Deaf Students and Educators Face Harrowing Conditions in Hearing Schools

By Eleanor J. Bader: Complete Post through this link…

Deaf educator Rachel Zemach calls language “the ultimate gift.” Whether we have the ability to communicate through speech, sign language, typing or writing, having a way to convey our opinions and thoughts — and ask questions — connects us to information, companionship, friendship and community.

But these tools are not always available to Deaf students. In fact, when Zemach became an elementary school teacher in a California public school in 2003 (a position she held until 2013), she discovered that her Deaf special education students had not been taught American Sign Language (ASL). They also lacked the ability to read and write.

She blames this on audism, which she defines in her recently released memoir, The Butterfly Cageas “a discriminatory attitude toward deafness, created by discriminatory attitudes toward disability, fear of the unfamiliar, and simple ignorance.”

The impact of audism, she explains, is devastating. Likewise, the systemic failure to educate Deaf kids. This, she writes, leads to extremely high dropout rates, social isolation and subsequent unemployment.

Especially maddening, she explains, is that it does not have to be this way.

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