Deaf Child Wants To Remain In Regular School

What’s the difference between a special school and a regular school? What are their impacts on the deaf learner? What is the success rate if your child is raised on a special school rather than a regular one? Here is the challenge faced by a mother on where she will place her deaf child. Read this article I reposted from Manila Bulletin.

Deaf Child Wants To Remain In Regular School

February 20, 2012, 1:26am

MANILA, Philippines — QUESTION I have a deaf child who is transferring from a regular school to a special school. I’m worried about her adjustment since she is used to interacting with hearing people, although she knows how to sign. She doesn’t like the idea and she wants to stay in her current school. I just wanted her to interact with other deaf children her age. The school has a lot of good programs suited for her. Am I making a right decision about this? Please help. – Worried Mom

TEACHER TESS SAYS: Two reasons are mentioned for your child’s transfer to a special school.  First, you want her to interact with other deaf children her age.

Referral for a special education evaluation is the first step in the process of determining if your child should receive special education services. The evaluation should examine all areas of suspected disability and provide a detailed description of your child’s educational needs.  The evaluation should answer these questions:

1. Does the child have a disability? What type?

2. Does the disability cause the child to be unable to progress effectively in regular  education?

3. Does the child have difficulties in coping up with the inclusive education requirements?

4. Does the child require specially designed instruction to make progress or does the child  require a related service or services in order to access the general curriculum?

5. Does the current school give the necessary services for the child?

The answer to each of these questions should be “yes”. Students cannot be determined eligible for special education just because they cannot learn academic skills or because they find difficulties in their socialization skills. Or when the reason is just like what you have mentioned in your query.

Second reason: The school has a lot of good programs suited for her.

Special education is specially designed instruction and related services that meet the unique needs of a student with a disability. The purpose of special education is to allow children/students with special needs to successfully develop their individual educational potential and talent(s). Along with providing services to these special learners, if necessary, services are provided to parents and teachers.

When your child transfers to a special education program, she will be aware that she is not in a regular classroom setting. You may discuss with her why she is going to a special school, its advantages  such as more teachers with specialization in teaching special students, more enjoyable activities, and more children who are like her.

As your child has openly shown her dislike for going to a special school, discuss your concerns and the purpose of why you think special education is appropriate for her.

The Philippine School for the Deaf is an excellent national school that offers a comprehensive special educational program specially designed for their eligible special students.  It has institutionalized a school-to-work transition and adult vocational education which assures students of academic, personality, socialization and career development programs for their community integration in the future.

Both of you may visit this school for her to see how she can make effective progress and develop her maximum potential and eventually be a productive, self-directed and fully participative and empowered member of the society.

So which school is right for your child?

You can answer this question based on your child’s particular, individualized needs. Ask what kind of setting wherein your child will learn best,  and at the same time maintain and keep in touch with her friends from the other school

Finally, be sincere and honest to yourself and your child about the real reason why school transfer is necessary. God bless!


Inclusive education, is it fit for the deaf?

These past two months, I was invited to attend two disability-related conferences. One was the three-day Philippine Community Based Rehabilitation Congress from August 25-27. The other one was the 1st National Disability Summit from September 24 – 25. Incidentally, both of them were held on the same place, the Manila Pavilion Hotel in UN Avenue. The National Council on Disability Affairs was the lead host on both events.

On both occasions, I was there only to listen to the various resource speakers, join the breakaway sessions and photograph the event. I have no intention of giving a piece of my mind. However, I was willingly assigned to assist in the presentation of our group during the first event. I was also unwillingly assigned to facilitate in the group’s proposals and present it on the plenary for the second event. I was also tasked to share my insight of the summit from the academic point of view.

On both conferences, there were NO DEAF PERSONS invited. Those were truly disappointing activities because among those sectors involved with disability, only the deaf people were not represented. I had to bring two of my deaf students on the next day so that they can at least be “SEEN”.

On both events, the term “INCLUSIVE EDUCATION” was tackled, rather violently on the first one, and a more subdued yet equally rancorous on the second one. The debate focused more on it’s definition, which was ambiguous as per every sector who defines it. An advocate for the blind group, a certain overstaying foreigner from up north (I don’t want increase his google search rank so I won’t mention his name here.), pounced his belief that the education sector must embrace inclusive education lock, stock and barrel. He claimed that Special Education teachers must be abolished. Instead they should be trained as specialized teachers. All teachers must become inclusive teachers. No more special classes for special children. His principles were met with serious resentments, some raised eyebrows from most participants.

I was also irritatingly surprised that another so called advocate on the rights of deaf persons for more than two decades, another foreigner (I wish these closed-minded foreigners with antiquated beliefs should stop meddling with our people and go home to their own countries.) and a man of God, asserts that deaf people in the Philippines have very poor abstract intelligence. He also stressed that most deaf are having difficulty understanding simple English instructions. Now, where did he get that impression? His assertions were highly derogatory and too judgmental. Probably those deaf people in his own world have low verbal ability. But I can categorically assert, not in my world!

After hearing those two foreign bodies force their own definition of inclusive education to the group aside from the many conflicting views from other participants, I was led to believe that there must be a more in-depth, multi-sectoral study on how it should or should not be implemented in the Philippines. Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) says that the States Parties:

… recognize the right of persons with disabilities to education. With a view to realizing this right without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity, States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and life long learning directed to:

  1. The full development of human potential and sense of dignity and self-worth, and the strengthening of respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and human diversity;
  2. The development by persons with disabilities of their personality, talents and creativity, as well as their mental and physical abilities, to their fullest potential;
  3. Enabling persons with disabilities to participate effectively in a free society.

While exercising the rights of disabled persons to inclusive education, it must also take appropriate measures to:

…Facilitate the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf community; Article 3 Section b.

Therefore, the United Nations clearly recognizes and supports the use of SIGN LANGUAGE and respects the IDENTITY and CULTURE of the Deaf Community. In this case, how can education be inclusive if the medium of instruction being used in classroom opposes with the language being used by the deaf?

A typical Philippine primary school uses the vernacular Filipino or Tagalog together with English. Since these are spoken languages, it won’t be difficult for us hearing people to fully understand them. Aside from that, these languages have been taught, learned and used as the hearing child’s first languages.

But a deaf person does not have a first spoken language. Sign language is primarily their “first” language. It is a non-spoken and visual language. It does not have a direct equivalent in either the English or Filipino language.

How do we reconcile these entirely different languages where a deaf child is exposed to? Should we “force” them to speak so that they can focus more on English? Or should we accept their sign language, understand it, learn from it, use it, adapt it and cultivate it?

This issue has been discussed and debated countless times with hearing people as protagonists. We have been dictating education to them since “education” was invented. Deaf education in the Philippines started more than 100 years ago. Has there been an improvement since then? Don’t we think it’s about time that the deaf people should be more involved in these discussions? It’s their rights that we’re securing, not ours. I hope that when the people from the government especially from the Department of Education start making in-depth discussions about inclusive education, they should at least give the deaf people a chance to be heard. I support the full participation of all persons with disabilities including the deaf groups in forming and planning framework on education curriculum and system for them.

DepEd to strengthen Special Education

After reading this news article posted in People’s Journal Online Edition today, I felt it’s good to put it in my blog as a living proof that the Department of Education has promised not to neglect the special education programs.

Hearing impairment is one of those disabilities that form part of the special education system. This means that the deaf youth are entitled as much in education as other children. I personally laud the efforts made by our current DepEd Secretary Jesli Lapus. I’m sure he also has some support in store for the deaf group. I notice this because in the news, he only mentioned the braille textbooks to be given to the visually impaired.

Sad to say, support for special education centers rest fully on the whims of the local government units. This means, if the mayor has a heart for the children with special needs, then he will pour out funds for it. But if not, then, it’s “look for your own support or we will shut you down.” dilemma.

I know of one particular case. During our school orientation with the parents of our deaf students, one mother informed me that she had to enroll her daughter all the way to Quezon City even if they live in Marikina City. She said that before there was a SPED center there. But their current mayor shut it down and stopped admitting deaf children. When they inquired why, a representative from DepEd told them that they would be “wasting their resources just to accommodate a few“. They added that they would rather use the classrooms for 50 students than to be used by four or five deaf or other students with physical disabilities. This considering that Marikina City is a first class, highly urbanized, one of the highest tax revenue collection in the country. Yet out of 17 public elementary and 9 public high schools, none of them offer special education. That’s sad, very sad.

In contrast, Quezon City boasts of caring for all of its constituents. SPED centers sprout almost yearly. The city government issued circular memo to all principals NOT to turn down a child from enrolling, even if he/she is differently-abled. Quezon City is the largest city in terms of population, land area and tax collection. Aside from that, most private organizations and special educational institutions are in Quezon city including our school for the deaf. No wonder the city receives so many blessings and attained remarkable achievements.

Here is the excerpt of the news article:

THE Department of Education announced it has strengthened its Special Education programs to cater to children who have special learning needs.

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said the undertaking is in connection with the observance of Autism Consciousness Week spearheaded by DepEd and Autism Society of the Philippines to raise public awareness on and provide the learning environment for children with special needs.

The move was also in line with DepEd’s thrust to provide education for all and access to public education services particularly parents who cannot afford to send their children to private schools that accommodate kids with special abilities.

DepEd under its wing has 217 SPED Centers that cater to the needs of children with special abilities. The department issues Braille textbooks to help especially visually impaired children.

DepEd said it will join ASP and the National Council for Disability Affairs (formerly known as National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons) in the celebration.

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