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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Fri Apr 5, 2002  6:22 pm
Subject:  Re: survey

SignWriting List
April 5, 2002

Hillary, I am glad you are starting to understand now, but there is
still much you have not learned yet...By your comment below, you are
implying that you think that all born-deaf people who graduate from
high school have at least a 4th or 5th grade reading level in
English...but that is only true for "some". Plus, your consent form
was harder English than that...I would have trouble reading it in my
second or third languages, for example...Remember, English to a Deaf
person is not their first language - it is their second or
third...Are you bi-lingual, Hillary? I am, but I learned my second
language, Danish, as an adult, and my reading level in Danish is not
as high as my reading level in Deaf people skilled in
ASL, may not know how to read their second language, English,
well...and that is no fault of theirs!

There are many different kinds of deaf people. Some are fluent in
English, but there are many different kinds of deafness and many
different "Deaf experiences"...

There are also some who are brilliant born-deaf people the
Sign Language community.. who for whatever reason, do not use any
spoken language at all...and some of those people have graduated from
American high schools! And if you are amazed at that, I will tell
you, there were some members of our Deaf Action Commmittee years ago
who had graduated from high school, but could not read and write more
than a few basic sentences in English - I was thrilled to hire them,
because it was not their English skills that mattered to me - it was
their native signing that mattered and they were wonderful to work
with!! They have great depth of thinking and large vocabularies
within their native Sign Language, but they do not know spoken
language...So they are educated, just not in English.

Why do the hearing English-speaking high schools graduate a Deaf
person who does not read and write English? Why do they graduate
HEARING people who are illiterate in this country? High school
educated people do not necessarily read or write well...and it is not
just the Deaf...there are hearing people who are illiterate in this
country too.

Oftentimes the teachers did not know how to teach English to that
deaf person, partly because the teachers themselves did not know how
to sign well, nor did they have SignWriting as a tool to help...and
so they graduated the person because they didn't know what else to
do...and they wanted the deaf person to feel good about other words...the school system failed them...

So for you to do a good study, Hillary, specifically about
"literacy", you must interview the illiterate as well as the
literate, no matter what their school degrees.

Val ;-)


>>> Hillary wrote: Oh...I completely understand now. That would be a
>>>big effort but if he left the surveys out on a table somewhere in
>>>the church and briefly explained it, then those that can read (I
>>>think the survey is around a 4/5th grade reading level) can pick
>>>one up. Those that cannot read, well those individuals would be
>>>the most interesting to study and its too bad that I have a
>>>restriction on time. For those individuals, I think it is best to
>>>have them answer the survey as well and have them returned to me
>>>late. Those responses could be used in a follow up on my study.
>>>I suppose, I should not have assumed all would know how to read
>>>English! I believe most of my population have a high school
>>>degree so should be able to answer this survey. Thank you Val for
>>>clearing that up for me.

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