IBJNews

Deaf students protest Daniels' picks for board

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Deaf students, their educators and families are protesting a move by Gov. Mitch Daniels they say will strip support for sign language.

More than 100 students, their families and activists rallied on the Statehouse lawn Tuesday against new members Daniels picked to serve on the Indiana School for the Deaf's board.

The activists say the new board members represent an attempt by supporters of "mainstreaming" — or teaching deaf people to read lips and rely more on technology such as cochlear implants — to do away with American Sign Language.

"This is an issue of us supporting our children to go to the Indiana School for the Deaf and their rights to a quality education," said Tami Hossler, editor of The Endeavor, magazine for the American Society for the Deaf.

The battle is highlighting a national rift in the deaf community over whether to rely on sign language or "mainstreaming" as a primary form of communication for deaf students.

Naomi Horton, executive director or Hear Indiana, a group promoting "mainstreaming" over sign language, said she felt like she "travelled back in time" when she moved to Indiana and assessed the technology and training available for deaf and hard of hearing people.

Hear Indiana does not want to eliminate sign language, she said. But ISD receives an inordinate amount of state support, Horton said, noting that it receives $18 million from the state to teach sign language to almost 350 students.

"The discussion right now is about parent choice," she said.

And Daniels is siding with Hear Indiana and other supporters of "mainstreaming" in that discussion.

Daniels appointed four new members to ISD's board last month: Mary Susan Buhner, Ann Reifel, Scott Rigney and Lucy Witte. Sign language supporters want Buhner, Rigney and Witte to resign — particularly Buhner and Rigney because of their work with Hear Indiana.

Ten people sit on the board, but only seven can vote on school policies.

"We have no intention of eliminating sign language at the school," said Daniels spokeswoman Jane Jankowski.

"Just as we do with all appointments to boards and commissions, we seek individuals who will take a fresh look at operations and bring new ideas, and these new members are eager to serve the school well," said Jankowski. Daniels does not plan to rescind the appointments and wants opponents to give the new members a chance before making up their minds, she said.

Even though there is no specific proposal from the new board members to curtail sign language, national supporters of signing are not waiting until a proposal appears, said Howard Rosenblum, CEO of the National Association of the Deaf, who flew from Washington, D.C., to Indianapolis for the protest.

The battle between the two schools of thought on deaf education has been waged since the 1800's, with a major blow coming to sign language during an 1880 conference of deaf educators in Milan, Italy, Rosenblum said. Since then, sign language supporters have been wary, he said.

Parents of deaf children should be free to choose whether their child learns sign language or learns to read lips and relies on technology, but opponents of sign language should not have control over a school that teaches sign language, Rosenblum said.

"That's not their place to come on the board of the Indiane school for the deaf to tell us that we've been doing everything wrong," Rosenblum said.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Sign Language
    Uh, 50 years is a long time to wait. Technology may well eradicate deafness, but it's going to be many years before that happens. Deaf people need to communicate by sign language until then, don't you think?
  • You don't want to change
    I was born deaf and live all my life being deaf, and yes, I am bilingual. Whether you like it or not, it will happen sooner or later that our technology will solve our hearing problems. Face it, our sign language will die sooner or later from 50 to 70 years now. I do understand this that you are not happy about this: but here is a newflash for you, it will happen whether you like it or not.
  • James-- You're incorrect at best
    @James, the extinction of ASL is in your mind. Technology can't help the very vast majority of hearing impaired people; these people need to communicate *today* and tomorrow. Your prejudicial view perpetuates the myth that technology alone can help people hear-- in most cases, it does NOT. And you have demeaned the hearing impaired communities and their supporters-- like me.
  • Technology
    Right now, our technology is getting better so the doctors are giving several deaf people cochlear implants. So, sooner or later, our technology will get better on everyday basis and the doctors will find several ways to eliminate our deafness by using medicines or whatnot. Do not waste your time on preserving on Sign Language because 50 or 70 years from now, your Sign Language will be extinct. I don't want to demean you but sooner or later, our technology will prevail whether you like it or not.
    • better candidate
      Then tell the democrats to put up better candidates. That is the problem. The state really has only one choice. The democrats can't get it right and put up someone nobody has even heard of or knows. Blame the democrats for a lousy choice each election.
    • hear in.
      Why does the gov. deem it necessary to hand pick his new appointees? It will be great when his term is up.Maybe we can vote some new faces in our government.

    Post a comment to this story

    COMMENTS POLICY
    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
     
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
     
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
     
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
     
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
     

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by
    ADVERTISEMENT

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
     
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. Only half a million TV Viewers? And thats an increase? I knew Indycar was struggling but I didn't know it was that bad. Hell, if NASCAR hits 5 Million viewers everyone starts freaking out saying its going down hill. It has a long way to before Indycar even hits NASCAR's bad days.

    2. IU has been talking that line for years with no real progress even with the last Dean, Dr. Brater. Why will an outsider, Dr. Hess, make a difference? With no proof of additional resources (cash in the bank), and a concrete plan to move an academic model that has been outdated for decades with a faculty complacent with tenure and inertia, I can count on IU to remain the same during the tenure of Dr. Hess. One ought to look to Purdue and Notre Dame for change and innovation. It is just too bad that both of those schools do not have their own medical school. Competition might wake up IU. My guess is, that even with those additions to our State, IU will remain in its own little world squandering our State's tax dollars. Why would any donor want to contribute to IU with its track record? What is its strategy to deal with the physician shortage for our State? New leadership will not be enough for us to expect any change.

    3. How do you think the Bridges got approved? I spent a couple days researching PAC's and individual contributions to some city council members during that time. My printouts were inches thick on the two I concentrated on. Finally gave up. Was disgusted with all the donations, and who they were from. Would have taken me days and days to compile a complete list. Tried to give it to the Star reporter, but he thought it was all just fine. (and apparently he was treated well himself) He ended up being laid off or fired though. And then of course, there was land donated to the dad's club, or city, as a partial payoff. All done in the shining example of "charity." No, none of these contributions are a coincidence.

    4. I agree what kind of help or if any will be there for Dr. Ley's patients. I was a patient myself.

    5. What about the hundreds of patients who sought this doctor for the right reasons, to quit drugs. what option do these patients now have, experience horrible withdrawl or return to heroin?? those are the choices. what about the children of these former addicts who's parent(s) WILL not b able to maintain their job, for @ least 2 weeks.. There needs to b an emergency clinic opened for these patients.

    ADVERTISEMENT