Monday, March 31, 2008

ASL Does Not Hinder Language Development!

My blog post is in a response to Deaf Chipmunk's vlog on "AG Bell, Tear Down This Wall." Some of the commentators made great points but some of those clueless commentators calling themselves mom and another mom were flashing those so-called biased research claims that reinforced their way of thinking that "ASL hinders the development of good language development." It made me question if they are blinded about the reality of success that actually exists for those Deaf individuals who acquired ASL as a first language and who were exposed to bilingual environment have succeeded in, but not limited to, cognitive, academic, leadership and social development.

These moms are truly the products of ignorance, assumptions, misconceptions and myths. AG Bell and the AVT people have done a helluva of a job keeping a thick wall of ignorance in place, (just exactly as Deaf Chipmunk has so eloquently indicated by using the metaphor of the Berlin Wall) to prevent Deaf children from using a natural signed language, ASL. For them to claim that "kids develop language and cognitive skills by speaking only are superior to those who learn ASL and spoken language simultaneously" is absolutely far-fetched and so untrue.

I am going to share a glimpse of my personal experience growing up deaf and present my arguments about the research document link that these poor moms have been getting the impression that learning ASL as a "second language after childhood outperformed those who acquired it as a first language at exactly the same age. In addition, the performance of the subjects who acquired ASL as a first language declined in association with increasing age of acquisition."

Like some of my Deaf friends who shared a similar background as mine, I came from a Deaf family and ASL was my first language but I grew up in a public school without interpreters/notetakers for many years and acquired English as my second language. If you know Mark Drolz by reading his entries at Deaf Culture Online, he and I were practically neighbors living in a close proximity to each other. Our Deaf parents knew each other and we both used ASL while growing up. There are other Deaf families who raised kids like us acquiring both languages (ASL as a first language) and are we fine? You betcha! Here we are, not only writing our blogs but practicing our professions after obtaining our master's degrees. You rock, Mark! One more thing I want to add is that my Deaf sister and I are the only ones who have master's in the extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who are all hearing) and yes, for me, there was "easy conversation with my pals down the street and the school around the corner… with my Sunday School teacher or my grandfather" without having undergoing AVT and to be shunned away from ASL.

Anyway, I wore one hearing aid and I managed to grasp spoken messages well since I was auditory trained and engaged in frequent speech sessions when I was younger. But like CI kids, (yes, I compare myself to CI kids since I was very capable of hearing almost everything thanks to high frequency when I was younger) it is never 100% when to comes to understanding speech especially in a large group setting. But I had ASL in hand since it was my first language and thank God for that! It came to my rescue in reinforcing concepts when it comes to reading, writing and expressing in English. Later on, before I became a sophomore in high school, I finally got to transfer to the school for the Deaf where Laurent Clerc, America's first Deaf teacher, founded and taught there. That was that school what we know as American School for the Deaf (ASD). For the first time, I had two Deaf teachers, one teaching reading and one writing. It was a first time that I had ever experienced a true bilingual educational classroom and from that point on, my English and speech skills skyrocketed! I am not even exaggerating and to prove that, I actually skipped two years of high school from that point and enrolled Gallaudet College at the age 16. My neighborhood friend widened her eyes when I spoke to her after not seeing her for a while when I was gone to ASD. She said, "Barbara, my gosh, you speak better than before!" She was simply speechless for a while.

Take my word or sign for it, ASL DOES NOT hinder language development and it is NOT true that Deaf individuals who speak only are superior than those who use ASL and spoken language. These moms presented a research document that has been published in 1993 written by Rachel Maybery. It stated that:

"Subjects were 36 deaf adults who had contrasting histories of spoken and sign language acquisition. Twenty-seven subjects were born deaf and began to acquire American Sign Language (ASL) as a first language at ages ranging from infancy to late childhood. Nine other subjects were born with normal hearing, which they lost in late childhood; they subsequently acquired ASL as a second language (because they had acquired spoken English as a first language in early childhood). ASL sentence processing was measured by recall of long and complex sentences and short-term memory for signed digits. Subjects who acquired ASL as a second language after childhood outperformed those who acquired it as a first language at exactly the same age."

Let me tell you something about this author. Rachel Mayberry wrote this piece in 1992 that was later published in 1993 that may be outdated. In 2000, she became a part of the editor group to write the book, Language Acquisition of the Eye. I haven't read the whole book yet but I am going to order it for sure! However, by taking a peak in each of the chapters, it looks like her perspective has changed drastically since she justified bilingual studies in this link titled "Reexamination of Early Exposure and Its Implications for Language Acquisition by Eye":

"These studies demonstrate that individuals who are exposed to language at earlier ages consistently outperform individuals exposed to lan­guage at later ages for first and second language acquisition of both signed and spoken languages. "

Now did you notice the title, "Reexamination?" Mayberry no longer stated that those who acquired ASL as a second language after childhood outperformed those who acquired it as a first language at exactly the same age. The recent statement said that language at earlier ages do better than those who were exposed to language later and it did not exclude ASL. Oh wait, there's more. In Chapter 9, A Piece of the Puzzle: ASL and Reading Comprehension in Deaf Children, the very same author stated in her book that:

"Literacy skills in ASL have only recently begun to be identified ( Bahan & Supalla, 1996). Within the education of Deaf children, language and literacy skills in ASL have not been recognized as having the potential to impact the acquisition of English literacy skills."

Mayberry also included that "their study and the others cited here all provide consistent and strong evidence of a correlation between ASL skill and English literacy ability." It looks like that Mayberry's perceptions have really evolved because she has been immersed in a research field for almost a decade that leads her to justify bilingual approach. For this mom to say that "restricting them by ASL and/or lack of implantation would be a shame" is NOT a shame at all! First of all, restricting them by ASL is no such thing. We tend to expose Deaf children in both languages. If they have spoken abilities then they can go for it when appropriate. If they have residual hearing abilities, then they can go for it with hearing aids when appropriate. If they don't have residual hearing, it doesn't mean one must feel the urge to implant them. It is the parent's choice and it is none for us to judge one who should or shouldn't and who are selfish or ashamed. Just stop with this attitude or the madness!

Speaking or signing of restriction, in the same chapter, it stated that "the reception of spoken language for most Deaf individuals is extremely limited, which restricts the learning of English via the auditory channel. For many Deaf individuals, this restric­tion has resulted in great difficulty mastering reading, which is based on English." It even stated that "there are many Deaf individuals who are able to attain excellent mastery of reading English even without oral knowledge of English."

In conclusion, restricting Deaf children with or without HA/CIs to spoken language actually restricted English development.

So I rest my case and I want to move on to Part Two in a response to these same moms about AG Bell in the next blog post.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Can Lightning Make a Hearing Become Deaf or a Deaf Become Hearing?

It all happened last July when Jason Bunch, 18, using an iPod was struck by lightning while mowing the grass. At least he survived but he had to go through two surgeries to repair the ruptured eardrums. He had not regain his hearing putting him in the position to deal with this new experience as a Deaf person.

I find it interesting that Dr. Mary Ann Cooper, an expert on the effects of lightning on the body, said burns and punctured eardrums are common and displaced ossicles have also been reported in people injured by lightning. The statistics shows that only about 10% of people who are struck by lightning are killed, leaving 90% with various degrees of disability. When I looked up the type of disability, it is mostly the alternation of the nervous system that may affect the brain. "When the brain is affected, the person often has difficulty with short-term memory, coding new information and accessing old information, multitasking, distractibility, irritability and personality change. Early on, survivors may complain of intense headaches, ringing in the ears, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and other post-concussion types of symptoms. Survivors may also experience difficulty sleeping, sometimes sleeping excessively at first and then only two or three hours at a time. A few may develop seizure-like activity several weeks to months after the injury." Nowhere in this site did it mention deaf as one of the "disabilities".

Another similar case happened to a Vancouver jogger who played iPod listening to religious music when lightning struck him left him deaf not dead. He was even thrown about 2.4 metres by the lightning's impact! It sounded like a painful, torturous experience since he suffered burns from his chest up into his ear channels also down on his leg and on the foot. Ouch! I find it interesting that it happened while he was listening to religious music. Was there a purpose for this to happen? He now wears two hearing aids and it was said that "he no longer plays in the church orchestra because of his hearing deficit."

It turned out that Cooper, an emergency room physician and medical professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, said the iPod didn't draw the lightning to the man.

"Metal doesn't attract lightning and there is very little metal in iPods anyway," she said from Chicago.

"But once electricity contacts the iPod, then the metal will conduct the electricity and can cause secondary burns as this gentleman had to his chest underneath where the iPod was and up where the wires went up into his ears and possibly even cause enough muscle contraction that either caused the jaw fracture or perhaps he fell forward onto his jaw."

Neurologist Dr. Ernest Nitka said the man would have suffered harm regardless, but the iPod accounted for his peculiar pattern of injury.

"Once there was a flashover from the tree the shock would find an easy resistance path," Nitka said in an e-mail from Denver, Colo., where he works with the Lightning Data Center at the St. Anthony Hospitals.

"This is where the iPod came in to the story. The particular injuries were made possible, if you will, because of the iPod. Without the iPod, the spectrum of injuries would have been different but there would have been injuries nonetheless."

Cooper said the iPod contributed in another way as well.

"Our recommendations are: When thunder roars, go indoors," she said. "If you're on a cellphone or if you've got an iPod, you're not going to hear the first and best warning that lightning is in the area, which is the thunder."

As for the offending iPod, well, it was "damaged beyond repair. Absolutely burned to a crisp," Heffernan said.

The man has bought another, the doctor reported. But as the old adage goes, once burned, twice shy. He no longer wears an iPod when he goes out for a jog.

Aside from the relationship between iPod and lighting, iPod alone still can cause hearing loss. Nearly a fifth of students tested in a recent study were found to have some degree of hearing loss. Researchers at the University of Florida say middle and high-school students were found that about 17% had some degree of hearing loss. Most of the loss was in higher pitches. It's the first range that's likely to be lost when hearing is damaged by loud music-players.

Now get this! I found an article that was published in New York Times on July 16, 1911 with a headline that said:

LIGHTNING CURES DEAFNESS.; Aged Woman Long Deaf Cured When House Was Struck.

Mind-boggling, isn't it? Her house was struck by lightning causing Jane Decker, aged 65, to recover her hearing. "She had been deaf since childhood. The bolt of lightning entered the roof near the chimney, shatterred a number of rafters, tore through two floors, wrecking windows and frames, stunning her. She was sore for a number of days and claimed that her hearing is good that she is able to carry on a conversation in an ordinary tone of voice." Isn't this hard to believe that it actually happened?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Raising Deaf Children Doesn't Mean it has to be Stressful

When reading Jodi's blog about her struggle raising her eight-year-old Deaf son, I had to ask her my questions to her question below. The purpose of my blog is not to make any judgment or criticism but to gain a better understanding how a system can be improved for hearing parents of Deaf children to receive better support.

So please no need to roll up your sleeves, Jodi (*chuckling*). I surely admire your strong character and being a fighter but here I just want to build a healthy dialogue. I understand that it is more challenging for you like many hearing parents attempting to receive support from the Deaf community that may be remote from where you live. Using the internet may be the option but I strongly feel that Deaf communities need to be more supportive and come forward to be resourceful to hearing parents of Deaf children. This is the area I hope to see improved.

Jodi's question: WHY DID HE (her son) STRUGGLE SO MUCH FOR EIGHT YEARS????

Her answer:

"Because hearing aids did not give him what he needed to bridge the language hump in order to finally express himself! MY SON'S NUCLEUS 24 FREEDOM PROCESSOR COCHLEAR IMPLANT SAVED ALL OF OUR LIVES."

My question is, why did Jodi struggle so much when raising her son for eight years? Did she really have a hard time finding Deaf people in Italy to give her support to learn sign language? Was it really that bad?

So here is my response to Jodi:

I am trying to understand more of your experiences when raising your Deaf son. I don't want to be judgmental or anything like that but to interpret what I have understood so far from reading your blog.

From the way you had described, it sounded like you went through a great deal of hardship because of past struggle in communication with your son. When you said that you struggled to learn a language that was not your own, can you elaborate more about that? Which language were you talking about?

Why was it that your son was not able to express himself adequately? Was it because you and he didn't have access to sign language? Was the Deaf community in Italy that apathetic that they didn't give you support in learning LIS? Forgive me if you had already answered these questions in your blog so please help me understand why he wasn't able to express himself at that time.

Anyway, I became stunned that it took a two year process for you to have your son potty trained. I just wanted to understand why it took so long. I have two Deaf children (now aged 9 and 10) and nothing resembles from the way you have described such as having no rest nor stress-release when raising your Deaf child for the first eight years. I mean of course all of us parents experience stress but not like an ongoing, extreme type from the way you had described. I don't mean to compare yours to mine knowing that every child is different but I am trying to understand why it was extremely stressful for you. Actually, I really wished you and your son didn't have to go through anything like this.

Now another thing that made me wondered was that when you mentioned about trusting your son with children's parents, were any of them Deaf? Also, when you mentioned how you trusted your son during the first eight years when he was unable to express himself adequately with doctors, speech therapists, surgeons, and teachers, can you tell me if you would trust them if you had a Deaf baby all over again or would you have done it differently?

When you kept on saying that you made sure your son had access to a language that was not your own, I understand that must be hard. Now it has been eight years, whatever that language is that your son is using, do you feel that you are able to make it your own? I know that you want the best for him when you said you wanted him to find himself and be happy. Every parent wants that indeed.

Do you really believe that Deaf children have to wear a CI to be able to express themselves effectively or to be able to communicate with their parents? In my case, my Deaf children do perfectly fine without it. They still continue to master in communication and able to spell advanced vocabulary terms, write an essay, memorize all multiplication facts and do fractions, etc. just like typical hearing peers do. I just believe that any Deaf child with or without CIs can achieve and accomplish in communication and academic areas as long as they are given language access since birth and of course, parent involvement plays a big role in it.

I could see how much involved you are in your son's life and I think that is wonderful but I was saddened to learn that you had described how stressful for you during the first eight years of your son's life. Nobody deserves that. Actually, it doesn't have to be that way when raising a Deaf child even without a CI. When you said that your son receiving a CI saved all of your lives, it sounded like it helped you and your family a great deal. I have to admit I was taken back with this statement because in my case, I would never say that my Deaf children receiving a CI would save my and my family's life. I know that it is probably because I knew ASL and that it was easy for me but I strongly believe if a Deaf community builds a strong bridge with hearing families of Deaf child(ren), it will save their lives as well. Only if I were your neighbor, I know we will have so much fun learning from each other but heck, we are technically neighbors in this blogosphere. Thank you for your time reading this post.

To read Jodi's response, click here.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bob Hiltermann and Shoshannah Stern starring in Cold Case!

Hi folks! I just got this e-mail posting from Bob Hiltermann who will be featured in the CBS TV network, Cold Case, along with Shoshannah Stern. Mark your calendar to see this TV program!!!
AFTER NEW EVIDENCE CONFIRMS THAT A DEAF TEENAGER WAS MURDERED, THE TEAM SETS OUT TO FIND HIS BODY AND KILLER,
ON "COLD CASE," SUNDAY, MARCH 30
Bob Hiltermann ("All My Children" and a band member of Beethoven's Nightmare) Guest Stars
As a Grief Stricken Father of the Victim and
Shoshannah Stern ("Jericho") Guest Stars
As an Obsessed Ex-Girlfriend of the Victim
"Andy in C Minor" — After a substantial splatter of the blood of a popular deaf teen who went missing in 2006 is discovered in a storage room at the high school for the deaf he attended, the team attempts to find the boy's body and killer, on COLD CASE, Sunday, March 30 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
SERIES REGULARS:
Lilly Rush................................. Kathryn Morris
Scotty Valens................................. Danny Pino
Lt. John Stillman................................ John Finn
Nick Vera............................ Jeremy Ratchford
Will Jeffries................................... Thom Barry
Kat Miller................................... Tracie Thoms
GUEST CAST:
Andy Rierdan.................................. Ryan Lane
Jarrod Jones...................... Dondre T. Whitfield
Carlos Ramirez.......................... Michael Davis
Leah O'Rafferty.................... Shoshannah Stern
Dean Vivian Harden....................... Lilli Birdsell
Ed Rierdan.............................. Bob Hiltermann
Julia Rierdan............................... Kalen Feeney
Emma Walker................................. Collen Foy
Al Walker.................................... Joe Sabatino
Student #1.................................. Evelina Gaina
Teacher...................... Michael Anthony Spady
Secretary..................................... Lisa Hermatz
Student #2.................................. Lance Patrick
WRITTEN BY: Gavin Harris
DIRECTED BY: Jeannot Szwarc
GENRE: DRAMA, CRIME, MYSTERY
CBS Television...2
RATING: TV14-LV

Saturday, March 08, 2008

My Fate About DPN 20 years ago and Today

About 20 years ago, I had a severe back pain that crippled me for almost a year forcing me to take a leave of absence from college. It started out with a virus-like condition making multiple trips to the bathroom for a week that prevented me from taking the finals. Luckily enough, I was granted a make-up date since I submitted an excused note from the infirmary. It took me a week to recover and I got to complete my studies for the quarter. I thought it was all over for me but I was wrong.

Within a few weeks later, right out of the blue on Christmas Eve, a shooting pain stabbed in my back. It was an excruciating type of pain that brought me to groan on the way to an emergency room. They gave me a dose of Demerol then sent me home with painkillers that I got to pop Dr. Feel-Goods in my mouth for every four hours for eight long months. I went from doctor to doctor because every time they told me what I had, it was different from the previous diagnosis. At first, they told me I had a common back pain and just to shove prescribed Motrins as much as I felt like it. Then a month later, another doctor said it was a pinched nerve then another said a sciatic nerve, then it was a degenerated disc and then and then and then...so you get the drift of the pattern. You know it is always wise to get a second opinion but when you get a different diagnosis more than two times, it is even wiser to keep on getting more opinions. I got my eighth one since no two doctors were found in an agreement, imagine that!

I was bedridden for three months and I never got to go downstairs from my bedroom. Yes, for three frigging months! A mere distance from my bedroom to the bathroom was all I could handle. I was fortunate and blessed to be surrounded by my loving, caring family and friends. My back started to evolve into an C-like-form since I could not walk straight. I thought I would never get to ski and dive again. My mother told me later that she thought I had some sort of a crippling disease that was incurable. It was a scariest moment of my life.

During the week of the Deaf President Now protest (March 1988) at Gallaudet, I was rushed in an ambulance at 5 o'clock in the morning to the hospital with excruciating pain. Again, I was heavily dosed with those powerful shots of painkillers. Then I was trapped in a traction being strapped for a few days while watching the news about the Gallaudet Deaf President Now protest without captions. There I saw the four leaders signing and that was what I could at least understand through their use of ASL. These were the days of pre-ADA era. Even I did not have access to communication let alone no interpreters provided by the hospital! I was grateful to my mother's friend who happened to be the interpreter but she was my guardian angel not because she interpreted for me, it was because she interpreted ways to deal with my decision about the surgery that was scheduled on the next morning. Never mind the code of ethics since she used a good judgment to set aside her role and be my friend instead. She volunteered to interpret anyway. She really influenced me to think twice about the surgery. The diagnosis at that time was that I had herniated disk in my lower back and that the disc had to be removed. You know, when a part of your body is being removed or even added, it is something you would need to consider heavily especially that the risks involved would be numbing in my legs and possible paralyzing from the hip below.

That night, my interpreter family friend said to me that the cat-scan results were not always accurate. She recommended me to get a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) where I am able to get more accurate results. She had experienced car accident related injuries leaving her to deal with unimaginable difficulties to get a right treatment. She mentioned that MRI helped her to find the right treatment. After she left, I could barely sleep all night. Imagine, no computer, no Internet, no DeafRead, no pager, no CC'd TV programs to watch, etc. where I was able to investigate for more information or to keep in touch with my close friends. Boy, I fought so hard to remain sane by reading a good novel but from time to time, I drifted off to think about what to say at the moment when the gurney was wheeled next to me. There were "voices" in my head telling me to cancel the surgery all night and I swore I could hear it so well at that moment. I never had that kind of experience before and even after.

When the dawn came, bright lights glared into my weary eyes as the doctor was greeting to me. I immediately showed him my hand as to signal a message "halt". I told him that I was not convinced about the surgery and that I wanted to get another opinion although I already had seven at that time. Immediately, I was discharged from the hospital and sent home with unbearable pain. I had to wait for few more weeks to have the paperwork shuffled for me to transfer to a different family doctor with a better health insurance coverage.

Finally, in April, I got to visit my new family doctor. He told me to lie down and raise my leg, one at a time. After I did that, he immediately said I didn't have herniated disc. Whoa! He said that anyone with this condition would not be able to raise their legs like that so he knew it was something else but didn't know exactly what was the problem. I was referred to a back specialist whose grandfather and father were in the same profession. I never forget this warm, friendly doctor who reminded me as Tom Selleck. He just returned from a skiing trip with white circles around his eyes thanks to the ski goggles. I just remember this so vividly because I was all visual and that I love to ski. Remember no interpreters provided and it is all based on writing back and forth.

He just made a referral for me to have MRI on my back area. Back then, it was so new and very expensive. MRI referrals were the last resort and only if it was considered really necessary. I believe today it is much more available than before but it was hard to get one back then. It only took a few hours to declare that I had a white spot around the area indicating that it was an infection in my disc but the doctor was not able to identify it. I had to stay in the hospital for a whole month to get biopsy procedure done but it was not successful forcing me to have an open surgery on my back where tissues could be gathered to identify the type of disease. The surgeons knew I had some sort of an infection so they took extra caution and care to prevent it from spreading in my body.

Finally, it turned out that I had a food poisoning disease known as salmonella. Nobody in the medical profession had ever heard of this, as it was a rare case. I received antibiotics through the needle for seven weeks and wore metal brace for three months undergoing physical therapy frequently. By the time the autumn season came, I was completely healed. It was a miracle. Some people came forward and confessed that they thought I was dying. I was really in a bad shape and I didn't blame them for thinking this way. My life was interrupted for ten months robbing my piece of college years and I was not making any progress as I continued to deteriorate leaving them hopeless that I was to get better.

I am just grateful to everyone and God for providing me support. I had to bring this up because when surfing in the net, I just came across the website on cochlear implant. It said that If an "MRI is needed, it would be necessary to remove the magnet which is a quick and easy procedure typically performed under local anesthesia. The surgeon will shave a small area of hair directly over the implant. A small incision will be made exposing the implant. The magnet is gently removed and replaced with a sterilized insert. The incision is then closed. You may experience some swelling and slight discomfort following the procedure."

Remember, I had an infection and no one knew what condition I had at the time. Imagine if I had to go through this hassle to get the internal magnet removed in order to be eligible to have MRI done, what would happen? When I asked my Dr. Tom Selleck what would happen if I went ahead to have my disc removed back in March, he replied with a sympathetic frown and said, "You don't want to know." I said, "Oh come on, just spill it to me." He said," Since there was no diagnosis that you had a severe type of infection, it would have spread to your heart and lungs causing attacks and collapses that may result in death." I just shuddered. So if I had a cochlear implant, it would require me to go through surgery to get the magnet out. I believe it will contribute to more difficulty for me to heal and I am not sure if I would still exist today.

Now fast-forward 20 years later, I find it odd that the almost same fate and at the same time of the DPN event has prevented me from going to DPN 20th celebration again. I was invited to present about Deaf Bilingual Coalition but had to regretfully decline since I just underwent a cervical fusion that the disk from the spine was removed and replaced with a bone graft. At least technology today allows me to submit a video clip of my presentation that in a way I could contribute and be a part of the event.

Before that, I got a MRI last fall for the second time in my life and questioned the MRI technician about what would happen if I had a CI since I thought it would not be an issue this time. But I was shocked and appalled to learn that even today, I would have to arrange a surgery to get it removed. I could not help but think all of these poor Deaf children and adults who had to go through this painful procedure just to get a MRI. It was already painful enough for them to suffer with their unidentified condition but to go through a surgery to get their metallic implant removed so that they could get accurate results blows my mind.

Most patients with cochlear implants cannot get MRI scans, as the implant is metallic.

Update Date: 2/12/2007

See the webcast on DPN tonight from 7:30 to 9:30 pm at DeafNation!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Misconceptions, misconceptions and misconceptions: In a response to Rachel's blog

When I read Rachel's blog on "Why am I on DeafRead?", a lot of red flags came up in my head. I felt obliged to write a response since I wanted to share my point of view. Patti's blog made excellent points and I found her approach very diplomatic and eloquent. I admire her for that and I try to learn her example and apply it as much as I can but I am not her. The most challenging part is that I am trying not to be offensive as much as possible when sharing my opinions but it is hard to avoid the fact when you wanted to say something straight from your heart. Every person has a right to their opinions and I appreciated that Rachel is opening up the dialogue in her blog.

Rachel,

Your point of view as a deaf person growing up with a CI seems to be positive and I am happy for you, really. I feel that you may not have experienced the ultimate ASL environment but you seemed not to be interested at this point and that is your choice, of course. I just want to clarify some misconceptions you just wrote in your blog.

1. "I told my mother about it and asked her why some people sign. She just simply told me that it was a language for deaf people who don’t have cochlear implants and/or can’t communicate via speech, hearing, and lip-reading."

Nah, that is not even true! Your mother obviously has not met enough Deaf people who master in speech, listening and lipreading and still use signs. My sister and I are one of them..we grew up in public schools with no interpreters/notetakers and we could get by but it was not the best way to go because we got to miss out group conversations and lectures but who cared? We were lucky enough that we were able to survive because of ASL usage at home where we had already developed a strong language foundation that enabled us to learn a second language more effectively. Yes, there are plenty of them who are like us who can communicate via speech, hearing and lipreading but incorporate signs because of the benefits of bilingual approach. In addition, we are fortunate that we are able to express ourselves in ASL, a visual language, since it is not the same in English. We just had a choice to communicate in both languages. I am proud of you learning French and I suppose it is a neat thing to learn as well but please don't go around saying that you have better things to do than learning ASL.

2. "my mom wrote an article about the deaf community spreading misconceptions about CIs..."

I cannot say if they are since I need to read what was said but I can tell you that there are real stories here at DeafRead, elsewhere and from what I have seen in my profession that have been shared by individuals who don't find it as positive as you do. We cannot ignore and brush away their stories and declare that those are misconceptions.

3. Re: Sound and Fury "That’s when I began to really think that the deaf community was full of selfish people. My mother never told me when I was growing up that the deaf community were bad people. It was this film that formed my opinions about the deaf community."

I am glad to know that your mom never said that about Deaf people and I really hope she doesn't look down on Deaf people using ASL. But allow me to focus on topic #3 about your thoughts on Sound and Fury. As we know, it was a documentary film on one Deaf family. It should not reflect as a whole about the Deaf community though. It is hard on every parent to make such decision to cut open their Deaf child and that has nothing to do with being selfish because the surgery is considered invasive and it is not 100 percent guaranteed. Parents who don't consider CIs for their Deaf children are not selfish! They have a right to choose just like your mother chose to implant you. Should I shout it out that your mother was selfish doing that? Heck, no! For whatsoever reasons parents chose to have or not to have CIs are not for us to judge them. However, I can talk about why I decided not to do it for my Deaf children and I would appreciate you or anyone else to refrain from judging about my decision. For my view, it is more of why go through the invasive procedure if I can raise them to be fluent in both languages and have them perform at or above grade level thanks to the success of bilingual approach. There are advanced digital hearing aids that they can choose to enjoy sounds but one of my children decided that he no longer wants to wear them. He doesn't like hearing sounds although he had years of auditory and speech therapy. Who am I to force him to be the kid that he does not want to be? For children, either hearing or deaf, who grow up in an ASL and English environment, tend to be successful in academics and there are research documents to prove that. To call them selfish by not implanting is not acceptable! Do you think it is acceptable to call the parents selfish by not using ASL in their homes by the way?

4. "... to have time for ASL club, and plus, as I said, I just didn’t find the reason or the need to learn it. I communicated with these deaf people often through their interpreters. They were very nice and lovely people, but from what I saw, they they were very isolated from the rest of the school. They were in self-contained classrooms all day."

Since I have no way of knowing if these Deaf people actually use ASL but allow me to point out that it is typical that in mainstreaming environment that PSE, SimCom (signing and voicing at the same time), Signed English, etc. are commonly used. There is no way to experience a true bona fide language unless they have been immersed in an environment with true ASL users. It is typical for a mainstreaming setting that not all students come from a Deaf family and that they have not interacted with actual ASL users in the community on a daily basis. Let alone not having a teacher who is Deaf and being exposed to plenty of Deaf role models. If that is the case then they are isolated from the Deaf world as well. But allow me to ask, what is your definition of isolation? Just because they are placed in self-contained classrooms that they are automatically labeled isolated? Just because they don't have CIs that they are isolated? Just because they use interpreters that they are isolated? I find it interesting that you didn't even bother to include them in your circle and I wonder why? Did you ever invite them to your social gatherings outside the school? When I was in a public school, there were no Deaf students until I was in 8th grade. This Deaf girl entered two grades apart from me but I welcomed her and made her feel like a family with other hearing friends during lunch. Ever since she made so many friends that the ice had broken for her to feel comfortable to interact. It has nothing to do with being deaf but it has to do with being warm to make one feel welcome. I can't help but wonder if you ever do that with these Deaf students making them feeling welcome and building bridges?

5. "... I googled “Deaf History” and I then began studying about deaf history as I was curious about it. I was really amazed by what the deaf people had to go through in the past hundreds of years. I just simply thought, “I’m fortunate that I’m living today, not yesterday, as I have the technology that allows me to live in an easier life”

So you got the information from googling Deaf History? (**chuckling**) Perhaps it may be sufficient to look into technology part but Deaf History is much more than that. I just hope you will consider taking a class taught by a Deaf professor someday! It will help you open your eyes, big time!

6. "This past summer, as I was traveling throughout Europe, I received an e-mail from my mother telling me that she found a deaf blog and had been debating with them. I took a look at that blog and became so irritated when people told my mother that she should wait until I grow up and that I will resent my parents for choosing to give me a cochlear implant. "

Your mother, Melissa, debated at my blog, yes, and boy you were not the only one who was irritated. Although my focus on the blog topic was not about when and who should get CIs but about the positive aspects about ASL and Deaf culture. It started out how this mother, Amy, dissed ASL and Deaf culture and that irritated me. Naturally, I had to blog about her dangerous point of view by belittling ASL and that CI children don't need it which is not always true. Somehow, the discussion lead from one topic to another. But what did we learn from this, may I ask? All I want is for the non-ASL CI community and the ASL community to respect each other but I felt that the ASL community didn't get the respect from them and you may have felt so vice versa. Is this like a Middle Eastern war zone that there will never be a solution? I hope not.

Anyway, it is your life and frankly, I don't care whatever you do since you are adult enough to make your own decisions. Like I said, I am happy for you that you are finding success for yourself but please acknowledge that not all CI people feel the same way as you do. I just hope that you are able to stop and think that what works for you doesn't necessarily mean that it will work for them. I am all for whole approach and will just go along with the flow that the child desires it.

All I care about is the respect since it bothers me when you have this standoffish attitude about ASL like you have better things to do than learning ASL. Learning ASL is not only about learning a language but about Deaf people, heritage and culture. Ok, to put at it this way, it is like saying that I have better things to do than learning about CI people. But no, since they are part of the Deaf community and I try to make the effort to learn about them and make them feel inclusive. One more thing, you just cannot simply turn your back on Deaf culture just because there are misconceptions made by them about CIs that lead to your appreciation that "parents never sought to introduce you to the Deaf culture". Humans are entitled to make mistakes and I do commend you for establishing your blog to clarify the misconceptions BUT I don't support your accusations making them the "bad guy". Yes, trying to be a bit more sensitive, you and I. We just need to continue to build bridges to make the betterment for the posterity, the Deaf children. Just think about it.