Letter to the Editor – James Borer Thinks the OAD Has it Wrong When it Comes to Educating Deaf & Hearing Impaired Children

Letter to the Editor – James Borer Thinks the OAD Has it Wrong When it Comes to Educating Deaf & Hearing Impaired Children

A few years ago I was asked to participate in the Federal Government’s round table discussions on how to ratify the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.

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I have more than 20 years experience as a Canadian Soldier, standing up for the rights of Canadians and our values.  I have volunteered countless hours of my time to advocate on behalf of the rights for children in Ontario who are deaf or hard of  hearing.  I lead a coalition of organizations of families and professionals to Queen’s Park in 2009 under the banner “Project Kids H.E.A.R.” in order to raise awareness about the modern realities affecting the majority of children who are deaf or hard of hearing in our province.

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But what makes me most qualified to have an opinion isn’t the thousands of hours I have invested in mastering the modern realities.  I am most qualified because of my two children, Marc and Jenna, who were born deaf but can now hear and speak both official languages in mainstream schools thanks to technology and specialized supports.
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So should we be treating children who are deaf or hard of hearing equitably?  I believe that we must treat all children who are deaf or hard of hearing equitably regardless of how they communicate.  Unfortunately groups like the Ontario Association for the Deaf (OAD) don’t agree.  The OAD wants the more than 94% of children who are deaf or hard of hearing choosing to hear through technology to suffer.

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The OAD tells us this by spreading untruths about the modern reality of these children.  In a recent letter to the London Free Press the OAD has launched a campaign of misrepresented facts and discrimination against children like mine.  To this I take great offense.  If we are to treat all Ontario children who are deaf or hard of hearing equitably we must have an honest conversation rooted in today’s facts.
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The Drummond report has gotten it right in regards to the Provincial schools.  The status quo is not sustainable nor is it fair in its allocation of  resources to support all of the children in question.  Why shouldn’t the provincial schools be absorbed into the existing school boards?  Why shouldn’t the teachers and other staff who support the students in the provincial schools be treated the same as teachers in mainstream schools?  Why shouldn’t the $72 million be used in the most effective and efficient manner possible to support all children who are deaf or hard of hearing? That means finding efficiencies in the way the students of the provincial schools are supported from here forward.  This must happen so that money can be fairly reallocated to support the more than 94% of children using technology and attending mainstream schools so that they can succeed.  The need of the children using technology is as real as the children using sign language.  All children deserve to succeed.
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All children who are deaf or hard of hearing deserve to be educated and supported equitably.  In order for this to happen Ontario must address the inequality that the current provincial school system represents.  This will only happen by having an open and honest conversation based on the modern realities of these children.  By equitably supporting these children they can all reach the fullness of their individual potential.

It is time for the silent majority to speak up and be heard.

James Borer
Email: JamesBorer@gmail.com
On the web: www.JamesBorer.ca

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7 Responses to "Letter to the Editor – James Borer Thinks the OAD Has it Wrong When it Comes to Educating Deaf & Hearing Impaired Children"

  1. Mike McIlmoyle   March 19, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    “Marc and Jenna, who were born deaf but can now hear and speak both official languages in mainstream schools thanks to technology and specialized supports.

    So how do the children who don’t hear and speak both official languages and use ASL get treated equitably under your solution? I’m sorry I must have missed that part of your argument

    “The OAD wants the more than 94% of children who are deaf or hard of hearing choosing to hear through technology to suffer.” Is that in their mission statement? You lose credibility when you make statements like that…I’m pretty sure that the OAD does not want any children, hearing or Deaf, to suffer…

    Thanks

  2. James Borer   March 19, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    Mike,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply to my article. I appreciate your questions and would like to respond to a few.

    First I am not making an argument, simply stating facts. To answer your question the children who use ASL are supported through a variety of ways, including the Provincial Schools. They would continue to be supported in those ways as outlined in the Drummond Report.

    My credibility is and will remain intact. My comments are observations on the actions of the OAD. I welcome any mature conversation based on facts rather than intentional misinformation, ignorance or anger.

    I believe that all children who are deaf or hard of hearing have the right to be supported equitably regardless of how they communicate. That need for equitable treatment is what the recommendations of the Drummond Report address. There is a real need to reallocate the resources in order to reflect the modern reality of all children who are deaf or hard of hearing in Ontario.

  3. Carolyn Funkenhauser   March 20, 2012 at 7:40 AM

    I strongly agree with this report. DON’T discriminate against families of children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing based on their chosen method of communication. I am a parent of a child who is hard of hearing and is doing very well using technology and attending a mainstream school. We have excellent resources (Teachers of the deaf and Hard of Hearing, cutting edge technology) available to us and I attribute that to my daughters’ successes. We need to change! The current system is outdated, inefficient and ineffective.

  4. Craig Carter-Edwards   March 20, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    To answer Mike, I don’t think anyone ever intentionally sets out to hurt others. Advocates of reducing social services honestly believe “sink or swim” is the best approach to individual growth; they simply don’t think about what happens to those who drown because their ideology doesn’t permit them too.

    With the OAD (and I base this on their available online material), they see ASL in the same light as some Quebecers view French – as a defining cultural heritage that is at risk. From what I can tell, there’s a sense on their part that every time a deaf child (and their families) embraces the hearing world through technology therapy, they’re ignoring part of who they are.

    I DON’T think that’s the case – you can learn two languages simultaneously. I myself speak several. While there are some kids for who technology/therapy won’t provide an adequate solution, the majority of kids can function normally in regular classroom environments, if those environments have a few accommodations added. If course, things like sound fields and hush-ups actually benefit ALL kids, deaf or not.

    Long-term, the solution isn’t to isolate “social outliers” whatever their distinction – physical, linguistic, cultural – but encourage the development of a pluralistic society from the ground (classroom) up.

  5. Leanne Ryan   March 22, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    Our son was born with permanent hearing loss and is learning to listen and speak. We felt from the very beginning that teaching him to do so, with help from the technology now available, was in best interest for him. He is now turning three and is socially very keen. He wants to participate and interact with those around him and is very eager to express himself vocally. He likes to sing and dance and often will break out in “song” at anytime (I think he likes the sound of his own voice) lol.

    We have had some set backs in the early stages as is often the case, while adjusting to Liam’s hearing loss. For example, Liam has to get “tubes” inserted to release fluid in the ear canal so he can hear better and often times in the past year we have needed repair to his hearing aids, molds and such due to the wear and tear a little guy can inflict on these delicate items. We have also hit some road blocks with AVT therapy, in that we have not always had the transportation means to get there….but still, we continue to work with Liam and teach him what we have been taught at AVT and with our Deaf Ed. home visiting teacher.

    My point is that regardless of these struggles and the frustration that sometimes occurs (for all of us) while working thru these issues we still firmly believe that Liam should be able to attend mainstream grade schools, high schools and one day University or College. In our minds this is were he belongs. If he is able to attend these institutions with the proper funding in place so that the required resources and up to date technology is in place it would be nothing less than fair, in my opinion.

    In closing, I believe all parents must choose what works best for them and their family when it comes to the most important job in the world, raising children. And that what is best socially is an education system that allows each child, family and parent equal and fair treatment.

    Leanne

  6. Linda Farrow Bullock   March 22, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    I feel that children who are sufering hearing loss or are deaf, should be able to attend the school(s) of their choice, based upon their requirements, and not be religated to mainstream education that is designed to help ONE group only. Therefore the funds provided for their assistance should be shared properly.

  7. Linda Farrow Bullock   March 22, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    “based upon the person’s needs or requirements, which could be mainstream education, and NOT relagated to sign language only.

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