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Advice to a future educator:
By: William G. Vicars, Ed.D.
From: Elizabeth ███ <██████@ ███ . edu>
Subject: Advice for future educators
Dear Dr. Bill,
I hope you are well. I would like to start by saying thank you for all the lessons you've taught me over the years through Lifeprint; from my time as a high schooler taking ASL as a language, to brushing up on my skills since.
I am an Agricultural Education major at ███████████████████College in ████████. I am doing a short presentation in one of my classes on teaching deaf students. I hoped you may have some advice to share with my peers and me. Most of us will be going into AgEd positions in public middle & high schools having no experience working with deaf people and no understanding of deaf culture.
What should we know to make us better able to serve our students, especially those who are deaf?
Thank you for your time & for sharing your knowledge!-Elizabeth ███████
1. Deaf people are not homogenous. Any advice I or anyone else gives you about "Deaf people" is a generalization and may or may not apply to the Deaf person in front of you.
2. Knowing some amount of sign language doesn't replace the need for a qualified, vetted, experienced interpreter. If you are teaching a Deaf student and you are not a credentialed Educator of the Deaf and/or have demonstrable proof (such as being a certified interpreter for the Deaf) then you would be wise to make sure that you have a certified or otherwise vetted / qualified interpreter in your classroom. In the United States this is more than a good or wise idea it is a legal necessity based on various laws (including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Rehabilitation Act of 1973 -- section 504).
3. Having an ASL interpreter in the classroom doesn't insure successful communication if the Deaf student isn't fluent in ASL or if the lesson material is not suitable for the student's current knowledge, skills, and abilities.
4. What Hearing people think is the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is often quite different from what Deaf people think is the LRE. Sticking a Deaf student in the midst of Hearing students is often more restrictive than placing the Deaf student at a Deaf School where the student will be surrounded with others who communicate via the same modality (eyes and hands).
The topic you have asked about is a multiple book-length topic for which it would (and does) require several semesters to minimally cover so I'll leave you with this tidbit and encourage you to continue your studies and get involved with the Deaf community to the extent that your time, energy, and opportunities allow:
5. What is accepted or even celebrated today may very-well be different in the not-too-distant future. Deaf culture, just like every other living culture, evolves.
Warm regards,+ Dr. Bill
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