heye all

ya all have been MIGHTY busy while i was mighty busy learning and a loving.  i think i made leaps and bounds in me wee intellect these past few days.  i been studying on how “institutions” shape us

i have been studying about INSTITUTIONS as in ” a significant practice, relationship, or organization in a society or culture <the institution of marriage>”

We have lots of INSTITUTIONS that shape us – how we view the world and how we participate in the world which in turns shapes the world a wee bit more

i.e. – interdependency – as interconnected, as in “no wo/man is an island” (even if u r stranded on an island u r gonna have interdependency – maybe even more than when u r standing on a busy street corner in Manhattan feeling utterly alone.  its just on the island u can see / feel / and know ur interdependence up close and personal whereas on the corner of Park ave and 60th St you are too busy texting to notice and KNOW)

so in my journey to thinking more about INSTITUTIONS (i.e. families, schools, religions, marriage, etc etc) i realize that we have VERY VERY VERY f e w Deaf Institutions and the ones we do got have pretty much been under attack since the beginning of time.

Families – we do not have that many Deaf families.  Latest figures say only 5% of Deaf folks come from Deaf folks

Wow – i will type that again cuz there is something amazing

Latest figures say only 5% of Deaf folks come from Deaf folks

most folks get their first language and their culture and their ethnicity and their heritage and their values and their ways of being from their family.  5% wow that puts things in a pickle dont it

Schools – Not many – there are NOT many Deaf schools out there.  Most states only have ONE and some states have NONE.

“86 percent of deaf students in the U.S. are in mainstreamed programs all or part of the day. In many cases, they are the only deaf or hard-of-hearing student in their school.” (M. Marschark)

why? well cuz the mainstreaming mandate.  It is mighty folks and i recently learned that the gov. actually has a cap on how many “disabled” children are allowed to go to these “special schools” (thank you PL 94-142 HC law now renamed IDEA).

why? (oh, i love when u got ur thinking caps on folks and r asking questions.  Quest we on.  Why?  well, because society (which is also an Institution pretty much) says that it is better to hear than to be Deaf and it is better to be mainstreamed than to be “isolated” – ya know that whole wittle “least restrictive environment” misnomer.  well what is the problem with “mainstreaming” Deaf kids you ask?

cuz “inclusion is largely an illusion”

yep they can sit in the classroom and follow along with or without an interpreter, with or without assistive listening devices (hearing aids, fm systems, cochlear implants), with or without speech language therapy, with or without c-print / cart, with or without a Deaf peer or two but at the end of the day statistics show there has not been a huge leap in their literacy skills.  What?  Huh? i thought that was the main point of putting them into the sink or swim current of the mainSTREAM!

What are u saying that the findings of the Commission on Education of the Deaf – COED report of the mid ’80s are still ringing true today?

In discussing the data on Deaf students reading skills Dr. Marc Marschark notes “clearly the change from predominantly separate placement for these students to predominantly integrated placements was not the solution people had hoped.”

So with mainstreaming mandate, we haven’t seen consistent and good results and gains.

What have we seen? Well, we have seen the mass pull out of Deaf children from Deaf schools into the sink-or-swim mainstream since the PL 94-142 one-size-fits all IDEA law was passed and revised.

FUN FUN FUN  – not

no not really cuz what the mandated mass exodus took place and is still taking place the results have been:

– The Deaf schools floundered – not all of them folks.  i know we got some mighty fine ones but critical mass is lacking in many.

Smaller numbers are not the REAL problem.  Yes smaller numbers result in less $ and $ does bring privileges HOWEVER sometimes less can be more.

The problem was not only the sheer numbers that have been REGULATED (thanks gov.) into the mainstream at huge high caps and banned from the Deaf school unless as a port of last resort (geez whose IDEA was that) – the problem is also WHO gets pulled out of these Deaf schools and WHO gets sent to these Deaf schools generally.  (again i dont mean all and always) just generally speaking folks

who? well the biggest in terms of hearing abilities, speaking abilities, and thinking abilities normally get routed into the mainstream as quick as bunnies – hop hop hop.  and the Deaf kids who might not hear much, speak much – ahhh door number three for u – the Deaf school.  and Deaf kids with different learning abilities or different physcial ways of being (CP, autism spectrum, ADD) if we cant control those things via medicine etc then off u go to the Deaf schools too

Now this would not be a problem if there were still the NUMBERS of Deaf learners at the Deaf school if there was a healthy mix of a variety of folks of a variety of backgrounds, skill sets, and abilities but nope by and large for the small down sized to nearly nothing Deaf schools, it is largely students who have been run around chasing the holy grail for naught and the Deaf school is now charged with the responsibility of educating a child that is almost feral in terms of their exposure to language.

Systematic language deprivation is HUGE and WRONG.

Now an interesting thing seems to be happening at GOOD Deaf schools.  Schools that generally apply a bilingual-bicultural approach, have a healthy number of student enrollment, have a committed number of faculty and staff and have HIGH expectations of their students – guess what we see happening at these Deaf schools?  The Deaf kids who can “function” in the mainstream are returning to “home” around the time of middle school.

hmmmm – why is that?  well several reasons:

1. as a child gets older communication, language, social navigation and relationships get more complicated.

INTERDEPENDENCE requires more of the child.  when they are WEE things we can change lots of things to make them APPEAR to be functioning and APPEAR to have affective equality (a healthy sense of love, belonging and care) and we can ignore how much they truly are People of the Eye because instead we just focus on how much they can hear – where those X and O raise up on the audiogram – if HAMBURGER is coming out in a way that the person at Burger King wont sneer at them about.  Never mind that when they guy asks something back like “do you want ketchup with that” they child nods “no” when you know that s/he loves ketchup.  You find it odd but are too busy getting out the money and moving forward and sighing that s/he can order food in the restaurant without needing to point that u dont take in the cue that the child is coping.


s/he is not hoping that the person will sign back cuz s/he does not know sign language.  Nor is s/he hoping u will help out by repeating the question cuz speech/AVT lessons in front of cash registers with a line behind u is no fun.  But s/he is hoping that u would know that s/he does not know what the man asked cuz s/he is Deaf but your child knows that u do not accept that s/he is Deaf so s/he just plays along and pretends s/he can understand and says “NO” – which really translates as “i don’t know what u asked me and that is a no no so i just say NO and get real small and hope u have a ketchup pump over at the concession stand.

soooooo the children “function” in the mainstream and “pass” as being pretty dang Hearing-like but eventually many of them start to say – this is too much bloody work – CONSTANTLY HAVING TO WORK OF MY WORDS

this “passing” is really stressful

this constant limbo land is really exhausting

geez im so lonely

geez im so blue

geez im so unhappy

geez im hitting puberty and my body is going CRAZY and i cant control my Hearing or my Speech and now i have hair sprouting out in weird places and some emotions are popping up and the frontal lobe development and id like to have a sweetheart but no one will have me and….

Someone says – “we can now return you to the Deaf school”


not always – many do go thru mainstream from finish to end and some go thru the Deaf schools from finish to end but MOST go every which where from here to there then there and here and back again

And almost all that i have ever met say – thank gosh for the Deaf schools.  ahhhh  home they say.

are they perfect – nope.  some terrible things have happened in programs that involve boarding – for Deaf and Hearing alike.  bad shit can happen behind close doors.  Whether it be in the home or in boarding programs.  (see the sexual abuse of 200 Deaf boys in Wisc. and the suit against the Pope for his role in protecting the church over the children)

But if folks r doing what they are supposed to do – teach, love, and care for the children – Deaf schools can be mighty fine.

i got alot more rambling thoughts but in a rush.  no time to clean this up and make it pretty or add links to past entries here re: Deaf schools but if u put in the key words Deaf schools, LRE, MRE, Timeline, Canada u should be able to find some past entries on this subject

ill be back when im back smile.  have a good weekend.



6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Karen Mayes
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 14:50:12

    A good blog… have you seen the movie called “Waiting for Superman”? If not, I’d highly recommend it… it does apply to Deaf schools in some ways also…this documentary movie is heart-breaking.

  2. Diana Pryntz
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 22:35:01

    I thought one of the main reasons for mainstreaming was because those in institutions (not only deaf schools but those in other special schools/programs that helped children who had other educational or physical limitations) were often so isolated and not taught to the highest standards they were capable doing.

    I toured a few deaf schools in the USA and in Israel back in the 80’s. I was appaulled at the comments I heard from the teachers of the Deaf (they were all hearing). Many privately told me that their students were learning disabled in additionally to being deaf so I should not expect much. In every case but one, they were dead wrong. I entered finding the deaf students to be very intelligent and inquistive about the world. This low expectations of the teachers is/was the impediment of our deaf community’s rise to high level knowledge of the world.

    In my own personal case (I was mainstreamed from day one all the way through to high school and then joined NTID/RIT), my teachers did not seem to have preconceived notions about my abilities. I am sure my itinerary teacher and parents spoke with them to clear up whatever concerns they may have had in the early years.

    I found paternalism among some of my hearing colleagues at NTID. That was frustrating. I think it is important to stress that Deaf need to have and be around lots of Deaf role models.

    For Deaf students regardless of where they go (deaf schools or mainstreamed) to succeed we need (Deaf) leaders/teachers to have high standards for the students as well as Deaf role models.

  3. handeyes
    Apr 25, 2011 @ 20:21:01

    Karen & Diana

    Karen- i have been meaning to watch that flick “Waiting for Superman” but ive been “waiting for us to get it” smile

    hope to check it out soon

    Diana – isolation depends on ur center me think – to the unfamiliar – being Deaf can look like an isolating condition but as me Hearing mom always observes – the Deaf community is so lively and friendly….

    the argument that giving Deaf folks a wee measure of equality of condition by being amongst folks who can understand them and they can understand being a BAD thing because its not representative of the “real world” is just kinda weird logic. its like saying – u must sink-or-swim in the mainstream from cradle to grave cuz otherwise you will be “isolated”



    but i knows u know that based on all u have seen and lived and know

    we, we the people, know a thing or two or three

    re: low expectations well they STINK

    really are the kiss of death in many ways for Deaf emancipation

    thank u for all u shared and yep most Deaf role models rock. not all of ’em. sometimes some of them have already suffered a death of the spirit and r just killing time but by and large many of them bring to the table insight, inspiration, interpersonal communication and the spiritual audacity to believe in our somebodyness.

    mc gregor the first president of NAD totally knew of the importance of Deaf teachers and fought long and hard on this to no avail.

    i could WAIL!

    nothing about us without us!

    ya basta!

    thanks for all ya shared Diana



  4. Diana Pryntz
    Apr 26, 2011 @ 12:22:46

    Re: isolation

    I meant the institutions itself was isolated from the rest of the world’s scrutiny. Those running it (usually hearing folks) did not have to answer to anyone. Hence they had control without interference. I am sure that the deaf kids had lots of fun and lively lives with each other for company (far more fun than I had when I was mainstreamed – yup I was isolated from peers due to communication challenges – never enjoyed the benefits of group interactions until NTID).


  5. handeyes
    Apr 26, 2011 @ 13:15:28

    diana – biggest thanks for adding that clarification

    yes the lack of external oversight does invite alot of abuses (physical and expectation wise)

    thank u again for all u have contributed here

    its a shame that Deaf kids havent been afforded both – secure and enriching educational environments with high expectations and suitable rigor

    why it is often an either / or – quality “education” in the mainstream or quality social education (affective equality) in the Deaf school

    they really are entitled to both just as Hearing kids are

    thanks again



  6. the one and only ridor
    May 20, 2011 @ 18:01:13

    Karen Mayes, you should do a review of “Waiting for Superman” on your site — this way I can peek in that before I venture out to rent it. No time to watch these flicks for me… except for my love, Green Lantern which will debut on June 17!


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