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Is it okay for Hearing people to teach sign language?


Students of ASL may receive mixed messages regarding whether or not it is okay for Hearing people to teach ASL. 

A way to approach the question of "who can or should" teach ASL -- is to consider:

Does this activity help or hurt the Deaf Community?

Then make the question increasingly granular (as in "specific") for each case:

Does a Hearing parent teaching their child a mix of 90% accurate and 10% not so accurate signs benefit the Deaf Community? In general, yes -- if the child  grows up with positive vibes toward the Deaf and chooses to become an interpreter or just be a general ally to the Deaf.

Does a qualified Hearing person who has a lot of experience with the Deaf community and a near native understanding of ASL teaching ASL in a remote community where there are no Deaf seeking jobs help or harm the Deaf Community? In general it helps the Deaf Community.

Does an unqualified Hearing person (who doesn't know many basic signs and has an incorrect understanding of many signs) calling their self a teacher and justifying it because technically they learned a little bit and are teaching that little bit to someone else help or hurt the Deaf community? Well, it tends to bastardize the language and annoys the natives.

By the way, "bastardization" isn't a swear word.

Definition: "bastardize"
1. To change (something) in such a way as to lower its quality or value, typically by adding new elements.

I know some wonderful, qualified Hearing teachers of ASL doing great work.

I also know a poorly qualified individual that took a job for which I was a candidate when my family was young and I needed the work and the medical insurance. The individual later  sought me out to ask me questions about how to sign things.

The only logical answer to the question, "Is it okay for a Hearing person to teach ASL?" is -- "It depends."

Yet, when is the last time the majority of any sector of society behaved in a logical manner?

People, in general, are creatures of emotion and passion. We unconsciously or dysconsciously choose to stereotype and discriminate based on those stereotypes.

Definition: Dysconsciousness refers to an uncritical habit of mind (including perceptions, attitudes, assumptions, and beliefs) that justifies inequity and exploitation by accepting the existing order of things as a given. (Sagepub dot com)

The zeitgeist of the American Deaf Community is currently, in general, not in favor of Hearing people teaching ASL.

Definition: "zeitgeist"
1. The defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time. (Oxford)

So, is it okay for unqualified Hearing people to teach ASL?


Is it okay for fully-qualified Hearing people to teach ASL?

Tentatively yes -- if no qualified Deaf person is around who wants the job.

Is it okay for semi-qualified Hearing people to teach ASL? 

No.  Become fully qualified first.



* Is it okay for someone who pulls out a sliver to call themselves a surgeon?





Also see: Just because you can sign doesn't mean you can teach:


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