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BIAS HAMPERS PROGRESS FOR DEAF

I am writing this letter in response to the article by your staff writer Wendee Stenquist Butters about the difficult choice that parents of deaf children in Utah must make.

I believe you would be strongly advised to do a follow-up piece about ASL and the deaf community itself. The only reason that parents are having to make a difficult decision is that the people involved in the schools that are advising them are, in many cases, hearing individuals who are biased and have very little feel for deaf culture.For hundreds of years, hearing people have looked down upon the deaf as an inferior group that they, the hearing, must take care of. Nothing could be farther from the truth. ASL, the language of the deaf, allows them much greater flexibility than any oral program. These people are perfectly able to care for themselves. The only people who think they need to be able to communicate orally are hearing people.

ASL, if taught early enough, will allow the child to learn at a faster rate and have a greater self-esteem. It is a sad fact that it's the hearing community that forces them to be like them. We cater to Spanish-speaking people and Asians who don't know English, but we force the deaf to try to speak orally.

David L. Smeltzer

Sandy