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Letters to the Editor Robarts Revisited I would like to respond to the letter by Frank Caccamise in the December 1994 Annals, which in turn was a response to the letter from the parents of the Robarts School in the July 1994 Annals. I thought that the original letter from the Robarts parents was quite impressive in that it showed a high level of interest and participation by the parents in determining the direction of their children's educational program. This level is shown by the response rate to several surveys of parent preferences: 83% in January 1992 and 71% later in the year. Clearly these parents care what happens in their children's school. While, with Dr. Caccamise, I applaud the appendix to the parent letter, which details the sign communication guidelines developed for the school, I was saddened to note that he completely ignored the information in the body of the letter itself. The parents' letter makes quite clear that the parents want an English-based sign system used with their children, with 91% expressing that preference in the earlier survey and 90% reiterating that preference after a series of workshops on ASL/ESL and total communication. The parents had a clear preference for Signing Exact English (76% in the earlier survey, 65% in the second) or signed English (24% in the earlier survey, 25% in the second). The writer of the parent letter points out that during the four years 1988-91, of 39 graduates of the school 18 were multi-handicapped. Yet of these graduates , those students scoring at grade nine or higher numbered 18 in math comprehension, 12 in reading comprehension , and six in language comprehension . Clearly the total communication system which Robarts had been using had been effective in educating the students. This makes the Ministry of Education's directive that the school change its communication policy to American Sign Language hard to justify. I believe it is important to note that in the parent surveys, only 8% in the earlier survey and 10% in the later survey wished this to be the major language of instruction. We talk about the vital importance of families in the education of their children . As Dr. Caccamise notes "parent involvement is critical in planning and implementing educational programs." When we do hear from them, however, it appears we ignore what they tell us unless it is in line with what we want to hear. I would respectfully suggest that if we ignore what parents want in terms of what we are doing in our schools, we are either doomed to failure or hellbent on alienating children from their families. I would also respectfully suggest that Dr. Caccamise should take a page from his own book and respect differences among people, including the acceptance of parent wishes that are not in line with his own. Gerilee Gustason, Ph.D. Professor and Program Director Deaf and Hard of Hearing Credential Program Division of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services San Jose State University On Deciding to Implant After reading the article by Vernon and Alles (139(5), 485-492), concerning cochlear implant usage, one might wonder why any parent in their right mind would elect such surgery. I feel qualified to respond, having sat in the waiting room for three implants in two years. And while it is true that articles such as this recent one had an impact on our decision, we knew from research being done by Osberger, et al. (1990) and Staller, et al. Q99D that children who received the implant at a younger age improved more than children who received it at an older age and that speech abilities do improve for many children when compared to previous abilities with hearing aids. Yet, to make the decision we asked a number of teens and deaf adults who had the devices (rather than deaf adults who did not) to respond to a survey and were fortunate to receive answers to our questions (e.g., "Would you implant a deaf child of your own?") from about 20 teens. We had long (3-4 hour) conversations with deaf adults who were implanted and living in our community . Teams at...


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