The Endeavor Fall 2010

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FALL 2010


ENDEAVOR A Publication for Families and Professionals Committed to Children Who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing

What’s in a Word?

INSIDE THIS ISSUE: Words: A Passport to the World If It Ain’t Broken... Increase Your Child’s Literacy Pardon Me While I Make You Feel Inferior

p. 14 p. 26 p. 38 p. 45




July 10 – July 23 Who Can Attend: Deaf and hard of hearing college bound 10th – 12th graders This camp prepares students to get into the college of their choice by sharpening their English and math skills and practicing for the ACT exam. Students will also learn how personality type influences study habits. In the evenings and on weekends, students will explore Washington, D.C.


July 10 – July 23 Who Can Attend: Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing 10th – 12th graders Immerse into ASL! is for deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing high school students who have little or no knowledge of ASL.


July 16 – July 23 Who Can Attend: Deaf and hard of hearing college bound 10th – 12th graders


Gallaudet University y Football Camp June 27 – June 30 Grades 9 to 12

Texas School for the Deaf, Austin, TX y Volleyball Setters/Hitters Camp June 16 - June 18 Grades 9 to 12 y Volleyball Fundamental Camp June 18 – June 23 Ages 10 to 18 y Girls’ Basketball Camp June 23 – June 28 Ages 12 to 18 y Boys’ Basketball Camp June 27 – July 2 Ages 12 to 18 California School for the Deaf, Fremont, CA y Volleyball Team Camp July 11 – 14 For high school varsity teams with 8 to 10 players

In this camp students will investigate college majors and careers by examining majors with the help of faculty in those departments and visiting Gallaudet alumni at work sites in the D.C. area. In the evenings and on weekends, students will explore Washington, D.C. FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT SUMMER PROGRAMS: VP : 202-250-2160 | Voice: 202-448-7272 | |


American Society for Deaf Children #2047 800 Florida Avenue, NE Washington, D.C. 20002-3695 Fax: (410) 795-0965 Toll-Free Help Line: (800) 942-ASDC (2732) The Endeavor Staff Editor Tami Hossler Assistant Editor Barbara Boyd Publication Services T.S. Writing Services, LLC ASDC STAFF Director of Advocacy Cheri Dowling © 2010 ASDC. The Endeavor is ASDC’s news magazine published four times a year. Published articles and advertisements are the personal expressions of their authors and do not necessarily represent the views of ASDC. The Endeavor is distributed free of charge to ASDC members.

ADVERTISING For advertising information, contact ASDC is a 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation.

A Look Inside EVERY ISSUE President’s Column


A Note from the Editor


ASDC Board


Featured School: Michigan School for the Deaf


I Deafinitely Can! DJ Swimming to Success


Websites of Interest


Membership Form


FEATURES Words: A Passport to the World


Hearing Equipment Tips to Share


What’s in a Word? Reframing the Words We Use


Some Useful Definitions


Perspectives: What People Think About Words


If It Ain’t Broken...


Audism: Prejudice and Discrimination


Mis Recuerdos...


Something to Ponder: Language Versus Communication


Increase Your Child’s Literacy: Activities for Instant Word Recognition


Bilingualism Is Not Just for Deaf Children 41 Pardon Me While I Make You Feel Inferior


Going Green! Would you like to help save trees and costs by receiving an online version of The Endeavor instead of a hard copy? If so, e-mail 1

President’s Column

Our United Efforts On Legislation Thirdly, the intended bookI believe families need let was compiled with no to know about two things or very minimal involvethat recently happened, ment from the commuboth related to legislative nity. With amendments, issues and both in favor of the legislation would have deaf and hard of hearing required an advisory panel children. One is A.B. 2072 in California, and the other Beth S. Benedict, Ph.D. to develop an informative pamphlet about visual is the 21st Century Commuand auditory communicanications and Video Accestion and so on. On Sept. 30, Governor sibility Act of 2010. A.B. 2072 has been debated since Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill late March. It was a bill written by 13 because it was biased, and because it oral-based organizations/programs to represented a significant workload place the responsibility on audiolo- that would require fiscal resources gists to be the ones to educate families that could not be spared. If the coaliabout deaf persons, communication tion had gotten various organizations options (I would have said oppor- representing all sides working togethtunities), educational placement, er from the beginning to develop a auditory options, and so on. The bill balanced and unbiased pamphlet, the suggested that there would be no costs governor would have probably signed to the state for two reasons: audiolo- it into law. Clearly, audiologists should gists were already in the system, and not be the only professionals families secondly, the recommended pamphlet, obtain information from. Speaking of audiologists, keep in Communicating with Your Child, was compiled by the National Center for mind that there are approximately Hearing Assessment and Management 200 training programs in audiology in (NCHAM) and Let You Hear Founda- the country. Only one requires some knowledge in American Sign Language tion. The Deaf community, including hear- (ASL) and Deaf persons: the program ing parents of deaf and hard of hearing at Gallaudet University. Approximatechildren, rallied, lobbied, and fought ly 20 programs offer ASL and Deaf against the bill for several reasons. culture courses as electives, while the First, they were not involved in writing remaining 180 have either very little the bill. Secondly, information coming or nothing related to ASL and Deaf from audiologists is clearly biased. culture. We need to develop a coalition 2

with them and educate them on the importance of incorporating ASL as a language and educational placements that may not be in their view. Congress did sign the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, which is legislation that increases access to communication, television, and the Internet for people who are deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind. President Obama has signed this act into law. This will ensure captioning of programs on the Internet, videos, and television programs for 36 million deaf and hard of hearing people by adding a closed caption button on television remote controls, requiring

hearing aid compatibility for Internet telephones, and having communication equipment for deaf-blind individuals. The Coalition of Organizations for Accessibility Technology (COAT) pushed this bill; the National Association of the Deaf was a cofounder and 300 organizational affiliates, including ASDC, offered support. A lesson learned from both bills is that coalition and advocacy are key. If one wants to get something passed, unite first. As the saying goes, “United we stand, divided we fall.” Do I need to remind anyone that we stand for deaf and hard of hearing children, no matter what?

A Note from the Editor I am excited about this issue of The Endeavor. It is packed full of stories from the heart. If I have learned anything over the past 25 years, it is that the choice of words we use makes a huge difference in our children’s lives. Words shape opinions and philosophies. Words can create opportunities or barriers to education, employment, and the quality of life for our children. ASDC is fortunate to have so many wonderful members and writers who contribute their time to tell their stories. By building awareness we help pave the way for positive change and opportunities for our children. Please keep sending them my way. On a different note, you will see

The Hossler Family

that the picture I use tends to change from issue to issue. This time I chose to include my entire family; my husband Jeff, my daughters Chelsie, her husband Nick, and Erica. We have been blessed with wonderful Deaf mentors who have impacted all of us through the years. Because of this, I can truly say that we are a proud bilingual family. 3

ASDC BOARD Executive Council Board of Directors President Beth S. Benedict, Ph.D. Germantown, MD

Treasurer Timothy Frelich Jessup, MD

Vice President Joe Finnegan St. Augustine, FL

Executive Secretary Kristen DiPerri Falls, PA

Members at Large Barbara Boyd Northridge, CA Jeff Bravin West Hartford, CT jeff.bravin@asd-1817. org Jodee Crace Indianapolis, IN John Egbert Ham Lake, MN Lisalee Egbert Sacramento, CA legbert@saclink.


Richard Flores St. Augustine, FL richardflores@hotmail. com

Carolyne Paradiso Sulphur, OK cparadiso@osd.k12.

Vicki Gelona Ardmore, OK

Todd Reeves Pittsburgh, PA

Larry Hawkins Sulphur, OK lhawkins@osd.k12.

Tony Ronco La Mesa, CA

Robert Hill Tucson, AZ Tami Hossler Miromar Lakes, FL

Paul Rutowski Austin, TX Council of Educators for the Deaf Representative Beth Benedict

Nominations Being Accepted for 2011 Lee Katz Award The Lee Katz Award is presented every two years, and the next will be during ASDC’s 22nd Biennial Conference in Frederick, Md., held June 22–26, 2011. Lee Katz was the first president and executive director of the International Association of Parents of the Deaf (IAPD), now ASDC. She displayed outstanding leadership, dedication, and service to parents and families of deaf and hard of hearing children. The Lee Katz Award recognizes extraordinary parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Nominees should possess the qualities of leadership, dedication, and service.

Readers’ Comments

Just wanted to congratulate you on your latest edition of The Endeavor. It had some outstanding articles for professionals who have and/or work with youth who are deaf. McCay Vernon, Ph.D. Hello ASDC, I just finished reading the Summer 2010 Endeavor. It has certainly matured into a wonderful publication. This edition includes a wealth of information, assistance and encour-

To nominate someone, please submit the nominee’s name, address, telephone, e-mail, family circumstances, leadership qualities, service, special accomplishments, and three to five references. The person making the nomination should include his or her name, address, e-mail and phone number. All nominations should be sent to: ASDC Lee Katz Award Nominee, #2047, 800 Florida Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002-3695, or e-mailed to asdc@deafchildren. org. Nominations must be received no later than April 1, 2011. For questions, e-mail Cheri Dowling at or call (800) 942-2732.

agement to parents. ASDC appears to be doing very well with a strong voice and support for deaf children and their parents. Especially in my early years on the board, we could only dream of getting to where ASDC seems to be now. I see a few names on the list of board members that remain from when I was a member. Please tell them hello and wish them well. Thanks and keep up the good work. It is worth the effort. Terry E. McMillen, Sr., P.E. 5

Understanding the Terminology of Communication Technology

To obtain the best communication options for a deaf child, it is helpful to understand rapidly-developing deaf communication technology and the many acronyms associated with that technology. VP: Videophone A videophone is a camera that can be connected to a PC or television screen. The videophone enables a deaf person to conduct a conversation in American Sign Language (ASL), either via an interpreter (see VRS below) or via direct communication if the other party signs. Currently, the only videophone that was created specifically for deaf people is the Sorenson VP-200®. Sorenson Communication licenses the VP-200 to deaf individuals at no cost. VRS: Video Relay Service VRS is a service that is offered at no cost to the user. VRS requires a VP or webcam. A deaf individual uses a VP to contact a VRS interpreter. Depending on the technology used, the deaf individual will sign the information needed to place a call to the interpreter. The interpreter calls the hearing individual 6

using a standard telephone and speaks the message to the hearing person, thus “relaying” the conversation between them. Hearing individuals can initiate a VRS call by dialing the deaf recipient’s VP number. VRS with VCO: Video Relay Service with Voice Carry Over (VCO) VRS with VCO is used by some deaf people who use their voices to communicate. VCO makes it possible for deaf individuals to conduct conversations in which the hearing individual can hear the deaf person’s voice. VCO users place VRS calls and use a standard telephone to speak their message. Using the VP simultaneously, the deaf person receives the hearing person’s message from a VRS interpreter who signs the hearing individual’s response. The deaf caller can then respond using his or her own voice on the standard telephone. IP Relay: Text-Based Relay Service for PC and Mobile Users IP Relay enables deaf individuals to contact a hearing individual using instant messaging from a PC or text messaging from a mobile device. The deaf individual sends his or her message to a Communication Assistant (CA), who reads the message to the hearing individual over a standard telephone line.

Sorenson Communications, the leading provider of VRS in the United States, offers high-quality communication products and services to the deaf and hard of hearing community. For more information, visit

Calling All Scientists and Writers! The National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology is sponsoring two competitions. Scientists in grades 6-8 and 9-12 who are deaf or hard of hearing can submit their most interesting or challenging science project, either individual or team, for the National Science Fair. Winners will receive cash awards, plaques, and other prizes. The deadline is December 15, 2010. Go to for more information. Spirit of Writing participants should be in grades 10-11 and deaf or hard of hearing. Use the power of words to express thoughts and feelings, and win cash and prizes! The deadline is March 15, 2011; more is at NTID/Writing Contest.


In the News

ASDC Salutes Kimberly McGuiness Kimberly McGuiness received the Presidential Citizens Medal for her work in helping persuade the Georgia state legislature to pass the Deaf Child’s Bill of Rights, her work in pushing for a law that recognizes sign language as a foreign language in state schools, and her work promoting programs for deaf children in the state of Georgia. Her 21-year-old daughter, who attended the Georgia School for the Deaf, looked on as her mother received this honor from President Obama. Delaware Passes Deaf or Hard of Hearing Child’s Bill of Rights On Sept. 10 in Delaware, H.B. 283 was passed and signed into law. This was an act to amend Title 14 of the Delaware code relating to the education of children who are deaf and hard of hearing. The law addresses the unique communication needs of deaf and hard of hearing children, and acknowledges the need to further develop the comprehensive statewide program that implements a systematic approach to serve deaf and hard of hearing children across the state. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Terry Schooley and Sen. David Sokola. 8

Lena Merrill Crowned “Miss Hawaii Outstanding Teen” Lena Merrill, 14, was crowned Miss Hawaii Outstanding Teen. She is a student at the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind. Merrill has begun her year of service as Miss Hawaii’s Outstanding Teen, during which time she plans to focus on spreading awareness about her platform: quality education for all deaf children. To read the full article, visit www.mauinews. com/page/content. detail/id/532852. html?nav=10; Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant information can be found at www. CSD Raises $25,000 to Support National Leadership and Literacy Camp Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc. (CSD) raised $25,000 at its annual CSD Golf Classic on Sept. 10 in Sioux Falls, S.D. The funds will support the National Leadership and Literacy Camp. For more information about the camp, visit Gallaudet University to Host World Deaf Cinema Festival On Nov. 4-7, Gallaudet University will host the four-day World Deaf Cinema

Festival (WDCF). This festival will provide a forum for the art of filmmaking. Workshop topics include writing for the screen, child actors in television and film, creating successful documentary films, acting, directing, and others. Presenters scheduled to appear include famed Hollywood producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr. and renowned linguist and Deaf culture expert Dr. Carol Padden. The festival will culminate in an awards ceremony with a presentation by Academy Awardwinning actress and Honorary WDCF Chair Marlee Matlin. To learn more about WDCF, visit http://wdcf.gallaudet. edu. Mielke Appears on Oprah Kaitlyn Mielke, who was featured in the summer issue of The Endeavor, appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s Sound of Music cast reunion program that aired on Oct. 29.

Passage of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act was passed in both the House and the Senate on Sept. 29. President Obama then signed the act into law on Oct. 8. This legislation has provisions that will make it much easier for not only Deaf and Hard of Hearing citizens, but for all citizens with disabilities to use and access newer technology such as the Internet, television programming, wireless and hard-line communications, smart phones and video technologies. The Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) began working on this legislation in 1995, and through efforts by its 300-plus members, including ASDC, the legislation is now law. This legislation is considered one of the most significant pieces of federal legislation pertaining to disability rights since the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. This legislation will: • Ensure access to the web through improved user interfaces for smartphones. • Ensure that new television programs aired online include captions. • Mandate that remote controls have a button to easily access closed captioning on broadcast and pay television. • Require that telecom equipment used to make calls over the Internet is compatible with hearing aids. • Create programs for low-income Americans who are deaf or blind to purchase or acquire accessible Internet access and telecom services and equipment. For more information, visit 9

Celebrating 20 Years of ADA On June 22, the nation celebrated the Americans with Disabilities Act’s 20th anniversary. President Barack Obama said, “As we mark the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we must renew our commitment to uphold the civil rights of those living with disabilities and to fully include all people in the life of our nation.” DeafNation World Conference and Expo 2010 a Huge Success! The DeafNation World Expo was held in Las Vegas on July 18-23 with 25,000 people from over 73 different countries in attendance. For information about upcoming DeafNation Expos, visit New Era Petition from World Federation of the Deaf The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) calls upon people of the world to focus on deaf education. WFD has posted a “New Era” petition that “calls upon all nations and people of the world to remember history and ensure that educational programmes accept and respect all languages, including sign languages, and all forms of communication.” To sign the petition, visit

Popular Children’s Books Brought to Life with Sign Language! ASL Inside Sign Language Storytelling Series Music, voice and sign language add a whole new dimension to these beloved stories and show children of all hearing abilities the richness of sign language. Request a FREE catalog! Stories Include: (800) 825-6758 Voice (866) 789-3468 or (866) 384-3147 Videophone

Goodnight Moon • A Creature Was Stirring • Gladys Goes Out to Lunch

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed • There's Something in My Attic • Little Quack A Pocket for Corduroy • Blue Burt and Wiggles • Big Al


ICED Congress Addresses Resolutions of 1880 Congress in Milan At the opening of the International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED) 2010 Congress on July 19, organizers addressed the Deaf community’s concerns regarding the ICED’s Second Congress in 1880, held in Milan, Italy, which banned sign language in educational programs for deaf children. Numerous organizations and leaders had sent in letters pleading that ICED formally reject the resolutions from 1880. “‘Partners in Education,’ the theme of ICED 2010, emphasizes the importance of working together,” said Congress Chair Claire Anderson. The Vancouver ICED 2010 Organizing Committee and the British Columbia Deaf community worked together to develop a statement, which addressed the issues concerning Milan. This statement, “A New Era: Deaf Participation and Collaboration,” was introduced to Congress participants as the beginning of a dialogue to promote healing and set the path for future collaboration. It: • Rejected all resolutions passed at the Milan Congress that denied the inclusion of sign language in educational programs for Deaf students. • Acknowledged with regret the detrimental effects of the Milan Congress, and • Called upon all nations to ensure that educational programs for Deaf people accept and respect all languages and all forms of communication. The audience, both deaf and hearing, spontaneously responded with an outpouring of emotion and a standing ovation. “History has been made today and the words of the Vancouver statement can replace the hurt caused by the Milan decision,” said Joe McLaughlin, subcommittee chair, in his closing remarks. More information about the ICED Conference is at 11

Invest in Our Future!

The NAD joins hands with ASDC in investing in the future of deaf and hard of hearing children National Association of the Deaf


Far Away …for a deaf child They say you are from far away yet to me you seemed, all along, so close Even when I knew only the exquisite flutter of each of your minuscule fingers, I imagined their lines and demarcations, their intricate topography as the map of a familiar country Even then, when I pictured you in those blurred fragments they were glimpses of an alien landscape

you were someone else not in my image Even now, as I hold you and whisper you are mine, you are mine I think of that distant world they say you come from they say you belong to I can only hope to meet you halfway carry me with you I am yours, I am yours Debra Bellon

Debra Bellon is a writer, teacher and filmmaker who lives in France with her husband and two children. Her one-year-old daughter was recently diagnosed as profoundly deaf, and Debra is currently working on adding sign language (French Sign Language and American Sign Language) to her already bilingual household. This poem was taken from,; read about Debra’s experiences raising a deaf child in Europe at

ASDC’s Monthly E-Mail Blast The ASDC monthly e-mail blast is full of information about ASDC, member news, updated conference news, book reviews, websites, and more. If you are a member and are not receiving the e-mail blast, we may not have your correct e-mail address. Please keep ASDC informed about any address or e-mail changes by e-mailing asdc@ 13

Words: A Passport to the World By Karen L. Kritzer, Ph.D. Words are an integral part of our world. We are surrounded by words from the moment we are born. Before understanding what words mean, we make sense of intonation and respond to emotions around us. Eventually sounds develop into words and become meaningful. Young children learn that things and people have names. Labels for objects (e.g., milk, chair) are usually acquired first, then develop into words for actions (e.g., run, sleep) and feelings (e.g., love, tired), then eventually become tools for expressing wants, desires, and refusals. Young children also begin to use words to make connections (e.g., my kitty and my goldfish are both pets) and understand their ability to influence the world around them. We develop words so easily and naturally that we forget their importance in helping us understand the world and develop our identities. For young children with hearing loss, however, words may not be acquired naturally. Therefore, understanding the environment may also be constrained. With limited access to words, the young child with a hearing loss may learn only what is accessible through direct observation. To consider the value of words in helping children make sense of the environment, it may be helpful to examine 14

the perspectives of both a hearing and deaf child regarding a typical event of childhood, a birthday party. Both children are exposed to the same visual and direct learning stimuli at the party: balloons, cake, and presents. For the hearing child, this event is also filled with words; singing “Happy Birthday” assists the child in acquiring a name for the day. Relatives may comment on the child’s age, thus the hearing child acquires another association with the day. For the young deaf child who does not have full access to the words being used, this incidental communication is likely restricted, and learning is limited to what is visually available. Such is the understanding of birthday expressed by Gail Finn (1995), a Deaf woman who grew up in a hearing, non-signing family and attended an oral residential school from ages 3 to 18. She describes her childhood understanding of birthday: “I had no concept of time, therefore I had no idea of my birthday, my age,

or the meaning of the clock’s hands… Although my parents gave me a birthday party every year before the age of seven, I had not the slightest idea what the intention of a birthday celebration was, nor the meaning of a birthday” (Finn, 1995, p. 5). Words are powerful tools in helping young children make sense of the world. They are exposed to a wealth of visual information daily, and it is the responsibility of parents and other individuals to break up this onslaught of information and present it in small, meaningful chunks (Marschark et al., 2002). This mediation requires interaction and communication (Feuerstein, 1997). By asking and answering questions, children learn to derive meaning from their environment (Feuerstein, 1997). When young children do not have full, unrestricted access to communication in the home, the predominant role of conversation becomes one of obtaining answers to direct questions or gaining specific information (Charlson, Bird, & Strong, 1999). Deaf children may not be asked questions that encourage the development of thinking or language skills; rather, they are asked to recall labels for items in their environment or directed to perform tasks. “It is natural for hearing children and deaf children of deaf parents to seek causes and meanings; they constantly ask ‘Why?’ ‘How?’ ‘What if?’ But deaf children of hearing parents do not ask these questions. Rather, their mothers or teachers use meaningless monologues, asking ‘What’s this?’ and ‘Do that’ as if the child understood English”

(Finn, 1995, p. 10). Such uni-dimensional language does not encourage the higher level thinking skills of comprehension, comparison, or evaluation necessary for informal learning (Feuerstein, 1997). Anecdotal evidence of the lack of this type of thinking is available in the book Deaf Like Me (1978). Tom Spradley depicts the experiences of his young deaf daughter and the frustration she experienced as she learned the routine of going to school. Young Lynn Spradley understood the concept of school. She knew she had to get up early, get dressed, and wait at the bus stop. She did this every morning, including Saturday and Sunday. Spradley describes the frustration he felt as he struggled to explain to his daughter that she did not go to school on weekends. It is likely that Lynn experienced at least equivalent frustration as she waited for a school bus that never came. As these examples indicate, young deaf children without adequate exposure to language may have difficulty noticing and/or learning from the environment around them; this is problematic as the ability to discover and/ or recognize relationships and patterns in the surrounding world is perhaps the most critical component of conceptual development. Recommendations Regardless of the communication modality used (e.g., visual, sign-based communication or spoken language), communication in environments with children with hearing loss should, as often as possible, be accessible to the 15

child, whether or not the child is directly involved in the topic being discussed. Even children with cochlear implants will not necessarily hear and comprehend conversation around the dinner table if family members do not make a specific effort to make communication accessible. It is not enough to speak slowly and clearly when communicating directly with the child, then drop the volume or pick up the pace when asking another family member to please pass the salt. Children with hearing loss need access to all of this information to develop a connection and sense of belonging with their families as well as a non-egocentric understanding of the world. Specifically, in interactions with deaf children, parents and other language role models should consider using words to: • Connect events in the “here and now” to the past and future. For example, when noticing that a child’s shoes are too small, talk about growth and how you now need to shop for new shoes. • Model thinking aloud. Before leaving the house for the day, think aloud about what you will do and what you need to take with you (e.g., “We are going to Grandpa’s birthday party. We need to bring a cake, a card, and the birthday present”). 16

• Make constant connections and comparisons. For example: “You asked for pizza for lunch today and yesterday. You must like pizza!” • Use language/ praise that is specific and focused on process rather than product. For example, “You are working slowly and carefully. I see that you are trying hard to do your best on your homework.” • Model asking questions and seeking information. For example, “I don’t remember how to drive to your friend’s house. We can call and ask for directions, look at a map, or go on the Internet to find directions. Which do you think we should do?” Overall, the most important thing to remember is that words are children’s passport to the world around them. The most harmful way that one can hurt with words is to restrict access to them. References Charlson, E., Bird, R., & Strong, M. (1999). Resilience and success among deaf high school students: Three case studies. American Annals of the Deaf, 144 (3), 226-235 Feuerstein, R., & Rand, Y. (1997). Don’t accept me as I am. Ill.: Skylight. Finn, G. (1995). Developing a concept of self. Sign Language Studies, 86, 1-18. Marschark, M., Lang, H. G., & Albertini, J. A. (2002). Educating deaf students. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Spradley, T., & Spradley, J. (1978). Deaf like me. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Hearing Equipment Tips to Share By Julia Wilson Parts of the hearing aid: • Processor (hangs behind the ear) • Ear mold (fits into the ear canal) • Plastic tube (connects processor to ear mold) • Microphone (at top of processor) • Red indicator light (on back of processor) • Controls (on back of processor; disabled for pediatric use) • Battery compartment (at bottom of processor) If the controls are disabled, the only way to turn the hearing aid on or off is to open or close the battery compartment. To take the hearing aid off: • Pull gently on the ear mold, toward the back of ear. (Don’t pull on the tube.) Remove the ear mold from ear. • Slip the device off the ear. • Open the battery door by pulling at the little tab that sticks out. • The red indicator light should go off. • Store the hearing aid in its case.

To put the hearing aid on: • Put a small drop of lubricant (OtoEase) on the ear mold and smear it around. • Work the ear mold into the ear until it is fully inserted into the ear canal. • Lift the processor over the ear so that it hangs behind the ear. • Close the battery door. • The red indicator light should come on. • Ask the wearer if it sounds all right. Feedback: If there is a high-pitched squealing sound, this is feedback caused by amplified sound leaking out around the edges of the ear mold and feeding back into the microphone. • Push the ear mold more firmly into the ear so that there are no gaps. • Even if the ear mold is seated properly, you might hear some feedback if the child puts his/her hand or an object, like a hat, up around the microphone. Adjusting the object’s position should eliminate the feedback. • In many cases, the child does not hear the feedback so it doesn’t bother the child. It’s just a nuisance for others. Protecting the hearing aid: The hearing aid could be damaged if it gets wet or if it is dropped onto a hard 17

surface. If it’s raining out, the child should wear a hat and/or be under an umbrella. He/she can be in a light mist for a short time without protection. It’s usually safe to wear it at a water table, as long as there isn’t a lot of splashing. The hearing aid should never be worn during swimming, bathing, or running under a sprinkler. Care should be taken that other children do not grab the hearing aid off of the ear or attempt to handle it. Parts of the cochlear implant system: • Implant (under the skin behind and slightly above the ear; you can’t see it) • Headpiece (plastic disk that attaches with a magnet to the skin over the implant) • Cable (runs from the headpiece down under the child’s shirt to the processor) • Processor (worn in a harness under the child’s shirt) How it generally works: • Sound is picked up by a microphone on the headpiece. • It is carried by the cable to the processor. • It is digitized, processed so as to optimize speech perception, and turned into a signal that can be sent to the auditory nerve. • This is sent back up the cable to the headpiece. • The signal is broadcast across the skin to the implant, which fires 18

electrodes that are inserted into the cochlea and stimulate the auditory nerve. To take the CI equipment off: • Slide the processor out of the pouch on the harness. • Remove the headpiece from the head (the processor will start beeping). • Turn the program dial on the processor to the off position (it will stop beeping). • Gently guide the headpiece and cable out of the shirt. Be careful not to tug too hard on the cable. • Put all of the equipment in a safe location. To put the CI equipment on: • Run the headpiece and cable (they should stay attached to each other, and to the processor) under the shirt and out through the collar. • Turn the processor on by turning the program dial from the off position to Program 1 (1 dot). The processor will start beeping. • Watch the indicator light, located

• •

near where the cable plugs into the processor. It should blink red quickly, 3-4 times, to indicate that the battery is strong. If it only blinks once or twice, the battery is low. Attach the headpiece to the head by placing it against the skin behind the ear and feeling around until the magnet clicks into place. The processor will stop beeping. Make sure the cable is not twisted or kinked, or caught on the harness. If the system is working properly, the indicator light will blink green whenever it receives a mediumto-loud sound. Say “ba-ba-ba” and watch the light. Ask the child if it sounds all right. Put the plastic cap on the processor and push it down into the pocket on the harness.

If the processor starts beeping: • If it beeps at a regular frequency, about once a second, this means that the headpiece has come off the head. Just put it back on. • If it beeps intermittently, this probably means that the battery is making poor contact or is running low. First, try wiggling the battery in its compartment to see if that seats it better. If the beeping persists, turn the processor off and then back on and watch the indicator light; if the red light quickly flashes three to four times, the battery is strong. If it flashes once or twice, the battery is getting low. Replace it with the back-up

battery. A single battery should last all day, but sometimes it doesn’t charge properly at night.) Another thing to try is to take the battery out and put it back in to see if it makes better contact. • If the doesn’t seem to be a problem, it may be that another part of the system is failing, such as the cable or headpiece. If it’s early in the day, please contact the parents so they can try to fix the problem and the child doesn’t go without sound for a long time. If the child seems to be hearing all right, let the child continue to wear the equipment. If the equipment clearly is not working, take it off and store it until a professional can help. Protecting the CI: Just like the hearing aid, any part of the CI could be damaged by water or a hard blow, and the same care should be taken to protect it. If playing at a water table, the child should wear an art smock to protect the processor under the shirt. There is also a slight risk of damage to the CI from static discharge, which can occur if the child goes down a plastic slide or through a plastic tunnel. When possible, try to ground the child when he/she gets to the bottom of a plastic slide by tapping the leg or hand (not the head).

Be sure to stop by ASDC’s website at! 19

What’s in a Word? Reframing the Words We Use The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

- Mark Twain

Being conscious of the meaning behind the words we use when talking to, referring to, or working with the Deaf community is important. The choice of words we use can make a person feel included and respected or they can make a person feel excluded and become a barrier to full participation. Here are a few ideas for reframing the words we use.

Hearing Impaired

Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Disability or Special Needs

Deaf or Hard of Hearing


The State of Being Deaf

Disabled or Handicapped Accommodations




Hearing Loss

Hearing Level or Degree of Hearing





Some Useful Definitions Deaf Community: A group of people who share a common pride in their culture and their natural signed language. In the U.S. and Canada, that language is American Sign Language (ASL). The Deaf community defines Deaf as a difference in human experience and not as a disability. The word Deaf is defined as a cultural label and not equated to the hearing status of a person. Members are not limited to being deaf or hard of hearing but also include hearing individuals that value and respect Deaf culture and ASL. Deaf communities possess social and cultural norms that are distinct from hearing communities. Deaf Culture: Those in the Deaf community share a natural signed language/ASL, values, behaviors, and traditions. The Deaf community passes along ASL, literacy, storytelling, the arts and other behaviors and traditions of Deaf culture from generation to generation. While there is continuous discussion about capitalizing the “d” in “deaf,” the general definitions are as follows. Deaf: The capitalization of the “D” in Deaf signifies a person or people who identify themselves as part of a cultural and linguistic minority.

deaf: The lower-case “d” signifies the audiological physical condition of a person’s degree of hearing. Hard of Hearing: Many people who lose their hearing later in life identify themselves as “hard of hearing.” Individuals born with mild to moderate degrees of hearing are sometimes labeled “hard of hearing.” The use of hard of hearing is debated. Many in the Deaf community who are hard of hearing identify themselves as “Deaf,” which refers to their self-identity and not their level of hearing. Hearing Impaired: This term is used often by hearing people or people who lose their hearing later in life. It is not a term that members of the Deaf community like or will use, as it negatively labels a person as “impaired.” Deaf Ally: Sometimes known as “a friend of the Deaf community.” A Deaf ally is typically a family member such as a Child of a Deaf Adult (CODA), a 21

Sibling of a Deaf Adult (SODA) or parents; however, anyone such as interpreters, colleagues and others who are knowledgeable and respect ASL and Deaf culture are also considered allies. A Deaf ally should possess the ability to converse in ASL, and supports the Deaf community without taking the lead. A Deaf ally is educated on the different viewpoints in the Deaf community and respects cultural boundaries. A Deaf ally will also speak up in hearing circles when misinformation is brought up. Deaf Mentors: Deaf mentors are invaluable to hearing parents and their Deaf children. Deaf mentors not only are language role models for the family, but also bring a vast amount of knowledge, experience, and advice to the table. Deaf mentors can provide access to social activities, awareness, and links to other Deaf peers and role models. Deaf mentors can help families understand the role technology has in accessing information in the home and outside of the home. Deaf mentors help parents understand more clearly about Deaf culture and the Deaf community, which are important to the growth and development of the whole child. Deaf mentors are important during all the stages of a Deaf child’s development and help to make raising a Deaf child a positive and wonderful experience for the whole family.



Perspectives: What People Think About Words Hard of Hearing and Hearing Loss Terrylene Sacchetti, Deaf Parent Clerc’s Children, My perception of the words, “hard of hearing” (HH) is that HH simply designates a level of hearing. I consider all children with any degree of hearing level, other than hearing, Deaf. Clerc’s Children, Inc. educates parents that all children are Deaf regardless of their hearing levels, and they all need access to bilingual acquisition, both American Sign Language (ASL) and English as early as possible. No more should we use terms that labels a child as being “lesser,” such as “hearing loss.” Yet we do need a way to recognize the hearing level that a child has. At the same time we encourage parents to honor their Deaf child by creating a bilingual environment at home so that all children are viewed as culturally and linguistically rich children. Both my children have different hearing levels; both are ASL natives and bilingually fluent and happen to have speaking skills of different levels. My sister is hard of hearing and her ASL is as amazing and as artistic as mine. Does this make my children and my sister any less Deaf than I am? In my opinion, not at all. Deaf Danielle Reader, Hearing Parent of a Deaf Son This is just my hearing parent perspective based on our experience, in respect to the labeling of Deaf/ Hard of Hearing and our children. From my day-today experience, when people hear me call my son Deaf, they gasp that I would call him as such. I am not sure why it shocks me each time, because we were once those people who thought that it was rude and impolite to call someone Deaf. If I had heard “Deaf,” however, from the very beginning, when my child was born, that would have cut out a lot of confusion. I spent countless hours searching online keywords such as hard of hearing, hearing loss, and hearing impaired. That only helped us, as parents, go down the wrong road with our baby in the first few years of his life. Luckily, that road eventually led us to the California School for the Deaf and the Deaf community in Fremont. That is where we were shown that it is a privilege to be Deaf and that it is okay for us as parents to be proud of him being Deaf. I think hearing parents know in our guts that the labels thrown upon our 23

Deaf babies from the beginning aren’t right and don’t sit well. We just don’t have the right words, mentors, or the resources at that time to show us differently. Deaf and Hard of Hearing John Egbert, Deaf Parent, ASDC Board Member and Deaf Bilingual Coalition founder, I am more deaf than my Deaf wife and two Deaf children and everyone calls them Deaf but many people call me Hard of Hearing because I can speak well. I do not like this label. I feel proud to be Deaf. I think that the terminology, “Hard of Hearing,” divides Deaf people, those who speak, sign, or both. In my opinion, parents who are told that their deaf babies and children are not Deaf and instead are Hard of Hearing because of their hearing levels can be damaging and may deepen the divide. This type of influence can persuade parents toward a strict speaking and listening-only ideology that may steer parents away from allowing their child access to everything, including ASL. ASL opens the doors to endless possibilities and networks in the Deaf community. I speak English and use ASL, and I want everyone to call me Deaf. Deaf Community and Deaf Jenny Ronco, Hearing Parent of a Deaf Daughter How did I find the Deaf community, ASL and embrace the word Deaf? Every family’s initiation into the world of parenting a child who has been identified with a “hearing loss” is a unique and defining moment. That moment is a common conversational topic for hearing parents with children who are deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH). No matter how things pan out and evolve, there is always that day, that comment, or look or doubt or doctor’s appointment that forms the rift between what we took for granted in regard to communication and what we needed to understand, react to and cope with. Of all the stories I’ve heard, I’m grateful that I had less than 24 hours of a terrifying free fall before the Deaf community (and the hearing families and professionals through that network) offered its support and complete unconditional acceptance of my daughter, my family, and me. My family’s moment happened on a Tuesday in May, over the phone by a technician. The information was blunt and heavy on vocabulary (“bilateral severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss”) but light on being useful. Denial aside, I quickly made contact with our local D/HH program and, by lucky timing, was invited to a district-wide potluck the following evening to celebrate the D/HH 24

seniors graduating that June. I went. Parents shared their stories and soon-to-be graduates talked about their accomplishments and struggles and future plans in a mosaic of speech and signing. When our “fresh” (yesterday!) diagnosis was announced, the auditorium gave us a spontaneous standing ovation. Every prospective graduate stopped and visited my daughter in her stroller to sign “hi” and “welcome,” and voiced the same to me. Staff invited and encouraged us to visit the preschool program. By that Friday I had visited the preschool and was invited to have my daughter join, without paperwork completed…they didn’t even know our last name! “The paperwork will catch up,” I was reassured. I was sent home with name signs for each of my children and a stack of books and videos. The Deaf community and culture applauded a diagnosis that makes most of the population shake their heads. ASL was the language that, easily and immediately, granted my daughter a voice. So when did I find the Deaf community and embrace ASL? I picked up the phone, and they found and embraced my family. Hearing Impaired Tami Hossler, Hearing Parent of Deaf Daughter and ASDC Board Member I remember the audiologist using the words, “hearing loss... severe...profound.” In early intervention and preschool, the hearing professionals and educators used “hearing impaired.” The word “Deaf” was never used. Of course, being new to all of this, our family mimicked the professionals. During our daughter’s first year of life, we were not exposed to Deaf people in early intervention or even later at her preschool. We were invited one time to a Deaf family’s home in our area but we still couldn’t possibly learn all we needed to know in one encounter. We knew our daughter was not “impaired,” and the term “hearing impaired” never really sat well with us. But we didn’t have enough exposure to the Deaf community in order to really understand the word “Deaf.” After we moved three hours away so Erica could go to the Indiana School for the Deaf, we were fully introduced to the word “Deaf” and what it means to Deaf people. After that our daughter was “Deaf” and proudly so. Today, when I use the word “Deaf” around hearing people, they equate it with “hearing loss,” and a look of pity crosses their face. Many still use the term “hearing impaired,” and I try to explain the negative connotations. They have little knowledge or exposure to knowing that “Deaf” is connected to a community of people, full of language and culture. We have a long way to go in educating people about words that help and words that hurt. 25

If It Ain’t Broken... By Trudy Suggs I saw a post on Facebook recently that made me pause. A friend wrote that she had told her two-yearold son, “Mommy’s ears are broken, cannot hear…. can’t hear, I use my hands to talk.” Her son then looked inside her ears to “see” what was wrong. As the parent of three Deaf children under the age of two, I thought this was a cute anecdote. I also liked how she said, “I use my hands to talk.” But what made me pause was the mention of “broken.” Let me go off in another, but relevant, direction. In recent issues of Reader’s Digest, which I have read faithfully since I was yea high, there were letters from parents of deaf children who proudly proclaimed that their children never let being deaf stop them. While I understood where the parents were coming from, I thought to myself, “Why in the world would they think in that framework?” To me, being deaf is just like being a female. While it might not fit the greater society’s preconceived notions of what perfect is (read: white, hearing, male) here in America or elsewhere, being deaf is not an issue in my family, just like being female or being a southpaw is not an issue. Besides, my friend’s Facebook post made me think: if we tell people – 26

especially our children – that our ears are broken, what message are we sending? What are we implying when we say, “My children haven’t let anything stop them from being normal?” To me, being deaf is normal. When we tell a child that a deaf person’s ears are broken, especially since a child thinks in very basic paradigms, we instill early in that child’s life that a deaf person needs to be repaired, isn’t whole, and, yes, is “broken.” This creates a negative perception, however subconsciously. Perhaps a bit of family history will explain why being deaf is normal to me. My Deaf father grew up at a Deaf school and came from a hearing family with a hearing sister and a Deaf brother. My Deaf mother is from a hearing family and didn’t learn sign language until she was 17; she is equally fluent in ASL and spoken/written English. I grew up in a mainstream setting except for a year at a residential school. My husband is third-generation Deaf, and attended Deaf schools all of his life.

His Deaf parents went to public schools without support services. My three children are Deaf and attend a Deaf school. I obviously have a diverse family in terms of communication preferences and educational backgrounds. Yet in my family, “Deaf” is the norm. Being Deaf is never a topic of anguish or even discussion. Rather, our conversations are of far less drama: world happenings, people who irritate us, whether the dog has been fed or not, and whose turn it is to load the dishwasher. Never are our conversations stilted because of communication challenges. We happily live life as an ordinary family. If we think that being Deaf can prevent accomplishments, or that our ears are “broken,” then we are certainly going to instill those ideas in the people around us and in future generations. But if we reframe our thoughts from “brokenness” to wholeness, imagine how we can change perceptions, little by little. What do I say, then, when my children ask the inevitable question: “Why don’t people sign?” My younger two are still not quite at the ages of asking this, but my oldest asked this when she had just turned two. Fortunately, I was prepared. I said casually, “Ah, they haven’t learned yet. Maybe you can teach them someday.” Trudy Suggs of Faribault, Minn., is a Deaf mother of three Deaf children. She owns T.S. Writing Services (, and her articles may also be viewed at


Featured School:

Michigan School for the Deaf Looking to the Future

For the first time in 25 years, the Michigan School for the Deaf (MSD) once again has a football team. In addition, we have a middle school volleyball team. The Athletic Department is making it possible for students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing to participate in a variety of sports. These changes have come about over the past eight years, alongside many others. Budget cuts resulted in the use of general funds for campus maintenance while buildings have deteriorated. One aspect that has not changed is the fact that MSD has highly qualified teachers, providing the best education possible to our students. Their focus is on individual student achievement and building an educational foundation that will allow students to feel confident in reaching their goals. More change is in the air, however. While these plans have not yet been approved by the state legislature or 28

given the green light, the intent is for a private investor group to purchase the state-owned MSD campus and build two new schools, one that would serve students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the other for another group of students. MSD would then be leased back to the state. The new facility would have state-of-the-art technology designed especially for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. New buildings will allow for better use of the Internet, distance learning, and advanced placement courses for instructional purposes, up-to-date visual communication systems for safety and learning, and connectivity for

videoconferencing with other state schools for the Deaf. Many of the current buildings would be demolished; new athletic fields would be built along with expanded parking spaces. One building not scheduled for the demolition team is the superintendent’s cottage. Fay Hall and Gilbert Hall will be renovated to the historical standards to which they were built. Alumni, staff, students, parents and the community are in support of this venture. Though we will all feel sad to see the old buildings go, we know these changes are in our children’s best interest. Although a lot of good memories have been made during the 156 years our campus has been here, the best is yet to come, as MSD continues into the 21st century to educate the state’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing children, including those with multiple disabilities. MSD’s website is at

Michigan School for the Deaf Mission Statement To provide academics and social excellence – rich in ASL and English literacy for all students from infancy to graduation, to be the leader in educating Deaf and Hard of Hearing children in Michigan, and to provide services to their families and the community. Michigan School for the Deaf 1667 Miller Road Flint, MI 48503 (810) 257-1400 TTY/Voice (810) 515-8243 Videophone 29


Audism: Prejudice and Discrimination Audism (from Latin audire, to hear, and -ism, a system of practice, behavior, belief, or attitude) has been variously defined as: • The notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or behave in the manner of one who hears. (Humphries 1977:12) • ...the belief that life without hearing is futile and miserable, that hearing loss is a tragedy and “the scourge of mankind,” and that deaf people should struggle to be as much like hearing people as possible. Deaf activists Heidi Reed and Hartmut Teuber at D.E.A.F. Inc., a community service and advocacy organization in Boston, consider audism to be “a special case of ableism.” Audists, hearing or deaf, shun Deaf culture and the use of sign language, and have what Reed and Teuber describe as “an obsession with the use of residual hearing, speech, and lip-reading by deaf people.” (Pelka 1997: 33) • attitude based on pathological thinking which results in a negative stigma toward anyone who does not hear; like racism or sexism,

audism judges, labels, and limits individuals on the basis of whether a person hears and speaks. (Humphrey and Alcorn 1995: 85) • ...the corporate institution for dealing with deaf people, dealing with them by making statements about them, authorizing views of them, describing them, teaching about them, governing where they go to school and, in some cases, where they live; in short, audism is the hearing way of dominat ing , restructuring, and exercising authority over the deaf community. It includes such professional people as administrators of schools for deaf children and of training programs for deaf adults, interpreters, and some audiologists, speech therapists, otologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, librarians, researchers, social workers, and hearing aid specialists. (Lane 1992: 43) Persons who practice audism are called audists. Audists may be hearing or deaf. The term audism was coined by Tom Humphries in Communicating Across Cultures (Deaf-Hearing) and Language Learning (1997: 12). The term lay 31

dormant until Lane revived its use 15 years later. It is increasingly catching on, though not yet in regular dictionaries of the English language. Humphries originally applied audism to individual attitudes and practices, but Lane and others have broadened its scope to include institutional and group attitudes, practices, and oppression of deaf persons. The first half of Lane’s book, The Mask of Benevolence: Disabling the Deaf Community, is the most extensive published survey and discussion of audism so far (Lane 1992). References • Humphrey, Jan, and Alcorn, Bob (1995). So you want to be an interpreter: an introduction to sign language interpreting, 2nd edition. Amarillo, TX: H&H Publishers. • Humphries, Tom (1977). Communicating across cultures (deaf-/hearing) and language learning. Doctoral dissertation. Cincinnati, OH: Union Institute and University. • Lane, Harlan (1992). The mask of benevolence: disabling the deaf community. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. • Pelka, Fred (1997). The ABC-Clio companion to the disability rights movement. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio. Prepared by Tom Harrington, Reference and Instruction Librarian October 2002; Revised April 2009. Gallaudet University: Reprinted in accordance with Gallaudet University Copyrights. http://librar y/ Dea f_R esearch_Help/ Frequently_Asked_Questions_(FAQs)/Cultural_ Social_Medical/Audism. html. 32

Audism Free America

Audism Free America (AFA) is a grassroots Deaf activist organization in the U.S. that advocates for Deaf American rights, cultural resurgence, and seeks primarily to challenge the ideological foundations of audism in America. Audism is attitudes and practices based on the assumption that behaving in the ways of those who speak and hear is desired and best. It produces a system of privilege, thus resulting in stigma, bias, discrimination, and prejudice—in overt or covert ways—against Deaf culture, American Sign Language, and Deaf people of all walks of life. AFA is committed to: 1. human and linguistic rights of Deaf people; 2. unmasking audism and media misrepresentation; 3. advocating for future generations. To learn more about audism, visit

Mis Recuerdos... By Jeffrey Roberts While driving home to South County from the Pine, I recalled a trip I took with my family on the Copper Canyon train. We had left Los Mochis, Sinaloa, early in the morning and were bound for Chihuahua by way of the Copper Canyon. The train, El Chepe, would take us through deep canyons passing tropical plants, corkscrew into a mountain, and along a rim through forest environs for the next 12 hours if all went well. You see, time in Mexico is always much slower and a lot more forgiving in a way that schedules don’t always dictate things. Things just go the way they go down in Mexico. I was sitting in a passenger car looking out the window and peering down into the deep barrancas of the Copper Canyon country when my father tapped me on the shoulder and told me he wanted to introduce me to some people. I, having been through the routine many times, predicted he was going to brag on me a little bit and ask me to say some things and why not, show them what I knew in Spanish. It was pretty normal and was the way I was brought up. Take note of the words “routine” and “normal.” So I got up and followed my father through several passenger cars as they swayed left and right while the train

was rounding a bend. We reached a dining car and approached a couple. An older-looking man who appeared to be in his 50s, if not 60s, and a young woman who was likely in her early 30s, were both gringos to us and were also headed to Chihuahua. I smiled and greeted them. “I’m Jeffrey and it is a pleasure to meet you,” I said. The older looking man shook my hand and replied with an intensely profound articulation: “Nice to meet you, Jeffrey. I am [garbled] and this is [garbled].” As he said this pointing to the woman next to him, I reached out to shake her hand and smiled. “Mag nahem his juhnahva, night met shoe,” she said. Before I could ask them to repeat, my father intervened and said that this woman, Geneva, was deaf and wore a hearing aid like me. I was initially surprised and had no idea what to expect when my dad wanted to introduce me to these people. So there I was, 33

just 15 years old, meeting another deaf person. I didn’t use ASL and neither did she. I couldn’t hear or lipread her. She couldn’t hear or lipread me. So what was the solution? Well, I had to tell the older man what I said and he had to tell her. She had to tell him and he had to tell Dad and Dad had to tell me. I couldn’t really understand the man’s words because he said them with such an exaggeration that whatever he could be saying was actually foreign to me whereas she, on the other hand, could actually understand him. We couldn’t connect even though we were both afflicted with the same problem. We were both dependent on the hearing people we were able to communicate with in order to communicate with each other. Never mind the fact that we were both visually attentive of each other even though we stood like statues. I remember standing there on the train with Geneva staring out the window while I was staring at the whole situation. My father and the older man kept talking. They weren’t talking about the trip. They weren’t talking about the scenery. They weren’t talking about Mexico. They were talking about us. The other deaf person was ignoring the situation by pretending to watch the passing landscape. I looked at my father. I looked at the older man. There they were talking about the very two people in front of them who were both deaf and wore hearing aids. They were talking about speech. They were talking about all that hearing perspective 34

“yadda yadda” when these two subjected souls were left hanging with a reality that it was a hearing world and no good because, darn it, we were born deaf. My thoughts went to: What if we could communicate? What if we could exchange thoughts and questions? What would I have asked her? “How do you like Mexico?” “Do you know Spanish?” “Where are you from?” “Can you understand what they are talking about?” “What do you do when that happens?” “Why do you ignore it?” “Why do you pretend?” “Who said it’s not a good idea to make them upset?” “Is that why you suppress your emotions?” That is not happy and nor is it healthy but it is what happens a lot of times. Many would rather not upset others. They’d rather sit down and let the world of hearing people roll like it is “supposed” to than to break the hearts of those who refuse to accept us the way we are. Yea, let’s just keep supporting the lie. She looked out the window and pretended to fall asleep. Father and the old man were still talking while I slowly crawled back to my passenger car, found my seat, and soaked up that sinking feeling that I was a dog whose master was done. The tricks had been shown and the treat given, which was meeting another dog. I thought about that encounter all the way down to Terlingua. I hope and pray that Geneva is

happy today wherevAbout Jeffrey Roberts er she may be. Maybe I’m a writer and I live in Terlingua, Texas, she got a better hearmost of the time. At present I am in Durango, ing aid and went to a Colo., with a plan to hike for several weeks in the better speech theraWeminuche Wilderness. I graduated from the pist. Maybe she got a Model Secondary School for the Deaf in 1997. cochlear implant that Prior to 1995, I was mainstreamed without interhelped her speech preters. and hearing. Maybe Front Row Student. she swallowed a pill Wore an aid. and became hearing! I attended Gallaudet, NTID, Texas State TechniHallelujah! cal College, Sul Ross State Uiversity and Prescott Maybe she did. College. I believe “Experiential Education Rocks!” That, however, I love to write in the wilderness. will never erase the That is my classroom. memory of the fact I’ve paddled many western that we both felt pretrivers. ty horrible during and I’ve climbed many mounafter that encountains. ter on the Copper I’ve lived in a backpack. Canyon train, nor will I’m free. it change the fact that Life Goals: To become a she may never learn teacher and an example. to communicate with another deaf person who uses American Sign Language because she was drilled, both literally and figuratively, to subscribe to the idea that it was better to hear and speak than it was to use an effective American Sign Language with all people, both hearing and Deaf.

DID YOU KNOW? ASDC has a lending library free to all members. To check out books and DVDs, visit, call (800) 942-2732, or e-mail 35

Something to Ponder: Language Versus Communication By Donald A. Grushkin, Ph.D. Associate Professor, California State University-Sacramento Communication is conveying a message. Language is an arbitrary set of conventionally agreed-upon symbols (sounds or handshapes/movements) which is productive (can be rearranged in infinite combinations) and utilized by a certain community. Language involves communication, but communication does not necessarily involve language. My dog can communicate very well with me. When she stands a certain way, she tells me she wants to play. When she looks at me or behaves in a certain way, she tells me she wants to go to the bathroom or wants a treat. She will grab my hand with her mouth and pull it up toward her neck to tell me she wants me to scratch her on her neck, not her tummy. But she cannot tell me what she dreamed about last night, or what she is thinking when she sniffs this or that tree. A parrot can say “Polly wants a cracker,” but it is not using language. It is imitating a certain set of learned 36

sounds in order to obtain a reward. The parrot cannot tell you that there is a pink elephant wearing a multicolored tutu dancing the Lindy in your living room…even if there was one right there. Users of a language, on the other hand, can talk about the elephant or any other topic, no matter how highly improbable. Pointing is communication. However, any parent of a young child can quickly tell you that it is a highly non-specific form of communication. When something is being pointed at, does this signify a request, comment, or demand? Let’s move on to codes. Codes are communication for specific purposes, but they, too, are not languages. Semaphore (waving flags for boat-to-boat communication) can tell you to move your boat to the right, or that there is a storm coming up ahead, or to stop now! But beyond the basic messages, semaphore can’t talk about an elephant or other nonnautical topics. Morse Code is a bit more sophisticated. You can use Morse Code to talk about an elephant. However,

Morse Code cannot stand by itself. Morse Code must be “mapped” onto a language such as English or Spanish or Dutch or whatnot. And you never see people walking around speaking in Morse Code. Writing is another type of code. Writing is a way to encode the spoken elements of a language onto paper or computer. While writing – whether it is in shorthand, English/Latinate lettering, Chinese ideograms, or other writing systems – encodes languages wonderfully, it too cannot stand by itself. You cannot put down random letters such as “xsypho plobsckim qpiytr” and say they are meaningful. It has to be mapped onto the language – in this case as I write, English. Cued Speech is a code for the phonetic elements of English or other IndoEuropean languages. It cannot stand by itself as a language. It must be mapped onto spoken English to have meaning. The same goes for signed English. It is a code for the morphemic and grammatical elements of English. It cannot

stand by itself as a language. It must be mapped onto English. Cued Speech and signed English may be considered “communication modalities,” but they are not languages. Because they are not languages, these codes are not processed by the brain in the same manner as natural languages. That is why most Deaf children exposed only to codes struggle to learn English or the language of their country. They have not been exposed to a naturally occurring full language, only the code for that language. What does that leave us with? The answer is real languages: ASL and English. For Deaf people, spoken English may be inaccessible due to the sound barrier. ASL, however, is fully accessible for Deaf people unless they do not have the function of their eyes. In such cases, they can still use tactile ASL. Since ASL and English are languages, they can stand by themselves and be understood. They have a community of speakers. And when one learns a language fully and natively, one can learn another, and another. So, when Deaf people learn ASL from birth, they are supplied with the cognitive skills to learn another language, whether it be English or Spanish, or Hebrew or any other language you wish. That is why I say there really are no “communication options.” There is only language. 37

Increase Your Child’s Literacy: Activities for Instant Word Recognition By Kristin Di Perri, Ed.D. Riding a bike entails integrating a variety of actions simultaneously. For example, the rider must be able to steer, balance, pedal, alternate speeds, and stop to be successful. Reading requires a similar process. A reader who truly comprehends print must be able to do several things concurrently. One component essential for reading fluency is a substantial bank of immediately recognizable words stored in long-term memory. Parents often ask, “What can I do at home to help my child instantly recognize more English words in print?” This is a very important question because vocabulary size has significant implications for many deaf readers. In this article, two basic activities will be discussed that any parent can do to increase their child’s initial understanding of a greater number of English words in print. For signing deaf children, the development of a vast vocabulary can be a


daunting challenge. Phonemic awareness, or linking sounds to alphabet letters, is a very potent tool hearing children spend years learning to use. By the time hearing children reach the sixth grade level, textbook makers expect them to be able to recognize (or decode) about 16,000 words. However, deaf children often have limited biological access to the sound stream and thus have a difficult time mastering this sound connection. Thus, it is critical that parents learn to supplement vocabulary development at home. Learning vocabulary visually is not simply a matter of seeing/signing/ fingerspelling a word a certain number of times. In order to internalize the new word the child must see it in context many times. Sentences that are heavily contextualized point the reader to the meaning of the focus word. For example: I ate too much and now I feel full. Research suggests that it can take anywhere from 20-75 encounters with a single word in context before it is stored in long-term memory. Therefore, while the following activities suggest ways to increase the number of new words your child can learn, it is imperative to understand that you also need to, when possible, put the words into personal sentences, paragraphs and stories. In this way you continue to aid the process of adding the word to long-term memory as well as providing supplementary reading experiences.

There are several ways parents can help their children practice, learn and internalize greater quantities of words. The key is to find activities that take advantage of visual or frequency attributes that support learning a significant number of words more efficiently. Finally, learning singular words does not provide enough depth to their meanings. However, having an initial concept about a word allows readers to handle the more sophisticated aspects of comprehension. Two Vocabulary Development Activities to Do at Home 1. Visual Chunks For early readers, categorizing words by using similar combinations of letters links to a visual cueing system. This is similar to hearing children learning to rhyme at an early age. Once a week you can pick a “word family” (e.g. “AN”) and decide on a list of related words you want your child to know (e.g. and, ban, can, Dan, fan, man, ran, tan, ant, etc.). Do not be concerned that some words start with the word family (i.e. and) and others end with it (i.e. ran). Your child is looking at the visual chunk and not attending to the sound. A simple Internet search will provide you with the 37 most common word families and related items. Using index cards, write each word on one card. Keep the letter chunk one consistent color (e.g. AN is blue) and the other letter is another color. This helps repeat the pattern of letter combinations and reduces memory load when children write the word on their own.

On the back of the index card, paste the sign or picture and add a simple sentence with the word in context. This will serve as a memory aid. Keep the cards on a ring and practice often with your child in short increments of time (e.g. before reading a bedtime story, in the morning at breakfast, while waiting for the bus, etc.). Have your child put the word in his or her own sentence. Each week as you add a new word family and more words, make sure that you continue to review all words previously learned. 2. High Frequency Words Prioritize working with words your child will see in reading often. Obtain the Fry list of high-frequency words. You can locate these for free on the Internet. The 3,000 words are the most frequent words in print. By automatically recognizing these words, your child will be able to read at an increased level simply because the words show up all of the time. Make word cards for each of the Fry words. The word is on the front, the sign, or picture and contextual sentence is on the back. Have your child think up a relevant sentence. As with the word family cards, make sure to continually review all of the words you have done. Continue to put words in sentences, paragraphs, etc. One way to encourage writing is to keep a daily journal with your child. All of the family members can contribute. This promotes an excellent support for writing and also provides a way for 39

you to insert the words you have been working on in a consistent manner. Assessment It is important to periodically evaluate your child’s progress in this area. Many times while you are reading with your child a comment such as, “Oh, that’s a Fry word,” will be made. This provides evidence that the words are being retained. However, to ensure that they are stored in long-term memory you need to occasionally test their instantaneous knowledge of these words. Keep a running list of the words for which your child is accountable. To test him, show the word to your child on the card for one to two seconds and then remove. The objective is to have your child immediately respond with the correct answer. Place a check by

words that need more support. When time permits, ask him to give you an original sentence using the word to assess his level of word knowledge. We have explored two ways to maximize your child’s time spent learning print vocabulary. Though it may seem overwhelming at times, the benefit you observe will be worth the investment. Finally, these activities also provide a wonderful opportunity for you as a parent to improve your own ASL vocabulary skills. Encourage your child to keep a list and periodically assess your ability to instantly produce the correct sign for an English word. This promotes a healthy respect for the endeavor it takes to become bilingual and draws your child closer as you commit to broaden both languages.

Did You Know? The International Association of Parents of Deaf was founded in 1967 by concerned parents of deaf and hard of hearing children. The organization changed its name in 1985 to the American Society for Deaf Children. Today:

• • • •

ASDC is the oldest national organization founded by and governed by parents of deaf and hard of hearing children. ASDC depends solely on donations, memberships, and proceeds from conferences for operations. ASDC’s board is a “volunteer” board with members who pay their own travel and lodging expenses for all ASDC events. ASDC has offered 20 summer conferences to more than 6,000 parents across the United States. Become a part of this innovative organization by joining today! See membership form on page 55. 40

Bilingualism is Not Just for Deaf Children By Christopher Jon Heuer A story, if you will, about bilingualism. It’s too often presented as an educational approach designed to give deaf children access to language. That’s true, but it’s not the whole story. It also gives hearing children access to their signing deaf parents. If there exists the antithesis of parents who are caught by surprise at the discovery of their child’s deafness and then fumble for years trying to make sense of a bewildering amount of information, that antithesis is embodied in me. When my hearing son Jack was about to be born two and a half years ago, I knew full well that he might be born with some level of deafness. Furthermore, I knew that he might, for all measurable purposes, be born hearing and then have his hearing slowly deteriorate. That’s what happened to me and my brother, after all. And while genetic traits at times

skip generations, sometimes they don’t. So I was on guard. Unlike most parents of deaf children who are themselves hearing, I know that deafness itself is not what causes delays in language acquisition. I know a great many prelingually deafened people—I know because I asked them directly, I might add—who have excellent reading and writing skills. The same holds true for many postlingually deaf people I know, but that’s neither here nor there. I also am no stranger to the educational options available to my son. I daresay I know of most of the programs in the Virginia/D.C./ Maryland area. I can also say with confidence that if I ever have questions about anything, I know dozens of people I can approach for accurate information. When my son was about to be born, I knew I had to hit the ground running. I have always found two things to be ironic: One, I have met individuals who have stated that early identification of deaf children is a bad idea (presumably because it puts those children into the clutches of the Institution of Medicine that much more quickly, and thus practically lines them up to receive cochlear implants). Two, I have read about proponents of cochlear implants who think all deaf children who can get one should get one, because “waiting until the child is old enough to decide for him/herself” (a belief among an unknown number of Deaf people that is apparently widespread enough for 41

others to notice it) is akin to “running out the clock.” First of all, that clock starts running down no matter what you do. Implanted or not, using hearing aids or not, placed in an ASL-rich environment or not, language acquisition is not a process that runs itself (if it was, there would be no hearing people with language delays). And it should not be treated as one, no matter how much emphasis we place on the fact that children pick up a lot through incidental learning. Which leads me to my second point: Early identification is something people should want. You lose nothing in knowing as soon as possible whether or not your child is hearing, deaf, or somewhere in-between. The community loses nothing either. What you as a parent do about it after you find out is up to you, so early identification need not lead to a higher likelihood that you’ll make one type of decision over another provided you are thoroughly informed of all the options (including their downsides). The issue of whether or not all of the information is getting out there and being provided in a complete and unbiased manner is one that is at best slightly separate from the overall value of early identification. Without identification, it’s that much harder to do anything. Not that this helped me out all that much after my son was born. As soon as we arrived at the hospital, in fact, I told the nurse to make a note and inform whoever needed to be informed that I wanted Jack’s hearing tested 42

twice, not just once. Several hours after his birth, I repeated this request. I was reassured—as I expected I would be—that once would be sufficient. Even my wife was giving me a “Come on, don’t make an issue of it” expression. I was not to be deterred. “Look,” I told the doctor, “I want you to test him twice. I want as accurate a result as possible. If insurance is the problem, I’ll pay for it myself. If policy is the problem, nothing stops you from noticing one of the wires on the testing machine is loose—better test him again, right? If it makes any difference and my ordering you to do it is what will get it done, fine, I’m ordering you to do it. But I’d rather not be a jerk. The simple fact is that I need to know, and I want you to find out. Now will you do it or not? If you won’t, I’m going elsewhere.” My eyes were watering at the end of this confrontation. It had been an exhausting and emotional night. But the doctor relented, and Jack was tested for the first time that morning. He did not pass. He had fluid in his ears, which is a common condition among neonates, and one I expected. There might have been an issue with his hearing, and it might have just been the fluid. He was tested again the next day… again, fluid. After receiving the second result, I excused myself, went to a bathroom far down the hall, locked myself in, and sobbed. You see, I have no problem with him being deaf. I’m deaf. I’m generally happy. I don’t think about deafness every waking moment, and in the

moments I do I’m still generally happy. But I am also heavily scarred by things I’ve been through. I would do anything for that to not happen to my son. I’ve seen firsthand incompetence and corruption in the schools (allowing for the fact that there are many good teachers, of course, and this is true of education for hearing people as well). I would do anything to not have my son exposed to that. Or at the very least, since I also know full well I cannot protect him from Life, I would do anything to make sure he had the tools he would need to survive these things with his intellect and his self-esteem intact. I had never felt more helpless than I did in that moment, because being able to do something rests to a great extent on knowing what has to be done. In any case, of the many things to be done, crying in a locked bathroom wasn’t one of them, so I soon pulled myself together and got out of there. I went back to my wife’s room, and gently took him away from her so she could sleep. I think I sat there with him for hours before he finally opened his eyes. And when he did, even though I read somewhere that a neonate’s vision doesn’t extend outward all that

far until a few months after the birth, I still signed and spoke to him. “Hi there, little baby,” I whispered to him. “I’m Daddy!” I pressed my thumb to my forehead and leaned in close so he’d see the sign. “That’s Mommy over there sleeping!” I pressed my thumb into my chin so he’d see that, too. Even though those were the first signs I taught him, the first sign he communicated spontaneously roughly a year later was “truck.” Go figure. But now he knows “plane” and “helicopter.” And “train” and “car” and “tree.” And “mouse” and “frog” and “billy goat” (he signs this the same as “frog” but sometimes he’ll stick out his tongue when he signs the former). He signs “play” and “swing” and “woods” and “outside.” When he wants “fruit” he tells me, and when he wants “juice,” he tells me that too. I’ve rarely seen him have tantrums. Sometimes he’ll sign something nonsensical, and because it has since turned out that he is hearing (for now anyway… I’m still on guard for any kind of drop), I’ll say “Jack, I don’t understand that sign.” And then I’ll sign the same thing. Sometimes he’ll go and tell his mom 43

what he wants. Sometimes he’ll pull me along and show me what he wants. And sometimes he’ll just bounce away (he’s a frog, see!) and think about it for a while. The number of words he knows how to sign is going to hit about eighty any week now (up from dozens several months ago). His preschool teachers and daycare provider (who is also a teacher) have noted that his spoken vocabulary is remarkably high for his age. I’m proud of that, but not as proud as I am of what happened just the other night. As soon as his mom announced that it was bed time (whenever he sees this he makes the sign for “sleep” and says “night-night!”), he came up to me and signed “Daddy, book, plane!” Meaning that he wanted me to read him the book on planes that he brought home from his preschool library. It was the first time either Amy or I had ever seen him string togeth-

er more than two signs. He has been speaking in sequences of seven words or so for several months now, but his signing is catching up. And this means he will have access to his father. He will not grow up alone. He will not have to learn to fend for himself before he is ready to. It means I can share with him what I know to be true. I can caution him about the dangers of this world. I can show him how to appreciate the many beautiful things about it, too—including himself, because he is the most beautiful person in the world to me. Christopher Jon Heuer is the author of Bug: Deaf Identity and Internal Revolution and All Your Parts Intact: Poems. He is a editor and an associate professor in English at Gallaudet University. He lives in Alexandria, Va. with his wife Amy and his son Jack.

Described and Captioned Media Program

Provides Free-Loan Media for Educational Accessibility. The DCMP library provides over 4,000 captioned educational media titles to teachers, family members, and others who work with K-12 students who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind. 44

Pardon Me While I Make You Feel Inferior By Michele J. Bornert As I was preparing for my sign language class that was about to begin, two students arrived early. As is usually the case, they each entered, smiled sheepishly and sat down in silence. A few seconds of getting settled and one excitedly begins to speak. Signing awkwardly and speaking at the same time, she begins: “Oh my gosh! I was working on my signing vocabulary last week and you won’t believe what happened!” Becoming excited, she begins to speak at a lightning speed and all semblance of sign language is lost. She and the other student engage in a very animated and enthusiastic discussion while I look on. When she finished, she turns me with wide eyes and smiles expectantly. But I haven’t the faintest clue what she’s just said. I look at her and ask, “So, what exactly happened last week when you were working on your sign vocabulary? It seems exciting.” “Well, I was…” Again, her frantic behavior and rapid speech made it virtually impossible for me to comprehend any word or sign she uttered. “Wait!” I stopped her before she went on. “I can’t understand you. You need to slow down. Can you sign it?” A moment of obvious discomfort later, she shifts in her chair. Finally,

she looks up and, with a sympathetic expression, states, “Never mind. It’s not important.” GASP! NO! NOT THAT! It’s not important to whom? It was obviously important by the body language and facial expressions she used when telling the other student, why would it not be important now? Or does she mean I’m not important enough for her to go through the trouble of repeating it? Be it right or be it wrong, when you say, “Never mind,” and “It’s not important,” to a Deaf or hard of hearing person, that’s the message that comes across. “You’re not important enough for me to put forth effort to explain it to you.” Try to imagine how you would feel if you went to a party and someone tells the most hilarious joke ever at just the moment your child tugs at your shirt and distracts you. The crowd breaks out in guffaws and screams of delight. When finished with your child’s needs, you look up and eagerly ask, “What was so funny?” Now imagine that the only response you get is someone brushing 45

you off while saying, “Oh, it’s not important,” and then abandoning you for others in the crowd who actually know what’s going on. Doesn’t feel so hot, does it? It doesn’t matter whether what you were saying was some stupid joke you heard from your five-year-old or a grand soliloquy your boss gave before he fired you. If it’s important enough to say once to a hearing person who is easy to converse with, it’s important enough to figure out a way to help the Deaf or hard of hearing person you’re with to understand what you were sharing. In other words, sign, speak (clearly), mime, gesture, or write, but do repeat it for us. Let us decide if it was worth all that effort. Because, whether you mean it or not, “Never mind” can have much the same impact as turning to that person and telling him or her that he or she is worthless. Michele J. Bornert is a Deaf freelance writer and ASL teacher. She and her husband own Deaf Expressions. Her blog, by the same name, is at http://deafexpressions. She resides in Grand Rapids, Mich., with her hearing husband and three hearing children.

During the season of giving, please consider a gift to ASDC. We are proud of our efforts to help parents throughout the year giving support through our network, through articles in The Endeavor, through e-mails and blogs on the ASDC website and through our conferences. ASDC has grown so much in the years since its founding, and this would not have been possible without all of your continued support and generous contributions. We hope you will consider making your tax-deductible charitable contribution. By supporting ASDC, you are investing in the future of education for deaf children, strengthening the networking among families, and providing promise of a better future for our children. Donations can be sent to: American Society for Deaf Children #2047 800 Florida Ave., NE Washington, DC 20002 Or donate via PayPal at; click on Donate. 46

I Deafinitely Can!

DJ Swimming to Success By Nita Everton

It is the end of August and I am striding across campus in the company of my 21-year-old son, a starting freshman at Gallaudet University. DJ – short for Donald Jesse – has been here since July. It has taken him a while to decide the direction for the rest of his life; I am thrilled that he has chosen to rediscover his Deaf persona. He seems totally at ease and comfortable in this bilingual environment, and I am sure that this is a sort of homecoming for him. DJ was 18 months old when he was diagnosed with a hearing loss in both ears. According to the audiologist, the prognosis wasn’t good. We were told his hearing would continue to deteriorate as he matured. The best advice that the audiologist could give us was to not teach him sign language because it would “retard his development” and prevent him from fully developing what little hearing he had. This advice didn’t resonate with me. I had seen productive, competent Deaf adults in our local community. I’d read about Deaf members of society making profound contributions. It was my mother’s advice that made the most sense: do whatever it would take to help DJ grow into a productive member of society. And that meant giving him communicative access to the world. I immediately bought sign language books for the house, the babysitter, my grandma. I enrolled in a local Ameri-

can Sign Language (ASL) class and hired a Deaf tutor to help me improve my signing skills. We put DJ in school just before his third birthday, in a selfcontained classroom environment. We hired a speech therapist for him. We joined a local advocacy group of hearing parents with deaf children. My husband and I scoured bookstores and web sites for anything to help us learn more about language acquisition and Deaf culture. We couldn’t do it alone. We were lucky to be paired with a wonderful teacher at DJ’s elementary school. It was Laura Blackburn’s insight and guidance that allowed us to navigate the new world of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and educational rights. When our local school system shifted from a selfcontained format to one of inclusion, she was there, helping us all along the way. Between her support and a very talented speech therapist, we ensured that DJ had the most enriched educational opportunities available. We have encouraged DJ to try any and every thing that sparks his interest. Over the years, he has learned French, 47

played the bass fiddle, performed in school plays, taken karate classes, written poetry, played advanced league soccer, taken dance lessons, become an accomplished photographer, reveled in the flowering of infatuation and suffered the ache of heartbreak. In other words, he’s been a typical boy, traversing the years like most other kids his age. When DJ was seven years old, I enrolled him in swimming classes at the local Boys and Girls Club. DJ caught the attention of a senior instructor, who made it her personal mission to make his technique as efficient and effective as possible. When he was nine, DJ began swimming competitively. We were presented with more advocacy challenges: getting organizers to use hand signals and strobe lights to start events, and making sure swim coaches looked at DJ while talking with him. As a sophomore, DJ was injured and took nearly a year to rehabilitate his knee. During that time, he was one of the staunchest cheerleaders and motivators for his high school swim team, attending every swim meet. DJ set several school records, many of which still stand today. As a senior, he co-captained the boys’ team and was named MVP. Along the way, he became a lifeguard and a certified water safety

instructor working for two city pools and guarding at the beach. DJ began seeking competition venues with other deaf swimmers. He was ultimately invited to be part of the USA team that participated in the World Deaf Swimming Championships in Taiwan. He then returned to coach the girls’ swim team at his former high school for two seasons. All of this brings me back to walking across the campus of Gallaudet. It is the siren call of competitive swimming – coupled with a dedicated coach who has gently yet persistently encouraged him – that has ultimately gotten DJ to this point in his life. Up until now, DJ has been one of a very few or the only deaf/ hard of hearing people in his school or on his swim team. His opportunities to sign – his first language – have been few and far between. Being surrounded with the diversity and richness of college life, while having total communicative access, seems to be helping him come unto his own. It is as if he’s re-gaining his sense of balance or wholeness as he learns how to embrace, as he calls it, “his Deaf self.” And what better gift for a parent than to see a child enthused, engaged, involved, learning, growing and making a contribution? Nita Everton, Ron Lovell and DJ Everton-Lovell reside in Norfolk, VA.

I Deafinitely Can!

The Endeavor is excited to feature stories of deaf and hard of hearing individuals who test and go above their limits. We are looking to showcase stories that will inspire others to reach for the stars. If you know of someone with a story to tell, please e-mail the editor at 48

Toys “R” Us Releases 2010 Toy Guide Toys“R”Us, Inc. announced the release of the 2010 edition of the Toys“R”Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids®, an easy-touse toy selection resource that can help parents of children with special needs select toys that develop skills through the power of play. This year, actress, author, philanthropist and mother of a son with autism, Holly Robinson Peete, appears on the cover, along with Tommy Austing, a six-year-old boy from Los Angeles. The largest edition ever, this year’s Guide has increased to 60 pages and features an expanded assortment of online offerings that are available through the company’s website. To help parents select the perfect playthings for their children, all toys featured in the Guide are associated with icons that show parents which skills can be developed during playtime. To further assist shoppers, the Guide also includes the “Top Ten Tips for Buying Toys” from the National Lekotek Center. These tips highlight important information to consider when selecting toys for differentlyabled kids, such as choosing items with multi-sensory appeal, considering the child’s individual abilities and the toy’s current popularity.

Additionally, to help differently-abled children prevent accidental injuries during playtime, the Guide features safe play tips that were created with guidance from leading safety and special needs organizations and offer basic suggestions, such as never leaving a child unsupervised, as well as specialized tips, including avoiding trigger toys. To assist family and friends shopping for the differently-abled kids in their life, the Guide also includes an easy-to-use Skill-Building Toy Finder index. Located at the back of the book, the section categorizes every toy by the skill it helps build, allowing shoppers to easily find toys that benefit the child in their lives. Toys“R”Us, Inc. has a long history of supporting the special needs community through the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund, a public charity affiliated with the company. Organizations that receive support include: American Society for Deaf Children, Autism Speaks, Children and Adults with AttentionDeficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Down Syndrome Society, National Lekotek Center, National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, Special Olympics, Spina Bifida Association and United Cerebral Palsy. Released annually, the Guide is available in Toys“R”Us® and Babies“R”Us® stores nationwide and online in English and Spanish. Download it at www.toysrus. com/DifferentlyAbled. 49

ASDC’s Renewing Educational and Organizational Members The Learning Center for the Deaf 848 Central Street (508) 879-5110 Framingham, MA 01701 The Learning Center for the Deaf (TLC) serves deaf and hard of hearing students from infancy through high school. The school was founded in 1970 with basic principles in mind that continue to be prevalent within its philosophy. TLC fosters respect for each of its students, for families, and for every staff member. TLC faculty shares the firm belief that learning is a life-long process which can be exciting and fun. TLC creates an environment where communication and language are continuously accessible. TLC provides academic opportunities and high standards for all deaf and hard of hearing students. TLC is comprised of three schools: a comprehensive parent/infant through high school program on its main campus in Framingham, a South campus in Randolph serving infants through elementary school from southeastern Massachusetts, and Walden School, a therapeutic, education and residential, treatment program for deaf students facing severe emotional, behavioral or developmental challenges. Throughout its history, TLC has been a leader in Deaf education. It was the first school in Massachusetts to depart 50

from the oral method of education and to advocate the use of sign language in addition to spoken English. In 1988, TLC became a bilingual and bicultural school, placing it among the first in the nation. Lamar University 4400 MLK Blvd (409) 880-7011 Beaumont, TX 77710 Lamar University offers more than 150 programs of study for bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees. There are more than 100 student clubs, organizations, honor societies, fraternities and sororities from which to choose. With an enrollment that exceeds 11,000 and continues to grow, Lamar continues to offer a personalized environment and a student/faculty ratio that focuses on individual success. Located in Beaumont, Texas, Lamar University is 80 miles from Houston, 40 miles from the Gulf Coast beaches, 30 miles from Louisiana and 70 miles from the Texas lakes region. The area’s subtropical climate produces mild winters that allow for year-round outdoor activity. Lamar University is unique in that it enjoys close ties with the greater community. Students experience direct involvement in the city’s civic, business and cultural opportunities.

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood! By Kim Nussbaum and Brenda Schick In 2009, ASL Readers, Inc., collaborated with the University of Colorado to evaluate the pilot Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood with ASL Signers DVD. In this episode, native Deaf signers model American Sign Language (ASL). Based on child development and early education principles, host Fred Rogers communicates powerful messages about each person’s uniqueness, helping children come to appreciate that they are special, just like everyone else in the world. National surveys were distributed at schools for the deaf. Parents were asked to view the DVD with their deaf or hard of hearing children aged three to eight years. The parents’ recommendations included slower signing, less fading in/out of the signers, and providing an ASL vocabulary guide for families. Families learned over 70 signs from this 30-minute program, and the overall favorite segment was the Bear Factory. For a complete research summary, visit and click “Other Documents.”Based on positive parent feedback, there will be more future productions catering to this audience. To view the clip on YouTube, visit To purchase the DVD, visit

Membership Package for Schools/Organizations ASDC provides a very special membership option for schools and organizations. If your school or organization would like to join ASDC as an Educational Member, ASDC will provide your school or organization with: • A free one-year membership for all of your families • A special thank you in the next monthly e-mail blast • A special thank you in The Endeavor • A special thank you in the news section of the ASDC website • A link to your school or organizations website • A post of your contact information on ASDC’s Educational/ Organizational Membership web page. The membership is only $250. If you would like more information, e-mail or call (800) 942-2732. 51

6th Annual World Deaf Poker Tournament Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada Saturday, November 6, 2010

Southern Nevada Silver Knights and American Society for Deaf Children will proudly host the sixth annual World Deaf Poker Tournament to raise funds for Deaf charities. There will be two “Texas Hold ‘Em All” tournaments; the main event is at 10 a.m. and the Second Chance event at 4 p.m. The main event will require a $200 buy-in, plus a $100 entry fee. The Second Chance event will be a $100 buy-in, plus a $50 entry fee. The tournament is open to all interested Deaf, Hard of Hearing individuals and friends. Cash prizes, based on the number of entries, will be awarded to winners. The goal is to have at least 300 entries. The net proceeds will go to deaf charities including camps, sports organizations, cultural awareness, educational and advocacy programs for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals and their families. Southern Nevada Silver Knights is a non-profit 501(c)(3) civic organization for Deaf men age 50 and older. This organization, in existence since 2002, provides financial support to many programs that serves Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals, such as Deaf and Hard of Hearing Advocacy Resources Center’s Camp Signshine, Las Vegas Charter School for the Deaf, and Farwest Athletic Association of the Deaf. Southern Nevada Silver Knights and American Society for Deaf Children encourage everyone to support Deaf charities by participating in our poker tournament! Las Vegas is the capital of poker tournaments and entertainment where everyone enjoys various cultural activities such as shows, events and more. Playing at the world-famous Caesars Palace is an experience that you will forever remember. Entry fees are to be paid at the site. See you there! For further details, contact Chair Myron Goldman at or visit

For updates on the 2011 ASDC Conference in Frederick, MD, check! 52

Websites of Interest ASL Inside ASL Inside has translated popular children’s stories such as Goodnight Moon, A Pocket For Corduroy and 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed into American Sign Language. ASL Inside has just won the Parents’ Choice Award Silver Honor. The Rosa Lee Show The Rosa Lee Show is a unique onewoman multimedia performance featuring the Deaf visual artist. Currently, the live performance of The Rosa Lee Show is on hiatus; however, the DVD contains material from all five years of touring. Clerc’s Children Clerc’s Children provides an innovative early intervention service targeting deaf and hard of hearing infants and toddlers, ages 0-5 and their parents. Clerc’s Children is a web-based dual language curriculum filled with auditory and visual stimulation that plays an important role in developing age appropriate reading, writing, and communication skills. Sign2Me Just beginning to sign to your baby? Find signing classes in your area.

Animated Dictionary for the Deaf In 2009, the non-profit organization Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf, along with various multimedia development partners, embarked on a mission to supply deaf children of North America with a personalized, online resource tied to American Sign Language (ASL). The project is an animated ASL dictionary for deaf and hard of hearing children. ASLTales Traditional stories told by ASL storytellers. The books are beautifully illustrated and provide many avenues for building literacy. ASL Rose www.aslrose. com ASL Rose promotes the highest standards in ASLEnglish bilingual-bicultural materials development to foster academic excellence in ASL, Deaf studies, and Deaf education programs. Wierman’s Family ASL I wiermans-family-asl-1 Wierman’s Family ASL 1 is the fun way to learn American Sign Language. A free download for the iPhone. 53

Holiday Party: Connecting With ASDC By Chris Anderson, Susan Anderson and Nate Hergert CHRIS: Although we have only been an ASDC parent affiliate since 2002, our first Christmas party was hosted by Zelma Hokanson and Gretchen Savage, in 1987 when Susan and Nate were babies. In 1988, Zelma asked Edward Ingham to be the chair. I became his co-chair in 2001 until he moved in 2003. By 2003, Susan and Nate had both graduated from middle school and were no longer eligible to attend as guests. Susan proved to be an excellent volunteer and helped me with preparations through her high school and college years, then became co-chair in 2007. One year later, Susan and I asked Nate to join us and the current team was formed: Zelma, honorary cochair and Deaf founder of the party; Chris, hearing parent; Susan and Nate, young Deaf adults who represent the future of the Holidays Party. SUSAN: Some of my favorite memories include playing games, doing crafts, eating cookies, and wondering who Santa actually was. We try to keep the party traditional, so today’s children will have similar memories. I cherish the memories of gift wrapping, mailing letters, preparing crafts, choosing 54

prizes from Oriental Trading Company catalogs, and the stockings, a tradition that has been around forever. Fast forward a few years. Now I’m a co-chair overseeing the toy bins and supplying the “elves” with the presents that Santa gives out. I’ve learned that the day of the party is always chaotic, in a good way. NATE: Never did I expect to be the co-chair of this grand event. I enjoy reconnecting with party-goers from years past and meeting new people. One deaf kid expressed that this was his favorite event of the year. I have helped add Wii games to our activities and set aside a play area for babies and toddlers. We never tire of the traditional activities or of the deaf signing Santa and Mrs. Claus! CHRIS: Zelma’s vision of gathering together deaf children for a special Christmas party and the way she fashioned those early parties guide how we plan the Holidays Party today. We still have children and adults with all types of hearing loss, their families, and signers from throughout the region. Our hope is that they will form lifelong friendships, just as Susan, Nate and their friends did. Parent Information and Referral Line: (800) 942-ASDC (2732)

MEMBERSHIP FORM Name:__________________________

E-mail: ___________________________

Address: __________________________________________________________ City: ___________________________



Phone: Voice/TTY/Videophone Membership Type Individual memberships _______$40 per year: Individual/Family Membership _______$100 per year: Three-year Individual/Family Membership _______$5,000 one-time fee: Lifetime Membership _______First-Year Free Membership (Families with deaf or hard of hearing children are eligible for a FREE one-year membership. Just fill out this form and mail, e-mail or fax it back to us.) Deaf or Hard of Hearing Child’s Name: ___________________________________ Date of Birth: ___________________________________ Group memberships _______$250 per year: Parent Affiliate Group ( ____ Number of Parent Members) _______$125 per year: Library Membership _______$250 per year: Educational Membership _______$250 per year: Organizational Membership I would like to send more than my membership dues. Enclosed is a tax-deductible donation: $10 $25 $50 $100 _______Other Total Enclosed: $__________ Make checks payable to American Society for Deaf Children. Please charge my Visa or MasterCard: Card Number:_________________________________Expiration Date:______________ Please return to: American Society for Deaf Children #2047 800 Florida Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002-3695 FAX: (410) 795-0965 • Phone: (800) 942-2732 • E-mail:


Greetings Families, Friends, and Professionals: Gather your family and come to the 2011 Biennial Conference of the American Society for Deaf Children (ASDC), hosted by Maryland School for the Deaf (MSD) in Frederick. You and your family all will be inspired by the programming, the people and the places that will be featured during conference festivities on June 22–26, 2011. Together with other families, we plan to brainstorm and generate ideas leading to enhanced educational programming and activities that will benefit children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Our conference theme is Parent Choices: Keys to Your Child’s Future. The focal points of the five-day conference will be the key areas of family, communication, education, extracurricular opportunities, and community. We want parents to gain new and fresh perspectives on tackling decisions, events, and challenges; toward this end, we will be scheduling informative workshops, seminars, and roundtable discussions. While the adults are engaged in their own learning activities, the children will have fun in creative art classes, drama productions, team building activities, athletic agility projects, and fun times with horses and other animals. We want everyone to have an all-out good time. Start planning for the 2011 conference. Fill out the registration form today and send it off. After registering, you will receive a welcome packet with information about two area hotels offering affordable room accommodations, shuttle plans from BWI Airport, and the children’s program. For your family’s convenience, MSD has included the cost of meals in registration fees, with the exception of the dinneron-your-own event. A new “Family Package” that covers the cost of four registrations is being offered to ASDC members. Dormitory rooms with two to five beds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so register early if your family would like to stay in the dorm. We look forward to unlocking the secrets of success with you and your family at Parent Choices: Keys to Your Child’s Future. Please continue to check edu/outreach/asdc;; and Facebook for periodic updates on conference keynote presentations, planned workshops, presenters, and activities. If you have questions, contact Erin Buck via phone (301) 360-2054 or e-mail erin. or Lori Bonheyo via video phone (866) 729-7602 or e-mail lori. Sincerely, Erin Rae Buck Lori K. Bonheyo Maryland School for the Deaf and 2011 ASDC Conference Co-Chairs


JUNE is right around the corner! REGISTER NOW nd for the 22 Biennial ASDC Conference

“PARENT CHOICES: KEYS TO YOUR CHILD’S FUTURE!” Registration forms and conference information are available at,, and on












JUNE Erin Buck (301) 360-2054


Lori Bonheyo (866) 729-7602 (VP/Voice)

WPSD 300 E. Swissvale Ave. Pittsburgh PA 15218

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Camp Hill, PA Permit No. 993

Our children are our future. Mission Statement The American Society for Deaf Children supports and educates families of deaf and hard of hearing children and advocates for highquality programs and services. Consider joining ASDC today, and receive four issues of The Endeavor each year, discount admission to the ASDC biennial conference, access to invaluable resources from the ASDC media library, and access to speakers for your parent support group or event. You will also join forces with thousands of other families across the country, and support an organization that advocates for crucial national legislation and services for deaf and hard of hearing children. American Society for Deaf Children #2047 800 Florida Ave. NE • Washington, D.C. 20002-3695