I love the irony of this sign and I love how it includes the idea of hearing people trying to ban Deaf people from using Sign Language.
Let’s face it, hearing people generally dominate Deaf people like colonial masters. Thora Hubner explains Deafhood and Colonialism here.
There are exceptions to the stranglehold of hearing people, like the Gallaudet Revolution and some wonderful hearing parents like Rachel Coleman who understand that their Deaf kid’s natural language is Sign Language regardless of Cochlear Implant Programs.
As Terje Basilier said in 1993:
“If I say yes to another person’s language, I have said yes to the person. If I say no to their language I have said no to the person.“
So can someone please tell me why the colonial masters are so hypocritical?
Why do hearing people set up the world so that Deaf people MUST have teacher qualifications before they can look after Deaf preschool kids? But then when hearing people are looking after Deaf kids it’s OK for them only to have a “willingness to learn” Sign Language.
Yeah, I have a “willingness” to learn every language on the planet. But I shouldn’t get a job with Deaf kids, or as an Advisor on Deaf Children, or as head of a Deaf organisation until my Sign Language is as good as a native signer. And then I should only get the job if no Deaf people are suitable and I have agreed to job transition “Succession Planning” ie A SIGN LANGUAGE AND WRITTEN agreement for how and WHEN a hearie will hand over their job to a Deafie.
This hypocrisy must change. It must be called out.
The 3 second rule for safe driving is explained here.
The rule should become part of the culture in urban driving in order to improve traffic flow.
It would allow us to slow down when we want to give space for other vehicles to turn in front of us or merge into the traffic. Sure we lose a second but we regain it when the next person lets us in. The whole traffic network would flow more smoothly and benefit everyone.
[image description: 6 postage stamps with simple diagrams highlighting accessibility for disabled people. They include a wheelchair symbol, Braille for United Nations, two hands joined in love]
Open Letter to NZ Minister for Education, Chris Hipkins
Emailed 26 February 2019
Subject Heading: NZ Breach of UN Convention in relation to Deaf children
I draw your attention to the standard advertisement your Department runs for Adviser on Deaf Children (AODC) jobs. You will note that the very last qualification listed is in relation to NZSL and even this is not required. Thus it is hearing people advising parents of Deaf children about Deafness. Deaf people are not deeply involved and your First Signs program is yet to be properly evaluated as far as I can see.
The science now is very clear that Deaf children need Sign Language first (see research by Tom Humphries, Mairead MacSweeney and others). NZ pays lip service to the notion of bilingualism in Deaf education but this means in practice that NZSL is more often an afterthought.
Thus, an estimated one third of healthy Deaf babies in NZ (by which I mean not Deaf-Plus babies), despite being on a Cochlear Implant Program (CIP) will become Persistent Language Delay (PLD) people. The CIP fails for a variety of reasons. This means they will have no functional language for the rest of their lives. I have PLD friends and I know how hard their lives are even within the Deaf community. I urge you to obtain the statistics that show one third of children will become PLD. The statistics for NZ are held by Neil Heslop the General Manager of the NZ Southern Cochlear Implant Program (SCIP) who confirmed the estimate to me in a recent conversation.
Neil and the cochlear implant industry may be reluctant to have these figures become public, but the failure by your government to address the PLD problem for Deaf children is a breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD/UNCRPD). Article 24 of the CRPD in relation to the right of a child to education says “In order to help ensure the realization of this right, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to employ teachers, including teachers with disabilities, who are qualified in sign language and/or Braille, and to train professionals and staff who work at all levels of education”
The AODC job ad run by your Department also touts “Informed Choice” for parents in deciding on language options for their Deaf child. Unfortunately, 90 percent of Deaf babies are born to hearing parents who are often in grief at having a Deaf baby. These parents have usually never met a Deaf person in their lives. “Informed Choice” delivered by a hearing AODC to grieving parents results in an almost universal rush for early implantation of children with a Cochlear Implant. Please be clear, I am totally in support of this amazing technology, but again, the science is clear that it is of fundamental importance for a Deaf child to have Sign Language firmly established BEFORE a cochlear implant. The case of Leah Coleman in the USA proves this.
I appreciate that you may be given varying scientific advice on the points I have raised, but I would regard scientists seeking to refute these points as I would regard scientists who used to deny global warming was human driven. I urge you, if you are in doubt on the science, to liaise with the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in order to get a report from Professor Juliet Gerrard, her Chief Science Advisor.
The solution is simple. NZ should adopt a legislative framework similar to the SB-210 framework in California where if Deaf children do not meet educational milestones then appropriate intervention on behalf of the child becomes mandatory, just as we have mandatory education for all children in NZ.
If you feel it would help NZ to honour its CRPD obligations to set up a working group to achieve such legislation I know plenty of Deaf people who would love to be involved. Unfortunately this mahi is not being pushed by Deaf Aotearoa NZ (DANZ).
I look forward to your action on this.
[Image description: Resistance by David Call. Linocut of David’s childhood experience. Cartoon character with their head replaced by a hand. The hand has an eye in the middle. This shows the importance of eyes and hands for Sign Language. The character is sitting at a table with one hand chained down but the other hand is smashing wind-up chattering teeth with a hammer. The teeth represent oralism.]
Audism is a belief system that causes discrimination against Deaf people. Tom Humpries defined Audism in 1975.
. hearing people are superior to Deaf people
. Deaf people need pity
. Deaf people are disabled
. Deaf people can’t drive or get an education or become professionals
. Deaf people should be taught to speak and become like hearing people
. Sign Languages are inferior and not really languages
. Deaf culture is inferior to hearing culture
Audism results in experiences like a Deaf child never meeting another Deaf person until they are almost in their teens or older!!!
[Image description: 21 Feb 2019 tweet by Mark Ramirez
Today I became an 11 year old hard of hearing boy’s first Deaf/hard of hearing person he ever met… in his life.]
While you’re here, you may want to read my blog about Cochlear Implant Programs (CIP).
[Image description: tweet of 25 Jan 2019 by @languagefirst
There’s a really simple 10-step plan to eradicating language deprivation:
She also says:
“Being concerned about auditory deprivation over language deprivation is like being concerned about your fingernail polish when your hand is on fire.”
This is what happens to people who are Persistent Language Delayed (PLD).
[Image description: Marion Towns painting Helping Hands which she describes here.]
Qualifications and Personal Attributes
• Qualifications required are a Master of Special Education (Sensory Disabilities/Hearing Impairment) or a Diploma of Adviser on Deaf and Hearing-Impaired Children. Applicants who do not have either of the required qualifications are required to complete the Master of Special Education (Sensory Disabilities/Hearing Impairment) within 4 years following appointment to an AoDC position
• Experience and attributes preferred
– A teacher of the deaf qualification or speech language therapist qualification or equivalent qualification with at least two years experience in that role
– Experience in deaf education.
– An understanding and applied practice of the principles and strands of Te Whāriki (Early Childhood Curriculum) and the key competencies and learning areas of the New Zealand Curriculum.
– Knowledge and competency in overall language and communication development and child development.
– Knowledge and competency in the educational and audiological management for children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
– Experience and knowledge of New Zealand Sign Language and a commitment to ongoing learning of New Zealand Sign Language.
Extract 2 (emphasis on audiology and cochlear programs is way ahead of NZSL)
The AoDC needs to have strong working relationships with other MoE colleagues, as well as the following external relationships to realise the potential of children who are deaf or hard of hearing:
• Develop and maintain effective working partnerships with parents/caregivers, families and whānau.
• Liaise and collaborate with Audiologists, Otolaryngologists and other health professionals, to effectively manage hearing needs through the use of technology and ongoing diagnostic testing.
• Work collaboratively with the Cochlear Implant programmes to effectively manage hearing needs through the use of technology and habilitation.
• Work collaboratively with First Signs Facilitators programme (Deaf Aotearoa) to provide families and whānau access to New Zealand Sign Language and Deaf Culture.
• Provide support to early childhood services and schools, to optimise inclusion.
• Work collaboratively with the Deaf Education Centres to provide effective, responsive and equitable services across the region.
• Maintain effective relationships with the New Zealand Federation for Deaf Children (NZFDC) and local parent groups.