things in a language that’s not fully accessible. Everyone can sign, and if you don’t, there is an accommodation available. One may point out that interpreters are not always available for Deaf people to use when interacting with hearing people, or vice versa. That is true, interpreters are not always available. But what of written English? Why can’t that be an option? There is no reason a deaf child cannot learn to master reading and writing English by the time of their high school graduation at the same level of competency as their hearing peers. Anonymous made some comments about past and current practices of deaf education. This will bring me to part 3, which will help clear up the truth about deaf education, and will also be posted soon. Thanks again to those following this blog.

R. M.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Allesandra's Bequest on Smashwords Giveaway

Hello all, this post will be brief and will not postpone when "Thank You, Anonymous, Part 2" will be posted.

I have completed Allesandr'a Bequest and it is now available on Smashwords. Here is the link to view for yourself;

Having said that, I would like to announce a giveaway for Allesandra's Bequest. I would like to give away 5 copies to followers of this blog, and another 5 to my facebook fans. When my facebook fan total reaches 20 people, I will hold a random drawing for the 5 winners, and it will be overseen by ELF to make sure it's all fair. I will then notify each winner privately for further details on how to proceed. She will also oversee the random drawing for you blog followers here. I will privately message the 5 blog winners to notify you of winning, and will then give you more details to proceed.

This book is an ebook only. There are none in print. It's not a feasible avenue for me right now.

I am very excited to have this ebook finished, and it also means I can get to work on my next ebook. More details to come as they happen. Thank you to all for following and good luck to all of you in the drawing!

R. M.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Thank You, Anonymous - Part One

"Feeling guilty your child is deaf? One CODA's advice..."
My son was born profoundly deaf. We as hearing parents learned to sign and used total communication at home. He wore hearing aids, which didn't help much because the sound was so distorted. Our son opted for a cochlear implant starting at 12 years old, and was finally allowed one at 15. He enjoys the pure sound that hearing aids could not provide. He never attended a deaf institute, but was mainstreamed throughout his public school tenure. I'm proud to say, with both pidgeon ASL and working with him at home he graduated from high school reading and writing at high school level, he tested into college English 101 (immediately), and graduated from community college with an AS degree and a certificate.
My point is this, if you have children YOU are responsible to raise your children, no matter what they are or if they have a handicap. This does not include sending them off to be raised by others. Your child is a part of your family and you should love them and pay attention to them so they are nurtured. It is my experience that most of the students (that I have met) coming out of deaf institutes today lack the ability to read and write English fluently. I believe in the past the curriculum for deaf institutes was more oral and English based, so a lot of deaf people who attended them were able to obtain adequate lessons in English. What a blessing for them!
I do not intend to insult you, R.M. Fraser, but until you have a deaf child and have lived through raising one I believe you may not really understand what it is truly to be a parent of a deaf child. Thank you for your opinion, but I must agree to disagree
This comment was posted recently to that blog post, and I responded with this...


Thank you for your comment as any perspective is welcomed to be shared. Having said that, I am informing you now that I will be responding to your comment in my future posts. You mentioned you do not intend to insult me, and I take it on face value that it is not your intention. Regardless of that, you still have.

You have brought up some important counterpoints that I feel need to be addressed. Throughout these posts, I hope you will come to understand why I see things so differently.

R. M.
Now here is where I can break down everything in Anonymous's comment and bring up some great points. Anonymous, I want to thank you again for sharing. The first thing I would like to talk about is Total Communication.

For those who do not know, Total Communication (TC) is used as a method of instruction in many schools for the deaf across the country. I have seen it in action first hand as an educator and have even tried it myself to see what it feels like. It's not a good way to expose a deaf child to ASL. In fact, it's a very poor way to display it, and here's why.

TC is speaking English and signing at the same time. the idea is that by doing so, a deaf child has a greater opportunity to learn and understand English. It couldn't be further from the truth. Can anyone in the world speak two languages at the same time? Could anyone in the world understand two languages being spoken/conveyed at the same time? If you just answered yes, please kick yourself :)

For spoken languages, a person can only handle speaking one at a time, for obvious reasons. The same is true for TC even though one is signed and one is spoken. One language will dominate the other, meaning the dominant language comes through cleanly, while the minor one is broken, and does not follow its grammar or syntax. It basically becomes words that attempts to follow the dominant language, so in effect only one langauge is being spoken. When a hearing person uses TC, the dominant language is spoken English, and there a some signs thrown in along the way in support. Even if you are capable of signing most of the words you are speaking, it loses meaning in ASL without proper facial expressions (part of ASL grammar), as it is not needed in spoken langauges. It also loses conceptual meaning as well. ASL is a visually conceptual language, and the brain cannot process two languages with such different features at the same time, and therefore it can't be produced that way either. Imagine you are deaf and cannot hear the spoken language when someone is talking and signing aty the same time. If the spoken English is dominant, then you obviously are not able to access that language fully, and what you are seeing is a few signs here and there without any grammar structure to tie them together, possibly trying to read their lips for more information (keep in mind that lip reading is a weak strategy that even the best lip readers can't follow 100%), leaving you with no access to any langauge that makes any sense whatsoever.

When I tell you I've tried it, I have. I have worn earplugs while a person communicated to me in this way. this person was hearing, and a fluent ASL signer, but the ASL was the minor language, and not being able to hear her, I got everything all screwed up. Chances are I would have understood more of it than a deaf child because I can speak English fluently and sign ASL fluently, too. Imagine how tough that's got to be without full access or exposure to either language.

There is plenty of research out there that can be found at Gallaudet University supporting the theory that deaf children who have exposure to a fully accessible langauge from birth will have the same level of social and academic skills as any regular hearing child. Reasearch also shows that deaf children who have fully mastered ASL have an easier time learning to read and write English, and are often at the same grade level for reading and writing as regular hearing children . This is because when you can fully use a langauge to express yourself and communicate with others, you have acquired the concept of language. The concept of language is the same whether signed or spoken, regardless of its differences in grammar, syntax, and the rest of the individual facets of languages.

Anonymous wrote that "We as hearing parents learned to sign and used total communication at home. He wore hearing aids, which didn't help much because the sound was so distorted." This statement tells me a few things.

First, the son had no chance at fully accessing English through sound.

Second, TC was used at home.

Third, "learning to sign" doesn't tell me that these parents learned ASL. American Sign Langauge is not just "sign" or "signing". Just because one takes some classes doesn't make one a fluent signer.

Granted, I only have the comment itself to go on, and that means there is possibly some missing information that could help clarify some things. Did Anonymous take more than a beginner signing course? Was it instructed by a Deaf person? Speaking to what information I have in front of me, and that part of my brain that speaks from a lifetime of experience, I can only surmise that this deaf child was never really given a chance to succeed with ASL. There was probably little to no exposure to ASL on a regular basis, and that would have been the only fully accessible language that child had, especially when one considers that TC was used in the home between parents and child.

Here is a situation that looks to me as though the parents did what they thought was right. Both sets of my grandparents thought the same way towards their deaf children, too. The results will vary, but many are common to each other, and that common fact is that the deaf child doesn't get a fair chance at Deaf culture, and more importantly, exposure to a fully accesible language from birth. There are a lot of missed opportunities there, and Audism is the main culprit. Those who believe hearing and spoken languages are superior to deafness and signed languages have the majority of influence on that child. It is the parents who make the final decisions, and that is their right, but it saddens me to know that in most of these cases there was never an opportunity to explore all the options equally, and Deaf culture and ASL lose out. What's worse is that deaf children could have had opportunites for greatness through a natural and accessible language that is not only fully accessible to deaf people, but to hearing people as well. I see so much more that can be accomplished and I watch those opportunities get thrown by the wayside, dismissed, neglected, and many times not even noticed because of Audism. It seems to me that Anonymous could have been misled by those who advised them, and had never been given an opportunity to equally explore Deaf culture for them and their child. If so, it was a disservice to them. It's a shame sometimes to think what my parents could have been, and even though they were both happy for what they had, they we just as bitter for what happened outside of their control. It's a tragedy that few hearing people ever get to see, and many of us CODAs bear witness to that all our lives. Not just through our parents, but their Deaf friends, children, and any other Deaf person we have come across through our experiences. We sometimes see it in the faces of other hearing members of our families, like grandparents, aunts, uncles, and close cousins. We also sometimes see that even they are close to us, they still might not get it. It's amazing, and not in a good way.

Please don't get me wrong, Anonymous. You also told me that he earned an AS degree in community college and easlily placed into English 101, and that is a success to be proud of. I will never take that away from either of you. Be proud of what your son has accomplished, but please do not diminish my experiences because I haven't been a parent of a deaf child. As you can see, I have plenty of experience to bring to the table, and its just as valuable.

In future posts I will be addressing Anonymous's other points in the comment post. This was Part One of many. To be continued....

R. M.

Friday, February 3, 2012

My Son is Deaf, Finally!

Well, I have completed writing Allesandra's Bequest, and it is now in the editing process. A big thank you, Froggy Dilinger.

I suppose now would be a good time to announce that I am a judge in the 2012 Global eBook Awards. I am very excited about this, and will be judging ebooks in a few different categories. We shall see how it goes, and I will probably review every decent book I come across while judging. Let's see how it goes. If you want to know more about it, click on the badge to the right of the blog screen to see the website.

With that out of the way, I want to talk a bit about somethign more specific. But before I do, I need you to invest about ten minutes of time watching a youtube video. It is imperative, and I mean imperative, that if you start watching the video, you must see it through to the end. If you don't, please do not leave a comment, or even bother reading the rest of this blog. I don't mean to come off as harsh in asking this, but it is very necessary, and those of you who do watch through to the end will understand why. Here is the link,

Ok, for those of you who decided to stick it out, thanks. If you have seen this before, more power to you. I just found this video yesterday thanks to a facebook friend (Ladd, thank you for posting it).

When I watched this yesterday, I couldn't believe what I was watching. It blew my mind that something like this could have actually happened. I know many Deaf people who wish their children to be deaf as well, and the truth is that about 90% of Deaf parents have hearing children, you know, like me. Conversely, 90% of deaf children have hearing parents. I know my parents would have been overwhelmed with joy had either myself or one of my sisters had been born deaf, but that wasn't in the cards for them.

To be totally honest, I hope for a deaf child of my own. ELF and I have no children now, but that would be a wonderful gift to us when we do start a family.  I suppose thats just something that many a CODA feels given the experiences we have in the worlds of Deaf and hearing. A big part of me wants that so that ASL and Deaf will not die out in my family. Thats all I will say on that personally for now.

Back to the video, when I got to the end, I was relieved, and then I realized just a moment before it was brought up what this story was all about. When he said it, I felt that this was a very impactful way to get the message across.

So many hearing people and nearly all medical professionals view deafness as something to be fixed. Honestly, this physical disability has no impact on intelligence, so why do they fight it so much with hearing aids, cochlear implants, and speech therapy?

Deaf people are proud of who they are and what they can do. The truth is, they can do anything that we can do, even be doctors. Imagine that. A Deaf doctor. How cool would that be? Maybe I will meet one before I am dead. I certainly hope so. The truth in this youtube video comes down to that point. The people who suggest/recommend cochlear implants (doctors and audiologists) and the people who make the decisions to implant them (parents of deaf children) most often do so with little to no regard to the Deaf community. They do this either for the reason that they do not really know about Deaf people and culture, or they believe the myths that Deaf people are less than the rest of us, and who would want that for their child?

It is vitally important that deaf children have a chance to meet and become familiar with the Deaf community. I know from personal experiences and from so many Deaf friends who never feel more confident, proud, and normal than they do within their own circle of Deaf friends, where everyone is signing and just being themselves. When deaf children are implanted for the sake of being fixed, where they end up is uncertain. Many Deaf adults worry that these children will never have an opportunity to become Deaf and miss out on it, and that will weaken the Deaf community. They feel it is their right to have full access to their natural, and fully accessible langauge (ASL) from the moment they are diagnosed. An implant and everything that surrounds it pretty much guarantees that this will not happen for that deaf child while their hearing parents make these decisions, and if they are lucky they will find the Deaf community when they are old enough to decide things for themselves, and hopefully embrace it. I hope I have explained this adequately for you.

The real problem is that many deaf children who found the Deaf community later in life really do regret that they were never exposed during their childhood. They feel they were cheated out of this opportunity, and that it was their right to be exposed. I want to take that one step further and say that it is also the right of the parents to have equal time and access to explore all options before making such a decision for their child. So many hearing parents never really get that access because those advocating implants are only telling their side of the story, and no one is notifying Deaf advocates when a child is diagnosed as being deaf. Much of the time when the option is mentioned, it is cast in a negative light that makes it seem undesireable. I can say Audism. So when you get down to it, most hearing parents are being cheated, too.

On a more personal note, this video's suggestion for not implanting a child and allowing them to decide for themselves when they are old enough is something I believe is fair. If being deaf does not affect one's intelligence or capabilities, why mess with it, especially when they may not want it when they are old enough to make their own decisions. Would you put a tattoo on your child? If you did, what if they hated it as they got older? What if your son or daughter was unmercifully picked on by his or her peers for that art you thought was cool or cute at the time? Pretty ridiculous to even think a parent would go there, right? And hey, kid, once you're 18, go get a tattoo if you want.

I end this blog entry on that point, and encourage any of you who agree with the video to share it with your friends and others you know. If nothing else it gets people thinking about it, and perhaps the more we think about something as a whole, the better chance we have as a society to make more responsible decisions, even if we think we already are.

R. M.