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Silent News, November 1999
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Implementing SignWriting Into Education
Cecilia Flood, a school counselor who works with 50 students in small groups in two elementary school and one middle school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been implementing SignWriting into her curriculum for the past year. The quotes from the students (above) were videotaped by her. When asked, "Have you been told 'But SignWriting takes too much time in the classroom, and we have to teach these students so much already'?", She responded: "When I first approached classroom teachers about this SignWriting project, (I heard comments such as) 'Oh, that's too much to learn, I don't think this student will be able to handle learning SignWriting as well as learning how to read English'....I have gotten several responses from individual parents....These concerns range from taking away time spent learning English, to a concern that not enough members of the Deaf community use SW, to a concern that SW will interfere with already developing literacy skills".

Chaparral Elementary School in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Left to right: The students, Danny, Fernando and Dathan.
They are demonstrating their name signs written in SignWriting.

Dealing with Resistence: Just Listen

Asked how she dealt with this, Flood replied: "My response...generally, I don't respond. I just listen. I'm not trying to convince educators, parents, or even Deaf community members that SignWriting is the only way to go.

"I do believe that Deaf and hard of hearing students are indeed smart enough and capable enough language users and learners who can and do organize linguistic information into two separate and distinct languages, ASL and English.

"My hope is that the ethnographic recording (that she is currently doing) of Deaf and hard of hearing students' experiences as they learn to write using SignWriting, will provide significant evidence which will promote greater interest in the investigation of a potential bi-literacy tool. That tool would be the use of SW in bilingual education models for Deaf and hard of hearing students in the U.S."

So Why Should We Use SignWriting To Teach Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students?
Asked why Flood wanted to introduce SignWriting to her students, this is her response:

"To capitalize on language abilities, not language problems. To provide a medium, (SignWriting) that potentially may enhance linguistic and cultural identity and self-empower Deaf and hard of hearing students. "To record the experiential stories of Deaf and hard of hearing SW learners that will significantly inform perspectives on the academic literacy learning experiences of Deaf and hard of hearing students,'in their own words'. "As the lead instructor of SignWriting, I will attempt to neutralize power relationships that exist in the everyday school literacy learning environment and hope to promote shared power, one that will encourage students and teachers to alternate between teacher and learner roles." Having taught SignWriting for a year now, Flood now recounted how quickly her students took to it:

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Silent News
133 Gaither Drive, Suite E
Mount Laurel, New Jersey, 08054

Alexandra Han
Silent News Columnist

...related articles....

SignWriting In The USA
Literacy Projects in American Schools

The Albuquerque Public Schools
SignWriting Literacy Project
Letters & Web Reports, Mona Sherrell & Cecilia Flood

Classroom Experiences Teaching SignWriting
in the Albuquerque Public Schools
Excerpts from email messages by Cecilia Flood


Research Project
Albuquerque Public Schools Research Project
Assessing Deaf Children Learning SignWriting

...Cecilia Flood 1999 & continuing...
University of New Mexico Linguistics Department


...other Silent News articles...

Controversial Approach to Communication: SignWriting, The "Alphabet" of Signs Alexandra Han....
Silent News, March 1999