Also please read the document of DEC’s Terms of Reference below

 

Deaf Education Coalition

Terms of Reference

Approved by the Ontario Association of the Deaf Board on December 9th, 2013

 

Mission:

Deaf Education Coalition strives to promote and advocate for the educational rights of all Deaf and hard of hearing students in Ontario to unhindered cognitive development, acquisition and development of language through American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des Signes Quebecois (LSQ).

 

Purpose:

Deaf Education Coalition emphasizes the importance of equitable access to quality education for all Deaf and hard of hearing students in educational institutions and public sectors in Ontario.

 

Deaf Education Coalition requires that the Government of Ontario be held accountable in its recognition and preservation of ASL and LSQ, and Deaf Culture/Community for all Deaf and hard of hearing students.

 

Goals:

Set up Review of Deaf Ontario Education Programs: ALL educational institutions and public sectors (PSB, school boards, IHP, post-secondary institutions, adult education, etc.) will be assessed and evaluated on the basis of these criteria:

1)    All parents of Deaf toddlers and children must not be forced to pick either ASL or English. Deaf toddlers and children are required to learn both ASL or LSQ and English or French in order to develop their cognitive skills.

2)    ASL and LSQ are used as languages of instruction and study of languages in all educational programs.

3)    ASL and LSQ proficiency standards are set for educators, educational assistants, interpreters, residential counselors and administrators.

4)    ASL and LSQ curriculum are delivered in all provincial schools for the Deaf and School Board Districts.  The ASL curriculum and LSQ curriculum are not to be considered alternative curriculum or programs.  They are on a par with International languages, English, Language Arts, Social Studies, Math and Science, for example.

5)    All students in all School Board Districts and the Provincial Schools for the Deaf are required to take EQAO tests.  There will be no exemptions from EQAO due to the hearing status of any child.

6)    Deaf students have full access to quality interpreting services in any extra-curricular activities in both school board districts and provincial schools for the Deaf.

7)    ASL or LSQ programs are provided for all parents and their families (500 hours per family).

 

Policy Amendments & Enforcement:

1)    The Ontario government is required to enforce the use of both ASL and LSQ as languages of study and instruction in schools through the creation of new regulations, policies and/or by making amendments to the Education Act.  These new regulations, policies and/or amendments to the Education Act are expected to use the verb “shall” rather than “may.”

2)    Supervisory Officers in Provincial School Branch, Provincial School Authority, Ministry of Children and Youth Services, School Board Special Education Sectors, Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities relevant to educational provisions of Deaf and hard of hearing students must have strong background and experience in Deaf Education and Deaf Culture/Community, and demonstrate fluent and proficient use of ASL or LSQ.

3)    The number of Deaf ASL or LSQ-using managers (in both administrative and supervisory officer capacity) is increased within the Provincial Schools Branch, Provincial Schools Authority, School Board Districts, and Ministry of Children and Youth Services, and Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

4)    The Ontario government namely the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) is required to establish a permanent institution to ensure quality service delivery and provisions in ASL & LSQ within the early intervention frameworks namely the Infant Hearing Program (IHP), Ontario Early Years Centres, and several others.

5)    The Ontario government namely the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) is required to establish a permanent institution to ensure quality service delivery and provisions in ASL & LSQ within the post-secondary and higher education framework.

 

Open Policy:

1)    Admission restrictions are removed so that Deaf children, regardless of their decibel level of hearing, may enroll in Provincial Schools for the Deaf.

2)    The Provincial Schools for the Deaf open their doors to admit any and all CODA (Child of Deaf Adult) into a Provincial School for the Deaf as students.

3)    Full disclosure of statistics relevant to Deaf and hard of hearing educational provisions in the province.

4)    Ministry of Education (PSB, PSA, School Boards etc.), Ministry of Children and Youth Services (IHP, OEYC, etc.) and Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to provide transparent information about budgets, strategic plans, and long term goals related to Deaf Education.

 

DEC Representation:

  • Two OAD Board members (It is preferred that the position of DEC chair be filled by one of the OAD Board members).
  • Parents of Deaf and hard of hearing children
  • Deaf community representatives
  • Interpreters
  • Allies

 

Rights:

1)    The Ontario Association of the Deaf (OAD) Board reserves the right to maintain or change or close the Deaf Education Coalition.

2)    OAD reserves the right to approve any changes or revisions in the Terms of Reference.

3)    OAD reserves the right to approve the budget or any emergency expenses for DEC.

4)    Representatives of the DEC have the right to set strategic or operational plans as long as these plans are in compliance with the Terms of Reference.

5)    Representatives have the right to make and provide information to the media and the public as long as they are in compliance with the Terms of Reference.

6)    Representatives have the right to bring any concerns about the chair to the President of the OAD, and cc these concerns to Board members.

7)    Representatives have the right to plan a budget with the OAD Board’s approval.

8)    Representatives have the right to be reimbursed for expenses as long as their expenses are pre-approved by the DEC chair.

 

9 PRINCIPLES of Deaf Education Coalition

 

1)    The DEC believes that being raised and educated within BILINGUAL-BILITERATE environments will produce Deaf children with strong language and literacy skills in both ASL and English.

2)    The DEC believes that Deaf bilingual children who use American Sign Language (ASL) from birth, within a bilingual setting, will achieve the same milestones as Hearing children.

3)    The DEC believes that the practice of withholding natural sign language from Deaf people, including infants and children in favour of majority spoken languages is linguicism.

4)    The DEC believes that PARENTS and FAMILIES who are directly involved with their Deaf child and uses sign language in a bilingual setting will greatly contribute to the overall well-being of their Deaf child.

5)    The DEC believes that Deaf people are members of a cultural minority group with it’s own language, history, arts, customs, and shared experiences.

6)    The DEC believes that participation within the DEAF COMMUNITY and DEAF CULTURE is essential to the healthy development of Deaf children’s self-esteem and identity in order for Deaf children to become well-rounded citizens who will contribute to society in all spheres, including employment.

7)    The DEC believes that sincere ALLIES, including parents and teachers, will do all they can to promote Deaf children’s right to grow up bilingual and bi-literate in both ASL and English.

8)    The DEC believes that Deaf children will achieve optimal educational and lifelong prospects by going to SCHOOLS that use the bilingual-biliteracy philosophy of EDUCATION from the start.

9)    The DEC believes that WELLNESS is better achieved when Deaf children becomes fluent bilinguals who:

  1. are involved with the Deaf Community,
  2. are well-versed in both the minority and majority cultures, and
  3. have strong bonds with their parents and families.

 

According to research by Petitto and Holowka, it has been proven conclusively that holding back one language while focusing on the majority language is harmful to the child.*

 

*Petitto, Laura Ann and Holowka, Siobhan. Evaluating Attributions of Delay and Confusion in Young Bilinguals: Special Insights from Infants Acquiring a Signed and a Spoken Language. Sign Language Studies Vol. 3 No. 1 Fall 2002.