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Interview:  Brent Ehrig

Interviewee: Brent Ehrig
Interviewer:  William Vicars
Date of interview: 09-12-00

Deaf adult: Brent Ehrig
Email: Btehrig@AOL
Age: 23
Current residence: Lamar University Dorm
Originally from: Houston, Texas

Educational Background:
Elementary School: Meadows Elementary, 
- day program
- one deaf instructor
- all instructors signed

Middle school: Killough 
- mainstreamed with an interpreter except for English class
- English class was a deaf group

High School: Ben Franklin Tery 
- mainstreamed in all classes
- used an interpreter for all classes

Preferred communication method: ASL

Brent learned ASL by interacting with other Deaf people. He has been using ASL for about three years now. He learned a little bit of it while still in high school but it wasn't until he came here that he really started using it. He received oral training until 8th grade at which time it was determined by the adults in his life that further training would be of little or no benefit.

The rest of his family is hearing. His mother and two older brothers sign pretty good and can communicate with him quite well. His mom started learning sign from a support group she found out about through a friend who's cousin had a deaf daughter. 

Brent doesn't appreciate the way ARD meetings and IEPs are conducted. He feels that the hearing people make all the decisions for the Deaf student without getting the student's input. This shows a lack of respect for the Deaf. For example, he had a friend who was doing good in the normal classes. The friend wanted to try out more advanced classes. But the system made it difficult to do so. Deaf students should be allowed to take advanced classes with the understanding that if the classes are working out they can always go back to the regular deaf classes.

Sometimes he wonders how would it be to have gone to a residential Deaf school. His opinion is that residential schools for the deaf are better at developing deaf student's social skills and their ability to communicate in ASL. He feels that attending a residential school for the deaf helps prepare you to be successful in the Deaf world. He isn't sure if attending a residential school would have been good for his academic progress though. If you want to be successful in the hearing world, you need exposure to it and you get that exposure by being mainstreamed at a public school.

Brent attributes his own success not so much to the schools he attended but rather the family he grew up in. He comes from a family of college graduates. Academic success was an expectation level in his home. Especially his mother. She believed he could succeed and she showed it by investing countless hours working with Brent. He is grateful for that.

His father died not too long ago. Brent looked away and paused for a moment before expressing a sense of loss. He and his father never developed much of a bond because his father never took the time to learn how to sign.


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