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Interview Assignment

EPSE 525

Joy Gong
Instructors: Joe McLaughlin & Debra Russell
University of British Columbia


The following names have been altered to ensure privacy of the interviewee and their family
members. I also want to acknowledge that this assignment is to interview the parent of a
culturally Deaf adult, but I felt in some sections it is worthwhile to mention the different
experiences in all the aforementioned children.
My interviewee, Kat, is a parent of three deaf/hard of hearing adults. I found her experience to be

very unique in her attitude, values, and how she interacted with all of her children. Starting with

her first born, Tom, she had suspected that he wasnt accessing sounds, so she took him in for

testing. After he was found deaf, she felt a sense of relief because it confirmed her suspicions,

and he was promptly aided with hearing aids within 6-9 months. She admits that she never did

the grief or guilt process, and researched all kinds of support available for her son. One of her

main goals was to provide language for her child, and in her first experience with ASL she had

little difficulty understanding the structure and grammatical difference between signed and

spoken language. With her eldest sons degree of hearing loss, she was not sure if he would have

any access to sounds, but she decided to give him everything from auditory to speech and sign

language support. With her third born, Jim, who is culturally Deaf, the diagnosis process was not

new for the parent. Jim was identified early because of the first two children. The testing that he

went through was an Auditory Brain Scan Response (ABR), and after that he was aided with

hearing aids at two-and-half months. The experience was comfortable for both the child and

parent because he was born into a family that was already using sign language, and the parent

had experience with early intervention for five years with the other two children. The mother felt

she had good communication skills incorporating language through listening, speaking, and

signing. The only surprise for the Kat was that Jim did not respond to sound when wearing

hearing aids, not until eighteen months later when he heard a plane flew by overhead. She

realized then that he was going to develop differently from the first two children, using sign

language as the primary mode of language. Since Jim was identified as Deaf at an early age, the

mother could prepare the language foundation necessary to support his success in learning.
Medical Experience
With Tom, Kat spoke to the family doctor and he was kind enough to make a referral for a
specialist right away, which helped her son get a proper diagnosis for his hearing. There was one
negative experience at a childrens hospital in western Canada after a hearing test was
completed, where two professionals argued about the different approaches, signing or spoken
language, openly, in front of the family. The parents felt that was very unprofessional. Kat didnt
feel supported with the audiology services at the childrens hospital at the time, and was feeling
lost about where she could go to find resources. The audiology team didnt have any resources
until they provided the name of a hearing aid dealer while under pressure from parents to provide
recommendation, which was the name of a hearing aid dealer. The hearing aid dealer had a team
of audiologists who turned out to be very supportive. Also, the social workers involved with the
team at the childrens hospital in western Canada provided resources on all the early intervention
services, with as little bias as possible, ranging from auditory and spoken training to sign
language education. Speaking of early intervention, it was difficult to find good early
intervention services back then due to strong biases. The parent felt most of the organizations
forced clients to pick one approach over the other (spoken or signing) rather than finding a
neutral ground between both modalities. In this situation, influence from medical doctors and
subsequent professionals, such as social workers or early interventionists, being the first contacts
with families, could have an influence on the D/deaf childs exposure to language development,
whether their parents decide to opt for ASL or listening and spoken language.

Deaf Community and Educational Setting

Involvement with the Deaf community did not happen early, not until the first two children had
attended a Deaf school in western Canada, during the year that the Deaf school opened. Kats
first experience with a Deaf person was at an early intervention agency in western Canada, a
woman who was teaching sign language classes at night for families. The parent felt the other
children that were deaf/hard of hearing and their parents, who were attending the same program,
became their community. Another introduction into the Deaf community was through another
parent of a Deaf son that often hosted Christmas parties and invited people from the Deaf
community, and that was where she gained more access to the community. Additionally, Kat felt
that her relationship with Deaf people was more on an individual level rather than Deaf
community as a whole, and communication may have played a part in this. It was easier for Kat
to be involved with people who were communicating on the same level or in similar social
circles that she was in. Keeping in mind that this was thirty years ago, based on our readings, the
Deaf community was perhaps in the process of moving towards Deaf public voice (Becher,
2008, p. 60-64). Kats initial impression of the Deaf community was that it was intimidating. A
Deaf woman had brought in a panel of women from the Deaf community. These women were
very angry with their own experiences growing up in a hearing world at the time they were
forced to use listening and spoken language, and suppressed from using their native language.
From this panel experience, Kat wasnt sure that she wanted her children growing up around
people who harbored anger, exposing her children to negative views. Currently, her perception of
the community has greatly changed in any community there will always be angry people, or
people who are flexible and open minded. No one in a community is the same. She also noticed
that parents are becoming more involved and willing to support their kids regardless of language
modality, and because of this, some people in the Deaf community seem to have relaxed and
mellowed out. Jim, the third born, attended Deaf school for all of elementary and high school,
and had full access to sign language in the classrooms. The Deaf community was supportive, but
Kat felt she gained more resources through external agencies, such as, a parent group, a
Deaf/Hard of Hearing agency, and at a Deaf school.

Communication with children

In general, between Kat and her children, they have good communication. This may be due to
the linguistic framework she encouraged and supported, with the help of Deaf teachers, when her
children were young. Also, the parent had prioritized communication and language over
modality, and understood her role in providing strategies and skills needed to communicate with
her children. However, over time, she feels that communication has changed due to her not being
as proficient in ASL as she would have liked. When her children are conversing with one
another, their hands are flying and she is not able to follow along. Kats children use speech to
communicate and codeswitch between speech and contact signs when conversing with her, so
she didnt have to use as much signing as she had to. As a result, Kat is not able to discuss with
her children on topics as in-depth as she wouldve liked to. Going back to knowledge is power
(Fleischer, 2008, p.159), the parent had established effective language and communication, when
her children were young, and gave them the opportunity to become empowered critical thinkers,
and good communicators regardless of which modality they used.

Deaf Art and Technology

Regarding Deaf culture and art, there never really was an influence inside the home. There may
have been books on Deaf culture, ASL, and signing books, but that was mainly for Kats own
curiosity and interest. The family also never set up the home like that of a Deaf House (Bahan,
2008, p.90). Back then, they were fortunate enough to have a kitchen and family room that were
connected, otherwise they were often moving from room to room. The kitchen and family room
was a space where the children and parents often got together to do their work and participate in
family activities. With visual systems, as Kat (2015) quotes, knows that she should, but is
embarrassed that she never had any set up in the house. Her children used vibrating alarm
clocks, with fire alarm sensors connected to the clocks, and had TTY, but she didnt have a light
for doorbell or any other systems.

The parent feels that technology has impacted the Deaf community in many ways: allowing Deaf
individuals to become more independent, helping to maintain relationships across great
distances, and allow more inclusive opportunities with the hearing community. Technology has
certainly helped Jim interact easily within the hearing community, and he uses his phone to
communicate with hearing peers. Also, the family always used closed captioning when watching
TV, and even before closed captioning was on TV, they had a box for closed captioning that
could be connected to the older TV. It provided visual access for her children by allowing them
to keep up with whats happening verbally on TV, and seeing them laugh along at appropriate
times, rather than a delayed reaction, was a highlight for the parent. In regards to limitations in
technology, it exists more so within the education system. She feels that more access is provided
for post-secondary students than there are for students at the school age level, such as
Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART).

Interviewees Suggestions and Advices for Teachers/Parents

Kat had lots of suggestions and advices, among the listed ones for teachers were: be willing to
work with parents because they know what their child needs; D/deaf students are not disabled in
any way, they just dont hear; and keep in mind at all times what access means for students and
to make any accommodations or learn strategies necessary to allow full access in the classroom.
For new parents, it would be to: become aware that language is the key to the childs happiness
and success, and their role in allowing that to happen is crucial; know that there are lots of
support in western Canada within early intervention and parent supported organizations and to be
as involved as they can; and know that its a lot of learning at the beginning, but then it becomes
integrated as a part of who they are.

Jims involvement in the Deaf Community

Kat feels that her youngest son, Jim, is absolutely proud and confident as can be. He is currently
in school, and is well known within the Deaf community. He will definitely make many
contributions to the community in the future, and already wants to return to western Canada and
make new changes to the Deaf school he previously attended. He identifies himself as a mix of
Deaf culture and hearing culture having the social and cultural piece within the Deaf
community, while his family and hearing friends, and even hearing strangers make up aspects of
hearing culture. While Jim is culturally Deaf, he is not in full inclusion in either of the two
cultures. Through Kats responses, she has helped me shape the kind of person Jim is, and he is
one of the examples of Deaf young adults that live simultaneously in hearing spaces and in
Deaf spaces, are part of a Deaf community and active participants in non-Deaf social settings.
Coequality presumes a distinct group acculturated to, but not assimilated in, larger society
(Murray, 2008, p. 102).
Bechter, F. (2008). The deaf convert culture and its lessons for deaf theory. In Bauman, H. D.
(Eds.), Open your eyes: Deaf studies talking. (Chp 3, pp. 60-64). Minneapolis MN:
University of Minnesota Press.
Bahan, B. (2008). Upon the formation of a visual variety of the human race. In Bauman, H.
D. (Eds.), Open your eyes: Deaf studies talking. (Chp 4, pp. 90). Minneapolis
MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Murray, J. J. (2008). Coequality and transnational studies: Understanding deaf lives. In
Bauman, H. D. (Eds), Open your eyes: Deaf studies talking. (Chp 5, pp. 102).
Minneapolis MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Fleischer, L. (2008). Critical pedagogy and ASL workbooks. In Bauman, H. D. (Eds.), Open your
eyes: Deaf studies talking. (Chp 9, pp. 159). Minneapolis MN: University of Minnesota