Dr. L Fleischer re: IEPs & Fixing Focus

Dr. L Fleischer re: IEPs & Fixing Focus (translation in text English below the video box)

biggest thanks to Dr. Fleischer’s family for allowing this clip to go up and also to Patrick Boudreault for sending the clip.

ADDED: After Larry’s death, Mel Orr (a Hearing mother of a Deaf son) wrote a “We Never Landed in Holland” blog entry sharing how generous and pivotal Larry was to her own son’s IEP meeting many years after Larry’s experience with his daughter’s IEP.  It is beautiful how Larry always remembered that we were once strangers in a strange land and how he worked not just for his own family’s equality but for family’s he did not even know.



Dr. Lawrence Fleischer:

Around the time PL 94-142 had already been passed and become official I had an IEP meeting for my daughter.

[long pause]

Look, you should already know this and not find it surprising.  At this IEP meeting, my daughter, who is Deaf, and I were surrounded by others.  My daughter at this time was about 4 or 5.  So who was seated before us?  Of course there was the audiologist, the  SLP – speech and language professional, adaptive PE,  the principal and the teacher.   This made up the IEP meeting.

First up for bat was the audiologist –

“your daughter needs audiology services?”  And my answer, can you guess, was what?


“Oh, that would be a bad role model for the other deaf children.”

THAT was their big concern.

“I’m sorry.  Deaf will be Deaf.  Deaf will be Deaf. Whether or not they are d (deaf) or D (Deaf) the child will still continue to be deaf, finish!”  Quibbling worthless, the person left.

Next up is the SLP – Speech and Language Professional who asks, “Do you need any services?”  To which I ask? “Can you sign?  Do you know ASL?”   The SLP replies orally with a bit of gesture “I’m sorry I can’t sign.”

“One way communication.  Nope.  Be gone with that.”  And so s/he left.  Next in line is the adaptive PE.  I took a good look at this person and then my daughter, who by the way is very athletic – run fast and jump high, and then I returned my gaze to the specialist and indicated “you work with her??”  And s/he quickly realized their services were not applicable and made for a hasty exit.

So we come to the principal, who by this time in the IEP is very M-A-D.  I am telling you s/he was MAD!  I’ll be honest here.  He was like, “this is an embarrassment.”  I just let him have it out.

“You have said NO, NO, NO, NO, which leaves us with NOTHING except for this teacher.  So this teacher will teach you.”  The teacher nervously replies, “OK, so I will be teaching using the ‘Apple Tree.’”  This was an antiquated, artificial system.  So I replied, “No you won’t.  An artificial system – No, I am sorry.  I can not accept that.”

So guess what the teacher said next?

“All you say is ‘no, no, no’ to everything which leaves us with NOTHING to offer.  Nothing is left.”  “Really, truly, there is nothing else left?”  I asked.  “Really?  Well, you haven’t yet discussed math, haven’t yet discussed science, and haven’t yet discussed history.   All you have been focusing on is the EARS and the MOUTH.  That’s all!”


Translated to English from the original ASL – pls alert p.durr to any needed corrections.

Dianrez – thanks for ur assistance with that the wording –  “Deaf will be Deaf. Whether or not they are d (deaf) or D (Deaf) the child will still continue to be deaf, finish!” Quibbling worthless, the person left.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Penny
    Mar 18, 2011 @ 19:35:35

    Thanks so much for sharing this vlog, Patti. He is one of the most healthy Deaf speakers I have seen so far. I have never met him…heard of him? so many times. I am sad that he is no longer here. We need more healthy speakers like him to keep fighting for Deaf children’s rights.
    I had my hearing test recently as I need new hearing aids. I wish I can live without them but it is impossible due to constant ringing ears. The first thing ENT Dr and Audiologist asked me at Palo Alto clinic if I was interested to apply for CI. That was their first question. They did not ask anything about me…education…employment etc. Just fascinated with my simple ears. The audiologist wanted to give me info about CI because he fell in love with my speech skills. Yikes! I told him since there is no law protection on Deaf children I don’t believe Deaf adults should get CI…selish/self centered on their act…bad role model and wrong message to public. I also added that CI is considered eugenic cleansing. Both Drs gave me very cold attitude and stopped talking to me about CI. Go to hell to both of them!

  2. handeyes
    Mar 19, 2011 @ 01:25:29

    Penny –
    while i was fortunate to meet Dr. Fleischer a few times i did not have alot of interactions with him. Watching his video clips makes me realize how truly perceptive and astute he was re: ASL and Deaf culture – especially as it relates to Deaf cultural values. Makes me wish i had been a student of his and/or colleague. When i was out at CSUN a few years ago he was showing me various posters from different cultural events they had hosted there – Visual art shows, theatre productions, film screenings and i remember standing back and thinking “this is a man after my own heart” i truly love all that stuff and see it as a huge part of the heart of Deaf culture as well as one of its biggest transmitters. It was then i realized how big the gulf is between the West coast and the East coast and how more exchanges between universities and programs is very desirable.

    He also shared with me about how he and Lou Fant (CODA, interpreter, and ASL professor) rescued the old Veditz Preservation of Sign Language film – an actual REEL. that was discarded in some cupboard somewhere on the CSUN campus – the dusted it off found out what it was and realized its huge value and importance – got it to Gallaudet and reproductions of it back into circulation. (i hope i am remembering this right – i did film Patrick B. explaining this but then the video file went poof on me grrr)

    but in a word – Dr. Fleischer ROCKED and as u noted had such a HEALTHY perspective and life is precious. we should really dedicate ourselves to seeing the great gems in ourselves and the others around us and work to make us all shine brighter. too much gets lost or overlooked.

    Re: all u shared re: ur experience with the audiologist and Drs pushing CI on you. I am sorry you had that experience. so much for approaching the Deaf person as a whole person and not one big ole ear, eh?

    Your last sentence is really strong – i dont wish anyone such. its not my place. i do see why u feel this rage – it is incredibly insulting for them to be trying to get you to change your ethnicity (see lane et al) and the fact that they can not see it is enraging and exasperating.

    bell hooks, an African-American feminist scholar writes alot about African-Americans anger in her book – “Killing Rage: Ending Racism” and Langston Hughes has the wonderful – A Dream Deferred
    What happens to a dream deferred?

    Does it dry up
    like a raisin in the sun?
    Or fester like a sore–
    And then run?
    Does it stink like rotten meat?
    Or crust and sugar over–
    like a syrupy sweet?

    Maybe it just sags
    like a heavy load.

    Or does it explode?
    ~ Langston Hughes

  3. Penny
    Mar 19, 2011 @ 03:47:34


    Thanks for your reply. Wow long e-mail which you are so good at writing in detailed news, smile. You are lucky that you had chance to meet him in person. He sounded like a nice fellow. I was told that he talked to anyone who came from different background…walk of life which is a rare gem as we do not see many “of by and for” Deaf leaders who would talk to anyone like he did with them.

    I was not aware that he and Lou Fant were ones who rescued Veditz Perservation film and they found it in the cupboard on CSUN campus? Are you kidding me? That is truly sad because some students or faculties do not know how to carefully preserve old books, films, or pictures. I watched his film recently (again) and I was surprised to see that he signed “Germany” with two hands which Deaf people sign them today. When I was in Germany they did not like the way how I signed for Germany and asked me to use one finger on top of my head (am trying my best to explain but I think you know what I mean) They said we signed this because of World War Two—hand shape that represented Nazism. This sign offended them. However, I caught Veditz signed the same way as we use today and not only that but he signed before World Two or Nazism occured. Interesting. I wonder if you noticed this too? Now I have habit of signing with one finger on head for Germany to show out of my respect for Deaf German people and also for Jewish people.

    When I met with ENT Dr and Audiologist…I knew they would going to ask me about CI. I asked by other people in the past. They did not push me too hard no…it was just that hey were super friendly with me until I rejected their offer about getting CI. Lo and behold! their attitudes changed toward me. I was sad when they asked me about it because I wondered how many did they convince parents to send their children for CI? How many? That is scary. I apologized if I used my last sentence too strong…Glad you felt free to tell me this. I had others telling me to tone it down many times, smile. But I want you to know that I did not swear at them or anything like that. I was polite and firm with them. No no to CI. We shook hands politely. I would not tell them go to hell in front of their face unless they mock ASL or mu culture, smile but they didn’t do that to me, of course. 🙂

  4. deafa
    Mar 19, 2011 @ 04:48:07

    CI would not work for people who are not interested, even parents. Waste of time and money if they more likely not interested in following up and more interested in going the other route as long as they make sure their child have a language. People should not feel they have the rights to disrespect toward those are not interested in CI . They should focus on making sure the deaf child is communicating – sign or spoken or both.

  5. Dianrez
    Mar 19, 2011 @ 15:01:57

    Fascinated by the bits of history that were mentioned here…the double hand sign for Germany predating World War II…how the Veditz films were recovered…memories of departed personalities…these bits will slip away forever unless writen down.

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