Random Thoughts and Musings by moi

Musings by a feisty, opinionated Deaf gal who wants nothing but the best for her community and her people

samedi 11 mars 2006

Framing the debate

I know I have felt powerless against the overwhelming tide of propaganda about how cochlear implants are going to cure deafness, stem cell technology is going to stop births of deaf children, how powerful the oralist movement is becoming, and on and on.

But we as individuals can go a long way towards making changes. We need to frame the debate, and I seized that opportunity recently.

I'm taking a course in adapting early childhood curricula for special ed children, and part of the course requirement is observing an ECE classroom. I, naturally, observed our very own preschool classroom - with great pleasure. When I wrote the paper, I peppered it with comments like "Deaf children in their element," "normal Deaf children," "rich variety of language development opportunities," and descriptions of the bilingual aspects of the program.

One portion of the paper that we were required to include dealt with how inclusive the classroom is. This is what I wrote, verbatim:
Degree of inclusiveness: If one strictly adheres to the letter of the law, no, it is not. The reason for this is that IDEA mandates that the disabled child is to be mainstreamed as much as possible. This is a self-contained school, with no attempt to mainstream the student. However, if you are familiar with the need for the Deaf child to be in an all-signing communication environment, then this is 100% inclusive, because all instruction is fully accessible via a visual language without barriers and frustrations. For Deaf children, to be mainstreamed with an interpreter adds a barrier that is not an issue in this school setting.

When I got the paper back Thursday night, he had underlined the phrases, "self-contained school," "100% inclusive," "is fully accessible," "adds a barrier that is not an issue," and circled "However." He wrote at the end of the paragraph, "Interesting perspective."

I can imagine him mulling it over and being struck by the notion that an interpreter adds a barrier. Through a seemingly mundane opportunity - a typical grad school paper - I managed to frame the debate in non-confrontational language and I may have succeeded in expanding my professor's horizons, which could have wonderful ripple effects in his day job and in his future classes.