Wednesday, April 13, 2005

No Solution for Deaf West Virginians 'Cuz They Ain't Important

For years, the needs of Deaf persons in West Virginia has been somewhat neglected. The deaf school in Romney has been declining. The quality of deaf education for the children at WVSDB is pretty dismal in comparison with Maryland School for the Deaf in Frederick.

When I was at VSDB, we often joked about how dumb the WVSDBers can be.

One classic story that was told to us during the high school years by Mr. Byears. He said that one time, VSDB played the football game against WVSDB. VSDB was winning by more than 40 points ... Mr. Byears used to be a student at VSDB and played on the football team back then before getting the job as a houseparent at boys' dormitory.

Mr. Byears swore that during the huddle, the VSDB players agreed to tell WVSDB players what our next play would be (but they did not tell the truth) -- and WVSDB players fell for it and when it was time for a play, WVSDB ran the wrong defense and VSDB broke loose for a touchdown. The way Mr. Byears described the situation was hysterical. You could see and feel the roar of animalistic laughters out of boys in the dormitory when Mr. Byears animatedly made fun of WVSDB.

But was it their fault? Not really. It was hearing people who made the decisions FOR them. They sticked with the philosophy of Total Communication which is absurd idea to apply for Deaf Education. Total Communication, for years, had failed Deaf people in West Virginia.

The Total Communication policy means that each student has the right to get education through any means of communication. Do you truly think a teacher is capable of educating 10 deaf children who are oralists, ASL users, SEE users, SimCom et al at the same time? Impossible, right?

Today, the numbers of students at WVSDB is less than 100, I believe. The majority of deaf students are mainstreamed, lost in the system, thanks to the decisions by hearing people in the best interests of deaf students.

I knew of a person who worked with the state commission for deaf in West Virginia -- after two years, she left. Why? She said that the state is not interested in making changes, to make improvements in the quality of education and opportunities for deaf people in that state. The state is only interested in keeping her as a visible figure for others to see, "Oh, West Virginia has the commission! Wonderful!", but she never made a great deal of progess in harnessing the needs of Deaf persons in West Virginia.

And when I read the article by KipEsquire regarding the official language that West Virginia has pushed through -- they already made English the official language of the state, which means, the students at WVSDB will be marginalized for a long time. By endorsing English as the official language, it made sure that American Sign Language cannot be used as an educational tool to educate the students -- only English.

I know -- are we that surprised when it comes to West Virginia? Of course not.


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