These are my opinions based on my experiences and observations as a parent of deaf children and a professional. Although the upcoming demonstration is not about cochlear implant but knowing when reading most blogs, the topics can go off a bit from the main idea. When reading this mother's comments, I was a bit sadden about her attitude toward sign language and how deaf people without implants are not perceived normal. Read on..
Same here Cy..I am usually a nice person but when reading Amy's comments I became a bit annoyed and here is why:
1. ".. those of us with deaf children of our own would perhaps have chosen to teach our children the English language starting from birth..".
Sorry Amy, chosing to teach our deaf children English as a first language is not as complete and accessible as it is when teaching ASL. Deaf babies don't usually receive a cochlear implant until the age 2 or so (average speaking) missed out the critical language learning period that they are already delayed not only in language but cognition. Even CI and hearing aids will not correct the problem. I have seen so many of them with CI coming to school with no language during preschool age but got to gradually develop a language while my deaf children, now ages 8 and 9, already have language when they attended pre-school. They are already advanced and ready to learn to read and write since they already have content knowledge.
Actually to learn a language naturally, it has to be acquired, not taught. My two deaf children whose first language is ASL were able to go through smooth transistion from L1 to L2. This theory has been supported in multiple research findings. They excel in English through reading and writing and are making great progress. Their percentile scores are 99% as indicated in the SAT. Their reading level is above grade level and writing level at par. As a teacher of the deaf, for them to acquire English starting from birth is not realistic because the communication access is not 100 percent. Babies cannot learn to read and even lipreading yet. These components have to be taught, not acquired, hence making it not natural.
2. "Signing with hearing babies, while a fun fad that the bored suburbanite mother does with her time, is not the same in any way as encouraging a deaf infant to overemphasize his or her visual sense when the auditory sense is the one which is needing stimulation".
Actually, it is not a fun fad. It is becoming popular because research shows that there is an increase of 16 points in I.Q. tests. Let me tell you that I noticed hearing children of deaf adults (CODA) tended to make advanced academic progress than children who know one language. Also why limit to one language? Cognitive thinking skills are much more advanced in bilingual children as studies have proven.
3. "Fortunately, with today’s technology, deaf children can become hearing all of their waking hours "
This is a red flag because if you took cochlear implant consultant's advice like Mary Koch who mentioned that parents who think that having their deaf children implanted mean they will be hearing are not making this choice for the right reason.
4. " The statistics show that hearing parents (who study hard) reach about a preschool level of ability in sign language. This would be terribly stunting for a deaf child, who would never be able to discuss philosophical issues that come up even in the preschool years.".
Where did you get that? This is not true at all. I have come to know hearing parents who are motivated and immersed themselves in ASL environment mastered in ASL. Even several of them became teachers of the deaf and interpreters. It is even more terribly stunting for a deaf child not to have complete access to a language, especially English that is not a visual language, so exposing them signs help them to pick up English eventually. As a teacher, I have come to known wonderful hearing parents making a great deal of effort to communicate with their deaf children that they are able to discuss philosophical issues. God bless them!
5. "Our kids talk like any other kids and frequently astound those who meet them because they can live their life just like any other kid, without concerns for translators, captioning, TTYs and all of the other things which previous generations had to worry about."
My deaf children can live their life just like any other hearing or implanted kids, too. There is no way that any implanted kids can understand 100 percent when watching TV with no captions, talking with people in a group, and on a phone. CI kids are not getting the message 100 percent like hearing kids especially when they get older as language becomes more complex. I know for sure that my deaf children get 100 percent when discussing in a group, talking on a TTY or a videophone, and watching TV with captions (captions helped them develop vocabulary and they are terrific spelling bees.)
6. "So go ahead, protest, but I guarantee if the media interviews a kid like mine, they will convince almost every TV watcher out there that organizations like AG Bell are doing a great work. You can’t fight the great progress that they are doing, or the wonderful successes of thousands of implanted kids who hear whispers and score nearly 100% in the soundboot".
Don't be so sure Amy. I also have successful deaf children who are not implanted that will convince every TV watcher out there that bilingual is doing a great work. Oh yes I can show it to the world and you can't fight that either. For implanted kids who hear whipsers, so what? It is not as important as being skilled in literacy. By the way, didn't you know that a 7 year old CI girl died last January according to CBS news article? As far as I have known, there are already 14 deaths among deaf children with implants. I don't even think it is worth the risk! I hope nothing like this will happen to your sons but you can't guarantee that it won't.
7. " can easily locate and show you studies which show the exact opposite of what you are claiming. Bilingual education results in poor literacy skills and educational levels. I have seen the listening and speaking skills of kids in BI-bi and TC programs, and there is no comparison to the language and vocabulary of orally educated kids."
I can easily show you that orally educated kids are way behiind than bilingual kids. Bilingual education results in poor literacy skills? Where do you get that? First of all, bilingual education is not common across America since most deaf education program just had a jump start and statistics are not out yet about the studies of bilingual education. However, as a teacher, I have already seen the positive results. We need to be careful to identify which program is bilingual because some of the programs actually don't meet the definition of bilingual education. For example, if you go in a classroom where a teacher is using simcom, that is not bilingual. Bilingual education has certain strategies and practices that most teachers of the deaf are not trained well. If you look at deaf ed programs, there are only two programs (as far as I know) in America providing bilingual instructional methods. Gallaudet University just started to offer bilingual training and workshops just a few years ago. This field is starting to be out in the open so we cannot jump to conclusion that it fails.
8. "I am against my sons using sign language because I am a proponent of them having the most opportunities in life. Simple as that. I don’t want them to have to be griping on some blog someday about how mean the movie industry is for not captioning, or how the doctor they chose didn’t have an interpreter worth a darn when an emergency arose."
This is really sad for you to be against your sons using sign language. You are treating this language like it is a taboo. ASL is a beautiful language and it is a terrible thing to waste. I am not against anyone who is able to speak. My daughter (who is profoundly deaf) is motivated to learn to talk with her hearing aids while my son is not. Every child is different but to snatch ASL away from them is inhumane. Like Cy, I don't know which planet you are from but there are FCC and ADA laws making communication access possible especially here in America.
9. "I know thousands of kids just like mine, who every day talk and listen and enjoy movies and phone calls and music… and were born deaf."
I know thousands if not millions of kids who don't use cochlear implant have the same opportunity to enjoy movies, phone calls and even music. It doesn't have to be a CI person to enjoy these only.
My non-implanted deaf children are leading completely normal lives too. Although they are still young, I have taught them ways to communicate with hearing people and it is not even a problem. They know that writing becomes so important to master since they will be able to order anything or even have a dialogue with people who don't know sign language. I am just grateful that there are nice open minded hearing people who want to learn sign language or who attempted to use gestures to communicate with them. Literacy, not speech, is the priority for my deaf children. Thank you for listening.
Readers, feel free to add your comments to either disagree or agree with Amy and/or me. I just want to know what you have to say about this since I am only sharing my opinions and experiences.