Category Archives: advocacy

Lessons for Change From the Deaf President Now Protest

Have you ever wanted to make a change? Maybe you would like to improve your child’s school? Change something in the community or even the government? This month we remember one group who made a huge difference at Gallaudet. They also changed the Deaf community as a whole, forever.

The Deaf President Now (DPN) protest was a huge success. It is taught in every beginning ASL course and any class on Deaf History and Culture. Again and again we tell the story of DPN. The pride and joy that was felt on the day that a Deaf president was sworn into the office of President at Gallaudet University is still felt every time it is told.

Why do we feel such joy?

Could it be because a group of ordinary people (people like us) were able to do something amazing in the face of opposition by those who were in power?

Was it because they made real change happen?

Is there something that YOU want to accomplish that you feel is impossible?

Is there something that you want to change that affects you and your life?

I know there is!

What made the DPN protest so successful?

What can WE learn today and apply to our own challenges we are facing?

On the Gallaudet website there is an article that lists some ideas as to why the DPN protest succeeded so completely and so quickly. I’d like to take a quick look at some of these factors and how they can work in our lives to move us forward to success in any organization and against any challenge.

  1. They had a TEAM. In the DPN movement there was a huge number of community members involved. They included deaf and hearing students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
  2. The DPN Team used examples. The protesters looked to the past at what had worked in their time to overcome similar issues of oppression. Then they used similar strategies. Since 1989 many things have changed in the way that political battles are fought. It is a good idea to look to recent history and current political methods for good examples. The best way to move forward in a fight against oppression in the political world often changes.
  3. A PLAN:
    • The group of protesters had clearly defined goals. Their approach was focused and direct.
    • Talking to the right people: the DPN protesters focused on communicating with the Board of Trustees. These were the people that could take action on the demands they were making.
    • The protest leaders were incredibly organized. They began the groundwork for their movement months before the actual protest, got the media interested early, and once the protest started, formed an organizing committee and control center.” (The Week of DPN, Epilogue)
  4. Legal, ethical, moral: The protest was non-violent. In almost every way, the protesters respected the law. No one was injured and minimal property damaged.
  5. Use your strengths! The students who became leaders through this protest were able to clearly present their case to others and address an audience. They were intelligent and able to present a strong argument.

What does this mean for you?

When you look to make a change in your life, in an organization, or in government, these are great tips to follow! This is how DPN was successful.

First, decide what you want to change. Then, get a team. Using examples from others who have succeeded, make a plan. Finally, stay on target and keep it legal, ethical and moral! Use the strengths that YOU have! This is how we can change our world.

Reference: The Week of DPN, Epilogue – from

Effective Instructional Strategies for Deaf Students (and really all students)

Effective Instructional Strategies for Deaf Students (and really all students)

In the journey or raising a deaf child, educational placement is always a challenge and an ongoing question. Recently I shared an older post about the time I removed my child from a residential school for the Deaf and had him at home. He later went back to school in a mainstream public school program. Now he is back at the school for the deaf with a different teacher.

Educational placement is an ongoing question from many parents

From a father of a deaf son, who was heartbroken from my post about pulling my son out of the Deaf school: So you had him in a Deaf school and it didn’t work? And here I’m thinking a Deaf school is what my son needs!” 

Another question from a phone conversation a month back, “What do you look for in a good program or a school for your deaf child? How do I know if it’s a good school?” This post is my answer. 

No matter what kind of program you decide to place your child:a residential school for the Deaf, a day program, a magnet school, there are some basic strategies that will make or break any program. A classroom teacher that implements effective strategies and an administration that encourages and requires such strategies will be a more successful program.

When we told the IEP team we were bringing my son home, the comments we got were supportive: “My grandsons were all homeschooled.” And this one I love, “School is not for everyone.”

In my work as a teacher of the deaf, and now even more as a parent of deaf children; I have seen what strategies will really engage your students/children, and others that will cause behavior problems, boredom and poor overall achievement. The table below shows ineffective instructional strategies and effective instructional strategies. Keep in mind, the ineffective strategies can be used in instruction; it’s how often they are used and to what extent. We all need a little skill and drill to practice and retain information, but too much is too much! 

My advice for parents looking for a good program for their child? 

  1. Tour the school while school is in session, observing the teachers and the students during instructional time.
  2. Review the school’s language policy and philosophy. Use this, but don’t base everything on it. For example, Utah’s language policy is decades old, and their actual classroom practices in the classroom are much better then their language policy implies.
  3. Interview the administration, teachers and staff. Question the use of the effective strategies listed on the right. What is the administration’s commitment to making sure these are carried out in the classroom?
  4. Try to find another parent in the area that has a child attending the school. (This might be tricky) – or review the school’s website and reviews online.
  5. Search for videos the school may have produced. I know some great schools are out there because of the videos they have published on YouTube. Check out these! Animals in ASL by California School for the Deaf Riverside. Wizard of Oz by Florida School for the Deaf.

I’d be happy to be a “sounding board” for your questions concerning programs you are considering! Leave me a comment or contact me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *