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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 6, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta The LetKbridge Herald Fourth Section Lethbridge, Alberta, Wednesday, June 6, 1973 Pages 47 54 Canadian deaf sufferers seeking a voice in education programs By BERNIE GOEDHART of the Canadian Press EDMONTON (CP) Deaf people are fed up with the way they have been treated by a hearing society and are beginning to express their feelings and demand some changes. "They want a voice. And they want a say in their edu- cation. Senior students at the Sas- katoon School for the Deaf re- cently walked out of classes to protest the lack of. sign lan- guage in instruction at the school. They asked for total com- munication, which includes the use of sign language and finger spelling as well as lip reading and oral methods now used at the school. The students returned to classes two days later after a meeting with Principal M. L. O'Connor, who was quoted as saying the students were "confused and indoctrinated with total communication" and that the strike was organ- ized from the outside. Students, however, said they had begun to plan their protest a month earlier, when they visited the school for the deaf in Winnipeg and decided that younger students were much more advanced there than in Saskatoon. Protest Their protest attracted at- tention. In Regina, 85 people signed a letter urging study and discussion of the total communication method advo- cated by the Saskatoon stu- dents. And a week after the pro- test, Saskatchewan Education Minister Gordon MacMurchy said a committee would be es- tablished to review problems at the Saskatoon school. The Saskatchewan develop- ments came on the heels of two W5 CTV programs deal- ing with the deaf. The pro- grams, in turn, followed a countrywide study conducted by a Toronto psychologist into their problems. The study, by Dr. Graeme Wallace, said deaf children, isolated in special schools, get substandard education from poorly qualified teachers. It said deaf adults end up in jobs with little future or with DO jobs at all. Dr. Wallace reported that between 1960 and 1966 the fed- eral government spent million helping the mentally ill, million helping the blind, and million helping the deaf. Poor support More than are receiv- ing treatment for mental ill- ness, says Statistics Canada. There are about blind persons in the country, re- ports the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. And there are about deaf people in Canada. Yet the only handicapped group which received less government sup- port were the mute, who re- ceived "I think Dr. Wallace with this study has brought the deaf out of their said Rev. Robert Bauer, pastor of Cross of Christ Lutheran Church for the Deaf in Ed- monton. "I think the deaf were more surprised than anyone else that their concerns were of a national level, not just local. "The deaf, in many ways like the Indians, had been taught not to to accept. Hearing people have said: 'We know what you want and need, here it is.' "We have never really asked the deaf." "I think the time has come for deaf people to really reas- sess their approach, said Mr. Bauer. "I think we're at the brink of a breakthrough for the deaf, unless things are shoved under the carpet." The latter is a fear shared by the deaf and by Dr. Wal- lace. Afraid to write Clifton Carbin, 27, of Ed- monton, a deaf man who teaches a course at Alberta College for hard-of-hearing and deaf adults, said deaf people "can't strongly defend their ideas, because of the language problem." The average education among deaf people in Canada was about Grade 5, a fact which inhibited deaf people from turning to the one method of communicating with a hearing world that was open to newspaper. "Their language is poor, they're afraid to writ, em- barrassed at their terrible said Mr. Carbin. Some, like Mr. Carbin who Isolation hurts deaf The hearing society has created its own monster by isolating deaf people, says Fred G. Cartwright, superin- tendent of the Alberta School for the Deaf. Mr. Cartwright, comment- ing on recent reaction by the deaf community to a country- wide study into the problems of the deaf, said deaf educa- tion leaves something to be desired and that students are not sufficiently prepared for the world outside. "We make them dependent on he said. "We try to make them into something they're not; we're trying to make them hearing people let's face it, they're deaf. "Then we turn them loose into a society they're not ready for. "I think we've created our own monster. And the schools for the deaf have been the worst offenders. "If I had my way, I would close my dormitories tomor- row. I would make this into a day school. "I would put the kids in group homes, and make them learn to live in a hearing soci- ety." 150 students The Alberta School for the Deaf houses 150 students ranging in age from five to 18. There are 25 of them in the senior wing, deal- ing with students aged 12 to 18. Of those 14, three teachers are deaf. There is also a con- sultant to work with pres- choolers and their parents. The school, oriented to the profoundly deaf child, uses the total communication method, said Mr. Cartwright. Total communication involves the use of sign language and finger spelling as well as oral methods and lip-reading. "Our philosophy here is to use any method to communi- cate with the child and help the child gain he said. "If he can use speech, we use the oral method. If he can't use speech, we start out with sign and finger spelling." Some members of the deaf community have indicated that the sign language at the Alberta School for the Deaf is too it goes over the students' heads. Inadequate Mr. Cartwright, however, said there is a need to teach a syntactically correct sign lan- guage rather than a more col- loquial sign language. He con- ceded, though, that his teach- ers are not adequately trained. "I think the first thing my staff would tell you is that they need to learn more about sign language." Although the University of British Columbia offers a training course for student teachers which includes in- struction in sign language, Mr. Cartwright said there is no centre in Canada to which he is able to send his teachers for upgrading or a refresher course in it. Some people involved in deaf education feel the use of sign language inhibits a deaf person's oral development. "I would suggest total communi- cation is of more benefit than said Mr. Cartwright. Guessing He said only about 25 per cent of communication is visi- ble, so when people are com- Continued on 48 I holds a BA from Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C., the world's only university for the deaf, are changing that. Peter Sicoli, 26, who also teaches a deaf course at Al- berta College and is likewise a graduate of Gallaudet, is another. Unlike Mr. Carbin Mr. Si- coli cannot speak. Yet he re- ceived his early Grade an oral school. Learn from actions During his 15 years at that school, "I saw words on the lips and didn't know what they Mr. Sicoli said in sign language. "Then I went to Gallaudet College and suddenly under- stood. Abstract words are more difficult, but by actions the teachers would show what they meant. "Most deaf people try to lip-read a teacher but they don't catch every word. They catch maybe the beginning or the end. Therefore, there is a lot of misunderstanding. Macklin Youngs, 28, a grad- uate of Gallaudet who is to obtain a counselling diploma from the University of Alber- tas educational psychology department this spring, said that hearing people "really destroy the deaf person's con- cept of education and the de- velopment of his hearing." "A child would love to learn more through sign language but is suppressed so finally he loses i n t e r e s said Mr. Youngs. "Hearing people never ask the deaf what they need. "They never ask us, the deaf, to go to groups or com- munities to speak. They ask hearing people who know sign language and have experiencf with the deaf." Robert Carlyle, 40, of Ed- monton is a postal clerk and president of the board of directors at Cross of Christ Lutheran Church. He was edu- cated at the Saskatoon School for the Deaf where he said "it was mostly lip-reading." He worked there as a bouse- parent for four years but felt he wasn't getting co-operation from the rest of the staff. "I certainly wasn't happy so I left. I'm much happier at the post office." Mr. Carlyle said he ap- proves of the move towards improved education for the deaf and applauds the efforts of such people as the students who protested in Saskatoon. The four men, during the in- terview, agreed some changes should be made. Most impor- tantly, they want a voice from and for the deaf. They also called for trained teachers in schools for the deaf and said deaf people should be given the chance to evaluate the training of those teachers. Deaf power Peter Sicoli, 26, demonstrates the sign for Deaf Power one fist to the ear, and the other fist raised in the air. Deaf people say they are fed up with the way they ore being treated by a hearing icciety and they want a say in their education. SIMPSONS SEARS Save New for summer. 5-speec iilly ref tourers eclorized or extra safety. Reg. Summer is wonderful when you can ride new trails on one of these free and easy touring bikes. Both the men's and ladies' models feature the famous Simplex derailleur speeds make even the tougher grades sheer joy. Gear shifting is easy because of the stem mounted shift. You'll feel safer, too: pedals, head plate and front forks all have reflectors. Bikes come complete with caliper hand brakes, luggage carrier and chrome fenders, a-6 R 27459. Ladies' 5-speed tourer. b-6 R 27458. Men's 5-speed tourer. SPORTS CENTRE orUn I o ircra i nc STORE HOURS: Open daily from a.m. to p.m. Thun. and Fri. a.m. to p.m. Centra Mall. Tdtphone 328-9231 ;