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The hearing impaired how well are they being taught how well are they being prepared for the working world. What kind of jobs await them. Tonight. Front Street weekly looks at the education training and job opportunities of the hearing impaired. These modern day mountain men and women are keeping the spirit of the pioneers alive. Tonight we'll have a rendezvous with some buck spinners and muzzle loaders. Good evening and welcome to Front Street Weekly. I'm Jim Swenson. And I'm Gwyneth Gamble Booth tonight. We'll be looking at what is literally a silent minority that is making itself heard. We're talking about the hearing impaired. There have been concerns for years over the quality of their education and job training and those concerns recently erupted into an angry protest when students at Washington D.C.'s Gallaudet University a school which serves primarily deaf students overturned appointment of a university president with no previous experience with the hearing impaired Hope Robertson reports that members of the deaf community feel it's time that they be in charge of decisions that affect
them It's the kind of handicap in which a child often looks just fine he or she may be as bright as any other child may even sound reasonably normal But in other ways deafness is a handicap that can devastate a family. It can reduce a bright child to utter frustration loneliness anger. How well are we preparing deaf children to live in a hearing world. Hearing impairment strike at the very core of society. That is communication language. And it starts from the moment a child is born. This is Nancy Rushmore she's head of Portland's infant hearing Resource Center. The use of hearing teaches a baby about their world they teach hearing baby that the parent is still around they can hear the parent in another room gives them a lot of information about their world and it helps build a sense of security.
Lisa Joseph has brought her daughter to the infant hearing center. Megan is only 10 months old now but already she's gaining communication tools that she'll need to understand others and to be understood. Her parents bring her here twice a week. It is critical that you get in in early. And that the parents it's it's not only the child but it's that the parents learn. A way to interact with their child at a very early age so that they realize that they are the child's primarily primary source of information about communication. This kind of schooling for both Megan and her parents now may keep her from falling behind when she gets to grade school. Many deaf children are so far behind that most graduate from high school at a third grade reading level. That often closes the door to college and many doors beyond. They're interested in learning just how much Megan hears You see there are very few hearing impaired people who have absolutely no hearing a child who
is deaf is not getting sound stimulation to the auditory centers of the brain when they're not wearing hearing aids with a hearing aid. Hopefully we're stimulating brain development in an infant enabling that child to have much better ability to to discriminate between sounds and to understand sounds when they're older. boo boo boo when Lisa puts hearing aids on Megan you can hear the difference it makes to her being able to listen to herself encourages her to make sounds and those sounds are the beginnings of speech. Just in the three months that she's had the hearing aid her awareness of what a sound is has increased incredibly whereas if we had left her without a hearing aid she probably wouldn't be vocalizing at all by now. We Megan is one of the lucky ones. Her deafness
was diagnosed when she was 6 months old. she'll have a head start compared to many children the string specialist works with Norrin Kennedy often start seeing children when there is only one and a half maybe two years old. She'd rather they start here at age two months. The earlier the better. And that's something I think that it's really important that people hear that that babies can be tested as early as you have any you know question about their concern about their hearing there are tests developed for kids this age. look what I have Speech is not the only form of communication that Megan is learning here. You want the ball Yeah by starting to communicate with her in sign language Lisa can talk to Megan all the time like in the bath tub when her hearing aids are off. I have worked with families who the parents are hearing impaired and they sign from day one. Those children we have seen signs from that. Those kids at six months old that they
spontaneously sign. if you go to school you can take the city bus. It's called total communication signing and speaking at the same time and the last 10 or 15 years it's become the most popular concept in deaf education. But it's not the only concept. baseball baseball now say it a little bit faster baseball you say I like baseball I like baseball very nice. Good speech. Total communication doesn't exist. at Tucker Maxon here school aged children learn their lessons strictly through the oral method. In addition to regular classes and reading spelling math and science each child is given daily speech drills. Nice and smooth try a bit faster. Sma sma sma very nice good job.
Pat Stone is director of the school. He grew up in a household of two deaf parents who used only sign language. It was in college Stone says that he was converted to the opposite concept of oral education. He says he realized that speech is possible for many hearing impaired people. The quote over the doors by Helen Keller says speech is the birthright of every child. It is the deaf child's one fair chance to stay in touch with his fellows. I think every hearing impaired child deserves the chance to learn spoken communication you think sign language handicaps them. I think it handicaps them in terms of acquiring spoken communication. I think then you're in a situation where you're having children try to learn two means of communication at the same time. So you have less chance to practice if you will spoken communication. Proof of what Stone says comes from a former student. Eric learned his speech skills at Tucker Maxon but now he goes to the Oregon State School for the deaf where everyone around him
uses sign language. now he uses signs more and speaking less. My speech has gone down because because I have learned something which I have been talking a lot I've been using signs That's why I go outside I go outside 10:15 10:15 say the whole thing. I go outside at 10:15 I go outside at 10:15 Chris is one of the clearest speakers we heard at Tucker Maxon His teacher Kelly Geres says that Chris probably speaks better because he can hear more. He's also been at the school longer than his classmate Josh here OK. OK. bah bah bah Did you check your batteries this morning. You want to go check them right
now. Yeah. OK. They're actually listening to you. Yes. People often think that you know deaf people have no hearing. And that's not true. And we put a very very powerful hearing aids on them and we teach them how to listen when we work on speech I cover their cover their eyes or cover my mouth so that they're not they're not lip reading me all the time that they're focusing on what they hear. Hearing is one thing understanding can be another matter entirely. And that's the key problem with deaf education. Back to Eric for example at Tucker Maxon he got speech skills. But at the school for the deaf his lessons are taught in sign language. And Eric says that here he's learning more about what words mean. I can learn more sign language than speech was hard. I don't understand the meaning. Learn more here in sign language meanings of things I understand the meanings of things and
actions I understand better than That's why their lack of hearing has deprived these children of information that we take for granted something as simple as the Tooth Fairy might be completely foreign what's that. Pardon. fairy It's the same thing down the hall with teacher Linda Goodwin Our city streets are very they're big and they're concrete. Do you what that is. Concrete concrete is what streets are made out of our streets are made of concrete like hearing kids learn learn language naturally just by overhearing the TV. You and I talking even though they're not interested in what we're talking about they hear us talking and they hear us using language and words and so they it's. It's all part of their background knowledge whereas hearing impaired kids are tuned out to our conversations if
we're not talking directly to them. They're missing it and so they don't have the advantage of all that extra information. So if I tell them you know run means to in the beginning I tell runs means to run down the street and then a few weeks later I tell them to run also couldn't run in your stocking or run the water's running. Yeah it really is quite overwhelming at first and they have to learn that words are used in different ways. Yeah I think he'd be set for life with G.I. Joe man huh That's terrific. Another problem for kids is that spoken English and sign language are really two separate languages. So if children are tossed from one to the other they may not learn the concepts of language in either one. Michael Biles is 21 years old. His mother Shirley started him off in public schools with the oral method. Then he went to the state school for the deaf where he learned some signs. Now he's just frustrated between two worlds. Do you sign with your son.
I finger spell you know a few songs I was told when I first found out that he was deaf not to learn sign language because he had a potential to speak and to do everything in my power to make sure that he did speak. So I didn't even learn to fingerspell until last year. Is it easy to communicate with your mom sometimes day Yeah but sometimes not always do you wish she would have learned sign language a long time ago. I don't she hates the sign language I can try no one's perfect my before you realized. I hate my sign language little boy who you know
will be for it There's a lot of guilt and a lot of regret in a lot of families with hearing impaired youngsters. You don't have to be right there all the time this is not something where you can send them off to school and look at their report card every six weeks. This is something that you have to be involved in Whether speaking signing or both it's up to parents to make a conscious effort to include their children and family conversations because that can be more important learning than even school provides. Chris Lidfer has got a head start in language. Maybe because his parents are deaf. They enrolled him in the infant hearing program right away. And naturally Chris was exposed to language at home early on like these grade schoolers. Chris attended public school right alongside hearing kids. You see it's federal law that interpreters have to be provided for students who need sign language in class. They call it mainstreaming and it's their chance to interact with the hearing world in school.
OK. It's a long ways away. Can anybody make another guess about how many miles away you think it might be Danielle. It's more than a hundred. Kansas It's more than 500 it's more than a thousand. But the fact is not a lot of that interaction really takes place. Think about it. Hearing children can look around and whisper to their friends while the teacher is talking without losing what the teachers say. But deaf kids eyes have to be riveted on the interpreter just to catch every word. When will they come to people again. For students who learn the oral method there are two things to focus on. Hearing as much as possible and watching the teacher's mouth how many people there are in the United States in 1980. Dan can spend all the time he needs to explain the point to Carrie This is what's called a self-contained classroom of deaf students only. This way Brad and Carrie don't have to compete with hearing kids for the teachers attention. My question was when will they count the people
again you know the first time I said it she didn't understand any of it. By the end of the 10 minute discussion I think she understood what I was getting at and I think she's gotten the concept that in the United States we count the number of people every 10 years. Is it easy to understand your teachers here. Yeah just lip reading But I don't think the more But I don't these kids you know as far as IQ score whatever that means they're within normal limits. But their verbal skills are much lower. I think the really important thing is are you understanding what I'm saying. Number one if you're understanding what I'm saying then we can make sure that you know how to read and write. Sue Brian teaches in another kind of self-contained classroom. Her parents were deaf so she's able to sign fluently with her students. Are they dyed eggs
Dyed eggs Dyed eggs I think. these these are chicken or ostrich or rooster or baby chicken is a rooster different than a chicken What's the difference I think that's the rooster Rooster what's the difference between a chicken. I don't know it's the understanding it's it's whether or not that light bulb comes on and you can see it you can see it in the eyes of kids whether they know what you're talking about or not. But from the experiences that I've had in the classroom the kids who have come from families where they have deaf parents often are the ones who are the best and the strongest students in the classroom not because they're smarter. But
because they have already come to school with a strong language base and with a good background of information. Back to Chris Lidfers his deaf parents had sent him to hearing grade schools with an interpreter and his grades were fine but in high school he decided he wanted to be able to socialize with deaf friends. So his parents enrolled him at the Oregon State School for the Deaf in Salem it's different for him. How is it different he'll learn more he has to improve his skills they need increase three or four grades skills in one year they pass The teachers to understand better most of Chris's teachers at OSSD are deaf themselves.
So it only makes sense that communication flows easily. It's Pam Rimmer's job to evaluate how well students are adjusting. Here kids will come here and say I finally understand my teacher. I can get to know my teacher directly. You really think that they're learning more in the public school here. It's different. I think our academic achievement if you look at scores are probably about the same. But I think this is incidental learning probably happens more because there's more idle conversations about the world that you're not finding in a book. They have deaf role models to talk to people who are grown up have kids have husbands and wives to see oh you can grow up. What kind of work are you going to do. I think the deaf teachers challenge the kids challenge them more on come on be proud go ahead work what are you going to do in the future.
Chris plans to go to college. After that he says maybe he'll teach. But where will Chris be able to teach in the past. The only place for deaf kids who went to college was to be a teacher at a deaf school. And even today most teachers of the Deaf in public schools are still hearing teachers a lot of teachers of deaf children Never meet deaf parents or deaf adults. where idea. is like they don't associate with deaf community they learn about deafness though a book or a school become a teacher without involved much with deaf community I that's why we have a problem with the teachers get involved with all the deaf community to have better understand what we need Boyd is one of very few hearing impaired teachers in public school. it will be cold if we waited
until tomorrow. What would happen it might die Sue Brians is just one of many voices now calling for a change. That's real important. That deaf people be in charge of making decisions for deaf children. That's that's not been the history throughout all these years it's always been hearing people who have decided what's best. For deaf kids and I don't know that we knew that since we've never been deaf ourselves. If deaf kids are going to be able to communicate and compete in a hearing world. Maybe they need to be led by their own hearing impaired parents and adults. The state of Oregon is taking steps to help the hearing impaired communicate tele listening devices which are essentially typewriters you can hook up to a phone are being given out free to Oregon residents who could not otherwise afford them. Gwyneth our next story is about a group of people who are keeping the traditions and lifestyles of the 1800s alive. They are called Buck skinners or
mountain men and women. Every year members of Fort Clatsop muzzle loaders club hold a rendezvous. John Daly took part in the most recent one and he reports there are now a family affair where the hell you been don't you get to rendezvous no more Not for a couple winters now. You in then. Damn right I gotta get some whiskey. I don't get some whiskey soon I'm going to die I have a rendezvous myself. In the old days rendezvous was a place for mountain men to sell their furs. Meet old friends a celebrated over a hundred years later rendezvous is are still going on in Oregon. But there are a lot tamer. We're just trying to play like the so-called mountain men back in the 1820s to 1840s when they were roaming around the Rocky Mountains and out here in the west
And. call ourselves the buck skinners or mountain men Really push for make us a whole family oriented type thing and they respect the kids get as big a kick out of this as we do we feel that in order to get the man. We need to get the family with him. I just like to see more people get into it and the. More people stay off our as much as possible that's the way to go In rendezvous the most competitive event is the trail walk with it's well-hidden shooting targets and Tomahawk and knife throws and Dog Soldier Ronchi explains. It was tie breaker. Then run the wire up here. Come back here make sure everybody's loaded one person at a time step up the line should tie break. Retrieve tiebreakers. turn them turn the men and all. I got on your score cards and I would all the way through to call out your numbers very neutral. Some of those of the Clangers will wrangle
loud there's no question. Some [shooting] well we're mountain men and we represent most of us from 1840 And that means anything made after 1840. You can't have it in camp it Can't be seen. So to get these things we have people that make reproductions. We trade these things amongst ourselves and back and forth and that way everybody gets
I started in blacksmithing just to make my own equipment and from there we're in to the point where I was making it for other members and I'm at these rendezvous People come around say Well I'd like them to use a lot of. half irons to hang our pots and pans on. You riddles and so forth and Tamohawks and eyes and things like that. Or the way that we have out here. I make rather close I make everything from moccasins to hats. Are there traders are blacksmiths I made him a shirt. He's getting us Tomahawks knives. Traps. There's a beautiful stained glass window up there that a lady made for us and we're trading that out just about everything that we have in our camp. We traded for ourselves. Research. you'd be amazed how much research these people do. People go to museums they study things and they may come as close as they can with the materials
we've got. Cooking over a fire just starting a fire. The average child will grow up not knowing that you can start a fire without matches. Yeah a fire see that fire This is one of the finest family sports I've ever seen. The families to show up at these things are laughing or talking with their kids. They go home they've got craft things that they can do. And when they start talking history in school they have a good idea of what it's all about. We want history to come alive. We were fortunate that the Bucks skinners let our camera crew in. They are a little publicity shy. I was wondering about that as I watched the piece. Do they invite the public to attend their rendezvous Not really they really want the emphasis on authenticity and they only want
people to attend who are dressed for the occasion. You can find out more by calling the Fort Clancy muzzle loaders. They're listed in the Astoria phone directory. Well coming up next week on Front Street Weekly a special half hour program on Juniper house. It's a place where AIDS patients can die with dignity. If we just lay down and die. Anybody can do that. it's a compound We have to learn to accept what we're going to do die for one and try to live as long as we can It's a story about courage love friendship and the will to survive. Juniper house the search for comfort. Join us for a very special half hour on Front Street weekly. Until next week. Thanks for joining us. Good night good night. [music]
Front Street Weekly
Episode Number
Producing Organization
Oregon Public Broadcasting
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Oregon Public Broadcasting (Portland, Oregon)
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Episode Description
This episode contains the following segments. The first segment, "Deaf Education," looks at the current state of education, training and job opportunities for the hearing impaired. The second segment, "Rendezvous," follows a group of "buckskinners," mountainpeople keeping the traditions and lifestyles of the 1800s alive.
Series Description
Front Street Weekly is a news magazine featuring segments on current events and topics of interest to the local community.
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News Report
Local Communities
Oregon Public Broadcasting 1988
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Moving Image
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Associate Producer: Allen, Bob
Director: Condeni, Vivian
Executive Producer: Amen, Steve
Host: Swenson, Jim
Host: Booth, Gwyneth Gamble
Producing Organization: Oregon Public Broadcasting
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB)
Identifier: 112943.0 (Unique ID)
Format: U-matic
Generation: Original
Duration: 00:28:41:00
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Chicago: “Front Street Weekly; 722,” 1988-04-18, Oregon Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 29, 2023,
MLA: “Front Street Weekly; 722.” 1988-04-18. Oregon Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 29, 2023. <>.
APA: Front Street Weekly; 722. Boston, MA: Oregon Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from