Topic: This week’s tidbit is about “disabling” vs.
I know that the term “enable” can have a negative connotation.
(The word "enabling" is sometimes used to refer to family members or friends who
enable others to continue doing what they are doing or enable them to be
dependent on people or vices--but for this tidbit, I want to give it a positive
Some of our deaf and hard of
hearing students have the opportunity to go on a field trip to the California
coast this spring with their general education science class. The class has
been studying marine biology and this trip will reinforce learning. The trip
will cost $75.00 for each student. The teacher has arranged for a fundraiser
that each student can participate in if he or she wishes. It involves some
salesmanship. Some of the D/HH staff was concerned that our students may not be
able to do the fundraiser due to communication differences and that Student
Support Services should provide the funding for these students to go on the
trip. Since the school district’s policy is that students should not go
door-to-door and should not approach strangers, but should only sell to family
and friends, it was decided that our students should participate in the
fundraiser. The students asked for a cover letter that would introduce them,
state that they were deaf or hard of hearing, and explain the fundraiser. That
letter was provided. Another concern was raised by some of the D/HH staff that
now the students might be associated with the beggars of long ago that would
have a card identifying them as deaf, whether they actually were or no, with the
fingerspelled alphabet on the back.
We know that the D/HH students
have similar cognitive and physical capabilities as the general population of
hearing students. Are we not disabling if we say they cannot participate with
their hearing peers solely due to a communication difference? Are we not
disabling the future of our students if we discourage participation due to
abuses and injustices of the past? And, are we not disabling if we make excuses
for poor performance and behavior in the classroom of these capable students.
They should be encouraged to participate fully in general population activities
and understand that deafness, hearing loss, communication differences, need not
be disabling. Our role as educators is to enable not disable.
As educators, we need to
keep deaf and hard of hearing issues in perspective. When questions or
difficulties arise, we must consider which are ordinary childhood, and/or human
being issues and which are D/HH issues. We need to allow all our students to
reach their full potential as members of the larger society with all its sub
cultures and differences blended into one.
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