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<<Biblioteca Digital del Portal<<La Educación<<La Educación (120) I, 1995 <<Artículo
La Educación
Número: (120) I
Año: 1995

Role Models

Special educators and rehabilitationists know the value of good role models. We understand that people will not try things if they believe they are doomed to fail. Do average deaf students do so poorly in their academic work because they do not believe they can succeed? If that is part of the problem, then they need to meet those who, while deaf themselves, have succeeded. Many deaf adults complain that, as children, they were often confronted with what some have called the “can’t can’t” syndrome. One deaf writes:
We were told we were limited in our career growth. I remember in one of our classes when our teacher asked us what we would like to be after leaving school. One pupil wanted to be a truck driver. Another wanted to be a school principal.
The teacher responded, ‘Oh, you cannot be this because you are deaf. You cannot be that because you cannot use the telephone.’ We took it seriously. We were dependent on hearing peoples’ judgements and opinions.5
The author of that paragraph now holds a doctorate in economics and a professorial appointment. He obviously found successfully deaf role models, though he was in college before he met them.

Where can deaf children find successful role models? Not at home, because their parents (successful or not) are normally hearing 90 percent of the time. They will not find role models in integrated classrooms, because the successful students are almost always normally hearing. And where will they acquire deaf culture, the knowledge of successful tactics and life strategies that have stood the test of time over generations passed? Where, then? In the Deaf Community.

While we talk glibly about educators and rehabilitationists involving members of the Deaf Community, as advisors, teachers, and role models, we would be misleading if we implied that it is easy to do. The Deaf Community’s members are not eagerly awaiting outsiders. Many will not readily cooperate with normally hearing people who wish to exploit them. Deaf people have their own lives to live; they have plenty of work to do; they do not need extra duties. Some will, we hope, be open to gentle persuasion, if they sense sincerity. Some will respond to appeals to their civic pride and their sense of responsibility for younger deaf people. Many will not. Gaining access to the Deaf Community may not be easy, but it will be worth it.