Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Is Making "Them" Look BAD a GOOD thing?


YouTube viewers, click here

Finally, I am ready to share my experiences on how I made "them" look bad about the teacher preparatory program in this Part II series from Part I titled Let's Take a Look at the Backbone of Deaf Education: in a response to David Eberwein. In my previous vLog, I criticized the course syllabi offered in a deaf education program at University of Southern Mississippi (USM). It later led me to receive angry, explosive e-mail messages from USM students and staff saying that what I just exposed was not what it looked like to them. With this type of approach, you must have your own armor and shield ready to deal with such controversial issues. What I did was to provoke them, question them, oh yes attack them, anger them, put them in denial and you name it. I received several e-mails that I would like to share with you and how I responded to it. The bottom line with this approach is that it surely got their attention.

I thought it would be fair to share you their side of the story however most of them yet acknowledge the need to change in their curriculum. They defended their program saying that it was enriched with cultural experience in the deaf community outside the program. While I am pleased that they are immersed in the ASL environment but my focus is the curriculum per se.

When we study history, you can find plenty of events where one makes them look bad resulting to a positive outcome. What would our quality of life be like if we never had the muckrakers who dug out the dirty laundry to expose the robber barons and political bosses in deception? This is why I call my blog Deaf Progressivism to just simply usher the rightful path to encourage everyone to choose wisely that will affect deaf posterity.

The upsides to making them look bad: My previous vlog drew some respondents via email asking me what deaf education program would I recommend since my messages influenced them to think twice about enrolling such programs like USM that I gave my thumbs down because of the lack of deaf studies related courses offered in the program. Although I already know a few programs that offer bilingual/bicultural courses in the course syllabi but I don't want to be the one to provide a list so I would like to ask you for your recommendations based on what you know of other program.

So please allow me compare USM curriculum to McDaniel College and University of California in San Diego (UCSD) in deaf education. You can see how a big difference it is between USM and these two graduate programs. For example, not even one bilingual course or deaf history related course is offered at USM while McDaniel and UCSD provide plenty of deaf education core related courses. This time you be the judge because they thought that I am the only one thinking this way.

Here is a sample of McDaniel College and UCSD course syllabi so that you people of USM can see what a big difference on what it offers in a deaf education program. If you check out McDaniel and UCSD curricula, I am rather impressed that it focuses more on pedagogy core rather than clinical or pathology core. See it for yourself:

McDaniel Deaf Education program course syllabi:

CORE (4 courses)

DED:511 Foundations in Deaf Education

DED:517 Reading for Deaf Children

DED:518 Assessment and Instruction of Deaf Students with Special Needs

DED:541 First and Second Language Learning

Area of Concentration (7 courses)

DED:527 ESL Instruction in Content Areas

DED:534 Issues and Trends in Audiology and Spoken English Development

DED:535 Literacy Instruction for Deaf Students

DED:582 Bilingual-Bicultural Approaches to Teaching Deaf Students

DED:589 Seminar in Deaf Education

DED:595 Practicum Experience

Here is a sample from UCSD that it includes a selection of bilingual courses

A typical program of study includes:



COM/HIP 124: Voice: Deaf People in America

EDS 142A: ASL-English Bilingual Education Practices

EDS 161A: Innovative Instructional Practices

EDS 201: Intro to Resources for Teaching and Learning

EDS 203: Technology, Teaching and Learning

EDS 250: Equitable Educational Research and Practice


EDS 142B: ASL-English Bilingual Ed. Practices

EDS 161B: Innovative Instructional Practices

EDS 169A: Student Teaching Practicum

EDS 190: Research Practicum

EDS 205A: Reflective Teaching Practice


EDS 142C: ASL-English Bilingual Ed. Practices

EDS 161C: Innovative Instructional Practices

EDS 169B: Student Teaching Practicum

EDS 182: Inclusive Educational Practices

EDS 205B: Reflective Teaching Practices



EDS 151: Teaching and the English Language Learner

EDS 240A: Research in ASL-English Bilingual Education

EDS 241: Advanced Topics in Deaf Education


EDS 233A: Topics in Education Research and Design (recommended)

EDS 240B: Research in ASL-English Bilingual Education

EDS 290: Research Practicum


EDS 149: Deaf Education Specialist Student Teaching

EDS 240C: Research in ASL-English Bilingual Education


EDS 295: MA Thesis

Based on what I have seen the course syllabi listed in USM website, there are no such courses that focus mainly on literacy instruction, bilingual-bicultural approaches to teaching deaf students, instruction in content areas, first and second language learning offered. My sister who is also a deaf educator lives in the South even told me she knows a hearing friend who went there and found to loathe the program because they focused too much on oral-aural type of courses.

The downsides to making them look bad: Made some respondents upset and viewed me as deafism. "Making them look bad also means making me look bad" syndrome is what I got myself tangled into but weaved my way out of the web.

These are the comments copied from YouTube under my vlog:

seoshrin (3 weeks ago)

This is an example of deafism - criticizing young people who have a penchant for doing good....instead of criticizing, why not offer suggestions for improving the interactions between the deaf and hearing. Building cocoons rather than reaching out is not beneficial.

avbria (3 weeks ago)

I have already made suggestions if you didn't understand what I said. I am criticizing the system as it seriously needs improvement! A whole bunch of clinical related courses are so uncalled for in deaf education. It has to go! It is not about interaction between hearing and deaf people though.

avbria (3 weeks ago)

By the way..this system practices audism and it is considered an oppression for the deaf. Explain me how a video that is audio based not made accessible for prospective deaf teachers? Explain me how all of these courses are aligned to aural-oral training rather than learning about deaf studies? You calling my example deafism? You oughta be ashamed of yourself.

What that writer meant is that I criticized Zachary Breland. Remember when I called Zachary, a hearing man who just graduated from USM, arrogant because he wanted to revolutionize deaf education when he announced it to the world? That phrase took me to feel like a Darwinism effect. What I later found out that he meant to improve the teacher preparatory deaf education program knowing that it needed more deaf centered curricula. Actually, I was glad to understand more about his intentions so I offered my apology through his close friend who sent me an email (below).


Hello. I am a student at The University of Southern Mississippi and I just wanted to e-mail you to better understand your video blog and maybe try to explain a little more about USM. I have seen the many comments left on your blog and I hope never to come across as some of those do.

I am a deaf education minor at USM and although I am just a minor I feel that the program at USM has inspired me to go on someday and, after learning much more, teach at a school for the deaf. I know I have many more things to learn and I understand why looking at the class you have seen would upset you, but not all of the classes you mentioned are deaf education classes. Some of those are audiology, speech path, etc. I know that many of the classes that deaf education majors have to take do focus on oral education and many of the students at USM dislike that there is so much focus on oral deaf education.

Realizing that there are many oral class, we do still have 3 great ASL classes. While I completely understand that that is not enough we are all encouraged to participate outside of class and to get involved with deaf culture. I personally have learned more from involvement outside of class than in class. I have met many deaf people who continue to teach me about deafness and deaf culture. I know that from first glance USM many not seem like it has a very good program, but please know that they are working on the program and that many of the students who come out of the program do have more experience with ASL then just three classes.

Also, just a quick comment on Zach Breland. He is one of my good friends and I know he never intended to sound so big headed and so "pity-pity." Please believe me when I say he is on your side. He agrees that program has flaws and what he meant by "revolutionize deaf education" is that he wants to change programs like USM's so that students who come out of those programs are prepared and know more ASL. If Zach could set up a program there would be WAY more ASL. He is pro ASL all the way. He was never trying to offend anyone and he didn't mean it the way it came across. I know you don't have to believe me and I know that everyone has his or her own opinion. I just wanted to let you know in a more civilized way and between just you and me what USM's program is really about.

I apologize for those who made USM look bad through their comments on your blog. They were just upset, I'm sure. And thank you for your time in reading this. I just felt the need to e-mail you.

Thank you,


Dear B,

I appreciate your constructive approach to respond to me in a way that I am able to listen to your perspective. You seem like a reasonable person on how you provide your views in an objective way and that makes me more willing to respond to you.

I understand that my message may upset some people but it is not my intention to attack anyone but the system. I have been in the profession for many years and please understand that it is getting an old school for me to see how bigot attitudes especially by people who are more aligned to oralism taking control to make decision for deaf children that their language has been taken away. One of the causes to engage in this attitude starts with the teacher preparatory programs that weigh heavily on teaching clinical related courses

When reading the article about Zachary, it had drawn me to learn more about USM. While I do understand that the course syllabi is not designed for TODs but for audiologist, speech pathologists, etc., I recognize that there are a very few deafness related courses offered other than ASL but to me it is not good enough. I am glad that you agree with that.

I have nothing against Zachary. I was just turned off when reading the statement making it sounding like he knows it all. I realize that it was not his intention to give out this kind of message but it was how I interpreted it and there were other commenters who had agreed. You see, we have struggled and struggled in the profession to make it right, to help deaf children not only to gain strong literacy but self-esteem and leadership skills that they are able to advocate for themselves. I believe that we all have this very same goal for deaf children but it is always a matter of how to do it and who will do it. If you can take a moment to look at the vlog post relating to deaf education found at www.joeybaer.com, you will see what I mean.

I am just getting so tired of this same old story about deaf education in general. USM is just an example if you happen to notice that there are other programs not fulfilling the in-depth study especially not providing bilingual instructional courses. Most new teachers don't know any squat how to bridge English using ASL. I just get so frustrated seeing teachers coming out of the program knowing so much about oral/aural methods but little about ASL.

Perhaps you and other USM students had been making recommendations on how to improve the program like I did with my graduate program when studying at University of Rochester and NTID more than a decade ago. I understand with relief that USM provides students opportunities to interact with the deaf community and it is so important indeed. However, it is just that formal academic deaf related courses are still necessary.

There are some simple things that can be changed in the website. First make the audio-based video accessible by adding captions. Are we not encouraging deaf prospective teachers enrolling the program? I am curious if there were any in the program. Second, provide several video clips showing the professors explaining the program in ASL. I have been vlogging and it amazes me that there are still many universities/colleges behind to show their program in brief ASL video clips.

I will share my thoughts in my next vlog but it would be nice if Zachary is able to respond to me. My apologies to him if I have offended him. I should not be making a judgment about a person based on reading an article but unfortunately that was how I perceived it. You may forward this email to him. If he doesn't respond, that is ok with me.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts,


At least some of them admitted it needed improvement and I certainly hope the administrators are listening that they are taking a second look to revise their programs to shift to pedagogy approach and making it more sensitive for prospective deaf teachers of the deaf to have access to communication when showing a video with no subtitles that is completely audio. Some said I have no idea what I am talking about since they claimed that they were involved in deaf community like ASL choir and a deaf social every semester, that I overlooked the several ASL courses that are offered for the summer and mini-session, including: Academic Signs and Finger Spelling. USM’s students are also very active in any deaf social event within a hundred-mile radius. They attended Sonic Sign Night, Deaf Picnics, etc, etc, etc…Sigh, but still they don't get it. This is not my point about what they do outside the classroom. I have yet seen a strong course syllabi reflecting deaf centered studies. They kept on saying they have additional ASL courses which is a great thing but remember, learning how to sign and how to use ASL to teach English are two completely separate courses.

So in conclusion, they viewed me as basher toward their program but I view it as pointing out the hidden truth. What I am asking you to please share your comments on what you think about USM program and what teacher preparatory college that offers an inclusive deaf centered educational program that you would strongly recommend to the prospective teachers. This will allow attracted prospective teachers to inquire and think more carefully about which program should they enroll as I got some of their e-mails asking me what programs to recommend when viewing my vLog on USM. Again, the power of vlogging and unity! Thanks!


JBaldridge said...

Indeed I agree with you completely. There are ways of approach, how to say that could be avoid denial and defend. You are sending an excellent message to educators.

We should exposure ourselves more to medical group. Because they are the first people who give advices to hearing parents. Always enjoying watch your vlog, very educated discussion. Keep it up.

Chuck Baird said...

One word on your post...incredible! There is light in the end of the tunnel. We thank you and many others like you making the causes. We are winning for the Deaf and HH children, their right for a better education that lead life a more fulfilled as a whole citizen, not as a parrot.


OCDAC said...

The ASL deafies trying to make me look bad is a very good thing. Were getting a lot of nice toys and funds to further the cause the cause I represent.

So go ahead pick on me, my blood turns to gold before it touches the ground.


John Egbert said...

I am so proud of you working so hard and we need more of your type of leadership.

I will contact USM about my book, MindField, hoping that they will order for their classes to read.


Barb DiGi said...

I am humbled by your comments and thank you. I think it is just a matter of communication taking place where this vlog avenue allows us to be heard. It is all for a right cause.

Now Richard I am not implying that making them look bad is a good thing everytime. My cause for this has nothing to do with your cause or theirs for that matter. What I am talking about is for the sake of having an improved curricula in deaf education program.

Deaf socrates trail said...

My dear teacher, I see your point which is very clear and stirrup is necessary and as a result they got your attention. I agree your vlog is very powerful tool to stir up their thinking and of course they are in denial yes, but later they will change their minds someday. You already crack the shell of the eggs, it is beginning now. You are not type of beinbg deafism. If you are deafism I would not want to watch your vlog! Keep good messenger to all and keep cracking the shell of the eggs. Good job!

FRED said...

Hey Barb!
Way to go!!
You said it to ruffle their feathers, that's good.

Like Chuck, "incredible!" and YOU'RE NOT ALONE...

I am teaching at a University here in the city, and hopefully we will develop such programs geared to deaf studies, education, and stuffs like that and with your sharing helps me focus on certain issues as well.

Thanks a million !!!

Ridor said...

Whoa. This is incredible defense. I completely undrestand your position. After all, I went through this before.

The fools at USM could have done more but they chose not to. And you nailed them -- not your problem but theirs!

Great stuff!



Susan said...

Hi Barb,

I don't know the full story about what's been covered, but from what I see, I am, to be honest, saddened.

It's sad because they should know that your heart is for deaf education, because you are deaf yourself, and your children too... you know what it's like, and can see what needs to be improved, and yet they are defensive...

I don't understand how some people, well, I assume they are hearing, just decide on what is best for deaf education and oppose deaf adults who have experience. It's almost like as if they know what's best for us.

Can you imagine us telling hearing people how to hear better and how to use voice intonation and then we get defensive if they tell us that that we don't have it right. Ridiculous huh. It's like that, the other way round.

Keep on truckin, Barb. Maybe one day they'll come to their senses and see the wealth of our insights for a better future and education for deaf children.

Very sad. But also at the same time, I'm proud of you for taking a stand and speaking out on behalf of deaf children.

They don't realise that we were once deaf children, and are now deaf adults, so they should know that we have experience too, as it personally happens to us... they should grab whatever feedback and suggestions we have, instead of being against the very thing they think they are working for.

Hope it'll all work out in the end. Don't give up, Barb, I think you did well. :)


Concerned said...

No way you are deafism. You are truly a pure advocate for the deaf community. You surely did an excellent job to stir up USM. They will reconsider their position as to how to improve their approach to help the deaf community. I have always enjoyed your vlogs so much as well as I have enjoyed learning from you too.

John Lestina --- said...

Response to Barb DiGi: CLICK HERE


Jana Bielfeldt said...

Hey Barb

I have been watching your vlogs very closely. I myself deaf and am deaf educator. Im sadden to see their ignornance and not willing to be open and listen to "deaf" view because we have been there and they (heariies) do not know what we went through. We know the best for the deaf children because we're deaf. We want to change. We want the best. TODAY, many children do not write and read very well! What is the problem? It is them do not see the problem. I support you all the way. Why dont we form an organization and collect all the vlogs related to Deaf Education topics and post to a new blog such as Bi-Bi Movement? I remembered someone brought up about Bi-Bi movement.. we need to form that and collect vlogs to be posted and allow others (hearies) to read and use the vlogs to discuss in their meetings or board meetings. Im not a great speaker but I can help in another way. Pls know I'm watching your vlogs and support you all the way, Barb! Stand up what you believe in and make them look bad and we must stop letting them make us look bad because we use ASL! Its a beautiful language!

KyDeafie said...

Barb.. Thank you so much for speaking up for us all. I hope the stir up from MSU will turn to postive for us all and the sake of the Deaf and HH children in the classrooms with improvement of ASL-English Bilingual. Keep it in the balance, not too excessful with audism.
We all want the same desire for better educations for Deaf and HH people.
Thank you once again to Barb!
Ted Henry

DeafMom3 said...

Splendid message to all of us! Nodding my head with big smile to everything what you said. I was once a PhD student and learned that many of my peers in the class were courteous and humane toward my strong comments toward the Deaf education - all deaf children deserve the finest education in both languages. With those PhD students, I do see they can make difference in their future careers as they are able to mention to parents that they once had a deaf student who commuicate ASL in their class. We the deaf people need to be out of the box and be around the hearing professionals much MORE!
The armor shield - we need to stand together and speak in volume for the Deaf child's rights for bilingual education. Ephesians 6:11-17

IamMine said...

Agreeing with the comments all above me!

Those who are reading my comment here - I'm deaf with CI.

I totally agree that we need to push more education towards Bilingual - ASL/English.

How to teach them through ASL and improve their reading/writing skills!

I grew up with THEIR system and hello - don't you want my feedback?

I'm a product of YOUR (the current system focusing more on audiology/speech) program and I'm telling you it did NOT benefit us as a WHOLE, but few individuals and hurt the rest of us, which is the MAJORITY.

Thank you, Barb, for bringing up the sticky issue but needed to be SEEN and HEARD!

Way to go, Barb!

Dianrez said...

Thanks, Barb, for shaking up the establishment.

The medical model is an outmoded view of deaf education, and emphasis only on pathology, speech, audiology, remediative education and so on is doing a disservice to the Deaf people.

Prospective students, look for the courses that Barb mentions as a measure of the quality of the program. Also: how many Deaf professors are involved in the program? How many of the Hearing professors actually sign? (this is a measure of how close they are to Deaf people: if they can actually talk to them!)

How many years of experience have the professors had in working directly with Deaf children? If they have only a few years, or only had contact with Deaf children as a postgraduate student, their teachings must be considered suspect to say the least. Academic theory must be balanced by practical experience of much more than just a few years.

How many of the professors are involved with Deaf people, both adults and children, on a DAILY BASIS? What roles do they take in such interaction?

Does the curriculum include extensive experience with Deaf adults? They are a source of information and opinion on what Deaf children need; they were once deaf children themselves and remember clearly what was overlooked, misused, and suppressed wrongly.

Such medical-model programs will have students and professors who have already committed their time and lives to it. They will, of course, defend it vigorously since they are so deeply invested, and because they do not know better alternatives. Take their comments with a grain of salt, and keep on blogging, Barb!

--From a former teacher and counselor to Deaf adults and adolescents,

drmzz said...

Whew. Quite an intense experience. But yeah, it's a no brainer. Deaf Studies should have language and communication (contextual) focus rather than pathological.

Hey John of ABC, you make sense too. Stop vacation and vlog responses, back vlogging please!

Jean Boutcher said...

You are THE national hero!
You have won many people's
love and admiration and
respect for yours and your children's courage. We hope
to see more skits by your
children to show the world!


Davy said...


That is very good what you have said. Good for you.

Other side of state to state that have so many laws and rules to make hard time on Deaf teachers as Hearing teacher try take the rules.

Deaf teachers know what to do for the best on deaf children ...... why because hearing people have never been deaf themself as don't know what talking about as deaf teacher know better than hearing people. Let Deaf Teachers have the power over the rules and Laws to take care of it the best for deaf Children and also help extra tips for deaf adults too!

You are wonderful person ..... really! Thank you


Deaf Farmer said...

Click at


Thumbs Up!

IamMine said...

Barb - I'm totally with Deaf Farmer! :)

I'm sure many others agree!

We DO need more research vloggers like you!!

I hope it doesn't feel like a huge burden, but what you are doing is a HUGE thing - and responsibility!

And we love you for it!

I also have learned a lot from you, Barb!

And your darn cute kids! :)

*ahem, blushes*

Here's a rare song that's only been played twice...y'all should know by now who.. :P

I'm questioning my education
Is my education who I am now?
While you're deciding, I've been finding
Looking around in the here and now.
If I've been taught from the beginning
Would my fears now by winning?

I'm questioning my own equation
Is my own equation relevant somehow?
The flags are waving, the news is breaking
See the man who can't pick out his own tie
If I've been taught from the beginning
Would my fears now be winning?
A wild world, figuring out the answers
I'll be in my own dance and I, I, yeah, I, I....
I'm questioning my education
Rewind and what does it show?
Could be, the truth it becomes you
I'm a seed, wondering why it grows


You're the seed, Barb. :)

And we're watering you by rooting for ya!

Barb DiGi said...

Wow, thanks for keeping me from being dehydrated you wonderful commenters! I defintely cannot do this alone to make some breakthroughs since your support is valuable to me keeping me motivated and strong.

Deaf socrates trail: This is what I am discovering how using vlogging as a communication tool to get my msg across. It ain't over yet!

Fred: Hi! I am glad to know that you are also working on improving the program in your University. The more we talk about it in the open, the more we are able to take some actions where we are able to better advocate for our Deaf community.

Ridor: Don't we all have this experience to shield ourselves for what we believe in? It is still my problem in such programs like USM until they make the effort to improve then I can sleep better.

Susan: It is time for us to be heard. With advanced technology using the Internet via blogging and vlogging, I hope to engage a better dialogue with openess and understanding where changes are necessary to be made.

Concerned: Thanks. I hope so too! Pain is a part of the process when hidden truths are exposed.

John: You made a great point..what comes around goes around! Thanks for your words of encouragement.

Jana: I totally agree with you! Actually I have been involved in a project to gather all of the vlogs relating to Bi Bi topics. It will be announced soon :-) Meanwhile, I hope there are more vlogs to discuss about these topics where we can gather in a directory to help parents and educators to better understand the benefits of bilingual approach.

Hi Ted (KyDeafie): You are welcome :-) It was USM that I was talking about however there are other similar universities that practice this philosophy as well. I think to talk about it in the open is the key.

DeafMom3: You defintely have a point here..just keeping on talking about our beliefs especially among hearing professionals. I find that by telling stories or demonstrating bilingual in action diminish their defenses while I work in a school for the deaf. Now they are ready to accept this approach after seeing some successes.

IamMine: Your feedback is important since you represent CI population. Thanks for sharing and I would like to see more from your share of experiences. Silence no more! Thanks for sharing an inspirational song!

Dianerez: You summarize it beautifully! You raised excellent questions as I pondered these questions from time to frequent time. Hearing and Deaf professionals need to collaborate more and being respected.
We all need to keeping blogging girl!

Drzz: Yep, it has been and still is cuz it ain't over as I am still engaged in a dialogue with some of the representatives from USM. I am just hoping for a positive outcome.

Jean: You are all heroes to me cuz I would not have the courage to face without your support! Thanks for your inspiring comments.

Davy: You are welcome! Yes, it is a challenge to change the policy in deaf education but I believe the more we talk about it on a consistent basis, the more awareness come out in the open that may lead for a better change. We the deaf need to be more involved and proactive that will help influence the changes in the system.

DeafFarmer: I smiled when watching your video response. Thanks for your encouragement and yes it is a lot of work but for all it is worth. It is a new experience for me trying this vlogging avenue where attention is magneted that leads to a dialogue between individuals who are involved. Meanwhile I am hoping there will be others to initiate their b/vlogs with similar goals to raise some issues that are not favorable and need improvement for the deaf community. Remember deafread is still in infancy and I hope that a decade later, more and more participants will make some more impacts as well. I am optimistic that we will go upward.

Jessica L. said...

Speaking of McDaniel- I'm applying there for fall '08 in Deaf Education (graduate school) :)

Yep, graduate school- I FINISHED with my undergraduate career at Gally on 12/15/07 :)

Wow, you discussed about deaf education a lot and I've learned from time to time, but yours were very interesting and educational :)

Take care,
J. Schultz