Today’s and the Future’s Realities on Educating the Deaf
This now leads us into the matter of the accusations made against us Deaf Community members of being in denial about today’s and the future realities of Deaf Education.
So, let’s look at some statistics regarding today’s reality in Deaf Education. It’s reported that as of April 2009, approximately 25,500 children in the country have cochlear implants.
Now, there is a specific claim regarding cochlear implants, where it is said that “profoundly deaf kids can hear and discriminate all the sounds of spoken language.” It is true for some – it is undeniable that for some profoundly deaf children, the cochlear implant does succeed in this regard.
However, if this claim was universally true, then the CI surgeons wouldn’t have a problem guaranteeing this for all who receive it. But that does not happen. Why? Because just like any other surgery, there are going to be variables in the results. This Medical Today News article indirectly acknowledges that reality. And if the CI was universally successful in this regard, then the majority of the implanted children would not be receiving special education services under IDEA. But the majority still are today.
Onwards to deaf education itself, it is reported that 52% of the deaf and hard of hearing children are taught via the speech only method. This conversely means that 46% of the deaf and hard of hearing children use signed languages and/or sign systems.
Interestingly enough, the educational environment statistic conflicts with LSL proponents’ claim that 89% of the deaf and hard of hearing children do not use signed languages or sign systems. This claim has been one method, out of several methods, in convincing naïve parents that it isn’t worth using signed languages with their deaf children.
Another method in convincing the naïve parents to favor the LSL doctrine is the argument that the State Schools of the Deaf do not perform very well on testing scores, therefore ASL must not be very good in educating deaf and hard of hearing children.
They ignore experts in the Deaf Education field, such as the superintendent of ISD’s letter to the Indy Star, citing the reason for the drag on testing scores as the result of “parents who chose only a spoken-English approach and then waited until their child failed to show progress before introducing a visual language forces a school like ISD to play catch-up.”
That is today’s reality in Deaf Education and has been for the last several decades. Same song, different verse. Why would it change anytime soon? And still, even in the face of these facts, they want us to believe their claims that technological feats will conquer all, that they accept ASL and do not actively oppose the language?
An Ideological & Pedagogical War Today – Yes or No?
Given all of this, it stands to reason that yes, indeed, the ideological & pedagogical war is still raging on today in Deaf Education. Just because the war is fought differently today, does not mean it no longer exists.
However, I must confess that I did not fully appreciate just how differently, until all of this happened. As I read up on the recent events in Deaf Education, more and more disturbing questions arose.
Such as why did the Hear Indiana executive director make this statement to the media, “… Hear Indiana does not want to eliminate sign language, she said. But ISD receives an inordinate amount of state support, Horton said, noting that it receives $18 million from the state to teach sign language to almost 350 students.”? (Source:
This statement at first puzzled me. If I were in the shoes of the Hear Indiana executive director, my response to the media would have been: “We have had no hand in the new appointments to the ISD board. Our focus is on informing and advocating for our educational philosophy. We only involve ourselves very superficially with other entities that do not share our views.”
It is highly probable that this response would’ve been well received in the media, and it has the additional bonus of not really giving the Deaf Community anything to pounce upon. It was only when I went back and looked at a PDF by Hear USA that was written several years ago, that the pieces clicked together for me.
Hear Indiana did have a hand in the selection of the new ISD board appointees. The organization knows, from witnessing the recent entanglements of the Deaf Community with like-minded organizations, to only deny when they can get away with it.
And when Hear Indiana says they do not want to eliminate sign language, they mean they aren’t going to enter the schools and outright throw out signed languages.
After all, the International Congress on the Education of the Deaf formally rejected the resolutions of the 1880 Milan Conference. And then, there’s the sticky matter of the high probability of successful lawsuits being brought against them. Parental choices reign in the matter of education, and they have the legal right to use signed language in the instruction of their deaf children.
No, they aren’t going to outright eliminate ASL. You see, in the Hear USA PDF that was passed onto me, the last page had a list of questions that they wanted to explore. “What would it mean to conquer deafness?”
“What would businesses and institutions have to do?”
“What would be the costs?”
“Who will pay for it?”
“How would the market for implants, hearing aids, and audiology and otology services grow?”
“What and how rapid would be the impact on Gallaudet University and schools and centers for the deaf?”
“What would happen to American Sign Language and Deaf Culture?” …
And in a side box, they hypothesize that in 2010 this would happen:
Gallaudet University receives Congressional approval to expand enrollment of non-US students to 80 percent, in stages, between 2010 and 2020, so that Gallaudet can serve students from countries where hearing aids and cochlear implants are not available to the bulk of the population. This shift compensates for the declining enrollment of US students due to newborn screenings and intervention via hearing aids or implants. The legislation expands the Washington campus and deploys faculty and graduates to create campuses in Africa, Latin America, China, India and Eastern Europe; and funds Gallaudet through the World Bank and the US Agency for International Development.
Obviously, this hasn’t happened yet. But it does hint extremely well at their plans for the State Schools of the Deaf and elsewhere. We only need to look at the Utah School of the Deaf for what they will attempt nationally. In the name of budget woes, they will attempt, and already successfully did at USDB, to put ALL deaf children in one school, even with differing educational doctrines.
One administrator leading a school where you have a set of parents who want their children to be immersed in a bilingual environment, and another set of parents who want their children to only use English. Only in Deaf Education would this be acceptable.
This is a war of attrition, in where the majority surrounds the minority, and leads to fighting over resources and money, until the minority is ultimately defeated through sheer numbers.
Indeed… the Hear USA PDF names their plan very aptly. And that plan is called
Death of Deafness