Deaf Children Need Sign While Young

Bronwyn O’Hara

Have you heard the statement, “There’s no need for Deaf kids to learn to sign while young. They’ll pick it up when they get older.” ? I think this idea is still floating around ‘out there’ to the detriment of deaf children and their families.

Some of these people who say this are professionals whose livelihoods depend on parents believing their young children should only focus on learning how to talk and listen. Some of these are educators whose livelihoods are also tied to teaching deaf children to speak/listen. These professionals still don’t grasp the language aspect of sign language. Parents are easily convinced to follow this bad advice because working on teaching their deaf child to speak and listen gives them something to do while waiting for their children to gain these skills. “Try harder” or “practice more often” are rallying cries to these parents who want their kids to hear and speak.

But there is another aspect being totally ignored in this naive belief.  Think about the entire family. If their deaf children do eventually turn to sign, which even the LSL/oral/aural professionals believe will happen when they’re older, the parents/siblings are left out of learning sign. The hearing members of the family eventually cannot communicate with their grown deaf child/sibling.

It’s easiest for parents to learn with their young child rather than try to make up for lost time later, when their teens prefer to spend time with their friends rather than with them. This philosophy of ‘learn sign later’ is setting families up for failure when moms and dads, brothers and sisters are not given communication tools early-on. The long-term socio-linguistic needs of parents and families are being left out of the decision-making equation.

That’s really sad because it’s such an easy remedy when done early ! Parents are capable of accepting the fact that American Sign Language is a language that follows the principles of systematic language acquisition that every language follows. Parents can so easily learn sign with their young deaf and hearing children. The learning process happens alittle at a time, at a pace easy for the parents/family, while their young deaf child is building vocabulary and grammar.

Going back to the misleading statement above, deaf kids will eventually come to sign language but think of what is lost in those years when it could have been part of their lives sooner. They miss out on communicating with their family members. They miss out on fully learning their language and learning English. Plus, when the young deaf adult tries to catch Mom and Dad and siblings up with his/her own sign language level, it’s too frustrating for the parents/siblings. They’re too far behind and the incentive to work on it is no longer there. Their deaf child has grown up and moved out of the house.

I know I’m ‘preaching to the choir” as I share these thoughts with you. But I would like to add that whenever you can encourage families to learn sign language with their deaf children, please speak up and warn them that the best and easiest time is while the children are young. Learning together will have the greatest benefit to the entire family.

I will always be grateful to those Deaf adults who spoke up and taught me these principles. Our family has been so very blessed to follow their advice.

President’s Corner

UAD Conference is around the corner, please check the UAD website for more information.  Check the UAD conference flyer on page 5.  Please also check the event website, it is to click on Facebook, and subscribe to the mailing list. You will continue to receive announcements more often so you won’t miss any exciting events. Hope we see you there!

The interviews for the USDB superintendent will start Monday, May 6th. We have more information in June for the final selection.  Hope the new superintendent will be positive for our community and the future of USDB.

NAD wants to thank you for our community support in soliciting as many state associations and national organizations to sign on the NAD letter to Secretary Donovan. NAD has a total of 71 organizations on board with them. CEO Howard Rosenblum and President Chris Wagner continue to consult with many stakeholders on HUD and will keep you apprised of any pertinent updates. For more information about the letter, please check NAD’s website and social media.

NAD has already hired a new Director of Communications, Lizzie Sorkin. Her role is to help to help NAD become more attuned to social media. Please sign up for their email and “like” their Facebook.

We hope to see you at the UAD Conference in Hurricane. Please check our website and subscribe more new events.

Philippe Montalette

Austin Andrews to Perform Deaf Ninja

The Utah ASL Teachers Association will host an awesome performance at University of Utah on May 11th at 7:00 pm.

Austin Andrews will come and perform with some of our local performers (Dan Mathis, Eric Lynn, Patricia Lowry, David Davenport, and few others). He is famous for his “Deaf Ninja” performance.

The performance will be at the Orson Spencer Hall on the University of Utah campus. It is the building east of the student union building.

The tickets are $10 per person. Tickets will be sold as first come first serve due to limited seating at the auditorium. The performance is open to the ASL community (all those (deaf and hearing) who knows ASL). Please hurry and buy your tickets before they sell out. You can buy tickets from these people or UAD Bookstore.

Ogden/Logan/WSU area — Amy Walker (

SLC/UofU/DATC/SLCC — UAD Bookstore (

South SLC area – Yvonne Montalette (

Provo/BYU area — Eric Lynn (

UAD Bookstore – Adele Sigoda (

USDB Update

Bronwyn O’Hara

The following is taken from the USDB Advisory Council meeting held on April 25, 2013 at the State Office of Education building located at 250 East 500 South SLC, UT 84111

Current USDB Superintendent Search–

Glenna Gallo, State Director of Special Education, reported to the Advisory Council that the Application Selection Committee met and made recommendations. 7 candidates were chosen out of the 14 applications. The interviewing committees are being finalized. Those being chosen for the Interviewing Committees are coming from the stakeholder nominations that were submitted for the 10-member Application Selection Committee. Each Superintendent candidate-applicant will have a committee of 5 people interviewing him/her. That would make a total of 35 interviewers. Glenna is looking at the numbers of students in USDB to make sure those populations are being represented.

The first candidate interview will be held on May 6th.

The second interview will be the USOE Education Committee Meeting on June 6, 2013, later in the afternoon. This meeting is open to the public.

Glenna sent out a request for interview questions and she hasn’t heard back from very many. Questions can be sent to Glenna in the next week. Her email address is

The members of the interviewing committees and the names of the finalists for the June meeting will be made public.

May 2013 Holidays

  • 1    May Day
  • 5    Cinco de Mayo
  • 12  Mother’s Day
  • 27  Memorial Day

Did you know:
that 75% of all cardiac arrests happen in people’s homes?
that the procedure for doing the CPR is NEW?
that cardiac arrests occur twice as frequently in men compared to women

Come and learn CPR at the American Red Cross class on Wednesday, May 8, 2013.  The class is from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Sanderson Community Center for the deaf and Hard of Hearing, 5709 S. 1500 W., Taylorsville.

Request ADA accommodation upon request at the time of registration.

Register your space by contacting before Friday, May 3.

Second Annual JMS Film Fest to be Held

Everyone is invited to the second annual Jean Massieu School Film Fest, May 15, at 7:00 pm.

Come and see student works at the JMS Auditorium.

Contact Sarah Leathers at 801.464.2085 or for more information.

Hospice Training for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Hospice training for deaf and hard of hearing people will be offered on Tuesday, May 21 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, including lunch.

To take this class, you must register by Wednesday, May 15. Send your RSVP to This will guarantee lunch and CART service.

Kelly Fogarty, chaplain for Hospice for Utah, will give the training.

This training prepares you to participate in the support of terminally ill patients

* Learn what hospice is and what volunteers can do
* Increase awareness about the dying process
* Gain self-awareness & explore your own relationship with death
* Understand the function and guidelines of hospice volunteers
* Participate in open discussion
* Learn helpful tools to use for specific needs and situations
* A certificate will be awarded at the end of the training
*…and more!

Collect Box Tops for JMS
There is a simple and easy way to support Jean Massieu School. Collect Box Tops from the Box Tops for Education program. This program has been very helpful in getting money for our students. If you purchase these products and are willing cut these out and send them to JMS, we can use them.

Simply send or bring these Box Tops to JMS at 1655 East 3300 South in Salt Lake City, UT 84106. Your contribution will be greatly appreciated.

Box Tops for Education labels can be found on many General Mills products.

JMS News

Michelle Tanner

The school year is rapidly coming to an end.  Students are working hard on taking statewide end of year tests, known as CRT’s.  This signifies the end of the school year and can be a very stressful time of year, but teachers and students are hanging in there.

During the month of April, JMS participated in the “Great Utah Shakeout” with the rest of the state.  We also participated in the annual Stingers game between the students and staff.  This year was another successful event.  We were able to raise money to support our students.  Thank you for all you do for our school and particularly our students.

This week USDB is sending out information for our summer camps.  We hope many students will take advantage of these wonderful opportunities.  There is no reason for deaf students in Utah to sit at home.  Come join your peers in attending several summer programs designed for fun, learning and social activity.  We will be offering camps for art, basketball, volleyball, dance, science, drama, literacy, life sports and camping for students in Kindergarten through high school.  And I am working on creating fieldtrips for the preschool.  Hopefully I will have information to share soon.  Please watch for these flyers on the USDB and JMS PTA website.

We hope to continue these types of activities through your continued support.  If you would like to make a donation, please bring it to the front office of JMS and we will give you a charitable contributions form.

Finally, please note that JMS and KBS will each have teaching positions open for the 2013-2014 school year.  If you are interested in applying for one of these teaching positions, please send your resume along with a video clip of your teaching skills to and me at  We are looking for exemplary teachers, so please pass this information along to any qualified educators that you know.  As always, thank you for all you do for JMS.

Scholarships Available to Deaf College Students

The Ned C. Wheeler Scholarship Foundation for the Deaf is pleased to announce that scholarships of $1,000 to $1,500 are available this spring for the 2013-2014 academic year, with a deadline of July 31 to apply.

The organization has awarded scholarships to deserving deaf students in colleges and universities for more than 30 years. Awards are given based on GPA, financial need, and maintaining a full time status as a student.

Criteria for qualifying includes three years residency in Utah, GPA of 3.0 or higher, proof of deafness, and more.

Eligible candidates for the scholarships need to apply now and gather up all required documentation to be sent in well before the deadline.

Applications are available at the UAD website, On the home page, look at the right side scroll near the bottom where you see the Ned C. Wheeler Scholarship Foundation for the Deaf information. Click on “Application.”

For further information or to request an application, contact Valerie Kinney, secretary at or call her by VP 801-784-6962. You may also contact Melainie Garcia, chair, at or call her at 801-731-1038.

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