Deaf Residential Schools in the US...

Stuart Thiessen sw at PASSITONSERVICES.ORG
Tue Jan 16 00:24:25 UTC 2007

James, I agree with you 100%. I feel that ASL writing (substitute your 
own sign language here) is valuable in and of itself for the access it 
provides to anything written in it. How did I succeed in school as an 
oral, hard-of-hearing person as a child?  Through reading. It really 
wouldn't have mattered what language I was reading in. The point is 
that I was able to access knowledge through reading.

My dismay is that American educators seem to evaluate every program for 
Deaf individuals based on whether it will benefit their English 
literacy. As a result, that becomes the measure of success. So, that 
was why I made the comments I made.

Now, you are right that another angle into this is the excellent point 
that you made. If we do a good job of creating quality SL literature 
that provides knowledge that benefits their education as a whole, that 
will be another avenue to creating interest in SW. If students have 
information they can access that will aid their education, then 
teachers will see the value in having that available for their Deaf 
students. Hopefully, they will be as open-minded as the teachers in 
Portland. :)



On Jan 15, 2007, at 16:50, James Shepard-Kegl, Esq. wrote:

>  I respectfully submit that when you propose SW as a bridge to English 
> literacy in the school system, you are missing the point.
>  SW is a valuable tool for giving a Deaf signer metalinguistic skills 
> in his or her native language (i.e., understanding labels like nouns, 
> verbs, classifiers, role shifting, shared references, and so forth.) 
>  Having metalinguistic skills in your own language is critical to 
> learning the grammar and syntax of a foreign (that is, non-native) 
> language.
>  But, if you are expecting miracle English literacy achievement 
> through SW, think again.  SW helps, to be sure, and a greater 
> proponent than I you will not find, but do not oversell the concept, 
> as proof is scarce.
>  Where SW is really, really beneficial is:  MATH, SCIENCE, HISTORY.
>  Math, to be of any real value in life, is all about applied math, 
> which we learn through practicing those dreaded verbal problems.  Use 
> SW to teach them, so that the Deaf child knows what you are talking 
> about.  Otherwise, the math problem just becomes an English problem, 
> and if you do not read English, you appear to be moronic.  Try TWO 
> PLUS TWO in Chinese and see how far you get.
>  My daughter's teachers in Portland, Maine High School are encouraging 
> her to answer her science tests in SW -- because the goal is 
> achievement in the material taught in that particular class, not rote 
> memorization of English without any real comprehension.
>  -- James

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