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There is an ongoing battle over the best way to educate deaf children: oralism or American sign language. At Salt Lake Community College the teachers in the American sign language department believe that the only way to educate deaf children is in their own language, which is ASL. Other schools, however, feel that children should learn to use their voice and are educating deaf children with oralism, which is not their natural language.

Would anyone try to teach a child how to read in English if his natural language was Spanish, or worse yet, if he did not have a language at all? Many deaf children, when entering Utah schools, are being taught orally. Some of these children haven't had a good language base before entering school, because many of them come from families that do not know ASL.Parents of deaf children are not being educated on the best methods of educating a deaf child. Utah believes that deaf children should be educated as a hearing person is educated, in the English language.

Marla Broetz, a faculty member at SLCC who teaches deaf studies and ASL classes and is deaf herself, says that children need to learn in their natural-visual language, which is ASL. She says that children need to learn English but only after they learn a language base, saying that ASL is the best language for deaf people.

The ASL classes at SLCC are taught by well-trained, educated teachers, some of whom are deaf. They are always learning and bring their knowledge to the students at SLCC to give them the best understanding and education of deaf people.

Hearing people are making too many decisions for deaf people, and hearing people are the people in our state who believe that deaf children are better off being taught orally. Studies show that many deaf children being raised orally are graduating from high school reading on a third-grade level. This is not the case, if they are taught in ASL, their natural language.

Dixie Martinson

Salt Lake City