Deaf Residential Schools in the US...

K.J. Boal kjoanne403 at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 8 03:18:07 UTC 2007

One concern that has come up here in Alberta - brought up by the one teacher 
of the deaf (small "d" intentional) - is that there's no point in teaching 
SignWriting to the children she teaches because she has to teach them 
language first.  I see her point... most of her kids really act more 
hard-of-hearing than Deaf and come from non-signing families.  Is SW really 
useful to a kid that doesn't know Sign Language in the first place?


>From: "Stuart Thiessen" <sw at>
>Reply-To: sw-l at
>To: sw-l at
>Subject: Re: [sw-l] Deaf Residential Schools in the US...
>Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2007 00:20:11 -0600
>Here in Iowa, we have tried to mention SignWriting to both our local 
>mainstream program and the state school for the Deaf. I say "mention" 
>because we are still trying to figure out the best plan for introducing it 
>to the schools. Part of the challenge is that they have pressure to achieve 
>English literacy. For many of them, ASL Literacy seems like they are going 
>in the wrong direction, so they don't want to "waste" their time. So part 
>of making SW attractive to them (and many others) involves having the 
>"proof" that ASL literacy will lead to English literacy. Even better would 
>be "proof" that ASL literacy will either lead to faster English literacy or 
>better English literacy than the various other programs available that do 
>not involve ASL literacy. Again, we would have to define what "proof" 
>means. What we might call "proof" might not be the same as they would call 
>"proof". So that is all part of the process too.
>So, (in stating the obvious) I think this is one of the high priority 
>research items that SW advocates need to develop is something that shows 
>how SL literacy impacts spoken language literacy. I think some of that is 
>happening now just in the ancedotal evidence that has been mentioned on 
>this list, and certainly Dr. Flood's dissertation is another helpful 
>resource toward this question. Valerie's Literacy Project is another good 
>avenue. So some things are happening.
>Now, I think all of us would agree that SL literacy is valuable on its own, 
>and I think eventually people are going to realize that. But in the 
>meantime, we will need to find ways to "dangle the carrot" and get their 
>interest. English literacy is certainly one that will grab the attention of 
>the educational community. Maybe we should brainstorm some other avenues 
>that can introduce SW into the schools, and maybe we can come up with some 
>other creative ideas.
>I do agree that residential schools are a key part of the puzzle, but we 
>must include the mainstream programs as well because so many deaf children 
>graduate from mainstream programs. This actually might be a way to instill 
>some pride in having Deaf heritage, language, and culture for these 
>mainstream students.
>On Jan 6, 2007, at 23:27, Valerie Sutton wrote:
>>SignWriting List
>>January 6, 2006
>>Now that Cherie and Donna, at the Georgia School for the Deaf, have 
>>initiated a SignWriting study, it is the first Residential School for the 
>>Deaf in the US to try least in one classroom...
>>To explain, SignWriting is used in schools in the USA, such as Hodgin 
>>Elementary School in New Mexico, but Hodgin is not a Residential School 
>>for the is a Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing program inside a hearing 
>>school...mainstreamed I believe is the term...
>>And perhaps Georgia School for the Deaf is not all residential either, but 
>>it is still a School for the Deaf. Generally there are two in each state 
>>in the have SignWriting used, even experimentally, at a 
>>School for the Deaf is very important, I think, for getting acceptance 
>>from the Deaf Community later...If Deaf schools (not just mainstreamed 
>>programs) accept SignWriting then we are reaching more of the Deaf 
>>Do you agree with this, Stuart? If more Deaf Residential Schools adopted 
>>SignWriting it might gain more acceptance later? That is why it would be 
>>so great if we could encourage more residential schools I think...Val ;-)
>>On Jan 6, 2007, at 8:06 PM, Stuart Thiessen wrote:
>>>It has been my experience (and for understandable reasons) that hearing 
>>>advocates of SignWriting are often resisted. For example, one Deaf man I 
>>>met was very resistant when I mentioned SignWriting. He commented that he 
>>>had met these hearing people who tried to encourage him to use the 
>>>system. But then Philip and I talked with him and explained the system 
>>>Deaf to Deaf. It made a big difference for him to see Deaf people who 
>>>championed the system. So, with all due respect to hearing people (and to 
>>>Valerie who invented the system) and to all the other hearing people on 
>>>this list who are our valuable allies, I think that it pays to have Deaf 
>>>advocates lead the charge where possible. That way, the system cannot be 
>>>put down as a hearing-imposed system or some other such excuse. :)
>>>Now, I by no means am saying, Kelly, that you shouldn't advocate for the 
>>>system. I just suggest that you try a different tack. Perhaps use it 
>>>around Deaf people until you identify Deaf people who are open to the 
>>>idea and curious enough to explore it more. As they become more 
>>>convinced, together as a team, work to convince other Deaf of its value. 
>>>By building this kind of network, you will be better able to overcome the 
>>>resistance that some have toward the system because it will no longer be 
>>>a hearing-Deaf issue. If you let them push for it but you simply provide 
>>>some of the linguistic support that you have through your education and 
>>>skills, that will be a valuable way to do it.
>>>On Jan 6, 2007, at 19:47, K.J. Boal wrote:
>>>>Thanks Shane,
>>>>I'm planning on doing that when I can, but I've talked to some of the 
>>>>leaders of the Deaf community here (e.g., the chair of Deafness Studies 
>>>>at the University of Alberta), and they have been very negative about 
>>>>SignWriting.  Without their support, it's definitely going to be an 
>>>>uphill battle!
>>>>Thanks again,
>>>>Kelly Jo
>>>>>From: "Shane Gilchrist O hEorpa" <shane.gilchrist.oheorpa at>
>>>>>Reply-To: sw-l at
>>>>>To: sw-l at
>>>>>Subject: [sw-l] Kelly Jo - Canadian Association?
>>>>>Date: Sat, 6 Jan 2007 19:59:34 +0000
>>>>>Kelly Jo,
>>>>>another possibiliy here is...
>>>>>you could go and set up a Canadian Association for Sign Writing - or
>>>>>something like that.
>>>>>Some of us have set up European SignWriters Organisation (some ll say
>>>>>SignWriting) in Brussels to support the development of SW in Europe -
>>>>>we are being slow but more and more people are picking up on SW. Our
>>>>>first ESWO symopsium did lead to more schools getting involved - and
>>>>>have impressed the Japanese people!
>>>>>It will take time but you will get there - just get a few deaf
>>>>>teachers/lecturers together in Canada, say Western Canada and the rest
>>>>>will be good.
>>>>>Shane @ ESWO
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