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SpecialEd.fm

Feb 10, 2021

In this episode, I speak with Jeff Bravin, Executive Director of the American School for the Deaf (ASD) in Hartford, CT to discuss the importance of a literacy and language rich environment (their version of LRE). Not only does ASD serve deaf and hard of hearing students, they also have a successful program for hearing and non-verbal students with Autism.

Jeff's Bio:
Jeffrey S. Bravin has been employed at the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford, CT since 2002. He is currently the Executive Director responsible for oversight of the school. He reports directly to the Board of Directors with responsibility for carrying out the vision, mission and goals of ASD.

Prior to assuming this role, Jeff served as the Assistant Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer of the school. Prior to that he was the Director of Special Projects which focused on logistics related to the building of ASD’s new State-of-the-Art Educational Facility, the Gallaudet-Clerc Education Center--as well as ASD’s PrintWorks as part of ASD’s Technology Center. This role also included supervising Information Technology Services, Security, Sign Language and Interpreting Services, as well as the Isola Bella Summer Camp. Jeff also assisted in fund development, special events and public relations strategies, including managing alumni relations.

He earned his B.A. Degree in Government from Gallaudet University, M.S. Degree in Deaf Education from McDaniel College (formerly known as Western Maryland College), and M.S. Degree in School Administration and Supervision from Queens College.

You can find Jeff through the American School for the Deaf's website:

https://www.asd-1817.org/

 

TRANSCRIPT (not proofread)
DRAFT01_NTK_EPS27_Language Is The Doorway To Wisdom

SUMMARY KEYWORDS
deaf, child, students, language, parents, people, hearing, asd, public school, education, least restrictive environment, educator, captions, school, special education, program, interpreter, absolutely, environment, teacher

SPEAKERS: Jeff Bravin, Dana Jonson

Dana Jonson  00:02

Hello, and welcome to need to know with Dana Jonson. I'm your host, Dana Jonson and I'm here to give you the information you need to know to best advocate for your child. I'm a special education attorney in private practice, a former special education teacher and administrator, a current mom to four children with IPS and I myself have ADHD and dyslexia. So I've approached the world of disability and special education from many angles. And I'll provide straightforward information about your rights and your schools obligations, information from other professionals on many topics, as well as tips and tricks for working with your school district. My goal is to empower you through your journey. So please subscribe to this podcast so you don't miss any new episodes. And I want to know what you want to know. So like, follow and drop me a note. Um, I need to know with Dana Jonson Facebook page. Okay, let's get started. Today I'm speaking with Jeff braven, who is the executive director of the American School for the Deaf. Hi, Jeff, thank you for joining me.

 

Jeff Bravin  01:06

Hi, Dana. Thank you for having me today. I really appreciate this opportunity. Wonderful. And I should mention to my listeners, if you notice that there's a little gap between my speaking and Jeff, and you might have been a little surprised to hear a female voice. Jeff is in fact deaf and we are communicating through his interpreter right now.

 

Dana Jonson  01:25

So, Jeff, I would love it. If you would give me a background. I would love everyone to hear about what your background is and how you ended up at the American School for the Deaf and why I am looking to you to tell me what I need to know about students who are deaf and hard of hearing.

 

Jeff Bravin  01:45

Sure, thank you, Dana. Just a brief background about myself. I was born in upstate New York, Kingston, New York. I was born to a deaf family. Both my parents are deaf. And I have to say my circumstances were a bit unusual. I am a fourth generation deaf in my family, my parents, my grandparents and great grandparents are all deaf. And that's very unusual in our community. About 95% of deaf children are born to hearing parents so we were not the norm. The advantage of my family is that I had full access to communication from birth on. But my parents realized that there were no deaf schools in the Kingston area where I was born. So my parents searched, and they found a deaf school Lexington School for the Deaf in Jackson Heights, which is in Queens. And that was a two and a half hour drive from our home. So my mom would drive me with the infant program and bring you there three times a week. And I have to give my parents full credit for taking that time to drive me to the program to make sure I had the appropriate education access language communication access. And after several months of driving, my parents realized they had to make the move, so they decided to move closer to the school. I grew up going to Lexington and I had Deaf peers. It was a fully accessible environment for me as a deaf individual. By ninth grade, I realized I was doing really well academically and I was curious about public schools and what they were like so we started looking and we found a public school in Rhinebeck, New York called blind burn High School. And really, I was living in Pelham, New York, but Pelham school district did not have the full accessibility in terms of services that I needed. So going to ride Brook I was able to have full access to all services. I had a professional interpreter and professional notetaker for myself, so I was able to have full access to all of the classes. So I ended up graduating from that high school and some have asked me what the differences were between a public school and a deaf school. And I have to say the education was really very similar. But I have to say what I lost was my social peers growing up at a deaf school and being around so many deaf people, everything was very social and interactive for me. When I went to the public school, I only had four or five Deaf peers that I interacted with, but there were also hearing peers that I was around as well. After high school and graduating I decided to go back to the deaf community and I went to Gallaudet University in Washington DC. I got my bachelor's and government studies and started working actually at the IRS. I found that that was absolutely not my cup of tea. So I went back to see my teacher at Galena I said, you know, the IRS is really not for me. And my teacher said, You know, I think you would be really well off as an educator, I think you would really enjoy that. So I headed off to Western Maryland College, now known as McDaniel University and got my master's and Deaf Education decided to head back to my alma mater at Lexington School for the Deaf in New York and got started as a high school teacher. Now while I was there, I also started taking some education administrative courses at St. John's universe. In Queens College, took those courses and graduated at Lexington, I moved up to the Director of Development. And then I did really well there. I worked with fundraising and the American School for the Deaf at that time, the superintendent was Dr. Harvey corson. He happened to hear about me. And he reached out to me and said, Hey, why don't you come on over to Connecticut? And I said, Connecticut. Now listen, I had grown up in New York, it would be hard for me to leave New York and he said, You know what, give it a year. I said, Well, alright, at least it's still New England. And I thought, let me try it for a year. Well, I've been here 19 years now. So I moved up the ranks here at the American School for the Deaf, I started in a position with the development department, then I worked my way up to assistant executive director and now I'm executive director. And I've been in this role for seven years. It's a wonderful place. It's an amazing environment, our staff are just incredible. And our mission, always is helping every individual child grow and thrive here at ASD.

 

Dana Jonson  06:05

And what you say is really interesting, because being fourth generation deaf, I presume your parents had a sense of how to speak to you and how to communicate with you because they themselves were deaf. I think when you have children who are born to hearing parents, it might be different, because it might take longer for them to realize that they need to sign I remember my son was a year when they said they thought he might be deaf. He's not he ended up not being deaf, but it was he was about a year. So when they told me that they thought he might be and so that's a long, long time. What kind of language milestones are we missing for children who are deaf or hard of hearing when we're not addressing it during those first couple of years?

 

Jeff Bravin  06:52

Great question. So I think in terms of hearing parents who find that their child is deaf, I think there are various stages they go through, perhaps initially, there's some shock. And now more so than there ever was, there's so much information out there, which is good, but it also can cause a lot of confusion for parents. So we work very closely with Birth to Three group. We also have Early Hearing intervention and detection group, we all work together to talk about how we can better educate families that do have deaf children, so they can have that early identification of that hearing loss. Once we have that clear identification, we can help guide them to access the right kind of birth to three programs so that we can work with the families and help provide them with a full awareness of all the different options that parents have, the earlier that we can introduce language to their children, the better off they will be. Now I have to say this has been quite a challenge over the years, not just here in Connecticut, but nationally, where people really are trying to figure out or sometimes people think I know what I'm doing, even sometimes the school districts who may say, Oh, absolutely, we can educate this child and they start working. And by the time the child reaches 11 1213 years old, they realize they're not able to educate the child properly. And they try to find another school for that child. And I feel it should be the other way around, bring the child to a deaf school where we can provide full language access and communication so that that child can have a strong language foundation before they go on to other programs.

 

Dana Jonson  08:31

So what I'm hearing is that you prefer a proactive approach rather than a reactive approach, which I could not agree with you more on. And I feel that we have that issue with many disabilities in the public school, which is we wait for the child to fail before we bring them to the services that they need. And as you are probably aware, in the IDA, the term Least Restrictive Environment gets thrown around a lot. And I always tell people, it's the least restrictive environment that is appropriate. We have to maintain that. And for a lot of students, I think they need that more restrictive environment in order to prepare to go into the least restrictive environment as as you were just saying, what are some signs? So I'm just curious for really young children because as I said, it took a long time before I was told that it was a possibility. What are some signs that parents can look for that you might see in Deaf children because I presume that they can also see and identify their environment and pick up on cues that way?

 

Jeff Bravin  09:38

That's another good question. But I do want to go back a little bit as you mentioned, Least Restrictive Environment oftentimes at ASD, we actually changed that acronym LR II to mean a literacy and language rich environment. The idea is that we want to promote strong communication access and language access here at our school but anyway, in turn of identification for children and what parents might notice. Even today, it's so much better than it was 15 or 20 years ago, I want to say 99 to 90% of children are identified with a hearing loss at birth with the testing and the screening procedures that we have. Now, however, that being said, there are some children that will pass that test and later on mom and dad might notice something's a little different. So for example, if a parent was to call out their child's name, and the child does not turn their head in response to that, or if the child does not start to speak until much later, or has, no speaking at all, parents might start to wonder or if a child reacts to a lot of visual cues, that might be another indicator if the child is very visual, and relies on that more so than their hearing. So those are a few signs where parents may wonder that their child has a potential hearing loss. And perhaps the parents should bring their child to an audiologist, for follow up evaluations to be able to determine whether or not there's a hearing loss or another issue at hand that the child may have.

 

Dana Jonson  11:06

Wonderful. So when you talk about your LRE, the literacy rich environment that the students need, what does that look like for a student who's deaf or hard of hearing? What do they need in that classroom to provide them the understanding? Again, going from what you said, being proactive, not reactive. I suspected I'm all over the place, sorry. But when we are reactive, we are addressing one particular thing. And we're saying, okay, that didn't work. So let's go put a bandaid on that. But when you're talking about language and communication, you know, putting that bandaid on is not helping the bigger picture of communication. So what is it that those students require? Who need that language build environment.

 

Jeff Bravin  11:59

So I can give an easy example. So if you have a hearing child born to a hearing family, they will have constant exposure to sound and communication from birth. And just that incidental learning that comes from being in an environment where they're able to hear pick up on sounds and communication. a deaf child does not have that. So if you don't provide that deaf child with appropriate interventions, which either could be sign language, or as a way of picking up communication, or speech and language therapy, as long as the parents are paying attention to those kinds of interventions and processes, oftentimes, parents are surprised and not sure what they should be doing. And that causes a delay. And the longer that delay goes, the more that that child misses out on that language acquisition. And I always say that a child's brain is so much like a sponge. And that critical language acquisition period is from birth to eight years old. And that is where children are really able to absorb and take in all of that language and learning which is so critical for their development. Here at the American School for the Deaf, we have the right kinds of professionals who know about language access, who know about education and how to acquire language. And so we're able to provide children with all of those necessary true tools to succeed and thrive. A lot of times people also asked about our school and why we call ourselves a bilingual environment. So here we have two languages, we have English and we have American Sign Language. So American Sign Language is a visual language. Now if we look at English, you could look at it as reading, writing. There's also the listening and the spoken English approach. We offer all of those options at our school, depending upon the child, some children will thrive and grow quickly with American Sign Language. And we will absolutely reinforce that and help them grow. If the child decides that they eventually want to move on to public school, because they have done so well, that's great, or if they stay with us, that's great too. Some children do not benefit from that some benefit more from the listening and spoken language environment. The point is, is that we want to be able to provide children with full access to almost a communication until it's determined what is going to work best for them. Also, another important fact to consider is that peer to peer learning, which is something that we have here the American School for the Deaf, there are peers where children are able to learn from each other and grow with each other. In other environments, there may not be any other peers that are like them. And so sometimes children feel lost. And I can use myself as an example. When I went into public school even though I already had the very strong language foundation. I didn't have any kind of benefit from sound or spoken language because that was not something that worked for me. However, I still struggled even with a strong language Foundation, I struggled to interact with peers, there was absolutely a group of peers that were eager to learn sign language or write back and forth with me. And I was able to interact with them too. And then there were other people Here's at the public school who just didn't want to deal with any of that. So it was an interesting mix. But I have to say today, with all of the changing technology, accessibility is so much greater than it used to be.

 

Dana Jonson  15:12

And that's definitely something I was going to ask you and I, but back to the, between birth and eight years old is really the best time if we can get the intervention intervention to a student. You know, in public school, we're restricted with the resources that we have sometimes. And so whether it's Signed English, or ASL, which I think it's important to note that American Sign Language is a language. It's not just about signing the words that we say. And it was created by Gallaudet, who was French, which is one of the reasons I always love it, because I grew up in France. And so the structure of the sentences reflect more French than it does English, or maybe you know, American English. So I like that. But when we're talking about giving students the tools that they need, do you teach them how to survive in a hearing world, where they may encounter people who don't know how to communicate the way that they do? Or who aren't interested in it? Is their life 101 a baby for the death?

 

Jeff Bravin  16:23

That's a great question. So now I have to say let me back up a little bit. I am an educator. And so I will always provide clarifications when I see things so galley that actually was not French. He was born here in America and Thomas Gallaudet went to France and found a deaf educator lo and Claire, who came back to America with him. And that was actually how our school was founded. But you are correct. Thomas Gallaudet learned quite a bit from France and Laura and Claire also learned quite a bit about America and English from Thomas Galya debt. And that actually was how American Sign Language was developed. We started with French sign language. And we also had brought in some members of a very famous Deaf community, which was from Martha's Vineyard. We also had students at the beginning of our school who had their own home signs and all of that blended to become American Sign Language as we know it today. But going back to early interventions, absolutely, yes, it is critical that children ages birth to aid have the appropriate support in place. And people that understand that oftentimes, if a deaf or hard of hearing child goes to a public school, they have an educator, that's true and a teacher in the classroom. But is that educator Do they have the background and the knowledge of deaf and hard of hearing individuals here in ASD, we do have all of the educators with that specialized kind of training. And that's really the benefit of having the children come to our school because we are able to help those children grow and thrive. And we have some students that go on to go through college and come back to the field of Deaf Education much like I did, even though I could absolutely go work in the hearing corporate world, I wanted to come back to education. And so we do have a lot of deaf individuals that have gone on to work in different capacities, not just deaf education. But I have one example back in the 1980s, we had maybe just three or four Deaf attorneys in our entire country, after the Deaf President Now movement at Gallaudet University. And after ADA was passed, we now have over 400 Deaf attorneys in our country alone, and they work fully with hearing people side by side. They may have some deaf clients, but I really don't think that there are that many deaf people who get into that kind of trouble. No, I'm just kidding. But just overall, we have deaf people that go on to find professions, for Apple for Google for all kinds of corporations, construction companies. And oftentimes year after year, we host something called a career fair day at our school, where we invite these Deaf professionals that work in a variety of fields to come to our school so that our students can see, oh, I can be this or I can be that or if I want to go on to be like this individual. That's something that I can do. So we offer those opportunities to our students.

 

Dana Jonson  19:12

That's wonderful. And I love that you now have people who can be the example I think, in our world right now we're for the first time starting to really acknowledge how important that is for students to not only have peers that are similar, but also mentors and teachers. And I know that in our country right now we're addressing or we're talking a lot about that as it pertains to race. And it also pertains to disability in any way. So how do students who have been identified from birth had all that language provided to them, and then they go to school that is meant for them? How did they then also learn how to handle themselves in a world that doesn't understand them? Is there like a separate component For that, if that makes sense.

 

Jeff Bravin  20:05

So I think it's important for the students to have role models to see how they are able to function in the hearing world. Now, as I mentioned earlier, technology really has been a game changer, I could email you, and you would never know that I was a deaf individual, you would assume that I was a hearing person until we met in person and you would say, oh, or if you received a phone call, you would say, why is this guy's name Jeff, but he's got a female voice. I've been called Jane, I've been called so many different names. But you know, that's how you I would identify me as a deaf person later on. But I absolutely can do that. Only if I have that strong language Foundation, I'm able to do this. But without the language, it really is a tremendous struggle and challenge. So that is why I always come back to the importance of language. And once you have that, then you can be whoever you want to be. And you can absolutely grow and thrive, you can have those social experiences, you can go on to different professions. Here at ASD, we have some students that may make the decision that college is not their forte. So we have something called a transition program, where children ages 18 to 21, can either stay here or come here and learn about different career fields, and get experiences as interns not on campus, but out in the real world out in the community, so that they can have those experiences with supports in place to learn how to work with hearing people. And then after they leave that program, they're able to go on and be very successful. And oftentimes our students that start work as interns, a different job sites actually go on to be hired. So that's really how we help our students get prepared for different careers.

 

Dana Jonson  21:52

Well, and I think that would be the number one barrier, correct? Is that in for an employer? Can I hire them? Because how am I going to understand them? or How are my clients going to understand them? So, as you said, allowing that employer to see how that works, and understand that it can work and that it is beneficial to them? It has to be its own program. Right.

 

Jeff Bravin  22:19

Right, exactly. And oftentimes, initially, the employer may have a lot of questions and be very hesitant, but really, it's only a matter of days, or even a few weeks, where the bonds are formed. And it absolutely is amazing. People always find a way. And I'm not talking about just deaf individuals, but any disability community, you know, people with autism, you just find their area of expertise, their skills, their talents, and put that to great use. And really, it's so wonderful that we can all work together and we can all help each other and thrive in the world we have today with all of the issues around racism. Yes, that's absolutely out there and happening. But I think that's all because we haven't had the right kind of environment exposure and education for everybody. Once we have that in place, a lot of those issues will go away. So we really have to focus on the root of everything. I think that's so critical.

 

Dana Jonson  23:14

Yeah, it stands out of fear, and fear of the unknown. So technology is was my next question, which is, I mean, it has to have changed so drastically, I had in my master's program, there was a student who was deaf, so his, his interpreter would come to all of our classes. And so I got to see that next to the teacher, which I personally loved. But then recently, I was at a conference pre COVID, where I saw some people with their laptops open, and they were reading and I was a little disappointed that we weren't going to have any we're not going to have any sign language interpreters for me to watch. So

 

23:57

how has

 

Dana Jonson  23:58

How has that really, I presume it has helped, but how has technology changed? how deaf people can and people who are hard of hearing engage in this world.

 

Jeff Bravin  24:14

It has changed our lives, really is the bottom line. So with captioning, we have artificial intelligence, captions, and they are amazing. I have to say I've been in conferences where I've seen that work wonderfully. But I want to say that works wonderfully. Only if a person has language. If an individual doesn't have that language, then the captions are pointless. And that would be true with other foreign languages. So if you've got that captioning, that's great. But if somebody from another country comes and they don't have a clear understanding of the language, they're going to struggle to understand just like somebody that's Deaf that doesn't have strong language, would struggle to understand captions. So we do have some people in our community who would follow cats. Just fine. We have another group of individuals in our community who would not benefit from the captions, they would benefit more from having an ASL interpreter because that is their true language. That is the language they've grown up with. It really depends on every, every individual that everybody's a little different. But with technology today, it is really astounding. All the videos are captioned. There's some videos that even have interpreters. Other people will develop interpretive videos, all of that kind of exposure for our students, is just life changing. And right now we have the smartboard technology. There are virtual interpreters, it doesn't even have to be a live interpreter anymore. We have something called source interpreting here on our campus that the American School for the Deaf, after the state of Connecticut, close their interpreting services, we opened an interpreting agency and we provide interpreters not just for our school, but statewide also. And so our interpreters have been working virtually, especially since the onset of this pandemic. So what that means is for students in public schools, if they need access, they can have interpreting services provided virtually and I have to say, it is not the same as having a person live with you. But at least they have that access. And the child will succeed once again, they'll only if they have full language access. So that's really critical here.

 

Dana Jonson  26:20

And that's part of the point I wanted to get at, which is that language skills is different than just being able to read the words. Correct. So when we're teaching a student how to read or, you know, we're saying that, Oh, well, if the words pop up that will work, there's a deeper understanding that's necessary for language. Can you speak to that a

 

26:41

little bit?

 

26:45

Sure.

 

Jeff Bravin  26:49

So some of the students we have prefer the listening and spoken English approach. And we've noticed that for that particular group of students, they are able to grow and thrive only if they have language, if they have no language, how are they going to be able to hear and understand a word? How are they going to be able to read or write if they don't have that structure, and instruction in language Foundation, they really, really absolutely need that. And the same is true for deaf and hard of hearing students that we teach here. We teach them American Sign Language, but we don't just teach them American Sign Language and say this is it, we teach them American Sign Language, and then we apply those skills to reading to writing to help them so that it applies in everything they do for the rest of their lives. And that really helps them to bridge that language. You'll see so many bilingual programs are so successful, because they're able how to apply their language with English. And that's exactly what we do here as well. And it really depends, again, upon the student's preferred communication mode, what their parents would like. But we're able to offer a breadth of opportunities and different options so that they are able to meet language milestones and grow. And we can track which language works best for their child based on their family's preference and to work with them on that.

 

Dana Jonson  28:10

And that level of communication and understanding is not just for the deaf and hard of hearing. You have also a program for children with autism and other developmental delays who have language issues. Can you explain that a little bit?

 

Jeff Bravin  28:27

Sure, absolutely. So here are the American School for the Deaf, we have two programs, we have our core academic program, and that is for any student, just a regular kind of K through 1212 program, but we also have students with other disabilities. So we have students that have hearing loss and may have dyslexia or have cognitive delays or intellectual disabilities. And so with those kinds of students, we have the right kinds of educators who are certified in both special education and deaf education, and so they're able to help that group grow and thrive. We also have something called our PCs program. And that's the acronym for positive attitudes concerning education and socialization, pe C's program, that program started 40 years ago, and that is for students who have hearing loss and emotional or behavioral issues as well. So we have that program. It is licensed by the Department of Children and Families. It's also an accredited program as well. And they focused on any of those students who have intense behavior issues and needs, but we try to work with them so that they're able to make that transition that to a core program, our academic program. We also want to make sure that they'll be successful after they move on from American School for the Deaf, some of them go on to group homes, all different kinds of after high school pursuits, and we help them with all of that. In recent years, we've noticed that There are some students who are autistic who are also non verbal, meaning that they can take the language in, but they really struggle to express themselves. And what we found was that a lot of these students were really able to express themselves through sign. And so we made the decision to open our non verbal autism program, and that is for hearing students who are non verbal. And we've had several students go through the program, and I have to say, it is astounding to see them come and start with no language and not able to express themselves. And then within a matter of time, they're able to express themselves 2550 words, they're communicating with their parents with other staff. And really, they're going to go through the rest of their lives going to be able to communicate. And I think that is so nice to see that happen. And I do think that program will continue to grow.

 

Dana Jonson  30:53

Absolutely. And that is such a main issue for children with developmental delays. I used to work with that population, and they aren't learning language because they can't talk. And so there's, you know, at least back in the day, I'm talking many, many years ago, when I was doing this, you know, we were at that time, teaching kids signs, specific signs to say one or two things. But part of the issue is not just them not knowing how to tell us but not knowing when to tell us not knowing when is appropriate for that and and that's part of the social component of language. So there's so many areas and I love that you are doing that, because one of the things that we saw was as students became able to communicate their wants and needs, the behaviors tend to reduce, and that it's that lack of language that's creating that level of frustration. So for parents whose students are in public school or other programs other than the American School for the Deaf, you mentioned the proper qualifications. What are the proper qualifications for a teacher working with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing?

 

Jeff Bravin  32:08

Great questions. So there are so many education programs across our country that focused on special education, that focused on deaf education. And really, that is what we are looking for all the time. So Deaf educators are those who have gone through teacher preparation programs, they know how to help deaf and hard of hearing children thrive and grow, whether it be through American Sign Language, or through the listening and spoken English approach. So they are able to work with children in a bilingual environment to help them develop a strong language, foundation and grow. Now in terms of special education. We have teachers that are really very familiar with different disabilities and able to work with those children. But what we noticed is that special education teachers tend to have specialties in autism or intellectual disabilities. And we are looking for those kinds of teachers. If you can find a teacher, though that is qualified in both special education and education. Those are just absolute stars, and we had our unicorn. Absolutely, yes, they, they are two stars. And so the other option is if we find a teacher, who we feel like has a lot of potential, we do send them on for more courses so they can receive further training. Another way for teachers to really help develop their skills is that peer to peer interaction and really, for our school that makes us so unique, because we have teachers with so many different specialties all in one school, which is so nice to have.

 

Dana Jonson  33:48

That is great. You know, my next question is, how do we teach the rest of the world now, right, because I'm asking you how we teach children who are deaf, but I think that one of the reasons that children who are deaf need to learn how to function in our world is because our world is not very friendly to them. So what is it if you could provide training for the rest of us out here so that we would know how to provide a more inclusive environment for students? What kind of training would you recommend?

 

Jeff Bravin  34:25

Well, that is a tough question. Exactly. What I tell people is to embrace others, don't view them as anyone different view them as abled. We use the phrase here at our school all ways able. And so we view each individual child, as always able and what that means to us is that every child that comes through our door has the potential to grow and thrive and be whatever they want to be. I think the issue in our world is when people see somebody that looks different or is different, somehow they want to turn around and walk away. What I want to say is embrace them, meet them, take the time to learn about them. And I think you'll be so surprised at how fruitful that interaction will be. And that we all can ultimately learn to love each other. I think that's so important. And really, what we have to understand is, we need to teach people about differences, all different kinds of people that we have. And I think, you know, encouraging them to interact and not be afraid to approach them. Sometimes hearing people will say, you know, if I need a deaf person, I'm going to assume they can lip read and understand everything I'm saying, on my mouth. And that's not true. I would say deaf people generally can understand maybe about 70% of what is spoken through lip reading. But if that deaf individual has language, it's going to be a little bit more than that. But if there's no language, how are they going to understand what's being said, other people will understand more, because they have an ability to hear just a little bit, they may have some residual hearing, others may have no hearing at all, it really does vary. And sometimes people that are hearing will say, oh, I'll just write back and forth. And sometimes that works. But again, only if the deaf individual has that strong language Foundation, and they want to keep driving the point home that that language foundation is key to surviving the world. And it doesn't matter if you're deaf or hearing. It's true for all of us. Once you have language, you have an ability to thrive and succeed in the world.

 

Dana Jonson  36:32

I completely agree. And in fact, you know, when my son was being evaluated, once we determined that he was able to learn language, I stopped worrying. I was just like, okay, I don't care if he says ours ever or not, you know, whatever he can understand language, we can figure out how to get there. You know. So the American School for the Deaf sounds like an amazing program for children who fall into all of these categories. How big are you because you've got your you're taking care of everyone.

 

Jeff Bravin  37:05

So we have about 300 staff here, we have about 150 students between our core and our Casey's program. And we have about 100 students that stay in our dorms, we have an amazing dorm program here on campus where students that live far from our school are able to stay on campus. And they have a full complement of all kinds of different activities. After school sports, we have all kinds of events and opportunities for peer interaction, every kind of club, you can imagine we offer all of that. We also do serve students in the public schools where there's about 200 students, and that is through our audiology program. And our outreach program where we have different deaf and hard of hearing students that might be in the public schools. And if they need more supports, or some kind of consultation, then they can, those schools can feel free to reach out to ASD and we're happy to provide that kind of consultation and support. But I bring it back to the point that parents really need to make sure that their children's IPS are written correctly. The IPS are how we measure student growth. And that is key. If the student is not meeting milestones, and is on par with what is expected that parents need to start looking for other options. Now, I'm not saying that American School for the Deaf is the only option for parents, but it is one of many options that parents should consider for their children. So really, it's important for the parents to focus on their children's growth. And if they're not growing, think about what to do to intervene and not wait, don't delay that because the more you wait, the more delays will happen.

 

Dana Jonson  38:43

Yes. And again with the language it is so critical. So for people who are listening who are saying, okay, Jeff is the only person I can talk to and the American School for the Deaf is the only place my child can go. How do they find you?

 

Jeff Bravin  39:02

Just go to our website is www dot ASD that hyphen 18 seventeen.org. Some people ask why we have the 1817 and that is because we were founded in 1817 more than 200 years ago. So we have significant history here. But really, they can feel free to reach out to us by contacting us. It doesn't necessarily mean that their child is committed to coming to ASD, it just means maybe they're looking for support or for guidance or possibly an independent education, evaluation of their child or communication evaluation for their child. We have so many different things that we are able to offer children. We can also help parents connect with advocates, with special education attorneys that really can help parents find out what is best for their child so they can receive the education they so deserve. So please feel free to reach out to me to call me or email me directly or any of our staff here. We have wonderful folks here who are happy to help guide you through that process.

 

Dana Jonson  40:04

Wonderful. And I will have all of that contact information in my show notes. So if you're listening to this and he what you can't remember, then please go back to the show notes and you'll find their website and all of Jeff's information. Jeff, I can't tell you how helpful this has been and how informative it has been. I think it's critical information for parents and schools to hear and understand for any and all students with, as you said, not just death, but also with hearing impairments. So thank you so much for joining me today.

 

Jeff Bravin  40:38

Thank you so much for having me. And if down the road, you need anything, consultation or guidance, or you feel like you've got some random question, please don't hesitate to call or reach out to me through email. I'm so happy to support any child. Thank you.

 

Dana Jonson  40:55

Absolutely. Thank you. Thank you so much for joining me today. Please don't forget to subscribe to this podcast so you don't miss any new episodes. And if there's anything you want to hear comment on, go to our Facebook page and drop me a note there. I'll see you next time here on need to know with Dana Jonson have a fabulous day