Communication Skills Must Be Mandatory for Staff
by Linden Gibson
All staff who are involved with teaching Deaf children should be REQUIRED to have fluency in ASL. ALL staff - hearing or Deaf. There should NEVER be the need to have an interpreter for a teacher of the Deaf in a school for the Deaf. The institutions that train teachers of the Deaf should incorporate this into their basic curriculum. If this means a 5 year or 6 year degree program, so be it. THEN, these highly qualified graduates and other highly qualified teachers of the Deaf need to be compensated for the level of expertise they have achieved. We live in a capitalistic society and money is what we use to evaluate worth and reward performance. So long as the salaries of those who educate our children are so out of sync with the worth of the service being perfomed, we will continue to have mostly mediocre teachers, interpreters, and staff working in ALL our schools, hearing and Deaf. You should not have to take a pledge of virtual poverty to teach. If this society really values education they need to start putting the money where their lipservice is. Until then I will remain very skeptical of the sincerity of those who praise the value of education and continue to undervalue the educators.
I have both lived at a residential school for the Deaf and worked in mainstream Deaf programs. My observations are derived from both of these options, although at least residential schools do not socially isolate the students and make them dependent on interpreters for all human interaction.
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