Monday, April 14, 2008

Can any of them talk too?

I thought I heard it all. This one comment just kicked it! WTF!

Can any of them talk too?

It was posted as a comment following a fantastic video on ASL-Cochlear Implant Community:

I was raised an oral deaf student. I was very successful. I have been a successful adult. I wear CIs and love them, BUT it is wrong to pass judgement on others because they do not follow the "only way". I have not seen the world through rose colored glasses. I mean, I teach.

As an educator, when you met a child for the first time, you welcome them. In welcoming a child you accept their strengths and weaknesses. Not all children aquire knowledge the same way. This above comment discriminates against children who use ASL. That is wrong.
The first step in education is knowing that not all children needs are the same. Some children will use their voice and others their hands. Many use both. Educators don't pick the weakest skills, they use the child's strongest skill and build on it. All CI children should have the option to use ASL, speech, or both. Nothing should be held back. Accept all or accept none!, not just the ones who fit the perfect package.


Anonymous said...

I was thinking something similiar to what you were saying here after I read that comment on other post.

I was surprised it didn't spark any fireworks from other commenters.

I thought that video was awesome.

Tales from the CI Gal said...

Me too, I guess some comments are expected by specific people. Any comment against children should never just be accepted.

raychelle said...

it is the responsibility of the educator to encourage development/challenge in the weaker skills as well, because if we only build on the strongest skills, the child will never learn to try to overcome/build on their weakest skill and grow up avoiding their weaknesses.

of course, encourage/challenge within a safe, nuturing environment, and at one level above the child's level/pace (krashen's input + 1 theory).

and i agree, asl-ci blog's next project should be a combination of ASL-spoken English comments from members of their community. :)

Tales from the CI Gal said...

I agree Raychelle. The concern is that if you only focus one level of communication without allowing the child to develop others, educators never find out if that form is the weaker or stronger skill.

Education should never be a guess. That is why data needs to be used to develop the appropriate type of educational program for each child.

The motto should be Each and every child. Not all means all.

Anonymous said...

That kind of question is typical of CI users. They are obsessing about spoken English.

The ASL-CI Community has not yet shown to be an ASL community. No ASL vlogs from them so far. They are still hiding behind ENGLISH.

raychelle said...

tales from a ci gal,

agreed, im in favor of multiple intelligences theory - the more ways to learn something, the better- as long as the languages are kept separate (ASL, print English, spoken English) etc.


there is a vlog from the ASL-CI community. didn't you see it? there are about 20, 25 people on it.

think about this: when you hide behind "anonymous", do you have a fear of identifying yourself? that feeling may be the same for many of the ASL-CI community.

Anonymous said...

Raychelle says, "there is a vlog from the ASL-CI community. didn't you see it? there are about 20, 25 people on it."

The vlog only shows faces of CI people. I am talking about vlogs that discuss issues. People in the recent vlog -- a few of them sign ASL fluently. Young kids look like hearing kids. Their ASL skills are not that great. Some of them were instructed to say they love ASL. I am not dumb. I can see their eyes looking at the signer behind the camera. I am sure that they will end up hiding behind English because they can't do ASL well enough. Like Raychelle says, they need to build on the weaker skills -- that is ASL. I don't see that. They stay with ENglish-- their strongest skills. That is not bilingual at all.

raychelle said...


from what i've learned, 7 ASL vlogs have already been uploaded- they're waiting for approval. you are welcome to go to ASL-CI community and comment on them when they are posted.


Abbie said...

I saw that comment as well and it certainly lacked any kind of tactfulness, similar to one asking for a rum and coke at an AA meeting.

I'm surprised that there was not an uproar either but I think most of us, including me, just rolled their eyes because the content of the video depict individuals wearing cochlear implants and using ASL. It is opening a door to disapproving yet another myth, that CI users are anti-ASL AND are exposed to ASL.

If a child never holds a paintbrush, no one would know if they were the next Picasso. Maybe that child doesn't do well with a paintbrush but does amazing work with sculptures, but one would never know unless they were given some clay. Babies do not pop out of the womb multiplying or performing complex problem solving task, they have to be nurtured and exposed.

There is so many different ways of learning, linguistic, logical, spatial, kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal just to name a few. It isn't entirely impossible to make sure deaf children are exposed to these different techniques.

When I see comments such as ASL only or AGB infamous vision of speech only for deaf children, it is a very limited and narrow minded perspective because what is good for one of us, might not be good for the other. That leads to a broader spectrum of unanswered questions of how to handle those that can't comprehend speech or are easily confused with signing such as autistic kids or ADHD kids that cannot focus. Why can't it be both? The right tools in the toolbox will make all the difference in increasing the chance of the quality of a child future.

Accept all or accept none is the perfect position to assume to offer the world to deaf children, with nothing held back.

Li-Li's mom said...

Hi! I saw the comment and was initially taken aback, too -- but because it came from an outspoken CI proponent, I figured I must have misunderstood the question, I doubt she's challenging whether or not those with CIs can develop spoken language :) -- she knows the wonderful possibilities there as well as we do. So, I think she may have been joking? Not sure.

I agree with you entirely, some methodologies may be better than others for individual children, but there's no 'one way fits all', no one best method!

But really, after seeing that amazing video, I couldn't possibly hold any negative thoughts!

(Proud of my little signing and speaking toddler with a CI)

Anonymous said...

ha,ha! i like this blog far better than the asl-ci community because this person is honest and approves comments no matter what. the asl-ci community rejected too many comments trying to make themselves look good. they need to start approving anti-ci comments to be fair to everyone. the asl-ci community blog is too biased. 7 vlogs. panicky response to challenge from the deaf mute community, eh?

Rachel said...

I was just expressing my curiosity since none of them were using their spoken language too. While it's great that ASL users enjoy using their CIs to enjoy the sounds, children who qualify to learn a spoken language should be able to take advantage to learn it too since they can hear the spoken language too and the aural/oral English is the dominant mode of discourse in our society. I know that doesn't sound fair, but that's the reality, and I personally think that we have to give children the best possible chance to be part of both worlds, spoken language and ASL, or at least just the spoken language since that's the majority of the population's main mode of communication.

Tales from the CI Gal said...

I'm at school in the middle of testing week. I'm at lunch right now, but I will respond back to all when I get home.

Raychelle, I love your site. The ASL-CI community is so important for all ci children and deaf children. thank you

Abbie - you get me

the rest I will be home later. Now off to test this afternoon.

Li-Li's Mom said...

Hi Rachel, I think that there's definitely an opportunity for CI folks to show how well they are doing with spoken language, but -- especially within deafread -- there's a greater need to show that getting a CI doesn't necessarily mean that we're rejecting Deaf Culture, ASL, or no longer identifying as deaf. Many of us (or our children) identify as Deaf individuals and value ASL as a beautiful and necessary language, just as we value taking part in mostly-hearing environments and using spoken languages.

I don't think this video is designed to sell folks on the benefits of getting a CI and being able to speak, but rather to show that those with CIs can remain valuable participants in the Deaf world. Raychelle explained this much more effectively than i can on the ASL-CI blog. Just as you would switch to speaking French when among those who were most comfortable in that language, in this particular venue, ASL is the lingua franca for the audience that video is trying to reach.

Anne Marie said...

In response to anonymous, "People in the recent vlog -- a few of them sign ASL fluently. Young kids look like hearing kids. Their ASL skills are not that great. Some of them were instructed to say they love ASL. I am not dumb. I can see their eyes looking at the signer behind the camera."

Bilingual children at young ages normally lag bit in both languages or one language stronger depending on amount of input and training they get in their own home and school setting. ASL signing children I have been seeing in countless video clips in our research lab look similar as these kids. Many do flounder as they try to coordinate sentences, to expound something or try to find a word.

Often children suddenly encountered by camera lens become shy. It is best to videotape kids while they are conversing with adults or their own peers.

Only concern I have is lack of ASL resources and teachers for Deaf and Hoh children in mainstreaming schools. They really need support and they can get some from Deaf State School's outreach services or try to hire ASL teacher who can teach at several mainstreaming programs funded by several school districts something like it.

Dianrez said...

Li-Li's Mom:


Thanks for drawing the parallel between speaking French and "speaking" ASL. The two languages (among hundreds of languages) are equal in their eloquence and in their importance to humanity.

Dianrez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
raychelle said...

tales from the ci gal--

although thanks for the compliment, I have nothing to do with the ASL-CI blog. that blog was developed by a group of people, either with Ci or parents of a CI child. and i am neither :) but i agree, i love that blog too!

annemarie, you're absolutely right about the children being shy - I can tell, because I work with many deaf children and they all seem to have age-appropriate ASL skills. its just the videotaping process that makes kids giggle/be shy/be at loss of words/signs..(happens to adults too!).


Anonymous said...

Time is the best answer. We will just wait until CI deaf children grow up and we can evaluate their ASL skills.

Anonymous said...

I met a deaf mother with two elementary deaf children who were implanted. They can't even sign decent ASL and They were not even videotaped. They couldn't speak well, too. They were implanted before they started to walk.

K.L. said...

Part of the reason the ASL-CI blog was created, was to add support for creating an ASL-CI methodology. You cannot expect implanted kids to be fluent in ASL if they have not had the support to learn ASL. A big part of the problem is that there is not yet a nation wide program to do that. It is piecemeal. Thus far, most people have come from the view that you either teach ASL or you go with an oral option. Not both.

Please don't hold it against kids if they are not fluent in both languages from birth, if that is not how they were taught. The best option for them is to add ASL when the parents are able.

Karen Mayes said...

Well, I think it is great.

As we all know, ASL-CI methodologies are in an unexplored frontier...

Keep it up.

Jodi Cutler Del Dottore said...

Oooh, great blog, great comments. Actually, we were just talking about how all children learn at different paces and have diverse talents on the Ci Circle. Li-Li's mom, loved that comment.
You are such a rockin' teacher, Val,

Tales from the CI Gal said...

Thanks all.

I feel the purpose of this blog is less about ASL or Speech it is more about accepting others. I always felt that when you pass judgement on people you create a label of discrimation.

I feel the Community needs to realize that all children are unique and special. The community needs to accept all or accept none.

I love the ASL-CI blog. It speaks to me. The video touched my heart. I saw children enjoying themselves. There were excited about both ASL and CIs. Keep them coming!

Rachel, I respect your blog and what you wrote. I just don't think there is one "true" "perfect" way to raise a deaf child. Each are unique and important. They should have the best in the world! The best education, the best teachers, the best school systems, the best community and most importantly the best parents. If one of these is lacking, then it is up to the others to pick up the slack. We can't just say the words or signs, the community has to put our hearts into it. That goes for all of us. Oh one more comment in reality children are abused, raped or killed. I agree that reality is important, but so are love, accepting, cherishing, and childhood. Children don't need fear and isolation if they can't communication with their family.

I am thankful for my parents. I'm sure my mom would have implanted me at a young age. She said if there was the same technology now as 37 years ago, she would have done things differently. For me, I would not change a thing.

Anonymous, don't hide behind the title anonymous. Show yourself, being anonymous means you think of yourself as less important. If you take the time to write the comments then write your name. If you believe in what you are writing then sign your name. If you hide behind anonymous then you are invisible to me.

Keep the comments coming, we can only learn.

Tales from the CI Gal said...


You always know what I mean. I agree with each word you wrote. Thank you for everything.

We have grown and changed so much since we cybermet in July. Our core is still the same, but we have opened ourselves to new experiences and new ideas. I, not only see you making the world a better place, but have made my world a better place. Thank you for your friendship.

Tales from the CI Gal said...

multiple intelligences theory - the more ways to learn something, the better- as long as the languages are kept separate (ASL, print English, spoken English) etc.

It is a great theory. I have used parts of it in my regular education classroom. I find I go back to Dale's Cone of Experience. for most of my methods of teaching. I also use rigor and relavence along with just a group of theories that work. I all it - taking the best from everyone.

David said...

HI Val,
I just wanted to chime in a newbie to this topic. I so appreciate now as I learn more and read about the issues in blogs, and the media.
You and others have opened my eyes to a world I knew nothing about a year ago. For this I have to thank you and many more.
Thanks for the tip on patch for Vertigo as well.
I would love to comment more on this ASL/CI topic, but I feel like such a neophyte. But learning, is my passion.
Thank you for this

Rachel said...

Li-Li's Mom,

I agree that the video gave a great opportunity to show deaf people who believe that that CI users are rejecting the deaf culture, ASL or their deaf identity that CI users can embrace all those things too; however, there is another issue that is occurring right now which is whether bi-bi approach is effective or not. That's where I was expressing my curiosity. Is the bi-bi approach effective for hearing parents of deaf babies? While people can cite researches, I have not seen videos of CI users using the bi-bi approach and heard few stories about people's experiences in how they are equally good in ASL and spoken language. I've only heard stories about hearing parents of deaf children who started using ASL with their children and then, they found out later on that it was best to stick with just oral approach until they have master their English skills to be able to use ASL along with it or their children were not able to master their oral skills as well as they could have. That's why I'm still skeptical about the effective use of the bi-bi approach.

I'm not saying that AVT is the best route for everybody as I know that bi-bi approach is more beneficial for ASL deaf parents of deaf children since ASL is their primary language at home, and then they just added oral approach in order to have easier benefits of participating in everyday lifestyle outside of one's home. I've certainly heard a few stories that it's working well for them.

I don't mean to attack anyone, but I'm just trying to learn if bi-bi approach is effective for hearing parents of deaf babies. I probably should have made my comment more clear.

Anne Marie said...

Rachel you are asking same questions many of us are asking too. Little to no information on children using CI with ASL. I got an e-mail from a well known researcher saying she realized she would like to get more data of children using CI and ASL to see how they develop bilingually.

We can look at CODA (children of deaf adults) how they fare, they mostly do fine. They are no different than people who grow up with two or more languages.

Things have been evolving rapidly while experts in ASL are trying to catch up, we are pretty spread thin. Also I think lack of information to parents of Deaf children and biases are what keep on rigging us and deaf children.

Some CI kids can go just fine in total auditory mode, there will be a number who will do better being bilingual and even if given opportunities, anyone would enjoy being bilingual or more.

Anne Marie

Tales from the CI Gal said...

I took the site from one of Raychelle's posting on ASL-CI blog. I agree we need current research.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am Rick. My wife and I have implants. I left some comments at the ASL-CI community and they were removed after they were published. I suspected that Raychelle was upset that I mentioned that I noticed she had some English errors when she was making her comments. I suggested that she gets a CI because I believe it can help her with English skills. I appreciate her support. She said for educators to focus on weak skills. English is obviously her and many deaf people's weak skills. Implants can really help Raychelle and many deaf people.


IamMine said...

Rick, our comments were removed there because they were off the track and had nothing to do with the topic being posted.

Raychelle's English writing is far better than mine and I have the CI!

So your argument is moot here, sorry.

Leave her be. It's starting to annoy me that you are repeating this over here and going after Raychelle.

So you and your wife got the implants - good. Don't be pushing 'em on others, thank you.

Raychelle is doing just super, thankyouverymuch.

Now this is going off the topic, so I'm going to rest and get back to research papers.

Have a great day, folks!

Tales from the CI Gal said...

Thank you Iammine, you said it best. I have CIs too and my grammar sucks.

CI are not magical. You don't just get them and magically hear, speak, and "not be deaf." It takes practice, training and effort to at least be able to hear. Don't make CIs into something they are not. Stop judging others.

Let's get back on track.

Anonymous said...

Rick, me too I have Cokelear implant!

Anonymous said...

Moderating comments excessively takes away the power of blogging. I appreciate that Val and other bloggers do not moderate comments. It allows real discussion to happen. I thank Val for making a safe space for people with or without implants to address issues here.

Rachel asked an interesting question (Can any of them talk, too?). I understand from your comments that her question sounds condescending. If they can't talk, we need to understand why. I read one of the commenters (I tried to find her name, but I just found out the commenter's comments were removed, too. Interesting!) who said that children in the Faces of ASL CI users do not sign ASL well and have to be prompted to say "I love ASL". We need to understand why the children are not able to talk and sign.


Karen Mayes said...

Hmmmm... interesting dialogue. I understand the question, now that Rachel explained it more. It was something I had not really thought about it, but thinking about it, it is understandable. How can it work out for CI children from hearing families? I am sure it works differently for CI children of deaf families, due to being more exposed to signing environment. It is a question of exposure.

It is a matter of developing an inner switch inside of any bi-, tri-, etc.-lingualists... we have to switch back and forth between languages, to make senses of the syntax rules, etc. It takes some time (i.e. Anne Marie's explanation for the "delay".) Once mastered, it would be all full ahead, easily mastering the languages.

Good topic.

Anne Marie said...

It is not a good idea to seek grammar flaws in people's writing, writing is not really a natural process for almost everyone, it has to be constantly coordinated. Critical thinking with at least clarity in writing is better than a perfect one lacking insight. I personally have my own editor to polish my papers, important letters etc. Many people do.

Anonymous said...

Anne Marie, you are right that critical thinking is more important than English skills per se, but if a person can have both English and critical thinking, it'd be fabulous. I feel strongly that having a CI can enhance English skills. It is also our responsibility to improve our speech and English skills to enjoy our participation in the hearing world. We can do a lot without depending on editors to polish our English all the time. After I was implanted, I noticed that my English skills improve a lot. My ASL skills may deteriorate, but that is okay. The hearing world is bigger and they don't really care about ASL. My work involves a lot of writing and communicating through speech. I don't need ASL anymore. It makes sense if someone asks if deaf children can talk because they need to talk to perform successfully in the hearing world. Without a CI, it will be a struggle to use speech fluently.


Karen Mayes said...

Hmm... even hearing people do struggle with writing. Writing and speaking are two vastly different learning processes. Even my father who is a graduate of Colgate University (at that time, it was an all-male Colgate College, in NYS) with a degree in English literature, he does make a few grammatical errors in his writing.

So it is not only deaf people who struggle with writing... hearing people do struggle also. :o)

Rick, it is good that you feel having CI helped you improve your writing skills... keep it up. But comparing your writing with other commenters' writing...hmmm, it might rub off some people in a wrong way, since we don't know you very well.

Keep commenting though. It is amazing to see how CI could improve some adult deaf people's lives :o)

Abbie said...


I have a cochlear implant and I will be the first one to admit that my grammar is not perfect but it is a prime example of why my mainstreamed education was not compensated for my hearing loss. In fact, I struggle finding the right words because I can't let myself just go, I'm automatically in "editor" mode. I don't understand the point of criticizing Raychelle's grammer which appears fine to me.

When I compare myself to my hearing peers, I surpass their grammatical proficiencies by far and they have no need for a CI. It really goes to stress Val's point that something is failing within the community, whether the blame falls on the school, the parents or the child can't simply comprehend the task.

Not everyone is meant to be rocket scientists.

Li-Li's Mom said...

Oooh, now if a CI could fix grammar, I'd steal the little one's processor and plug-in myself, and I've got 'typical' hearing.

Li-Li's Mom said...

Rachel, I think your question about whether or not the bi-bi environment and bilingual ASL/spoken English learning model is effective for hearing parents of deaf children is a great one, and for me, it's probably the most important question my family is now grappling with. And I think it's the reason the ASL-CI blog has been launched (by some very shy mystery person, whom I'd like to thank, but can't!!).

But the approach seems to be relatively new and as yet unstructured, and like AVT before it, back when you were first pioneering the approach as one of the earliest young kids with CIs, there's not yet a lot of research available to back up what seems to be a sound approach (based on multiple spoken language acquisition data and learning theories). Unlike AVT, there's not yet an AGBell-type organization supporting research, developing a curriculum or providing other resources. There's also no set program defined or outlined, partly because for hearing parents access to ASL is not as consistently accessible as access to speech therapy is (as Karen Mayes rightly points out), and partly because one of the consistent principles of this approach is a flexible customization and an openness to integrating various learning tools based on child, family, location, access to resources.

That's one of the reasons I'm so eager to participate in the new ASL-CI blog -- I've read and researched the theories, but I think it could be a place where those who are exploring this approach can share information and discuss their approaches critically and in an informed manner, as they are actually experiencing the results. I'd love to know what families are doing, how they are shaping their approaches, and what they are finding to be successful (and not so successful).

I'm hoping it doesn't need to become a place where we are defending this new approach against more established oral-only, AVT-only or ASL-only methodologies, but rather, where we can openly discuss best practices with with those participating in other approaches.

Oh Valerie, look what you've started!

Tales from the CI Gal said...

The comments have been very interesting. Not only have I learned alot, I discovered a lot, not just about the comments, but about myself.

Now, back to the orignal comment, Can any of them talk too?

When this comment is isolated, it looks as a critism against the children in the video. This comment has changed throughout the course of the orginal posting. It was explained and changed. We must be careful of the words we post. Words are not a reflection into our soul or minds. It can be just words to others.

Also we must accept critism as well as praise. I accept not everyone will agree with what I write. I'm plain, I speak my mind, I have strange humor, and I'm me. I write this blog as a way to connect with other deaf individuals and their families. As I said before I have not seen another CI person ever in person. Not even at the audie's office. It is not that I am isolated, I'm a busy mom and teacher. That is first.

Now on to the important stuff. In all the comments I have been reading, the deciding factors in success and failure of cochlear implants is this: hard working children, a supported community, good doctors and audiologist, an educational policy that includes not excludes, and finally parents. This is what I am for, anything that assist the child to be successful, happy, caring deaf individuals. It may be oral or ASL, it might be a combination of both. Nothing else matters except this one important factor, the child. Let's not lose sight on that.

It is not about my success or failure. It is not about any of you either. It is about all of us working to ensure that we never lose sight of the children.

Shelly said...

Regarding that question, I think it is moot because we are watching a video of many different people who normally arent themselves due to being front of a camera.

Important that all of the participates are happy and proud to be able to use both and be able to be involved in both worlds.

I agree with many others...this is not a way to advertise ASL but to promote acceptance from both sides to buid the bridge.