I received an e-mail from the director of Ally’s school on Wednesday. Here’s an excerpt:
“I just wanted to let you know that I have been told that there is a chance that Northern Voices will have demonstrators here on April 3rd. This has come from OPTION schools and AG Bell, as on April 3rd the Deaf Bilingual Coalition (an advocacy group that believes strongly that ASL should be the first and primary mode of communication for every child with hearing loss) will be going to Washington, DC to make a statement. There is a chance that local groups will protest organizations promoting listening and spoken language on that day also, which is why were given the notice.”
I understand that some members of the deaf community do not agree with oral education. I get it. BUT, it is every family’s decision on what path they choose to take for their child. We chose to put Ally in an oral school (and I can tell you how lucky we are to have Northern Voices nearby), but some others may choose to use just ASL (American Sign Language). We wanted our daughter to have the opportunity to listen and speak. There are families who used to drive their kids to St. Louis to attend the Moog School, and then they opened Northern Voices to allow Minnesota families the opportunity of an oral education. One of Ally’s classmates drives from Fargo, ND every week to attend the school. The professionals at the U of M (where Ally received her cochlear implant) repeatedly recommend the school. There are also 2 children (brother and sister) who attend the school who have 2 parents who were born deaf. What does that tell you? Oral education works – if that’s what you choose.
Some members of the deaf community also do not agree with cochlear implants. Northern Voices had a booth at the MN State Fair a couple of years ago. Adam and I signed up to man the booth for a 4 hour shift. We had more than a couple people tell us that they did not agree with the school, that we should just let her be deaf. Technically, she is not deaf; she was born with a moderate to severe hearing loss. I am open to Ally learning sign language at some point in her life if she chooses to do so. Everyone has the choice to do that. We made the choice to open up the door to sound and speech to Ally. And I can tell you what: I have never ever regretted that decision.
From the quiet 4 month old who was fitted with hearing aids, to the little sassy talkative 3 ½ year old we have today – she has exceeded our expectations! As one of the parents whose child attends Northern Voices said “our child will have Northern Voices to thank when she goes out into the world and changes it”. I couldn’t have said it any better myself.
(I do not mean to offend anyone, and if you choose to only use ASL, more power to you. But this is my blog and I can say whatever I want.)