Saturday, January 30, 2016

My Own Capacity

People who know me know my passion lies in language acquisition, prevention of language delays/deprivation, and literacy. I was a co-founder of Alliance for Language and Literacy for Deaf Children (ALL for Deaf Children) in the 1990s to provide families with opportunities to interact with other families with Deaf children and thus creating a small village.

I seem to have skills in assessing issues and determining how we can and should fix the inequalities or inequities. I feel blessed to have an ability to write about such issues and have people understand what I am trying to say. I also have some cross-cultural skills that enable me to understand the other points of views.

Internet is probably the best resource I have at my fingertips! Other resources I have at my disposal are other equally passionate advocates who share my vision for healthy language development for all Deaf children. We boost and support each other’s advocacy work.

I need to develop patience and realization that nothing happens overnight. I also need to become more focused on smaller objectives and getting them accomplished. Ultimately, those small objectives will accomplish the major goal.

Monday, January 25, 2016

My Role as an Advocate

In one of my classes, Early Childhood Systems, we were asked to write a blog describing what about early childhood public policy and advocacy that resonate with me. I wrote that Louise Sparks-Derman (Laureate Education, 2011) defined advocate as someone who speaks for the voiceless. I further wrote that she said, “…that the preschool years are critical; they are the first, most fundamental period where children are in fact noticing who they are and are noticing the attitudes of the stereotypes and the discomforts…that the teachers have a tremendous influence on their self-identities.”  She (Laureate Education, Inc. 2010) also believes that we need “to fix the injustices that existed in the world.”  Renatta M. Cooper (Laureate Education, Inc. 2010) commented, “I see early childhood education, all education, really, as a civil rights issue.”

The issues outlined by Louise Sparks-Derman and Renatta M. Cooper were intended for all of the children. Those issues are doubly more important for Deaf children who have normal capabilities to achieve but only if they have access to a full and visible language. That’s my motivation – to ensure that all Deaf children have equal opportunities to achieve all they can and want to in life.

To achieve this goal, I would need to be engaged on the macro level as we have discussed in the past couple of weeks. Engaging in developing public policies that would have positive outcomes for deaf children would be some of the macro activities. Many of those families would and could benefit from micro involvement from early childhood professionals. That could be language intervention services for the families; or accompanying a family with a Deaf child to a Deaf social event to ensure acculturation process for the family.

It would be difficult to find a community leader that would possess all of the important characteristics of an advocate. Hence, the community leader must have the ability to put together a group of advocates with certain skills that would complement each other. The community leader would also have excellent communication and listening skills. The community leader is a collaborator of all essential stakeholders like parents, early childhood professionals, advocacy groups, state/federal government entities, and legislators.

When our advocacy group has specific tasks, we ask those whom we know have particular skills to help. Usually, they get inspired to stay involved.

Laureate Education, Inc. (2010) The passion for early childhood. Baltimore: Author

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Personal Advocacy Reflection

I have always been an advocate for myself. When my two Deaf children entered public school system, I found myself advocating for their needs, too. Most of the personnel did not have much experiences dealing with Deaf students, let alone two students who are Deaf- and ASL-culturally savvy. Most of the elementary school teachers were wonderful and amenable to listening to me when I shared concerns. It was smooth riding till my older son entered middle school. We were dealing with a new high school district with new personnel.

There were two specific incidents where I was truly grateful when I had someone advocate for me on behalf of my children.

First was my son kept getting unskilled and unqualified interpreters because there was no one in the school district who could evaluate their American Sign Language fluency. I asked if we could have an opportunity to assess the candidates’ fluency. The director of special education services told me that the school district would not allow parents to hire staff. I could not convince them that I was not hiring them but giving feedback to their ASL fluency. By the third interpreter – which could not be replaced without an IEP, I became truly frustrated. I told them that they were wasting my, my son’s, the school personnel, the school district’s staff, and the interpreting candidates when they did not allow me to evaluate the candidates’ ASL skills. It so happened that the middle school got a new vice principal who attended the third IEP conference in one year.

Afterwards, she made a point to sit down with me and asked me what the issue was since she did not have the history or background. I asked her who in the entire school district was qualified to evaluate the candidates for ASL interpreting job. I told her that all I needed to do was to spend 15 minutes with the interpreter before being able to determine whether they can do the job. Bless her, the vice principal understood the situation and, best of all, fixed it for once and for all.

In high school, there was a situation where the interpreter had a personality conflict with my son. It was creating issues where the interpreter would be getting my son in trouble deliberately. The interpreter was well-liked by the principal, and I could not convince him that the interpreter’s actions and behaviors were totally unprofessional and inappropriate. They wanted to suspend my son, but I refused and called for an IEP. I knew we were in for some heavy discussions, and I was emotionally invested in the issue. So I asked for a friend who was a lawyer to come with me. She has a Deaf daughter so she was familiar with ASL, and classroom interpreting situations.

The principal and the teacher had a laundry list of behavior issues that were mostly common with all students like passing notes, talking with other students, and not paying attention to the interpreter. My advocate stopped them from finishing the laundry list and asked them to focus on the conflict with the interpreter. That was when the representative from the school district announced that the interpreter was fired! Whew! My son got an interpreter that worked out well for him the next two years.
I have had many other situations where others had advocated so well for me and for my children, but these two stood out for me because of how the issue quickly got resolved. I am eternally grateful to these two advocates.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Advocacy Action Overview

Policy Development and Advocacy

When I graduate in July, I would like to be engaged in policy development and advocacy because it involves collaboration with elected officials, schools, and program administrators to create policies that foster the health and development of children and families (Kieff, 2009). We have an ethical responsibility to “recognize and work to resolve issues that disenfranchise others and/or create barriers that prevent children and families from reaching their optimal potential” (Kieff, 2009, p.6).

The first principle of the National Association of Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is:

Above all, we shall not harm children. We shall not participate in practices that are emotionally damaging, physically harmful, disrespectful, degrading, dangerous, exploitative, or intimidating to children. This principle has precedence over all others in the Code.

I would like to educate our government agencies and private foundations that some of their public policies are harming our deaf children. Kieff (2009) said “Since it is virtually impossible for children to speak for themselves regarding their health, educational, emotional, and physical needs, advocacy is a high priority among early childhood professionals” (Henniger, 2008).


Henniger, M. L. (2008). Teaching young children: An introduction (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall.
Kieff, J. (2009). Informed advocacy in early childhood care and education. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2005). Code of ethical conduct and statement of commitment. Retrieved from: