All material is copyright Jim Cromwell from the date of posting unless otherwise specified

The Ugly Duckling

Once there was a mummy duck and a daddy duck. Mr and Mrs Duck were so excited because they were waiting for baby ducks! The eggs were nearly ready to hatch, and one day *POP!* *POP!* *POP!* out jumped three fluffy babies. *QUACK!* went the first baby – and Mr and Mrs Duck smiled... *QUACK* went the second baby – and Mr and Mrs Duck smiled... *HONK!* went the third baby – and Mr and Mrs Duck did not smile. Mr and Mrs Duck didn’t know what to do. They were sad and they were frightened.

They went to the hospital. “Look at our child!” they said to the doctor. “Something is wrong!”

The doctor was very clever. He looked at the baby duck with many different special machines. He talked to other doctors. He had meetings. He read books. In the end the doctor knew what the problem was.

“I’m so sorry,” he said, “This is a swan.”

“His name is Ryan” said Mr and Mrs Duck.

“I’m so sorry. Ryan is a swan.” Said the doctor.

Before they knew what was happening Mr and Mrs Duck were sent to all sorts of clever ducks who knew all about swans. They were given all sorts of books and leaflets by clever ducks who knew all about swans. They were given advice and counselling and guidance by clever ducks who knew all about swans. Mr and Mrs Duck had never met a swan before so they were very pleased to talk to these experts. They did not meet any swans, but that was alright. Swans were quite scary, so they thought, and so they were relieved that all the swan experts were ducks.

They were especially relieved that the clever ducks had all sorts of clever duck tricks and schemes to make Ryan be nearly the duck that they wanted.

It took a very long time.

All the time he lived in their nest, Ryan had special lessons to make him sound like a duck. Clever ducks with paint made his snow-white feathers brown and green and black. Some ducks even put him to sleep and, when he woke up, his long graceful neck was short and stubby just like the other ducks. This was much better!

“Quack! Quack! Quack! Sang Mr and Mrs Duck with delight.”

“Quonk.” Said Ryan.

Overhead, a family of swans soared across the heavens.

“I wonder where they are going...” thought Ryan.

A Guide To Working With The Deaf Community In The UK

I've not seen this before, and it is everything you need.

Here's the link. I don't know the proper link so I'm mirroring it.

Delayed Access to Visual Language is Neurotoxic

Thanks to a pointer from Kristy Cooper, I've followed links to this interesting page on brain plasticity and language acquisition for deaf children.

"Traditionally, the term neurotoxicity refers to damage to the brain or nervous system caused by exposure to natural or man made substances.  However, I think we need not limit causes of damage to tangible substances.  We can think of language deprivation as a type of poison.  We now have evidence that brain restructuring, altered processing, and decreased cognitive performance are measurable effects of lack of access and the resultant deprivation.  Therefore the behaviors that lead to this end are toxic, and the lack of access is the toxin."

SSE and Franglais

Title says it all really... To my mind, SSE is the most insidious, damaging, yet apparently innoccuous assault on the linguistic rights of prelingually profoundly deaf children. It only today occurs to me that unless you can justify the use of Franglais with learners of English, you cannot justify the use of SSE with learners of BSL.

SSE and Franglais are linguistically equivalent.

How to Develop Language

Did you see that Channel 4 item doing the rounds on facebook (and that apparently ended up on Russell Howard’s Good News last week) of the deaf guy in Uganda with no language until someone set up a signing course in his village?


It really upset me – because I can name 11-12 year olds from Cornwall, Devon, South Wales, Dorset, and Surrey for whom the exact same situation applies and we don’t get the luxury of blaming it on a Third World country.

It exists here because of ignorant hearing people with power making ignorant decisions that result in tangible harm. So… the argument is this:
  • People, babies, hearing, deaf, learning disabled or not, require LANGUAGE to mediate their thoughts and understand and articulate their needs. 
  • To develop a language you require considerable access to a rich language environment. 
  • An accessible rich language environment is not a Teaching Assistant with Level 2 BSL. It is not a parent learning Cued Speech. It is not Sign Supported English if your audiometry compromises your speech perception. It is not Makaton. 
  • A rich language environment for a deaf person is one in which they may immerse in a fully visual evolved and true language. In the UK that is BSL. 
  • People in early developmental stages of language require a language environment comprising HIGH QUALITY language. Not language at a similar level to that at which they currently sit. A Level 1 signing kid requires a Level 6 BSL environment not a Level 1 one. A deaf person with learning disabilities requires a Level 6 BSL environment not Makaton. 
  • OK sometimes resources preclude this, but this is the target acceptable context. Care Plans and Statements of Educational Need must state this as the aim and explain why it was not met, rather than aim low so the aim can be met regardless of the developmental harm to the individual. 
 That is it. And I challenge anyone to successfully argue otherwise.


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