CEASD Supports Nyle DiMarco and the Deaf Child’s Human Right to Language Access

All,

The Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (CEASD) is an association of schools and educational programs involved with the education of deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

Founded in 1868, CEASD is committed to the promotion of excellence within a continuum of equitable education opportunities for children and adults who are deaf or hard of hearing. At the national level, CEASD serves as an advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing with governmental bodies concerned with the establishment of educational policy and the implementation of federal legislation.

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CEASD is in Kansas City, Missouri for their 90th Conference in this week, and they posted their response below.
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The 90th CEASD Conference has just begun in Kansas City, Missouri and our Board of Directors meeting is in progress. As a national organization of educational and administrative leaders of schools and programs for the deaf and as a community of deaf and hearing professionals working together to ensure that children who are deaf receive the best possible, most accessible language rich experience from birth and throughout their education, the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (CEASD) has a particular interest in any information shared with parents regarding language development for their deaf child. We believe that deaf children and their families should have the right to acquire American Sign Language (ASL) just as they have the right to acquire English or any other language. We also believe that families with deaf children should never have to choose between having their child learn to speak or learn language.

In a recent Washington Post column, Reliable Source (Polus, March 28, 2016), Nyle DiMarco, the popular star of “America’s Next Top Model” and now, a favorite contestant on “Dancing with the Stars”, shared his views that there are many deaf children who are being deprived of their own language, American Sign Language. He also shared that he recently established a foundation, the main goal of which is to improve deaf infants’ access to ASL. A firestorm was ignited when the Alexander Graham Bell (AGB) Association characterized the comments of Mr. DiMarco, who is profoundly deaf himself, as spreading myths about the benefits of American Sign Language and in so doing they alleged that the need for American Sign Language had diminished for children who are deaf. Additionally they alleged that the use of ASL is declining dramatically and that “the window for a deaf child to acquire listening and spoken language is much shorter than the window in which ASL can be acquired.” Ironically, no actual research was cited.

Strong reactions came from numerous individuals and organizations. Dr. Peter Hauser, a prominent Clinical Neuropsychologist; the National Association of the Deaf; Sean Maiwald, the Opinion Editor at Gallaudet’s student newspaper The Buff and Blue; and Gallaudet University’s Visual Learning and Visual Language Lab have eloquently and succinctly articulated research findings that demonstrate that American Sign Language like any other language can be used to enhance the cognitive, academic, social, and emotional development of deaf children and that the critical period for language acquisition is the same for any language. Anyone who purports that there is research that demonstrates the superiority of one language over another is in fact spreading myths that have no basis in fact. As our Board continues to deliberate we wish to acknowledge the recently posted letter from AGB particularly the use of American Sign Language and fully informed parent choice for deaf children and their families.

CEASD has long promoted the deaf child’s right to language and communication access through Child First. Child First in part states that it is time to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing students across the United States experience the same kind of access to language development, social interaction, and academic opportunities experienced by their hearing peers. This equity and equality that CEASD promotes through Child First is exemplified in Nyle DiMarco. Whether on the runway or the dance floor, or paying it forward through his foundation for quality early access to language and communication, Nyle represents a vision of what the best future of our students in schools and programs for the deaf can look like.

Original Article: Reliable Source, Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/reliable-source/wp/2016/03/28/a-dancing-with-the-stars-contestant-is-vying-for-a-white-house-correspondents-dinner-invite/?utm_source=eNEWS.040116+Oticon&utm_campaign=eNEWS.040116&utm_medium=email

A.G. Bell Response

http://www.agbell.org/in-the-news/response-nyle-dimarco/?utm_source=eNEWS.040116+Oticon&utm_campaign=eNEWS.040116&utm_medium=email

Peter Hauser’s Response

https://www.facebook.com/notes/peter-c-hauser/nyle-is-not-the-one-spreading-myths/10209892117085992

NAD’s Response

http://nad.org/news/2016/4/nyle-dimarco-and-language-your-child

Sean Maiwald, Opinion Editor for Buff and Blue

Gallaudet’s Buff and Blue Newspaper SLAMS AG Bell!

President Cordano’s Response

http://www.gallaudet.edu/news/presidentcordanostatement.html

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Thank you, CEASD!

Best,
Amy Cohen Efron

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