[lit-ideas] Re: amazing employment application questions

  • From: "Andy Amago" <aamago@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2006 09:29:44 -0400

The ESL was a typo.  I meant ASL.  English Sign Language is a hybrid between 
English and Sign.  It's a cumbersome method intended to placate 
English-speaking hearing people; instead of an entirely separate language, it 
takes English and literally translates it into sign.  But I did mean ASL.  

Regarding parents not learning ASL for a profoundly deaf child, there's no way 
to dance around that one.  They simply can't communicate with their child, the 
result of which is that the child is cognitively impaired as well as almost 
existentially isolated.  Teaching oralism to a profoundly deaf child who can't 
hear from birth is like teaching a blind person to see. 

Harold's situation seems almost exactly that of Henry Kisor's, who was also 
deafened with meningitis at around the same age.  It's truly wonderful that the 
hearing loss has been merely a nuisance for him.  Harold's done better than 
most hearing people.  Kisor also functioned well in a hearing world.

Mike, you say my speculations seem warrantless to you, but then all my 
speculations on any subject seem warrantless to you.  It's almost a knee jerk 
reaction, that you have to oppose anything I write.

And good news, I found my papers.  I was sure I had culled them out from my 
notebooks, and indeed, there they all were, I found them this morning, hidden 
away in a folder in the bookcase.  BTW, has anyone seen the movie Children of a 
Lesser God?  It's about deafness as well.  There is some symbolism in that 
movie along with the plot.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Mike Geary 
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: 6/6/2006 12:26:27 AM 
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: amazing employment application questions

>> the "what's that pig outdoors" is what he heard when his father said 
>> something that had nothing to do with pigs or outdoors.<<

Actually it was Kisor's son who came running in and asked: "What's that big 
noise?"   Kisor went to the window and looking out asked: "What pig outdoors?"  
The two expressions look almost identical to a lip-reader, they say. 

>> At any rate, your student really does sound like someone who rejected her 
>> deafness and tried to fit into a hearing world, probably with great loss to 
>> herself.  I wonder if it's because her family didn't want to be bothered 
>> learning ESL, I'm just speculating. <<

Unless the family didn't speak English there would be no need to learn ESL  
(English as a Second Language), however they might have found ASL helpful which 
is American Sign Language.  Your speculations seem warrantless to me.  The 
debate among the deaf as to whether Signing or Oralism is the best approach to 
education of the deaf has raged for centuries.  Here is a summary of the 
varying arguments for both sides:

"Oralists believe that by not providing the option to sign they are helping 
children by forcing them to develop oral communication skills.
My opinion is simply that every decision we make in life involves a trade off.
Time spent teaching a child to talk could have been invested teaching that 
child to sign.
As with any decision you have to weigh the costs against the benefits--both 
long term and immediate.
As with any purchase you have to ask yourself, am I getting the best value for 
my money?
The moment you start talking about "values" you will find yourself surrounded 
with controversy because people value different things.
Some parents value having a child who can communicate orally.
Other parents value making sure that a child has maximum early cognitive 
Some parents value having a child that speaks the same language as them.
Other parents value new experiences and are willing to learn whatever language 
best fits the need of their child.
Some parents feel it is better to be able to communicate in a stilted manner 
with millions of people.
Other parents feel it is better to be able to communicate fluently with a 
smaller number of people.
The best decision as to the communication mode of a child will depend on many 
Are the parents cognitively and situationally capable of effectively learning a 
second language?  Some adults are simply not going to succeed at picking up 
sign language at their stage in life.
Does the family live in an area where there is a strong Deaf community and 
opportunities for signed communication? How much residual hearing does the 
child possess? Is there a Deaf School nearby? What does the child want? Are 
there other Deaf children around who are using a particular mode of 

So you see, the question is a little more complicated than you suggest.  
Oralism is not "rejecting one's deafness" any more than physical therapy is 
"rejecting one's handicap".  And though one need not be deaf to have an opinion 
on the matter, it strikes me as irrelevant.  If the young woman was a 
lip-reader I can fully understand why she'd prefer to do that than have someone 
sign to her.  She was lucky she had John as a teacher and not Nietzsche.

Mike Geary

Other related posts: