Deaf Residential Schools in the US...

Valerie Sutton signwriting at MAC.COM
Fri Jan 12 21:53:09 UTC 2007

SignWriting List
January 12, 2007

On Jan 12, 2007, at 12:52 PM, K.J. Boal wrote:
> True of most of the Deaf community here, too!  I do think that's  
> one of the biggest hurdles to get over . . . the fact that most  
> Deaf have never imagined reading and writing ASL as part of their  
> lives.  What could make things more difficult . . . most Deaf don't  
> like to read or write because they've only been exposed to written  
> English, which they find difficult to understand!  Most Deaf don't  
> read for pleasure . . . an attitude I can't even begin to imagine,  
> since I can't remember ever not being able to read (been doing it  
> since the age of 3) and have loved reading ever since.  I'm not  
> sure quite how to cross that chasm. . .

Oh. I can imagine not reading at all. Strange to hear me say that,  
isn't it? I love living in a visual world...

Have you ever lived in a foreign country with no clue as to what the  
street-signs say in the written language of the country? Have you  
ever been with a group, where you are the only foreigner, and  
everyone else speaks another language? I have. And at first I hated  
it, but then I grew to respect the process of learning what was going  
on visually, never truly understanding anything that was said. The  
world became visual for awhile, since the sounds meant nothing, and I  
observed body language to get by. At the end, just smiling was the  
only solution to a conversation totally past my head...not knowing  
anything of what just transpired and wondering if it really mattered  
anyway...If people went away thinking I understood them they were  
wrong...I think a lot of hearing people assume that understanding is  
happening between deaf and hearing when it is not...

Reading Danish for pleasure? Well...I am at around the third grade  
reading level in Danish...that means I can peruse a magazine in  
relaxed Danish, and with the combination of the pictures and the easy  
language I get the idea...but sitting down and reading a thick  
complex Danish novel about a subject matter I know nothing about,  
without any illustrations...for a third-grade level reader in  
Danish...that is not a pleasure...that is work! hoping I can  
understand half of it is a struggle to be sure I got all the nuances  
of advanced reading...and newspapers...forget it...too many large  
words I did not know...

Not true for my native language English...

But my third grade reading level in my second language Danish is a  
struggle and I make no is not an attitude - it is a  
reality of skill and understanding...

Deaf people are forced to read their second language, a spoken  
language, with no writing system for their first language...that is  
totally unfair! And not reading for pleasure is  
based on how skilled you are in the language you are reading...


I have to get off my soap box...and must rest and prepare the  
Handwriting lessons...

Have a great evening everyone -

Val ;-)

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