Monday, July 16, 2007

Waiting On the World to Change--A Quote out of Context

There's a new music video out with the song, "Waiting on the World to Change" by John Mayer visually communicated using American Sign Language. There's a little girl in there who is completely adorable as she signs "waiting for the world to change."

It is not captioned, so here are the lyrics:
Me and all my friends
We're all misunderstood
They say we stand for nothing and
There's no way we ever could
Now we see everything is going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don't have the means
To rise above and beat it

So we keep waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
Its hard to beat the system
When we're standing at a distance
So we keep waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change

Now if we had the power
To bring our neighbors home from war
They would've never missed a Christmas
No more ribbons on their door
When you trust your television
What you get is what you got
Cuz when they own the information ooohhh,
They can bend it all they want

So while we're waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
It's not that we don't care
We just know that the fight ain't fair
So we keep on waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change

We're still waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
One day our generation
Is gonna rule the population

So we keep on waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
No, we keep on waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
Waiting on the world to change
Waiting on the world to change
Waiting on the world to change.


I did write to the creators and asked them to add the lyrics to the video so that it would be accessible to those who are not familiar with American Sign Language.

One part that greatly saddened me was to see my friend Mary Koch quoted in a way that was taken completely out of context. Mary is a strong supporter of families with deaf and hard of hearing children and she works with all communication modes. Here's what Mary had to say:

“I saw the beautiful video 'Waiting for the World to Change.' It is awesome. However, I was shocked and saddened to see a quote with my name associated with it: "We think the deaf need to be fixed." I know where the quote came from, and it is accurately quoted. I was, at the time, working on a cochlear implant team at Johns Hopkins. I was, however, describing to a reporter the controversy between the medical and the cultural perspectives toward deafness. As an employee of Hopkins, I began my statement with the word 'we' instead of 'the medical community.' I am forever sorry that that quote is associated with me, and not with its proper context in the medical community.

As a Gallaudet graduate (masters in deaf education), I have spent my entire 30+ year career advocating for CONNECTION--any way we can, as human beings deaf AND hearing. I have fought for children's rights to sign. I resigned from a job (as sole supporter of my family) because I was told I could not sign with a child. I served on the NAD committee to rewrite their position paper on cochlear implants. I have stood in the middle of the battlefield, and taken many shots from both sides--I, too, am waiting for the world to change.

The quote is everything that I am not. The video is beautiful and should be viewed by millions. However, I am so very, very sad that my mission in life will be so misrepresented in the process."


UPDATE:

The staff from D-Pan removed Mary Koch's quote from the video.

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23 comments:

LaRonda said...

This is very kindhearted of you to clarify the context of such quotes. People often take things out of context and blow them up to something they are not.

~ LaRonda

heather :] said...

I truly enjoyed the video and appreciated Mary Koch's comment clarification.

The little girl IS cute :)

Heather

Ginny said...

That is a shame that Mary Koch's quote was out of context. That is very nice of you to clarify it. I really felt bad for Mary when I read her statements.

Anonymous said...

I think the time has come for D-pan to suceed beyond their imagination; I have waited all my life to enoy music as well as understand the words to the songs; I cant wait until the waves catches on and many different artists uses their spectactular talent.
I think the viedo is perfect the way it is. If they had cc on the viedo it would destroy the beauty of the whole viedo; a hearing person can hear the words, a deaf can see the words.. perhaps adding the lyrics as an insert would help??

DE said...

Karen,

Thanks for doing this. I attended the COCHLEAR IMPLANTS AND SIGN LANGUAGE: PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER conference held by Gallaudet 2002 with an open mind. The title of the conference itself was what interested me; I believe that even implanted Deaf children still should use ASL as their language base. So...

Ms. Koch presented there and did a good job. She was very gentle, used all the right words, and even signed. I was favorably impressed by her. Then I got her hand-out, and she wrote this at the very end of her hand-out (see below)...

*by MARY E. KOCH 2002*
"How is sign language systematically reduced? One of the primary communication strategies in developing a child's auditory skills through a cochlear implant is to provide the auditory information first...Make an auditory impression first- even if the child may not understand initially. THEN, provide the visual information. This should become automatic for professionals and parents when communicating with a child with a cochlear implant. Now- see how this technique leads up naturally and effectively to the decreased dependence on sign language? PROVIDE AUDITORY FIRST! allow processing time. Provide a visual clarifier (i.e., a sign) IF NECESSARY. If the child responds to the AUDITORY INFORMATION, then the sign is not necessary."
*by MARY E. KOCH 2002*

I was stunned and disturbed greatly by the handout. I would never declare that hearing babies "depend" on English, or that English is not "necessary".

Her FULL handout can be found at the link below..
http://clerccenter.gallaudet.edu/CIEC/conference-proceedings.html#handouts
(then click at the top link- "Sign Language as a Bridge to Spoken Language").

Thank you for allowing this comment to be posted. It wasn't easy for me to type this, but I wanted the full picture out there.

Karen said...

DE-
I have seen several parents use this during sessions where they are working with their kids to increase their child's ability to hear through the implant.

I have used it myself during Deaf Mentor sessions when a child has been learning ASL and then gets an implant--it's a way to help the child identify the sounds and then words--especially in the beginning when the cochlear implant is first activated.

DE said...

Karen,

That wasn't my point. My point was- why is sign language a "dependency" and "unnecessary"? ASL never is, even for a minute! Do you think ASL is a "dependency" and "unnecessary", and given the choice, we'd be better off being hearing?

Just a thought.

Mary Koch said...

I appreciate DE's comments and Karen's follow-up. Again, context is everything. That handout is about strategies for building a child's listening skills--and it depends on the individual child; age, language ability, immediate circumstances (emotions, mood etc)how sign and listening would be balanced in that particular communication. The first priority is "connection" and then communication. I never "force" children--I only provide natural play-based opportunities for learning. If a child signs and has very limited access to hearing, sign would be my avenue for connection and communication. I feel, as a professional and as one who loves children, that I need to earn a child's trust before I can proceed with my role as "teacher." Communication is an important avenue for building trust. If I were to push a child within a modality (i.e. listening) that they were not comfortable in,that would be a violation of that trust. I only use the "strategies" described in that handout when trust is already established, and the child feels comfortable with appropriate challenges. That is what teaching is all about.

Karen said...

DE-
What Mary is sharing in that handout is a communication strategy used to maximize a listening opportunity with a child with a cochlear implant.
When using ASL with a child with a cochlear implant--your voice is off and there's no listening opportunity going on when communicating in ASL unless you sim-com. Mary's strategy is just that-- it's a strategy to bridge a child's ability to listen with the implant using signs.

Marti said...

Lovely song and important message - thanks for sharing!

Jenny said...

I, like DE, have concerns about this method. I've read the clarifications by Karen and Mary. It's a relief to know that Mary doesn't do this right off the bat and doesn't "force it." But the strategy appears like something that would maximize frustration.

Furthermore, her words about decreasing "dependency" on sign language speak volumes, context or no. That stuns me and I don't care about the context - "decreasing dependency on sign language" makes it very clear that sign language is a last resort, and something preferably done without if at all possible, in her view.

I'd LOVE to hear talk about "decreasing dependency on sound and spoken English" for hearing people. After you've finished gasping, keep in mind that I am not actually proposing this, just putting the shoe on the other foot to see how it feels.

Karen said...

Jenny and DE-

Every deaf and hard of hearing child is different-- there's so many factors that go into a family's communication choice (which sometimes isn't truly a choice but that's a topic for another day). What we need in the field among professionals, families, deaf and hard of hearing adults is a willingness to work together, building bridges and recognizing that one method does not fit all children. I really hate seeing a hierarchy of communication methods or the stipulation that one is better than the other-- they're not.

Amy said...

Wow --- that is an interesting discussion going on...

My questions are:

Who is the client? A child.
Who will be the child's future community?

Who has the last say about communication, language modality and treatment/intervention? Parents? Professionals?

Lastly, who decides that ASL should not be a part of the intervention along with auditory-verbal approach on young children with CI's? What is possible harm it can be if ASL is introduced during the AVT sessions?

I'd like to know if introducing ASL does impede from learning auditorally? or will it enhance it?

Something to ponder..

Amy Cohen Efron

DE said...

Mary,

You still haven't explained your "systematic reduction" of ASL statement. Please explain your reasons for stating the above, and list your justifications, if any. Thank you.

Karen,

"No one method fits all children". Sure, Deaf children should have the right to go to any educational program they want to--- local, state, etc. I am all for options in that domain. However, the issue of "placement options" as outlined by the Federal goverment has been grossly distorted into LANGUAGE "options".

Let me make myself clear. Hearing babies (in the U.S.) do not have "options" between English, the Morse Code, Swahili, etc. They are expected and encouraged to acquire English, period. Even Spanish-speaking children are placed in ESL classes UNTIL they have sufficient English proficiency. No two ways around the issue of the English language for hearing babies.

But when it comes to Deaf babies... nah, we don't expect them to acquire any LANGUAGE. "Options" rule the day-- and after 127 years of "options", Deaf children do NOT have good English NOR ASL. The list goes on.

I am all for every Deaf child to be fluent in both ASL and English, to begin with. Speech is a skill, and if they exhibit skills in that area, just like art, dancing, plumbing, skating, etc.- by all means, encourage their skill development. But LANGUAGE first.

Thanks soooo much for approving all these strong comments... thanks so much, Karen! You are indeed encouraging healthy discourse. Thanks!

DE

The One and Only Ridor said...

Karen, one thing that bothered me a little -- you said you wrote to the creators of the website, asking them to be "accessible" for those who do not understand American Sign Language.

Why do you bother? why do you insist that we have to provide the means FOR them, whereas I had to battle and fight my way to get accessibility for myself and others?

I say, let them fight on their own. stop appeasing them.

r-

Karen said...

DE--
I'm with you on "language first." With newborn hearing screening and new programs going up supporting an unbiased approach, we are likely to see some changes ahead for families. I can already see the results of the families who have early intervention services when I visit the classrooms of several different programs.

Karen said...

Ridor wrote:
"Why do you bother? why do you insist that we have to provide the means FOR them, whereas I had to battle and fight my way to get accessibility for myself and others?"

If the creators of the video want to reach a wide audience, then providing captioning is one way to reach out to more people. It also makes the video accessible to hard of hearing and deaf persons who do not know ASL.

C said...

My understanding of the medical field or what Mary's views are (correct me if I'm wrong) is that if a child is fit with a CI, usually that is the parent's choice in the best interest of the child (never mind what we think, we are not that child's parents) - therefore, the parent have the expectation that their child will hear, thus, they should acquire speech. That is the parent's goal. This might work for some but I'm not sure if it works for all. So, in that context, I can see where the focus is on speech for a child who is fitted with CI and whether or not they acquire ASL later on is another matter.

I would think that a great approach would be to do both, but, many parents chose CI for a reason and they want their children to hear and speak. I really don't know if it is our place to tell them otherwise? After all, they are the parent of their child, who are we to dictate to them what they should do other than providing them with information on choices that are available beyond just CI and speech, and leave it at that?

Anonymous said...

Well, as far as I can see that this discussion for all of us are very healthy. There are neither agreements nor disagreements.

My point is that the audiologists and researchers will have no clue about the number of dbs (numbers of sound) on these deaf babies before they implanted the CIs.

For what I have learned is that the audiologists will have to deal with the deaf babies with or without CIs on the dbs before they become the kindergarten ages.

However, I really hate to see the audiologists and researchers with no sign language have given some poor advices to the hearing parents with deaf children for what it is the best interest for their deaf child's future.

In my opinion, I do not see any differences about the accomplishments on CI's. All we want to see the deaf children to become successful in writing and reading. That is all it matters.

CI and sign language needs to work together in the deafhood's example.

So, the AVT MUST die!

White Ghost

Heather said...

Wow! Fabulous discourse here! I loved that video and actually watched it before scrolling down the page and reading the remainder of your post. I was shocked to see that quote and Mary's name next to it and knew immediately that something wasn't right. Then I came back to your page and saw that you cleared it up, nice work Karen!

I understand the approach to emphasize the auditory input since children with Ci's are learning how to listen and distinguish between sounds. I can also understand why so many parents don't go the ASL route, they are hearing and have no road map and may not have any access to the deaf community. That's true in our case simply dictated by geography.

Yet I personally feel that it's every deaf person's right to learn ASL so they can make the choice later as to whether or not to become part of the deaf community, Ci or no.

It's not easy for us hearing folks who have never met a deaf adult and don't live near a city with a deaf community. How can we teach them a language that we ourselves don't know?

But I try, my friend's try, our baby sitter tries, and that is the best we can do.

Juliet said...

That is one of Paula's favorite songs! I got goosebumps watching the video.

Jared said...

I am the hearing parent of a Deaf child. I have chosen not to implant her. I have worked my butt off to make ASL her first language. I believe I am raising a Deaf adult, and I should give her the opportunity to grow up with the language that uses her strengths not her weakness. My daughter has a 65 db loss and we give her aids but learning speech is not a priority. I believe if she has the ability to use auditory and oral skills, she will pick them up naturally like a hearing child. If not, ok she is perfect the way she is.

Jared said...

I am the hearing parent of a Deaf child. I have chosen not to implant her. I have worked my butt off to make ASL her first language. I believe I am raising a Deaf adult, and I should give her the opportunity to grow up with the language that uses her strengths not her weakness. My daughter has a 65 db loss and we give her aids but learning speech is not a priority. I believe if she has the ability to use auditory and oral skills, she will pick them up naturally like a hearing child. If not, ok she is perfect the way she is.