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EDITORIAL COMPETENCY CONFLICTS An increasing number of states are passing laws requiring mathematics and English competence for teachers. Often competence is determined by formal testing in addition to that which is part of a regular college degree program. Such testing poses a threatening problem to those deaf teachers who have difficulty with English syntax. This situation is inequitable since states do not require teachers of deaf students to be competent in sign language. There is not a lot of value in teachers of deaf children knowing English if they cannot communicate with their deaf students . For example, how can a teacher correct a child's English if the child lacks intelligible speech and the teacher is not fluent in manual communication? By contrast, teachers who know sign language can grasp what the student signs, and they can then provide the student with the English equivalent. If the deaf teacher lacks perfect English, the issue becomes : Would you prefer a hearing teacher with English competence who cannot understand the student's manual communication, or the deaf teacher who understands the student's manual communication but cannot rephrase it in perfect English? A deaf student with a hearing teacher unskilled in sign language is similar to you or me trying to communicate in a foreign country. When attempting to use a language in which we are not fluent, we often resort to "baby talk" (expressing only simple basic needs and thoughts); this greatly inhibits communication. By analogy, deaf students learning from a teacher unable to communicate manually are restricted to "baby talk." This stifles learning and, ultimately , the desire to learn. It would be ideal if all teachers of deaf children were fluent in both English and sign language. However, this is obviously a level of proficiency we are far from attaining. In the meantime, it is unfair to require competency in English for deaf teachers if we are not going to require comparable skill in sign language from hearing teachers. In fact, if sacrifices are to be made in either language, it might well be best to accept more deficits in English than sign language. A strong argument can be made that deaf students with teachers who understand their sign language expressions and who can provide an English version of this, albeit imperfect, will learn more English than deaf students with teachers who cannot understand their manual communication even though these teachers have fluent English. PLAUDITS Mr. Gary Olsen, executive director of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), deserves strong praise for helping lead NAD out of a difficult financial situation. Mr. Olsen took on a stressful responsibility, and has had to face a good deal of hostility in this position. It is gratifying to see the major consumer organization in deafness on the path to recovery . Dr. Jerry Lee, president of Gallaudet College, has spearheaded some constructive action related to the least restrictive environment issues of RL. 94-142. Dr. Lee has also helped build pride in Gallaudet's students. After decades of dismal varsity football and basketball records, Dr. Lee has given the teams the support they need. Coaches Westermann and Goodstein have turned this support into improved season records. Dr. Rod Macdonald has received an honorary doctorate from Western Maryland College in recognition of his professional accomplishments and service to other deaf-blind people . Dr. Victor Galloway is the new director of the Center on Deafness at California State University at Northridge (CSUN). Dr. Galloway, formally Superintendent of the Texas School for the Deaf, is a graduate of CSUN's Leadership Training Program. McCay Vernon, Ph.D. Editor, AAD A.A.O. I July 1986 201 ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-0375
Print ISSN
0002-726X
Pages
p. 201
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-22
Open Access
No
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