Deaf Residential Schools in the US...

K.J. Boal kjoanne403 at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 12 19:54:30 UTC 2007

Very good point Charles, and certainly Deaf kids who grow up in a signing 
household have a much better advantage than Deaf kids who aren't exposed to 
an accessible language until they enter school.  One difference between 
multiple spoken languages and ASL/English bilingualism:  If a hearing child 
is exposed to both languages from birth (as I was), they can grow up truly 
bilingual and switch from one language to the other at the drop of a hat.  
But for a Deaf child who can only be exposed to English in its written form 
(or perhaps through something like Signing Exact English). . . how does that 
kind of natural bilingualism work?  How can a Deaf child learn the flow of 
spoken English when that will never be accessible to him, the way Belgique, 
French and German are equally accessible to the hearing children you 

Not that it hasn't been known to happen.  In America some years ago, there 
was a self-contained community called Martha's Vineyard (probably some list 
members have heard of it), where there was a high percentage of Deafness due 
to some genetic thing.  Anyway, because nearly every family had at least one 
Deaf member, everybody in the whole community was bilingual in ASL and 
English, and although the Deaf and hearing children did attend different 
schools, there was no problem with communication or making friends.  The 
Deaf members of that community apparently didn't have the problems with 
English that most Deaf have!  So perhaps natural ASL/English bilingualism is 
possible under the right circumstances.

Thanks again for your input!

Kelly Jo

>From: "Charles Butler" <chazzer3332000 at YAHOO.COM>
>Reply-To: sw-l at
>To: sw-l at
>Subject: Re: [sw-l] Deaf Residential Schools in the US...
>Date: Mon, 8 Jan 2007 03:41:44 -0800 (PST)
>Just one quick comment.  In children who grow up truly bilingual, or a 
>family which has some Deaf members and all know sign language, then the 
>immersion process for a child is "natural language acquisition". Being 
>surrounded every day by both languages, or, as an example, the barge 
>children of Europe being surrounded by Belgique, French, and German every 
>day is total immersion natural multiple language acquisition.
>   For a bilingual person, both langauges are fluent, neither is accented 
>by the other, so the Portuguese for example, sounds native Portuguese, and 
>the English does not carry over a Latino accent.
>   For children to "naturally learn to read" both languages they have to be 
>immersed in both all the time, with books, toys, games, songs, everything 
>to do with cultural acquisition, in an open environment.  Many children in 
>Latino households in the U.S. do just that, they are immersed in English 
>all day at school, and at home they are immersed in Spanish or Portuguese.  
>The children, not the parents who acquired the other language as a second 
>language, think in both languages, switch vocabulary back and forth in both 
>languages all the time.
>   My nieces and nephews are like that, bilingual in Spanish and English, 
>all the time, smoothly transitioning from one to the other.
>   My observations, they may be anectodal, but I have a large family.
>   Charles Butler
>"James Shepard-Kegl, Esq." <kegl at MAINE.RR.COM> wrote:
>   KJ,
>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 
>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 
> > of the deaf (small "d" intentional) - is that there's no point in 
> > 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 
> > useful to a kid that doesn't know Sign Language in the first place?
> >
> > KJ
> >
> >
> >> From: "Stuart Thiessen"
> >> 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 
> >> to the schools. Part of the challenge is that they have pressure to 
> >> English literacy. For many of them, ASL Literacy seems like they are 
> >> in the wrong direction, so they don't want to "waste" their time. So 
> >> of making SW attractive to them (and many others) involves having the
> >> "proof" that ASL literacy will lead to English literacy. Even better 
> >> be "proof" that ASL literacy will either lead to faster English 
>literacy or
> >> better English literacy than the various other programs available that 
> >> 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 
> >> "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 
> >> how SL literacy impacts spoken language literacy. I think some of that 
> >> 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 
> >> avenue. So some things are happening.
> >>
> >> Now, I think all of us would agree that SL literacy is valuable on its 
> >> 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 
> >> interest. English literacy is certainly one that will grab the 
>attention of
> >> the educational community. Maybe we should brainstorm some other 
> >> that can introduce SW into the schools, and maybe we can come up with 
> >> other creative ideas.
> >>
> >> I do agree that residential schools are a key part of the puzzle, but 
> >> must include the mainstream programs as well because so many deaf 
> >> graduate from mainstream programs. This actually might be a way to 
> >> 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 
> >>> 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 
> >>> for the is a Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing program inside a 
> >>> school...mainstreamed I believe is the term...
> >>>
> >>> And perhaps Georgia School for the Deaf is not all residential either, 
> >>> it is still a School for the Deaf. Generally there are two in each 
> >>> in the have SignWriting used, even experimentally, at 
> >>> 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 
> >>> SignWriting it might gain more acceptance later? That is why it would 
> >>> 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 
> >>>> 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 
> >>>> 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 
> >>>> this list who are our valuable allies, I think that it pays to have 
> >>>> advocates lead the charge where possible. That way, the system cannot 
> >>>> 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 
> >>>> 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 
> >>>> By building this kind of network, you will be better able to overcome 
> >>>> resistance that some have toward the system because it will no longer 
> >>>> a hearing-Deaf issue. If you let them push for it but you simply 
> >>>> some of the linguistic support that you have through your education 
> >>>> 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 
> >>>>> leaders of the Deaf community here (e.g., the chair of Deafness 
> >>>>> at the University of Alberta), and they have been very negative 
> >>>>> SignWriting. Without their support, it's definitely going to be an
> >>>>> uphill battle!
> >>>>> Thanks again,
> >>>>> Kelly Jo
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>>> From: "Shane Gilchrist O hEorpa"
> >>>>>> 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 - 
> >>>>>> something like that.
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> Some of us have set up European SignWriters Organisation (some ll 
> >>>>>> 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. 
> >>>>>> first ESWO symopsium did lead to more schools getting involved - 
> >>>>>> 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 
> >>>>>> will be good.
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> Shane @ ESWO
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>> _________________________________________________________________
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> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>
> >>
> >
> > _________________________________________________________________
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