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Editorial EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED The following are excerpts from the Washington Post over the period of a few months: • Gates loses $12,000,000,000 (billion) in stock in week: Still world's richest person. • Eight million American Households have net worth in excess of $1,000,000. • Gap between rich and poor in America is growing. • In affluent "latte" communities people pay more than $2.00 for designer coffee and water. • Three billion people in world survive on less than $2.00 per day. • Adolescent obesity is a growing (sic) problem in affluent countries. • More than 250,000,000 children in world suffer from malnutrition. • Top National Football League draft choices to receive around $10,000,000 signing bonuses. • Janitors in Los Angeles strike for raise to $8.00 an hour. • Almost 75% of HIV/AIDS cases occur in sub-Sahara Africa . African leaders accuse North American and European pharmaceutical companies of inflating cost of medicine. The companies respond that the real problem is inadequate distribution systems in the countries. • Four European executives agree to jail terms for attempting to control cost of vitamins worldwide. • Protesters demand debt forgiveness for third world countries at World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings. • Leaders of G-7 countries propose study of the "digital divide" between affluent and poor countries. Leaders of third world countries skeptical. Each of us could go on and on with examples of the paradox of the growing gaps between the "haves" and the "have-nots" across countries and even within each country . At a national level, it is difficult to commit adequate resources to education if large numbers of a population are suffering from malnutrition, disease, and poverty. This is exacerbated by military conflicts and the attendant human suffering. Even in the United States, Canada, and countries of Western Europe, where there has been unprecedented prosperity and the threat of military conflict is small, there is a disparity in the quality of life. This is especially apparent in countries with large, often poor, immigrant populations such as Germany, Canada, the United States, and Switzerland. Those of us who were born in the United States are aware that our parents, grandparents, or more distant ancestors mostly came from impoverished backgrounds and took on menial, backbreaking work to survive. We are less aware that schools in the first half of the last century tried to forcefeed children from Italian, Yiddish, and Polish-speaking families, for example, a distorted, parochial, and punitive Volume 145, No. 4, 2000 American Annals of the Deaf Editorial version of Americanization. The situation is only marginally better today. Highly educated immigrants usually possess a knowledge of English and readily adjust to the American culture. Poor immigrants with limited English and little education pour into our large cities. Many work two or three jobs at low pay to make ends meet and have limited time or energy to devote to the needs, educational and otherwise, of their children. In the case of deaf children, from my perspective, we clearly have two different worlds. Federal legislation and state initiatives have lowered the age of identification of deafness to the point that in many areas twelve months is considered late. Parents receive support and guidance in working with their deaf infants, cochlear implants are available at early ages, options are offered in modes of communication and educational placement. Many deaf children are now computer literate before they are English literate. The large suburban and regional programs respond well to individual needs of deaf children, and the residential schools have a wide range of academic offerings and social activities. I firmly believe that services for most deaf children and their families in the United States are quite good. The situation for most deaf children and their families provides a stark contrast to children, especially those who arc poor or immigrant or both, wrho are enrolled in programs in some of our large inner city areas. Deaf children in these circumstances typically have not been identified at birth, nor have they had early access to hearing aids, professional support, or computers. The programs that serve them are overworked and understaffed. The children do not have access to the resources that...


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