Being inclusive this holiday season

By John Miller  |  Thursday, December 5, 2013

Acceptance and being included is something all of us want in life. Think of growing up and some of the crazy things we did in order to fit in or be part of the group. For many deaf and hard of hearing children, the idea of being the part of a group is something they long for but it is difficult to have happen because of limited communication.
 
In my several years of teaching deaf and hard of hearing children I saw this same pattern happen over and over again, even with children that came from homes that tried hard to be able to speak their language and communicate with them. Children would work hard in school and get good grades but they struggled in the friendship department, or lacked that core group of friends that could really communicate with them on their level. This is a really tough issue that deaf teens struggle with often. They want to be fully accepted and understood but don’t quite know how to go about doing it, nor do the adults that work with them.
 
Offering sign classes in the general education school settings as a foreign language is definitely a step in the right direction. This offers a wider range of students to potentially communicate with and, in turn, become friends with. The use of technology is also a helpful tool to be able to put sign language in the hands (literally through computers and mobile devices) of anyone who is interested. We all need to work together to come up with creative and innovative ways to help our youth feel connected and accepted in their environment.  
 
I recently had a deaf friend tell me that he doesn’t look forward to going back home for the holidays because he never felt a part of his family anyway. He even went as far as to say that he felt more like the family dog! This broke my heart to hear those words come from a really close friend who is an amazingly intelligent man that has so much to offer to his family!
 
I urged our Signing Savvy Facebook Friends a few weeks ago to take the time this holiday season to insure that everyone around the table “Has a Place at the Table”, but I wanted to repeat this sentiment via this blog article. If you have deaf, signing friends or family coming to the holiday dinner, and no one in the family is fluent in sign language, consider hiring an interpreter to come along. You will show that deaf person in your life that you really do care and want them to be a part of the conversation. If that is not possible, at least try to pick up a few signs (I think I can suggest a great site to help you out!) to show your deaf friends and family that you are willing to try.
 
Enjoy your Holiday Season and Keep Signing!!!

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