Deaf Residential Schools in the US...

James Shepard-Kegl, Esq. kegl at MAINE.RR.COM
Mon Jan 8 04:11:05 UTC 2007


It's all about RESPECT.  Children should see from day one that their
teachers respect sign language as a language, and showing respect for the
written form is about that.

You might as well ask whether parents should read to their babies when the
infants are pre-lingual.  (It's all in the rhythm; comprehension comes

I do not advocate stressing literacy skills to a child who does not yet have
first language skills, but I strongly advocate surrounding that child with
the written form of the language that is ACCESSIBLE to him as a first

And by the way, you don't "teach" first language to children.  You create an
environment in which they can naturally acquire first language.  (Not true
for second language, however.)

-- James

on 1/7/07 10:18 PM, K.J. Boal at kjoanne403 at HOTMAIL.COM wrote:

> 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?
> KJ
>> 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.
>> Thanks,
>> Stuart
>> 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
>>> Community...
>>> 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.
>>>> Thanks,
>>>> Stuart
>>>> 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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