ON HAND: Bringing Deaf publications to Deaf students

This originally appeared in The Tactile Mind Weekly in Trudy’s ON HAND column.

I featured a local deaf student in a recent issue of the magazine DEAF SUCCESS. Last Saturday, one of her classmates came up to me and said, “I’m angry! Nobody ever told me about this magazine! I wish I knew so I could have my family subscribe! I loved the story about. . .”

As she said this, I started wondering about why many teachers or schools don’t include deaf-oriented publications in the classroom. In fact, I recently got a letter from a deaf teacher who wrote that the magazine was too advanced for his high school students in a mainstreamed program.

If they’re too difficult to read, isn’t it the school’s duty to make the publications accessible or interesting? There are so many ways this could be done, especially by using different activities and assignments. For instance, with DEAF SUCCESS, which profiles deaf people from all walks of life that have achieved success in some way–teachers could require students to do presentations on a person, or to do skits about a person. For THE TACTILE MIND QUARTERLY, teachers could have students analyze or translate the poetry or stories for their literature or reading classes. And of course, Deaf Studies classes could easily use these publications.

Sure, schools have to follow specific standards and requirements. I don’t care. They still should find a way to incorporate deaf publications in their classes. We all know how powerful the printed word or picture is. Besides, students do benefit from these publications, “advanced” or not. I know because I was one of these kids once.

The “hearing-impaired office” (sic) at my high school placed deaf publications on a magazine rack, and I went into the office each week to read the newest issues of deaf publication. It was in this very office that I discovered my deaf role models. I also started believing that I could become a writer, because I saw how they were published in some of these publications.

I don’t see how schools can NOT incorporate these publications in the classroom, regardless of whatever reasons they come up with. I guess, to me, it’s a no-brainer.

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