Friday, October 26, 2007

No Mainstreamed Deaf Child Left Behind!

Quicktime video


I am so sick of the same old, same old problem that I have noticed, in general, not about schools for the Deaf but mainstreaming programs. Some of them were successful with mainstreaming program but some of them who were not still get to remain in the program as they supposedly "survived" their way through their academic years. The CSE (Committee on Special Education) including teachers, school district chair, psychologist, etc. reviews the IEP goals and report on students' progress with parents every year. Often, they buy more time to have them stay in the program until this Deaf child actually shows the worst or declining performance ended up to be transferred to a school for the Deaf known as a "dumping ground". When students who grew up in a Deaf school are compared with mainstreamed students who were transferred, who do you think would do better academically? From my years of observation and my experience, I have concluded that Deaf students from Deaf schools demonstrated higher academic background. Also I have noticed that mainstreamed students who were transferred showed a lot of missing gaps in learning and have not exhibited in-depth knowledge about the content as much as Deaf schooled students do.

It is typical for mainstreaming students to be transferred during middle or high school years. Some transfer to Deaf schools not necessarily because of meeting academic needs but to experience better social opportunities where they are able to gain more confidence and leadership skills.

Now, my focus is to look at the question, WHY did it take a while for at-risk Deaf students to be transferred to a Deaf school at a later age? That's my pet peeve. I want to see a person who is skillfully trained and possesses high knowledge and experience in Deaf education, preferably a Deaf professional who evaluates academic, social and emotional progress in ALL mainstreaming programs in the county and makes recommendations to CSE on the Deaf child's educational needs on how to support the child's well being by sending them to Deaf schools that will help meet their needs more effectively. Once they admit in Deaf schools, they get to catch up. In some cases, it is a bit too late, for some, they had to start over again, and for some, came in with no strong language base at the age 5, 6 or even 8. WHY? I am sick of it! I had enough!

That is why we need to take more actions to start signing with Deaf babies, start with language, start with exposing knowledge and content to help them prepare more effectively by the time they enroll in Kindergarten instead of having them coming in that they have to learn the language and finally get to learn the academic content later that caused them delay in learning. This has already becoming too common. Why don't we have quality assurance professional just like hospitals have who observes and evaluates the patient to see if he or she is ready to be discharged or that he or she is ready to live independently? Monitoring patients' healing process will take place. Now for mainstreaming programs, we already have itinerant teachers (let me add not mentioned in the vlog: If itinerant teachers make recommendations for their mainstreamed Deaf students to transfer to Deaf schools, they would lose their jobs!) but we need professionals who are objective to make best recommendations on appropriate placement.

Let me tell you a story shared by my friend that I had to say W-H-A-T? That interpreter expressed her concern about a Deaf student lagging behind in school. She decided to step out of her role and made recommendations to the student's parents that he is better off to go a Deaf school. She told them that by going to a Deaf school, he will gain better vocabulary skills, signing skills, confidence and expression skills. So his parents took her word of advice and placed him in a Deaf school. The results turned out very positive as he is happy and make great improvements in developing visual language skills.

It impressed me about this interpreter TOLD. Wow! I applaud her for that, yes! But is it appropriate role for the interpreter to TELL the parents? No! Is she following the code of ethics? No! But who should do the job? Who? That's why we need to hire quality assurance professional to oversee the records to see if expectations and state standards are being met. If these components are not being met then more help is needed to support reading and writing.

My friend told me that at NTID, he found that it is not necessarily true for mainstreamed students to read and write better than Deaf-schooled students. Even it is reported that Deaf schooled students have better literacy skills. But that's not all! They have leadership skills, better expressive skills, social skills, confidence, etc. For those who grow up alone in the mainstream may not be used to interact deeply by expressing, may not know about Deaf Heritage, ASL, etc. They are behind in this area. This is something we need to look at it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Incorporated Numerical Age Signs for whom?

Quicktime Discusses about what is acceptable for numerical incorporated age signs. As I was making this video a bit late at night, I found myself not meaning what I wanted to say for this small part. As I was talking about computers that are not living things and said the same about the plants, I meant to say that the plant is not a moving thing!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Beethoven's Nightmare Show: The True Spirit of Diversity

Beethoven's Nightmare

Beethoven's Nightmare Rocks Through the Timeline Video: Quicktime YouTube viewers, click here

Barb DiGi's vLog

Barb DiGi's vlog

YouTube viewers, click here

A newly-released, brief, rich documentary-style video with Beethoven's Nightmare's music that rocked for 30 years by Ed Chevy, Bob Hiltermann and Steve Longo. Aren't they amazing with their talents? Showing how they can make beautiful music with great signing and mime performers although they are Deaf. They will be playing at Seaport Museum in Philadelphia on October 19th and at North Star Bar on October 20, 2007 hosted by

Two weeks ago, it was my first watching their show when playing at Los Angeles. About 300 people attended and some of those who saw the show for several times said they were awed by their show which was the best ever. As for visuals, I loved to watch Max , a Deaf Russian born talented performer, who did an outstanding job doing mime as he blended in with the beat when creating his stories in action. C.J. Jones was the emcee and got to strut his stuff by playing African music. He was so funny! There were four signing performers, Deanne Bray (FBI Sue Thomas ), Lisa Hermatz (Prism West, Deaf West Theater), Lea & Koylee Ramos, an African-American and Latino/Asian couple who signs songs together. It was so nice was that there was a true diversity in the show. One thing I know for sure was that I could say that it was indeed a truly Deaf concert experience!

Here are the comments shared by the viewers:

I am writing to congratulate your group on a fabulous concert last Saturday. I am a student of ASL and I enjoyed the entire experience of music, mime, ASL, dance, and song. I stayed until you did your encore. I was delighted to hear your pleasant, melodic voice. I was also surprised that you didn't sing any songs during the regular part of the show. Could it be you are holding back because you are shy? (to Bob) It doesn't appear so. You have lots of personality on stage. Your main vocalist has a rather gruff voice. Sort of a Rod Stewart style. I would love to hear you sing a portion of the show for variety sake. Also, I think you have a lot to offer in terms of forwarding the reputation of your group as reaching out to hearing people as well as the deaf and hard of hearing. After all, if Ringo Starr can do it, why not you?

Looking forward to some Bob Hiltermann vocals,

Andrea Subject: Beethoven's Nightmare RULES!!

Hey, Steve! Great show last Saturday and we both LOVE it very much!

Your biggest FAN & Irishly yours ~ :-Stacey


I want to share with you my experience at your unique deaf concert last night at El Rey Theatre. Your Beethoven Nightmare Concert was extraordinary and exhilarating. It was the BEST concert I have ever seen.

I met one of my good friends who had attended all of your concerts in the past. That was his fourth. He said the fourth concert was by far the best with stage performers such as TL, Deana Bray, Lisa Hermatz, CJ, Max, Lea & Koylee. Max was the best stage performer and captivated the audience at all times. He has great talent. Thanks for having him on the stage. We truly enjoyed his performance.

Finally at last, my wife, Merry Jo, and I met and chatted with Rita Corey for approx. 30 minutes but other people interrupt our conversation. At first Rita didn’t remember us, which was okay. I understand many people love Rita. She is the role model to the deaf and hard of hearing community. I want to thanks Rita for her best choreography to make it happen.

My wife was fascinated and stared at your drumming beats from start to end. You were the BEST drummer with good facial expressions and vivid energy. She loves the way you rock the beat.

I have seen the faces of the audiences. They looked bright and happy. I have generated a verbal survey of what they think of your concert. I have received many positive comments via signing. They LOVE it and so do we. Everyone had a blast. We would like you and your band to considerate having it once every year. The rumor is spreading like a megaton. WRAD will definitely sponsor your band by publicizing it in our website and sending out an evite (electronic invitation) to draw a large crowd.

I love Ed Chevy. He has a dynamic personality. He remembered me very well when we first met at Duke University in the summer of 1980. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to chat with him because too many people asked him for his autograph to be signed. I felt the vibration of his vocal. He is truly a good singer. You and Ed have captivated the audience. Please rock lively and your legend will be carried there forever from generation to generation because it is the only deaf band in the world. Your band makes an indelible impression on others.


Yours sincerely,

Rey (Deaf Cuban)

Hi Super star!!


Enjoyed every beat!! I had to write this tonight because it is important that you know there was a guy in your audience that I was watching while you guys were playing. His name is Terry Breckner, Vice President from the Southern California Association of the Deaf Blind, I met him at school, anyway he was totally enjoying the concert tonight. He was dancing, raising his hands and clapping for you guys through the whole concert. When he left he was just as sweaty as you guys were from dancing. I watched him as he left and he was smiling ear to ear. I saw someone ask him if he had a good time he signed back to them yes he had a wonderful time. I just wanted you to know that because I think it was special that you guys did this concert and you love your fans the way you do.

Thank you again for the wonderful night.


It is so true about what they had commented. People there enjoyed their night so much as much as I did. I was floored when watching their show. There was a hearing guitarist who happens to be a dear brother of Steve Longo's and it was a beautiful thing to watch them playing together. There were fans jumping up and down with delight. It was the best scene to watch! After the show, we wanted more but good things must come to an end. As we scattered, I got to bump into a surprise vlogger, Mary Ruth at Todos la vie. We didn't need formal introduction and there was no one introducing us! We just recognized each other and gave a hug then chatted for a while. It was a cool connection like we have known each other as we got to discuss deep issues like that.

See picture below.

In closing, you gotta watch Beethoven's Nightmare! They are truly talented instrumental players even Ed as a singer (Bob could do so, too.). It would be a nightmare if you missed it! This is a living proof that being Deaf doesn't mean you can't play or enjoy music. This is indeed a Deaf rock of the night!

For more information about their band, purchase of CD and T-shirts, go to

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Should we get rid of small d in Deaf?

Play Quicktime


Transcript: The topic about small d and big D for Deaf bothers me. I don't know about you but I have mixed feelings because it splits the group into two as those who are labeled as small d and big D.

According to Deaf in America, Voices from a Culture, I am raising a question if the idea is outdated. Why? In 1972, James Woodward proposed “to use the lowercase deaf when referring to the audiological condition of not hearing, and the uppercase Deaf when referring to a particular group of deaf people who share a language – ASL and a culture.”

~From Deaf in America, Voices from a Culture

I used to think that way before as I had studied about it back in the 80's. At that time, most people seemed to agree about the concept. But now my thinking about it has changed. Why? I have several reasons to get rid of small d/big D concept but still keep the big D only. Why?

Even a person who don’t identify themselves as a Deaf person and is not immersed in ASL and Deaf culture call themselves alternatively such as hearing impaired, hard of hearing or a person with a hearing loss as they avoided labeling themselves deaf which is their decision so why should we continue to use small d? What should we do with a small d in Deaf? Just get rid of it! But continue to use big D. Why? Here are several justifications.

Must we know the language? Yes, it is important but allow me to present the points. People, in general, who belong to their ethnic groups like Italian, African, etc. do not use small i in Italian, nor small a in African although not all of them know the language or even culture especially here in America but we still refer them with a capital I in Italian-American or an A in African-American. I am Italian but I don’t know the language so should I call myself small i? Heck, no because it doesn’t work that way. So why should it be different for the Deaf?

The big D in Deaf is used regardless of not having full understanding of ASL or Deaf culture. They will continue to go through a process experiencing what we call Deafhood. They will get to that point. Let's say when they finally get to the meat of ASL and Deaf culture, then they "graduated" to earn a big D? No! Deafhood is a process. That's why this kind of thinking is considered new that caused me to question whether or not that topic in the book is considered outdated.

Do you think that no, we should keep on labeling small d and big D or keep the big D for all regardless of not having the knowledge of ASL and culture and that big D represents a cultural group anyway. So tell me what do you think?

Friday, October 05, 2007

That's the way we all became the Deafy Bunch!

What a hilarious Deafy Bunch scene where us b/vloggers got together at the Deaf-Hope Tea Party. Here is my reflection of the awesome weekend. Play Quicktime Play YouTube

Check more vids and pics out at:

List of b/vloggers who came to the Tea Party: Kudos to Deaf Hope dedicated leaders:
  • Kate Kovacs, Chair
  • Amber Hodson, Vice Chair
  • Natalie Williams, Secretary
  • Ken Arcia, Treasurer
  • Wanda Witczak, Member at Large
  • Amy Enshelman, Member at Large
  • Judy Alexander, Member at Large
  • Julie Rems-Smario, Executive Director
  • Jane Whitney, Advocate
  • Brian Berlinski, Youth Program Coordinator
  • Luncheon provided by Hildy Licht and Trinia Licht
Trailblazer Award: Mabs Holcomb