DBC rocks – Part II chat with parent


vlog describing my chat with an AG Bell assoc parent re: bilingualism

voice over on video and text summary below. Note there are some points in the summary that are not covered in the vlog and there are some comments in the vlog that are not covered in the text. i am an imperfect being – smile

Discussion with second mom about visual acuity and how her daughter might be demonstrating some visual aptitude already. Benefits of bilingualism – to give your daughter a natural and normal way of gaining information instead of having to work and train for it. David Reynolds had come over and chatted with the mom about DBC’s focus and mission and the value of bilingualism. David had to leave to return to the DBC conference and hugged the mother before he left and said pls be in touch with us, we want to help u, we will put u in touch with folks who can help you in your home state etc.

Another Deaf man had been watching nearby along side me. Tami, a core DBC member who raised a Deaf daughter bilingually, started chatting with the hearing mom. She was saying “your daughter will always be Deaf.” The hearing mom asked for clarification what Tami meant and she explained that “without her CIs your daughter is Deaf and she is Deaf on the inside no matter about the CI.” The mom said, “when you say it that way it sounds as if you are talking about more than just her ears, more than just a physical thing.” I thought this was very astute of the mom that she picked up on the fact that Tami was talking about a cultural essence even though the mom was not fully aware or knowledgeable. I said “perhaps this example will help you – when the man, David Reynolds, said goodbye to you and you hugged, this man standing next to me teared up. Now i have never met him before and i may never see him again but i asked – are you ok and he said – i have never seen such an open minded parent before and that exchange between David and this woman really touched me.” and a tear leapt out of his eye and in turn i got emotional and teared up in watching him share how deeply he was touched by you and now he is my brother because we share this common bond of this moment and this understanding. This is perhaps what Tami is trying to communicate about being “Deaf INSIDE” it is a connection that can not be denied. I said this gentleman and I are probably very different. I am hard of hearing and can speak and he his DEAF yet we are connected.” The mom asked me if i regretted not growing up with ASL. I said yes – i am not mad at my parents for not raising me with ASL. But growing up without it put a burden on me to always be figuring things out and to be WORKING to gain information. I said right now u and tami are conversing comfortably – there is no difficulty because you share a language you both understand fully and there is not barrier or labor involved in trying to access those words. This man and I can converse comfortably without any WORK on our part because it is a fully accessible language we are using. I imagine your daughter has to do quite a bit of work to get information right now. the mom says – yes she does have to work for it. yes.

With bilingualism all we want for her is to have times when it is not so much work – where she can understand and be understood comfortably and naturally and also to have a connection. The woman asked how i feel personally about CI. I replied – i am not speaking for DBC but for myself because you are asking me honestly. I said i have some concerns about implanting children. I worry about any mishaps, about infections, about complications. i do worry about that. She explained that it was not a hard decision for her to implant her daughter but with the second implant her husband had more concerns than she did. It was outpatient so she felt it was not a big deal. I explained that anytime you put something in the body permanently it is open to problems and that is what i worry about. I respect her choice and i am glad that it has worked for her daughter and their family with no complications arising.

She explained that she is happy to have her daughter learn ASL and join the Deaf community when she grows up. i explained that the difficulty with that stance is that children learn from their parents by what they do and what they dont do and values and beliefs are communicated silently often so if her family does not sign and has not introduced her to the Deaf community that may inadvertently communicate to her that they are not comfortable with bilingualism or the Deaf community. children follow their parents lead. I said now if you were to introduce her to Deaf people and sign language and say – hey isnt this a cool language – a visual language – u can learn to sign and i can learn to sign too – that is a different message from – you can learn it later in life if you want to.

it was a GREAT experience to talk with these moms. I learned a great deal from their perspectives. it is clear to me that every parent wants to do what is best for their kids – they want to do right by them. i am very grateful to the DBC for affording me this opportunity, for the parents crossing over to chat with us and for the interpreters to volunteering there services

Next DBC related vlog will be about the presenters


Patti Durr


15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. deafchipmunk
    Jul 06, 2008 @ 05:08:16

    You got it all!

    Yes there was a dialogue between members of DBC and AGBell. In fact the dialogue was constructive. It is the beginning of contact between DBC and AGBell members.

    DBC is commended for making it possible.


  2. Dianrez
    Jul 06, 2008 @ 06:51:40

    I wonder if this dialogue is what AGBell wanted to prevent by closing off the walkway between the buildings.

    If the two organizations had communicated (perhaps there were attempts?) it might have been possible to arrange mutual meetings as a planned component of each others’ conferences.

  3. DR Hocokan
    Jul 06, 2008 @ 07:24:37

    Excellent testimony. Enjoyed it. I found it rather interesting because you mentioned Ella talking about corners. She, herself, is in her corner as well. She represent radical views and is against CI and Oralism. I know because she told me so, herself during my four months tenure with DBC. In order to preach against corner she first need to be out of her corner.

  4. DR Hocokan
    Jul 06, 2008 @ 09:10:18


    Shut the truth in your blog if it pleases you. The truth will be told else where so it makes no difference. Evidences will be presented as soon as I’m given the clearance to do it.

    My comments are not verbal vendettas as you made them out to be. I was part of DBC core group during my four months tenure with them. I got to know everybody and I witnessed what they didn’t want the rest of the world to know. Read my comments from Amy’s recent blog as well as MZ’s recent blog and you will understand. Better yet, read my blog. The truth will be told because we are interested in preserving DBC’s initial message, which became lost during the process.

    Respectfully yours,

  5. Penny
    Jul 06, 2008 @ 11:12:55


    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience at DBC. I enjoyed watching your videos and I got teary eyes when I watch your part two video this morning. You educated me how to approach and share with hearing parents who may have some concerns or questions about ASL and etc.

    I personally am against 100% CI on children but if I attend to any DBC meetings or convention in the near future, I will not mention about CI to hearing parents or AGB members because DBC focus on bilingualism.

    I look foward to watching your videos. Again, thank you for sharing with us. I truly appreciate it.

  6. Benno
    Jul 06, 2008 @ 11:19:17

    Great VLOG. That many parents think deaf children using sign language are dependent on interpreters are due to false information from either AG Bell or from those who are not in favor of ASL. I am still unsure whether AG Bell is not against ASL for deaf children even though some people say this organization supports this language. I went to the website of AG Bell and found this excerpt under the communication options:

    Children identified with hearing loss can learn to communicate using a number of different methods, of which sign language is just one option. Many people do not know that children who are deaf or hard of hearing, with the help of hearing aids or cochlear implants and early intervention, can learn to listen and talk.

    Fortunately, there are several communication options and success stories tied to each one. Parents typically choose from the following communication options:

    * Auditory/Oral Method
    * Auditory-Verbal Method
    * Cued Speech Method
    * American Sign Language (Bilingual/Bicultural)
    * Total Communication Method

    The auditory/oral, Auditory-Verbal and cued speech methods all make up a larger spoken language approach to communicating. For information about educational programming for children pursuing forms of manual communication, (i.e., Bilingual-Bicultural or Total Communication), contact the National Association of the Deaf or the American Society for Deaf Children.

    This does not mean that AG Bell really supports ASL because it means nothing. What counts is actions and I never see that the organization showed actions that support sign language. I’m careful about people saying that AG Bell supports or favor ASL.

    Children, no matter if hearing or deaf ones, are never overwhelmed by knowing more than one language, and they DON’T get confused. Children are smart enough to know the difference between English and ASL, or between English and Spanish. Knowing more than one language enhances language skill. It doesn’t hurt to know many languages as it doesn’t hurt to have more than one degree.

    The fact that children who are able to hear and speak have a greater future and better jobs is not true either. If it’s true, ALL hearing people should have good jobs and good language which is not the case. Each child is unique, therefore each child should be approached individually and not put in one pot. Besides, learning a new language is not that hard, and if there is huge will, it’s easy to learn it.

    As for me, I grew up using sign language with my deaf parents. I could speak but my primary language was sign language. I believe that using sign language does not prevent spoken language. If a child feels ready and wants to learn it, let it do it. Force does not help as it makes it just worse. Force could lead a child to refuse spoken language for life as I know it from my several friends.

    My final word:
    All children should be given ALL options, it be sign language, spoken language, CI, hearing aids, et cetera.

  7. deafk
    Jul 06, 2008 @ 13:10:06

    Hi, Patti,

    Thanks for giving us the example how to inform and discuss the parents… It means a great deal to see how we can deal with parents here… Perhaps with some more trainings. This surely give us an insight how to do so…

    Thanks, deafk

  8. pdurr
    Jul 06, 2008 @ 17:43:51

    Barry – i wish you well

    Penny – thanks for your comment. hopefully we, meaning the deaf community, can examine CI collectively and peacefully soon. it will be hard but important

    Benno – thanks for the digging u did and ur analysis – i do see contradictions with folks telling me AG Bell is cool with ASL but then the Pepsi letter and its founder’s name and its implying that oral / aural is a choice where bilingualism does not offer choices is confusing to me. u r right that alot of studies show that ASL does not inhibit speech development and vice versa i believe but Barb di gi would know best as she is well versed in these studies

    deafk – thanks for ur comment. i think the key to these kinds of engagements is to come from love. it is not always easy but it really is vital

    thanks for all ur comments



  9. native ci parent and child
    Jul 06, 2008 @ 19:49:49

    You are an inspiration. I would support DBC in a heartbeat if the core members thought like you.

    Thank you so much for sharing with us the beautiful conversation you and others had with the mother.

  10. native asl/ci parent and child
    Jul 06, 2008 @ 20:12:08


    i highly recommend that you post your b/vlogs at DeaVillage. That is where a lot of hearing parents of deaf children surf. I applaud Dr. DonG for posting his captioed discourses over at DV!!!! You should do the same as I see your b/vlogs as a powerful source of information especially for hearing parents of CI children as your site do not have the anti-CI rhetoric.

    thank you for your consideration.

  11. native asl/ci parent and child
    Jul 06, 2008 @ 20:22:18

    Patti typed this: “u r right that alot of studies show that ASL does not inhibit speech development and vice versa i believe but Barb di gi would know best as she is well versed in these studies”

    My response: I agree as my child is a livng proof that ASL doesnt inhibit his speech and auditory developpment.

    HOWEVER, current schools for the Deaf and self contained TC programs are not exactly the best placement for most CI kids because their programs are usually 90% ASL 10% speech/listening. A CI kid with potential for speaking and listening need much more than 10%!!! As a result, the kid doesn’t learn to maximize his CI. Parents would say, “See! ASL inhibits speech and auditory development.”

    My child is my living proof. His speech skills deteoriates during the summer as his whole family is ASL Deaf. He picks up again in the fall, but regression is evident.

  12. Tami
    Jul 06, 2008 @ 20:22:57

    Patti….I have just finished wiping the tears from my eyes. Thank you so much for recounting the story of how several participants of DBC interacted and reached out to hearing parents from AG Bell during the rally. I especially appreciate you doing this with a voice-over so us hearing parents can also take in the story.
    If we take anything away from the conference, I hope we take the experience you and I had with this mother. She was a wonderful mother who had so many unanswered questions. This may have been her first experience meeting two signing Deaf adults and having an opportunity to get some real insight into the Deaf experience. If we made a difference in the future of a mother and her daughter and opened the mother’s eyes to other possibilities in regards to ASL, then I believe we (DBC),as a united group of people, are succeeding and will continue to succeed in the mission of DBC.
    I am proud to be part of DBC. And I will hold in my memory forever the vision of the 700 people who came to the conference, shared their stories, and rolled up their own sleeves to continue the mission of DBC back in their home states.
    I am incredibly honored and humbled by being able to experience this as a hearing mom; and I pray that other hearing moms and dads and their Deaf children will get to be a part of this incredible community of Deaf people connected to each other through ASL.

  13. peggy
    Jul 06, 2008 @ 20:26:29

    great job! very impresive!!

  14. pdurr
    Jul 07, 2008 @ 06:40:28

    native asl/ci parent and child says –
    thanks for sharing your experiences and perspectives. in terms of DBC – two core members were with me when we had this exchange with the hearing moms

    i think maybe folks r confusing a bit DBC’s examination of oralISM and the CI/AVT to mean DBC is against folks who talk and/or use CI. its a really tricky area to discuss but i think we can do it

    will need everyones help as there are many minefileds abound

    re: ur son’s experience during the summer. the 2nd mom i chatted with did ask someone what they thought of a school that would have half the day have auditory / speech (with an interpreter i assume) and half the day have ASL

    it was a novel idea. it showed how closely she was examining the idea and trying to envision what would be best. really she was thinking so hard and lovingly and i was like HEY i dont think Deaf education folks often sit down with parents and ask- what do u think what do u want – let us design a school and/or program that meets the childs’ needs and also addresses the parents’ expectations. let it be lingusitically, pedogogically and cognitively sound etc…

    the mom explained she had visited the school for the Deaf and they were almost all manual – only an hour of speech / auditory input. she said she understood why it had that focus and supported them but for her daughter who is speaking and hearing (i think 10 dB loss with bilateral CI) it wouldnt be a good match for her hence she was brainstorming about another type of program. One person replied that he felt the child should have ASL first and English later (speech and auditory next) etc.

    i understand his pov and point in thinking about the 0-3 babies. But with a parent where the child is already 5 and past the critical period of language acquisition – if the parent has a receptiveness to the child being a Person of the Eye as well as the ear (via implants) what type of program can be offered

    the auditory / speech input period of the day could exist simply by having CODAs and hearing children in the program (whose parents want them to learn asl also) – speaking teacher and ASL interpreter etc?

    dont know – still trying to figure out what that program would look like. kids have SO SO SO much to learn from each other – i hate to see oral kids separated off into mainstream or oral only programs and ASL kids separated off into other programs or lost in the mainstream without any authentic native ASL exposure

    in my years of experience – the most telling characteristic that makes a d/Deaf student an effective student and learner are:
    – involved parents
    – a love for reading
    – an inquisitive mind that has been fostered, fed, and challenged

    some of my brightest students have been ASL non-speaking people
    some of my brightest students have been Deaf people with CI who dont sign much

    some of my weakest students have been students who were raised orally only (with or with out CI implanted at a very young age)
    some of my weakest students have been students who were raised with simultaneous communication or ASL without English

    Bilingualism says a child must have a fully accessible language on which to build an understanding of other languages

    friere says ‘read the world so u can read the word’

    many deaf education programs are locked into a remedial approach that they forget about READING the WORLD. to do that u must have a strong accessible language foundation then u r usually off and running

    Tami – u da BEST! loved having the chance to meet u and see u in action. u r a very caring mom and a good soul

    Peggy – thanks



  15. Diane
    Jul 07, 2008 @ 19:35:28

    Wow I am stunned by your both stories … Let’s break down the wall! At least a few AGB parents finally came over to the DBC’s side and listened to you and the rest. It is a huge step. It will take time before you know it. Next time .. be sure to set up the lemonade and snack booth on the outside of the building for the next conference! And… don’t forget the camcorder too!

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