Sunday, 8 November 2020

Mainstreaming deaf children doesn't work?

ATR getting in the neck for supporting the mainstreaming of deaf children.  The ATR stance is that specialised schooling for all deaf children that is just FOR deaf children had a history of chronic failure that killed aspiration and academic advance for generations of the deaf.  

Even if, it founded a culture and language of sorts, it failed them educationally and thus isolated them as a result.  The trade-off ATR finds unacceptable is it is 'better' deaf have a social community than further education, inclusion, or literacy.  What you end up with is an impoverished community convinced everyone is against them. 

We remain unconvinced the deaf own version of language and communication is a sufficient or viable trade-off in that respect and the need for its continual support from birth to death must be a real issue for all.  We believe the deaf fear a community falling unless they remain apart.  They remain unconvinced inclusion is a positive but a 'means' of destroying that.

We agree the lack of support in the mainstream is undermining the concept and arming those who want a back to the future approach where all deaf sign in a school and remain predominantly, apart from the main event.  The last few years more pressures being applied for opposition to mainstreaming by default.

Our comment is more about how mainstream in education for the deaf can enable the deaf child to manage inclusion.   Clearly, there are deaf areas who feel 'Who needs it?' we have our own community.  (Which is not strictly accurate today with less than 20 UK deaf schools, and a cull of 70% of deaf clubs). If the deaf children are prevented at day one from being included in the mainstream, then the die is cast.  The concept of mainstreaming is still valid.  Instead of adopting the position mainstream sucks and is anti-deaf, perhaps more effort into ensuring that support to make it work?  

Deaf campaigners have to understand mainstreaming is still a 'new' concept in deaf education after generations of failure via deaf schools.  Deaf schools/Institutions started circa 1800s mainstream is near middle 20thc.   It needs time to work.  The way deaf are today managing the net and English seems testament enough it is already working.  We can read any day of the week online clear proof English isn't an issue with the deaf as it was when deaf schools were about.

The issue currently in the mainstream is cost-saving, closing down special schools saves money, but, since mainstreaming, (And advances in treating hearing loss and deafness), there just isn't the deaf children to fill a deaf school or the specialised staff to manage them now unless we revert back to sending these children to 'boarding schools' and such which parents no longer agree with.   We would still need to re-train the professionals who scattered when deaf schools closed, or have retired. 

Statistic-wise only a small percentage of deaf children won't be able to manage mainstream, my area only FOUR deaf children were assessed as being unable to attend mainstream obviously you cannot set up a  class or a 'deaf' school for that small number needing quite intensive help.  It is why boarding schools etc came into being.  The mid 20thc view is that specialisation in many cases wasn't necessary, and did nothing for inclusion for the deaf,  parents were exerting pressures on the deaf schools because they hadn't moved deaf education academically from a plateau equivalent to a 9 or 10 yr old.

There is no proof or statistic than a sign based education would even work on its own, as again deaf children would be the 'guinea pigs'. Mainstream has gone too far to backtrack now and disrupt yet again deaf education.  We had the conundrum where deaf campaigners were demanding further education and University places based on that, accompanied by an interpreter or care support.

Educational pundits said the damage was pretty much already done via deaf/special schools and FE and Uni areas weren't deaf ones and posed the isolation of deaf, because so few could manage, meant a lot of deaf dropping out, but blaming lack of support for that, not, lack of academic nous.  Universities complained it was allowing students access to a system they can't use or were qualified for.   The deaf that did get to these establishments also demanded separate access and systems just like they experienced in deaf schools.  This again points to the damage deaf schools did to the inclusion and access issues.  Deaf were unable to adapt.

What we see and get is relentless claims of discrimination etc nobody is sitting down to attempt to find a workable answer. Deaf campaigners have just stopped listening.  The other sticking point is that the deaf campaigns tend to now demand BSL immersive schooling as an option, that is where the opposition is.  Such opposition suggests the language and signs are not there to make it work in further education, and all educational areas are English-based ones, areas, deaf are struggling with, or opposed to.  It is not remotely feasible or practicable even via access rights, they are going to adapt to the deaf way at all,  the issues have to be addressed at day one, not 16 years later..

ATR covered in-depth the fact, that deaf ADULTS did not pursue further education and literacy in the schools themselves, or as community-supported classes, even with support.  There is a mindset that prevents them, that mindset starts day one, which mainstream is attempting to address and is being determinedly opposed by deaf activism.