I currently have a preschooler and like so many other preschoolers he enjoys watching preschool programing and he learns a lot from them. My thought pertains to preschoolers who are deaf or hard of hearing…the only widely used captioning system is closed captions (words at the bottom of the screen). How does this system benefit a preschooler who can’t read? Why not offer a sign window on preschool programming so those who have hearing impaired children can also see the benefit of the wide variety of programming out there without sitting next to their child being an interpreter?
Many years ago when my oldest was a preschooler he would try to watch shows geared toward preschoolers but he would get lost in the story and what was going on so he stopped watching the programs altogether. Every once in a while we would come across a show that was doing a segment on ASL so a part of the show would be signed and he LOVED that but for the most part he was out in the cold.
My thought is if this programming is out there to help youngsters learn things like a,b,c’s, counting and reading why not really make it accessible to ALL children, hearing or not. If networks are willing to spend money putting the programming on why can’t they spend a little more to truely make it enjoyable and understandabke for all preschoolers?
Now that I’m toward the end of the quarter I’ve been hanging out on Facebook quite a bit. One of the groups that I subscribe to on there is Signing Families (https://www.facebook.com/pages/SIGNING-FAMILIES/108062343239 or they can also be found here www.SigningFamilies.com) anyhow one of the things that they do is a sign of the day- today’s sign happens to be one that I didn’t know it’s the sign for severe, profound, deep and/ or intense so I’m signing this and my two year old comes up and says, “Mommy what’s that?” I explained that it’s sign language which is talking with your hands like mommy does with AJ (his oldest brother who is profoundly deaf). He looked at the sign, watched me practice it again and then said, “Oh you mean like this”….and then signed more. I have made it a point to try to teach all my children at least the basics of sign after all their oldest brother is deaf and at some point they will need to communicate with him. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are expert signers but they all do a passable job.
For example – my 5 year old couldn’t learn his letters for anything! I tried just about everything. I bought door hangs, construction paper and foam letters so he’d have a fun exercise to do to help him learn his letters – that didn’t work. He’s got a dry erase board with all the letters, numbers and shapes on it – that didn’t work. I did copy the dots (then he wanted to write his own dot alphabet). I finally was about to give up and one day I finger spelled his name to him. It worked wonders! Now when I ask him how to spell his name he’s at least got all the right letters even if they aren’t in the right order and he finger spells as he’s spelling it out. Aside from being the least expensive way for him to learn how to spell his name and his alphabet something about having something to do with his hands that also corresponds to what he’s saying and doing is what’s working for him, it’s also made him more interested in learning more signs. Hey whatever works I’m not complaining!
Many hearing people don’t realize how wonderful sign language is – they try to avoid signs and deaf people like the plague. To this I say sign is a wonderful rich language. It’s so beautiful and complex but yet so simple at the same time. As far as avoiding deaf people – they are people too, no different from me and you. The only thing they can’t do is hear which is probably a blessing considering some of the nasty things I’ve heard hearing people say about the deaf. They don’t want your pity (there is nothing wrong with them) and they aren’t preforming monkeys communicating with their hands so you can stop and stare – they are PEOPLE and deserve to be treated as such. Show the same respect to them as you would like others to show to you. If you’re THAT curious about their conversation and what they’re saying get a pen and paper and ask. If nothing else ask, “Where can I learn sign?” That way you can have your own private conversations and see what it feels like to have people stop and stare at you.
Another thing to consider – not everyone that signs is deaf, some are hard of hearing, some just think it’s a beautiful language and use it fluently, some know deaf people and are talking to someone who is deaf. Assumptions get you nowhere. If you have a question ask, what’s the worse that will happen? The response will be in ASL, “Sorry I’m deaf.”?
I had grand plans for a different post but that will have to wait a day. Something happened today that really irks my ire.
The kids and I went out to dinner (that’s a rare treat these days but none the less a whatever) while we were waiting in line a deaf couple came in and were behind us. My oldest (who is deaf) gets overly excited when he sees other deaf people in public settings and strikes up conversations. So my 16 yr old son and this couple who were in their early 60’s were chatting away.
Now for the part that irrates me – people stopped eating to watch this conversation in ASL. For those that don’t know that is RUDE!!!! It’s no different than inserting yourself into a conversation between hearing people (aka evesdropping). As if that weren’t enough for the rest of our meal people were staring and pointing at us. I wanted to scream, “WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU LOOKING AT???!!!”
I know it’s a little different to see people converse in sign, even more so when they “look normal” but for the love of mercy they are NOT performing monkeys on a stage!!! They (we) are people having dinner and conversation like everyone else so please don’t stare. Our voiced conversations are just as strange to some deaf as the signed ones look to you. Next time you’re in public bite on that cookie, maybe then I can eat in peace.
Oh yeah and FYI – not everyone that signs is deaf so watch your mouths….. this momma bear does have claws 😉
Everyday people are faced with choices…..to return with with good or with evil, to show forth love and compassion for others or to turn a blind eye, to go to class or a meeting. To bring youself and those around you up or to tear down. When making these choices do you consider how it will affect others around you or do you just go for yours? As a mom, wife, sister and daughter I find that more often than not I consider those around me long before thing of myself.
Upon learning that one of my children was deaf instead of choosing what would be easiest for me, a hearing parent I chose what I felt would be the best for my child. I learned ASL and have taught my other children how to sign as well. Recently the choice that I was left to make by myself 14 years ago has come into question. I have been told he should of been implanted, or taught SEE. In the 20th (now 21st) century you would think there would be more tolerance for those “different” from ourselves or “different” from the norm but even now on a daily basis we learn this is not so. It’s not even just a matter of different levels of ability it STILL comes down to the color of someones skin, how they talk, walk, and look. These things shouldn’t matter but the choices we as people make on a daily basis make them matter.
I think my biracial, deaf male child is a beauty and a wonder and I wouldn’t ask for him to be any other way. It’s a choice I’ve made.