FSDB Pineapple University: Politics, Society, and Historical Issues in Deaf Education


Hello I’m June Ann. I’m the ASL Specialist
at FSDB. Today we’re going to have some Professional Development about politics
society and historical issues in deaf education. Paradigm. This is the sign for paradigm
as you know many different people have many different views. At any point in
time my view or the lens in which I see something may be different than another
person. I’d like to describe two different examples or stories about
paradigms. The first one is a story that was told by Dr. Steven Covey, he shared
this story as an example and the second one I will explain later.
So Dr. Covey explained an example of paradigm and in this story we enter into
a subway seeing people coming and going and sitting in different places. Well, on
the subway a father and his kids come into the subway the father sits down
next to a man and the kids start playing around and running around inside the
subway. People are looking at the children seeing them run around goofing
off and the father sits quietly staring at the floor. The man sitting beside him
looks over and thinks “wow these kids are running around people don’t like it.”
Everybody is watching so as the kids are horsing around on the subway. The man is
trying to keep his cool, waits a little bit, looks over at the father, and seeing
him in silence saying nothing, and just staring off on the floor. So the man
decides to go over and get his attention and says do you think maybe you should
tell your kids to control themselves. The father says “Thanks yeah maybe you’re right
but you see we just left the hospital and their mother just passed away and
I’m a little bit at a loss of how to explain it to them.” The man immediately shifts his thinking and thinks to
himself before he was angry and now he has this immense feeling of compassion
wanting to help and be friends with this father, wanting to talk and converse with
him, and help him in any way he can and that’s a paradigm shift the man’s
thinking changed after he understood what the father was going through. The
second story I want to share with you is from a person who came to FSDB and the
story that he told us. I felt it was really good and his name is Dr. David
Geeslin. He is the superintendent of the Indiana School. He explained this
story to us and it was a story about when he was a little boy his mom would
take him to an office. When both of them came into the office, as they were
walking the lobby they would see a fish tank with many different fish swimming
around. The mother would look at the fish tank get her son David’s attention and
say the word “fish.” David would look at his mom and say the word “fish” back and
the mom would think “wow good fish! very good!” and the two of them would sit in
the lobby. So on that day the mom was watching people coming into the lobby
and noticed that there were two deaf parents with a deaf child. The three of
them being deaf came into the lobby and the father of that family saw the fish
tank and the father gets his son’s attention and says “wow look at the many
fish swimming around in the tank.” and the little boy looks at the dad
looks at the fishtank and thinks and signs “fish” and start showing the dad how
the fish are breathing with their gills and the dad smiles and chuckles and said
“yes, you’re right look at the fish swimming around and and breathing with
their gills” So the boy looks at his dad looks at the
fish tank and then start saying that “the fish are swimming fast and swimming
around the tank.” Well at this time David and David’s mom are watching the
conversation and the mom realizes that this deaf child is having a discussion
about fish while me and my son just spoke the word “fish.” So the mom, David’s
mom’s, mind shifted. It changed after she was able to see these parents
communicating and discussing with their child. She shifted her thinking and had a
paradigm shift. So now I would like to talk about different topics and areas and I know
that your perspective might be different than mine and I know that we all have so
many different backgrounds. We have different upbringing, we have different
experiences, and we can’t be the same, we can’t have one perspective, but we can
have open minds. As we are listening and learning and thinking and seeing
everyone’s different perspectives so that we may change our lenses out. So the rest of my presentation I’m going
to be explaining different things that have happened, however, first we must know
what has happened in the past so that we may learn from it and understand where
we are going in the future. So I have two well-known quotes I want
to share and I’m gonna sign in English. So those people who don’t learn what
happened in the past are doomed to repeat it. History repeats itself when no one
really learned from it the first time. So now I want to go ahead and talk about
the history and where we have been so that we may understand our history as we
move forward and not repeat it. And now we’re on the right track so this
was considered the Golden Age of Deaf Education. Prior, there was a person
whose name was Abbe’ Charles-Michel de l’Epee. His last name
means sword in French and so we use that as his sign name. So l’Epee’s time is
around the 1760s, prior to that we look to see whether or not there was any deaf
educators, whether or not deaf people had rights, and whether or not deaf people
could read and write and we find that there really wasn’t many people who
could. So moving forward back to l’Epee time, we need to discover what he
did and who he was. So he came from an affluent family, he lived in France, and
at first he wanted to become a priest. Afterwards, he realized he didn’t want to
have that vocation so he decided he wanted to be a lawyer. One day he met two
sisters, he noticed that both of them knew sign language and as he was
learning more about them he realized that there was a priest who was teaching
them. Well the priest had passed away and l’Epee decided that he would teach
them. He was extremely motivated so as he was studying and learning the system of
sign language, it took him on a path where he realized that signing was the
best and he established the first public deaf school in France. l’Epee is unique because of all the
information and research that he developed was shared with
people all around the world. People could come and take the information that he
developed. So people from other countries around the world would come to his
school and learn what was best and it would spread around the world.
So l’Epee is recognized as being special in this way. He recognized sign language
was a good way to teach deaf children and also a good way to teach them how to
read and write. l’Epee had someone who was almost like an apprentice, a person
who looked up to him. His name was Abbe Roch-Ambroise Cucurron Sicard and this
is his sign name. Sicard continue to learn and look up
to l’Epee continuing on in his footsteps and later taking over the position of
principal of that school. He developed the first dictionary and in that
dictionary he had an extensive discussion on the theory of signing. He followed l’Epee’s model and way of sharing information out. Many deaf people at that
time really took off. They could read and write, they sign to communicate, they were
extremely successful and Sicard continued to teach. One of the
individuals he taught was Laurent Clerc. Sicard’s goal was to empower deaf
individuals for them to be able to do for themselves. Clerc, who was deaf,
learned under Sicard and as he learned and developed he later became a teacher.
Continuing to learn and teach he was promoted at the deaf school in France.
So that is a summary of what was going on in France at the time. But let’s
travel to America to see what was going on then. Well in America around the 1800s
there was no schools for deaf children. There was no field specialty or system
of instruction related to deaf children. It was completely void. Thomas Hopkins
Gallaudet (sign name Gallaudet) had recently graduated from Yale University
at the age of 17, he went to spend some time with a family who had a little girl
that family’s name was Cogswell and the little girl’s name was Alice Cogswell
and as he interacted with her he noticed that she was deaf. Thomas Gallaudet asked
the family were there any schools or a place for her to be educated with the
deaf children and they responded that there was not. So he started researching
and realized that over in England they had a School for the Deaf with an oral
approach so Gallaudet boarded a ship and arrived in England at the Braidwood
School. As he looked around the school and started studying it he recognized
that they had a very strong oral approach. Gallaudet learned this time
that he did not have the money in order to receive information from the school
and at the same time he really didn’t feel satisfied. So he met Sicard and
Clerc who were giving a presentation at the time and learned that there was a
school in France so Gallaudet journeyed to France and looked around the school
and he was so very impressed and felt as though, yes this was the right way, the
right strategy, the right approaches and he begged for Clerc to come back with
him to America. Clerc was reluctant at first. He was unsure, but in the end he
said okay so they both boarded the ship leaving France and sailing to America.
While on the ship, Clerc taught Gallaudet sign and Gallaudet taught
Clerc English. When they arrived to America, Clerc
established several schools. The first one was the American School for the Deaf,
that is the first school and it was established in 1817 and other schools
soon followed suit, in that area. I am so grateful to Gallaudet because
when he arrived in England he discerned that that school and their strong
approach to oral instruction wasn’t satisfactory. So as he went, he learned at
the French school that they had sign language and he was convinced to have that
method of instruction be brought to America. And from then on more schools
were established. And now we take a detour. I want you to keep in mind what we had
just discussed about Gallaudet and Clerc establishing several schools.
Starting in 1817. The start of our detour will be a discussion on the second
International Congress on Education of the Deaf, which occurred in 1880. We refer
to this as the Milan Conference. This was a conference for teachers in the field
of deaf education. They would gather together at this conference and all of
the delegates who attended were hearing except for one. America sent five
delegates to that conference in Milan. Of the five, one was deaf and his name was
James Dennison. Of the remaining five, three of them were hearing but they were
also people who have recognizable names if you have visited Gallaudet. We had
Thomas Gallaudet, his son Edward Miner Gallaudet, and Isaac Lewis Peet. At this conference, there was a heated
debate with people sharing input and discussing in agreement that the shift
should be made to using an oral approach. Instruction would be given orally. People
who attended that conference were from all over the globe from different places.
And you remember previously, we talked about l’Epee who openly shared with
others. Upon implementing, philosophies changed. So when the delegates returned
to the Congress, as they were discussing, they agreed and decided that the oral
approach was best. And so they passed that we would be using oral instruction
and no more signing. The five delegates who came from America returned to
America and they were at a loss at what to do because they disagreed. They knew
in Milan they made this agreement that yes the approach would be oralism but in
America they had already started. So they started to shift and make some changes
based on testing and as time progressed, many deaf teachers started to be laid
off or demoted at the schools, they would change jobs, and that impacted and
started the dark ages in deaf education. Time moves forward. CEASD (The Conference
of Educational Administrators for Schools and Programs for the Deaf) At
that time, we are talking 1926, CEASD had a discussion and agreed and passed the
resolution to follow the Milan resolution, prohibiting deaf schools from
using sign language. Deaf teachers were demoted even further
and some fired. So in the 1880s to 1926 and years to come, signing was removed. Deaf students
ability to acquire language was not successful following the oral method and
there was an increase of oppression. A man named Alexander Graham Bell,
AGB which is what most people refer to him by. AGB had a wife and a mother who
were both deaf. His wife could speak. AGB supported
Oralism and felt as though that was a good approach and a successful
approach to instruction. And he encouraged that and still today there is
controversy. Some people at that time thought no, signing was the best method
or maybe signing with learning speech. But AGB said No! signing should be
removed completely. So while this struggle continued AGB turned and
became a very successful inventor. He invented the phone, he became quite
wealthy, and used that money to invest in the instruction and philosophy and
research on Oralism. Deaf people became further and further behind. Signing
became less and less in the forefront. And so continued the dark ages. Plateau. Moving forward on our timeline, we get to the 1960s where there was a
rubella outbreak. Many children were affected by their mothers, while they
were pregnant, getting sick and having deaf children and hearing children
becoming deaf after being sick. There was a huge number of deaf individuals. The instruction of the students was the
same with the addition of the Rochester method you know, “how are you doing today
we will”… etc They would use that along with making
some other adjustments but a completely strong oral approach to instruction. At
the Federal level, the Congress discussed and had a Babbidge report completed in
1965 and they felt as though the instruction of students was plateauing.
Students were not really succeeding and they weren’t really doing a lot worse, they just weren’t really moving forward. So the Congress looked at Oral Education
as a failure and that it wasn’t successful. Many deaf people were
thrilled and were in complete agreement. The problem was there were so many blue
collar workers, people working in factories and printers, they didn’t have
people in the education field doing research and such. And there wasn’t a lot
of research to be part of the discussion. So here we are the Federal level
recognizing that Oral Education was failing and deaf people were thrilled.
And in the 1970s, they decided to implement Total Communication. Total
Communication in and of its own is not awful. If you read it closely, you will
see that the meaning of Total Communication is illustrated in this
example. You have a student who is very strong and using American Sign Language
so as the teacher I would match that. If the student had strong spoken language,
as a teacher I would match them. Moving to the next student. Suppose that they
use Signed Exact English to communicate, I would use Signed Exact English and
match them. So approach to approach, child to child, I would adjust my
method of instruction to meet their needs. And because we’re all humans this
is not successful. We all have that awareness of knowing what is best and
good. So that I may sign to a student but as I get to the next student I might
become flustered and it might be difficult for me to code-switch. So what
I do is take what’s best for me and therefore it’s hard to match with the
students. So now let’s talk about SimCom. Knowing that I can speak and realizing
that my hands are available, I start to ask myself well why don’t i
speak and sign at the same time. But the problem is those are two different
languages. Your hands and your mouth are doing something completely different and
there is a mismatch. So the students aren’t able to pick up the languages
because of this competed nature of both languages. So now how are we able to
excel at education when we have this mismatch? The Gallaudet Research
Institute, GRI, started studying students who graduated from high school and
enrolling at Gallaudet. They were the best of the best but their reading and
writing was at a fourth-grade level so GRI looked at this and then went to
the schools and asked them what are you doing? and how are you teaching? what are
your approaches? And did research on the schools and realize that there was a
strong emphasis on Total Communication. The research was not coming out
positively and it was not effective now we have to work our way back up to
where we were in the beginning. Starting in the 1950s to about the 1980s there
was a man named William Stokoe (and that’s a sign name). He was hearing and he
worked at Gallaudet. He didn’t sign fluently but he would listen and watch
other people as they signed and he recognized that their sign, ASL, was a
true language. Stokoe said and identified that it was a true language but the deaf
community argued with him and said no, no, no it’s not a language. The hearing
community also told Stokoe and asked him to not be involved in the deaf community
and just leave them alone and let it go. The deaf community professed that it was
not a language either. Stokoe decided to do research along with the team and as
he researched he discovered proof that ASL is a true language. It has its own
patterns. It has its own rules. It has its own grammatical structure and all of a
sudden the deaf community release the hesitation that they had and agreed and
were affirmed that it was a language and this is where we started to work our way
back up now the schools after having this
research in 1989 became part of this unlocking the curriculum project. They
felt as though total communication wasn’t effective because teachers were
not a hundred percent effective in matching the students language needs. So
through this research they recognized that there needed to be a change and
they needed to elevate the expectations of the students. Plus, they needed to be
able to teach the students one language and then be able to teach a second
language and not to confuse the two. Unlocking the Curriculum was research
done through Gallaudet. They developed twelve principles and I’m not going to share
all of them with you today but just to give you a general idea. The first one
was to recognize ASL as a language. Second, recognize English as a second
language. Third, ensure one language is being
taught and then the other without overlapping them. Fourth, create a
classroom of instruction that is the least restrictive environment to be able
to have access to communication as well as teaching L1 first language in ASL and
transferring it to L2 second language in English as well as transferring it to
spoken English if the student is able to this was so important to have the
separation of languages. 1995 to 1999 the asl-english bilingual professional
development project or AEBPD was established in 1999 this was a federal grant given for a
five-year study. The New Mexico School for the Deaf selected several different
schools for the Deaf around the country not all schools were selected. They had a
limited number of schools to participate so as part of the study they looked at
the different bilingual approaches that existed and they would come together
over five years to discuss their findings and they realized that the
bilingual program was successful Other historical issues we continue to face. The methodology controversy. This controversy continues to on two issues even today. Is the oral approach better? Is the signing approach better? We attedn conferences and we see this over and over again this same discussion- “should an oral approach be included or not?” We have this leve of debate, but understand that there is another layer of debate occurring as well How to teach? Should we teach them in sign? Now if I teach using sign, how do I transfer that over into English. Now we have an ongoing debate and we ask ourselves “is this working or is this not working?” So we have that level that filters down and eventually causes the students to be weak. They’re weak in their language. They do not have a strong L1. The students are unable to acquire two languages and use them both fluently. They do not develop a strength in reading and writing English. They do not develop a strength in mathematics. Continued controversy at the various levels directly impact the students and they suffer. Methodology. The controversy between oral and sign
philosophy goes back and forth. In the signing philosophy, there’s still
internal conflict is it better to SimCom? is it better to keep the
languages separate? Should you do L1 first and then L2? People who
use SimCom thinks it’s easier to do two languages at the same time. They think
that they can speak and the same time they can sign and the students will be
able to understand receptively of both languages and think it’s easy! but
remember a language on the mouth and the language on the hand do not line up.
Maybe we can sign effectively, but we make errors while we speak and as we
speak effectively, we make errors with our signing. We must be clear as we sign
in ASL and we must be clear as we read and write in English poor pedagogy most of us have not had
intensive ASL support and instruction most of us use trial and error. We try
something. We see if that approach works we throw that out and we move to
something else. We try that it doesn’t work we throw it out. We try and approach
and finally we find success. So we try one approach after the other and it
takes so much time to weave our way through this method of figuring out what
instruction is best. We mean to have training intensive training which
haven’t been available. It’s been hit or miss. We really should have this
intensive training because if we don’t our students are going to continue to
not benefit and continue to become further and further behind. To summarize: like I mentioned previously,
what we have done in history has caused where we are right now with our students
and struggling with language. They struggle with either ASL or they
struggle with English. Our students continue to struggle today with reading
and writing English. Our students are also struggling in areas of math. This
means that we need to think differently and we need to move forward to resolve
the issues so that we can have the best future for our children.

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