A connection is the key to unlocking the power of the library. Through collaboration between teachers, authors, and public libraries, I find that we can make strong connections for our students. Last September (before COVID-19 impacted our schedule), I expanded my circle and collaborated with an amazing organization, Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center.
It started as a small idea to share with our students about some of my identifiers. As a person who wears a hearing aid and is dyslexic, I personally connect with two of the recent national months September being deaf awareness and October being learning disability awareness. Teaming up with my amazing Learning Specialist, Alex Franceschini, we created an announcement for our regular middle school morning meeting. Our goal was to celebrate diversity through learning disabilities and disabilities.
Alex reiterated the importance of this presentation in an email to our faculty, “With regards to deafness [and learning disabilities], I think it’s important for kids to understand that it’s an invisible disability, and to dig into what that means and make connections, esp. for our students who may themselves have invisible disabilities. There’s a lot [teachers] can do there with identity, first impressions, making judgments using only visual cues, etc.” (Franceschini, 2019)
As part of an announcement to celebrate disabilities and learning disabilities, Timothy Thomas, the Director of Interpreting Services at the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center, provided a look at ASL interpretation and introduced the importance of providing ASL services throughout Cuyahoga County for the deaf and hard of hearing.
We also wanted to present the importance of learning strategies, the use of accommodations, and the equity created when services are provided and used.
We also included two inspirational authors: Cece Bell, who is deaf and wears a hearing aid, and Dav Pilkey, who has ADHD and dyslexia.
The presentation was a hit! After I had some students who were comfortable verbalizing that we shared a connection, some walked by while making made the ASL sign for “SAME” (a common sign at our school), some contacted me later on. Representation of characters is extremely important to collection development, but also the representation of authors, and even teachers, is extremely important, too. Our students connect with teachers individually, and sometimes unique shared experience is a connection that is missed. Sharing my experience as an HOH person with dyslexia made me feel vulnerable; I was nervous, but the benefits for my students outweighed this fleeting discomfort.
As September and October roll around again, I’m reimagining how I can again present and collaborate to highlight the experiences of the deaf/hard of hearing and those with learning disabilities through hybrid learning.
Wishing you all the best as we reimagine this school year.
Some ideas for virtual connections for Deaf/HOH awareness
As I learn more about my own place in Deaf/HOH culture, I have found that we need to be aware that within Deaf Culture there are sections.
- Not all American deaf people sign and if they do, they might sign ASL or SEE or PSE (Video about signing culture).
- Deaf not Dumb performed in British SL https://youtu.be/zK_G-h1uep8
- Deaf Singer on AGT https://youtu.be/oHUuCLgfMpo
- Deaf Dancer https://youtu.be/p0IYSKpADMM?list=PLbpi6ZahtOH7x5cfMx4WE7oCQERxpXSvO
- Deaf Artist’s installation “The world is sound” https://youtu.be/3vU4TCKxZlc
- Black Deaf Culture (Black dialect in ASL)Celebrate Black Deaf History Month (Interviewee from Cleveland) https://www.nbda.org/content/black-deaf-history-monthhttps://dcmp.org/learn/366-black-deaf-culture-through-the-lens-of-black-deaf-history
- Four Deaf Actors to Watch on Netflix Right Now A wonderful suggestion from my Learning Specialist Alex Franceschini.
Deaf History Month in April
- Deaf History Month Important Dates (Why it is celebrated) https://www.deaf-interpreter.com/the-fascinating-origins-of-deaf-history-month/
- DHM Explanation Youtube Playlist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ2E3GowmKw&list=PLIpW9QfUw6zznu-Frzs2kZDBGzLyP1oxN&index=1
I retired last year and am so grateful I do not have to deal with connecting with kids wearing masks. Frequently I depended on observing my K-4 students’ lips to help me pick up what they were saying. Whether due to quiet voices or speech issues, some children are hard to understand. And of course it might have also been due to gradual hearing loss on my part.
My heart goes out to you all meeting this challenge.