A long-simmering controversy erupted this spring over how deaf children should communicate.
It started when The Washington Post ran a story on Nyle DiMarco, the deaf “Dancing With the Stars” contestant who is also an advocate for American Sign Language (ASL). When Meredith Sugar, president of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, retorted that ASL was becoming obsolete in light of better hearing aid and cochlear implant technology, the arguing went public. But that debate was really just the latest manifestation of a longstanding conflict among deaf people and parents of deaf children: Should children be fitted for hearing aids and taught to speak, or should they use sign language? Or a combination of both?
As the parent of a 2-year-old whose hearing loss was recently diagnosed, the arguments only heightened my anxiety about how to address my son Sam’s needs.
“Yep,” the audiologist confirmed. “Your son does indeed have a hearing loss.”
“That makes sense,” I said. “I’m Deaf, Melanie’s Deaf. I guess our kid’s not going to skip the family curse.”
Melanie and I smiled. After a brief pause, so did the audiologist. For a moment I wondered if she thought there was something wrong with us. It must have been odd for her to witness a nonchalant response along the lines of “How about that? Another Deaf Drolsbaugh.”
The audiology exam was the easy part. The hard part was the first IEP meeting the following school year. Melanie and I walked into that with no idea what to expect.
We got ambushed.
School staff, administrators, and representatives from the school district took turns telling us what to do with our Deaf child.
Written By Rich Wordsworth
September 29, 2015
In 2002, Sharon Duchesneau and Candy McCullough, a deaf lesbian couple from America, made headlines when they chose to conceive via a sperm donor. It wasn’t the procedure that drew the attention of the press, but the choice of the donor.
After eight years together, Duchesneau and McCullough approached a friend with five generations of deafness in his family with the explicit goal of having a deaf baby.
“A hearing baby would be a blessing,” Duchesneau told the Washington Post. “A deaf baby would be a special blessing.”
Thirteen years later, there’s a more scientific approach to choosing the sort of offspring you want,
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Concession follows lawsuit filed over swim classes at Hastings YMCA.
The YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities has agreed to provide an American Sign Language interpreter for deaf parents Jacob and Calena Lingle so they can fully participate in their daughter Aria’s swim classes at the Hastings Y.
After trying to negotiate for a year, the Lingles and their daughter, now 2½, sued the YMCA earlier this month, alleging that its refusal to provide an adequate means for them to communicate violated state and federal laws.
A day after the lawsuit was filed June 12 in Hennepin County District Court, the Lingles received an e-mail from the Y saying an interpreter would be made available, but only for the first of the seven-session Seahorse classes.
The Lingles’ attorney, Rick Macpherson, of the Minnesota Disability Law Center, said Wednesday that he received an e-mail Monday from the Y’s attorney saying the organization had decided to provide an interpreter for all the classes.
While the lawsuit has not been settled, Macpherson said the Y proposed putting the litigation on hold while it develops a new policy and resolves the other issues in the case.
“The Lingles are fine with that arrangement,” Macpherson said. “The Y has said they plan to involve representatives from the deaf community in coming up with the policy.”
The Lingles will have a role in that and the policy must be acceptable to them before they decide to settle the lawsuit. Because the suit has been filed, a judge will have to approve a timetable for the negotiations, the attorney said. Those details have not been worked out yet.
“The clients are happy they will be able to participate in the rest of the classes,” Macpherson said. “They’re committed to doing whatever they can so that the policy is a good one and works for everybody. There are lots of ways to work out cost-effective ways of doing it.”
Jacob and Calena Lingle, 27 and 25 respectively, have been deaf since birth. Their daughter can hear; her first language was ASL.
The family vacations each year on Cass Lake in northern Minnesota and wanted Aria to be comfortable in the water so she could play with her 20 cousins.
Loss of hearing can occur during childhood, adolescents, or even at birth. According to experts at the Academy of Audiology, nearly 12% of younger kids from age 6 through the teen years have hearing loss resulting from noise. Of all birth defects, hearing loss presents itself more often than any other congenital defect in the United States. Nearly 12,000 children are born each year with some type of hearing loss says the American Speech and Language Association.
Not all hearing loss is permanent. – There are types of hearing loss that are preventable, including noise related damage to the hearing. Protect your kids’ ears with . . .
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