Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Why should parents pay?

The video is 1:54 minutes long. If you are unable to view the video, click the youtube link

Anger over sign language charges

Alex has started to pick up words through sign language. A Harrogate family say they are angry that they have to pay for sign language lessons to enable them to communicate with their two-year-old son.

Debby Wood and her daughter Natalie have been taking sign language lessons at Harrogate College to help them talk to son Alex, who was born deaf.

But each class costs £5 per person, which the family say is prohibitive.

(NOTE: it is equal to approximately $10 in U.S. money)

Harrogate College, the Department of Education and Skills, and the Learning and Skills Council declined to comment.

In some areas of the country, the fees for courses in sign language and lip reading are absorbed by colleges or subsidised by the local authority, but in Harrogate they are not.

'Should be free'

The family said they could not afford for all of them to attend the classes.

Mrs. Wood said: "I think it is terrible, at the time it really upset me because all I want to do is talk to my son through sign, and here I am not being able to afford it."

Father Ian Wood said: "Ideally I would love to attend the course, but the cost of the course is quite prohibitive and we are getting no assistance.

"Considering the fact that it is a life skill, it is quite ridiculous that we have to pay for this - it should be free."

Correction: The family's name is Wood,


Oscar the Observer said...

When Thomas spoke about how hearing people WILL NOT like their hearing to be taken away if they are born to deaf parents BUT BUT BUT deaf child are "required" to take in hearing by doubtful working machines so they can hear if the parents are hearing, I said that it added to the greatest irony as spoken by Amy. NOW you just added another irony to the greatest irony.

How awful! Yes, discuss this too!

Sharon Duchesneau said...

The last time I checked, hearing parents could take free ASL classes at the Maryland School for the Deaf.

You make good points here.

mishkazena said...

Another set of double standards. They do provide family psychotherapy to improve the familial dynamics, so why not sign language classes to improve communication skills with their own deaf kid(s)? This also benefits families of non-verbal children like those with autism.

David Ennis said...

That's good question. I know that every year, Maryland School for the Deaf provides free ten months ASL classes for all families and relatives who have deaf children for about 15 years.

I will ask mom about it. I knew that my parent took sign language classes at Texas School for the Deaf in early 1950"s. Ralph White was teacher. I need to find out if the sign language course was free or not.

Anonymous said...

Well... Of course, the insurance will not pay anything for a sign language class. Why? Simply, it is not a medical matter.

Anonymous said...

ASL classes for family members of deaf children at several mainstreaming schools in Las Vegas are free. They are held after school.


Anonymous said...

you have a good point. I know that for college and schools offer ASL classes sometimes charge or free depends but if parent happen have Deaf child or born Deaf baby.

They should offer free ASL classes for new parents to learn for their new born Deaf baby or child. if parents have desire to learn to communication then they should help offer them free ASL classes.

ASL Risen said...

ASL classes free??? How often???

Here in St. Louis, there's one free ASL class in Special School District one night per week but I don't know how long (possible 1 hour). I think 6 Monday nights or Tuseday nights. I am not sure if they still have it because I was so busy..

ASL Risen said...

To let you know that the public schools here in the State of Missouri, they offer free hearing aids for the Deaf kids but the school will be aware of their own responsible to take care of the hearing aids on the school property. The kids cannot bring the hearing aids home after school because the school could not afford "losing" or "damaged" hearing aids.

BEG said...

Well I'm kind of amused because I'm deaf but I have to pay for the ASL classes I take!

In fairness, though, it seems like it's a more cost effective use of taxpayer money to absorb the sign language class costs for family of deaf, than it is to pay for HA, CI, etc... If the gov't is happy to pay for the latter, why not the former? You can equally argue HA are not medical either, they're for communication just like signing (since CI involves surgery and such, it does come out a bit different, I think).

LaRonda said...


~ LaRonda

Anonymous said...

I cannot BELIEVE that even after this article, the college wouldn't just absorb the costs. Really, they should. Lawyers do pro-bono work, doctors do some pro-bono work, and in this instance the college should do pro-bono work. They are trying to do right by their child.

A note on that - unless you personally know a deaf person, there is NOWHERE to learn ASL in real life (books are different) unless you're in college. When I was 11 I really wanted to learn ASL, but NOTHING was offered for me. It's a shame, b/c if I'd started at 11, I'd be really good by now. (I'm hearing). Good discussion as always, Barb.

Karen Mayes said...

Hmmm... it is interesting. I do remember in the past RSD did charge for parents wanting to learn sign language and there was some objections to it. Now there is a local story going around in Rochester (a town of Rush-Henrietta) that ASL is phased out from R-H school cirrculum (middle and high schools, degraded to only an elective, no longer one of foreign languages. I know it is not directly related to what Barb just said, but I feel it is something that we need to be aware about what is going on in America, especially what is happening in Barb's backyard (Rochester.)

Check out:



Anonymous said...

How do teacher get any books of ASL? if it don't charge people to take ASL class?

Virginia L. Beach said...

Interesting thought! I have two parents plus a grandfather in my ASL class I teach thru an Independent Living Center, and they were charged for the course.

You make a good point. Parents shouldn't have to pay for such services. Seems there should and could be funding avenues for parents who desire to take such courses - insurance, Dept. of Education, Dept. of Families and Children (child welfare or whatever its called in your state), etc.

Thanks for being up this issue, Barb. It's a good one for us to be thinking about.

Angie said...

Hello Barb,

It is so ironic that you brought up this subject! Just yesterday my father was telling me that parents can get either a tax credit or the state will pay for their deaf child to learn how to lip read. I was shocked by this! On the other hand, I think if I want my child to learn more ASL then I would have to pay for classes outside of his regular grade school setting. This is unbelievable! My son is at the crossroads right now where I have to decide whether or not to try further amplification with him (CI) or get him into classes so he can improve his ASL skills. I'm pretty sure my insurance will cover a CI, but the ASL classes would need to come out of my pocket. Hmmm.... Somewhere there is a major disconnect.
- Angie

Lisa C. said...

My dad had paid for my mom's ASL classes at the college during my sophomore year since there was no free class in our hometown. Most of my hearing friends who had deaf children spent money on classes also.

Joey Baer said...

At our school, California School for the Deaf, offer ASL classes for parents and siblings at no charge. However, if we think about it, we have many parents who live far away from our school, will probably have to pay for ASL classes in their area. So in other words, it doesn't matter if our school offer ASL classes at no charge, many and many parents in this country apparently will have to pay to learn ASL. I may be wrong but that's my suspicion.

Barb - great topic!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if ASL will be covered by Health Care Insurance in 100% because I have mental problems in Oral Deaf School? I have heavy scars. Will ASL help to recover my scars?

ASL Risen said...

Health Care Insurance Covered ASL ?


Barb DiGi said...

Hi Shawn,

You raised an interesting point about making the needs of ASL classes into a medical point of view where an individual is being emotionally affected thus qualifying as a mental health issue.

Unfortunately, the insurance companies don't recognize this way right now but it won't hurt to propose. Every institution that provides ASL courses should tap funds from federal agencies and grants to cover every participants who are deaf and families of deaf children.

The next challenging question is how do we get to raise this platform to a federal level? I am tryiing to find some information to take some action and I would need your help on ways to make ASL classes at no cost for these participants.

Jessica L. said...


Sorry if this is a little off the point, but the blog you wrote about sign language class. It reminded me of my girlfriend who taught ASL (her boss asked her to) since few children were very motivated to learn. After I came last July (2007) for my friends' wedding in Washington, DC (while I was on my summer break), during that time, my girlfriend took me to the place where she worked and introduced me to the kids- the children asked me good and simple questions and taught them how to finger-spellling. I also met my girlfriend's boss and her boss was very grateful for me to came and met the children. After I left back home, I found out that sign language class was cut off. I was very disappointed and I STILL didn't understand WHY. There was unanswered to the question, "WHY CUT OFF?"

-J. Schultz