SASLJ Vol. 2 No. 2 - Page 110

Unlocking the Curriculum Johnson et al. of English competence, particularly in reading and writing. But more centrally, it involves the provision of grade-equivalent access to all the curricular matter of American education. Because the central focus of the program is the development of English literacy and the provision of grade-level or above achievement in all areas of the curriculum, the role of developing speech, while not devalued, is not the central concern. For some deaf children, literacy will be the sole form of proficiency in English. Because such children will have full access to the content of the curriculum, they will be able to develop the competencies necessary to have equitable options as adults. A related issue is the customary use of the term "intervention" by contemporary professionals dealing with deaf children. It is our position that intervention is only necessary if some negative or pathological process is occurring that needs to be eliminated or terminated. If ordinary language acquisition is permitted to occur, there should be no need for "intervention." From this perspective, however, there may in fact be a need to intervene with respect to the emotional needs of the parents and family members in adapting to the deafness of their children. o We concur with one of the observations of the report of the Commission on Education of the Deaf, that "there is nothing wrong with being deaf' (1988:vi). Moreover, there are many positive aspects to membership in a deaf community, to using an aesthetically pleasing language like ASL, and to adapting effectively and successfully to modern American life. Accordingly, a major part of all aspects of the proposed program will be to reinforce this view among parents, children, and service providers alike, both by making explicit the positive aspects of deaf life and by providing opportunities for interaction with the deaf community. o The "Least Restrictive Environment" for deaf children is one in which they may acquire a natural sign language and through that language achieve access to a spoken language and the content of the school curriculum. Public Law 94-142 states that handicapped children must be given an educational placement that provides them the "least restrictive environment." In general, this has been interpreted as that environment most like an ordinary environment. Combined with economic considerations, this concept has created a situation in which an increasing percentage of deaf children are placed in "mainstream" classrooms, sometimes with an interpreter, but often with no special services. In most cases this is done without regard for the child's linguistic background, so that most such children are poorly prepared to deal with sign language or any other language when they enter school. They are expected to acquire English through a one-way communication process. Specifically, they are expected to get English, either through the speech of the teacher or through the signing (usually actually a code for English) of an SASLJ, Vol. 2, No. 2 – Fall/Winter 2018 110