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Bi Bi: A Better Way To Educate The Deaf

2681 words - 11 pages

In America we have adopted an auditory-speech, which is a mono-linguistic focus on the spoken and written forms of the majority (English here) language, approach to educating our deaf children. We adopted this methodology for teaching the deaf because of the Milan Conference held in 1880. This conference was an excuse for those in favor of oralism to gain the support they needed to outlaw the use of signed language in education. Their plot succeeded; the conference decided that signed language was inferior to spoken languages and was not capable of allowing the kind of learning necessary (Lane, Hoffmeister, and Bahan 61). From this stemmed many of the false beliefs about signed language. Such as signed language will make the signer stupid, it will interfere with learning spoken language, and it is not an actual language. Thanks to many research studies done in the last 40 years these misconceptions have been disproved. We have learned that there is a better way of educating our deaf students: Bicultural-Bilingual (bi-bi) educational methods.
Some of the consequences of the Milan Conference include the banning of the use of signed languages in the classroom and making it so deaf could not educate other deaf. Which eliminated the blossoming bilingual education programs that were starting to emerge. Now that the use of signed language was taboo in classrooms the auditory-speech method of teaching became the only way. Which puts us in the sad state of education of the deaf we are in today. Because of the focus on speech and spoken language many other aspects of education are overlooked and not understood by a deaf student. So now we have an educational system that forces deaf students to try to learn using a language they do not have full access to, resulting in deaf students that graduate from high school that have an average reading level of a fourth grade hearing student (Pribonic 237). This dilemma has also lead to lower expectations of deaf and hard of hearing students (DeLana, Gentry, and Andrews 73).
An oral approach to classroom instruction in problematic for deaf children because language development of spoken language is extremely difficult. After the child becomes skilled at lipreading it is still extremely difficult, and inaccurate. As Pribanic said “only 30% of phonemes are clearly visible on the lips, and the missing phonemes must be filled in by pure guessing” (237). Even with the use of technologies like hearing aids, while they do aid greatly in communication with hearing people, these instructional problems are not eliminated. Hearing aids only transmit some of the auditory signals that are present (Pribonic 237). This leaves the deaf children with out a real way of learning through an oral method. They will understand some of the information presented in a classroom but will not be able to have access to most of the lectures given in class settings. This paradigm has lead to the belief that deaf...

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