Speaker 0 00:00:04 Hi, everyone. And new listeners welcome to free Willan with carton podcast. I'm your host card and white cloth. I have muscular dystrophy and I use a wheelchair and I have this podcast as the platform to raise awareness for people with disabilities and their allies to break down barriers and create a more inclusive world. Today. I have dr. Stacy Tucci, dr. Stacy Tucci has experiences parents in her deaf daughter forged the path for her work in the field of deaf education. She began her career in deaf education as an elementary teacher, where she taught students using a diverse range of communication modalities, including spoken language, American sign language, and sign supported English. Dr. Tucci received her bachelor's in early childhood education and special education. Her masters in deaf education and her doctorate in the education of students with exceptionalities, with a research focus and intervention studies in deaf education from Georgia state university.
Speaker 0 00:01:05 During her time at GSU, dr. Tucci worked as a research associate on two federally funded Institute of education, sciences grants. She is a coauthor of, and the lead trainer for foundations for literacy, and evidence-based early literacy curriculum for young students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Dr. Tucci has presented her work and trained teachers at both national and international schools and conferences, including sites across the United States, as well as Ethiopia, Australia, Taiwan, Greece, France, Canada, and the UK. Dr. Tucci is currently employed by the Georgia department of education, state schools division, and is the director of Georgia pathway to language and literacy, a statewide public private coalition, targeting language acquisition, and literacy proficiency for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. It's really an honor to have her on today. And before we start the episode, I do want to talk about a mobile app called I access life.
Speaker 0 00:02:05 That two of my friends here in Atlanta built Brandon insight. I access life as a mobile app that lets users with disabilities rate and review research places based on their accessibility. You can rate places like restaurants, stores, hotels, and transportation, based on the accessibility of parking entrance, interior spaces and bathrooms. It's like the Yelp for disability ratings. I asked us life is found on the app store and Google play for Android. Use the referral code card in my name, C a R D E N when signing up. And additionally, before you finish the episode, please make sure that you rate review and subscribe to this podcast. It truly helps me increase my rankings on the charts and get more listeners to this. And I want to know what you think. And if you have any suggestions for guests who have disabilities or any cool people that you know that are working in the disability space, please send them my name. You can see on me on Instagram carton of milk, C a R D E N O F M I L K. Or you can do it on Twitter and you can text me at (478) 588-1215. Now let's get started with that episode. I welcome you, dr. Tucci. Hi, welcome back to another episode of freewill and with carton. I have dr. Stacy tooshie here on the line, connecting virtually who has her doctorate in deaf education from Georgia state university. Welcome Stacy. How are you?
Speaker 1 00:03:42 Thank you so much for having me on I'm doing really well. How about yourself?
Speaker 0 00:03:46 It's a wonderful, you know, every day is a new day. It can be difficult with COVID, but I think we just continue to just one day at a time, really chip away at it. I feel like that's how everyone is, is hanging on these days.
Speaker 1 00:04:03 Yep, absolutely.
Speaker 0 00:04:05 Well, great. I'm really excited that you're here because we wanted to talk about your passion projects and what you're doing in your career as a curriculum instructor and content creator for Def
Speaker 1 00:04:18 Education and awareness, and,
Speaker 0 00:04:20 And really just want to hear more about how you got into that, why you're passionate about that. So we'll start out with that.
Speaker 1 00:04:29 All right. Well, I've been in the field if you will, for about 20 years now, I actually got into the whole deaf space, if you will, because my daughter is profoundly deaf. She actually came to live with me and my husband when she was five years old. And I realized rather quickly that I was probably going to need to be able to communicate with her if I was going to have any chance of parenting her. And so she had been unilaterally implanted. So she had a cochlear implant for about three years, and really wasn't developing the type of spoken language that, you know, one would hope after being implanted for, for that period of time. And so we started looking at learning American sign language, in addition to her speech therapy and her auditory training, those types of things. And I really kind of got bitten by the bug if you will, the language bug.
Speaker 1 00:05:30 And that was, that was really the first thing that got me excited is, you know, learning this beautiful language of American sign language. And then it sort of snowballed from there. I ended up becoming a teacher for students who are deaf and hard of hearing, and then ended up moving into the research field and developing curriculums and interventions that were specific to kids who are deaf and hard of hearing. There's a lot of struggle around language development and literacy development and proficiency and literacy. So being able to read is, is really important for not only a child's academic career, but also just what happens to them in the postsecondary sphere, you know, will they go to college? Will they go to a trade school? Are they able to, you know, have a wide range of options for employment? A lot of that hinges on literacy and language is, is deeply connected to literacy and children who are deaf and hard of hearing often have some challenges and some struggles around developing, you know, age appropriate language, language that is similar to their typically developing peers.
Speaker 1 00:06:45 So that, that I, you know, I had this really deep connection to what's going on in my work because so much of it has, has really been driven by this deep connection that I have with my daughter. And it's helped me kind of see things through different lenses, if you will, you know, I can, I can see a perspective and see a situation from the perspective of a teacher, but also from a researcher, but also as a parent. And just understanding how, how, you know, this is, can be a really challenging journey at times, but it's also super rewarding. So I kind of owe it all to my daughter.
Speaker 0 00:07:26 Wow. That's so wonderful. I think that's very similar to what a lot of parents that I've interviewed and also very similar to my own mom, just, you know, having a child with a disability and then learning to adapt. Some of them go on to being an educator or diving deeper into that field and turning it into a career. And some just learn, like you said, to see through those different lenses. And it's fascinating, like you said, you have these different lenses of being a teacher versus a parent versus being a researcher. And it's interesting. One question that I have for you is, does your daughter ever feel like she sees those different hats like this one day? Does she see you as a researcher? And you're talking to her as a researcher versus talking to as a parent versus talking as a teacher, do you blend those together? Do you keep them separate?
Speaker 1 00:08:23 Really good question. I think there, I think there were moments, especially when she was still in school, herself that I sort of convoluted the two, you know, and she probably felt a little bit like she was my experiment or my Guinea pig or my founding board, you know, and, and I really had to, um, you know, as much as I wanted to use her as a resource for my own learning and my own understanding when she got to be a teenager, she was really more, she had more ability to sort of express, like, I'm happy to talk to you about these things sometimes, but I also want there to be times when you like were just mom and daughter, or we're just friends and it's not connected to, you know, what you're doing with your students at school, or now what you're doing with the teachers that you're trying to train.
Speaker 1 00:09:18 Like, you know, I want some time where it's just us, it's not this sort of, I don't want to say artificial or external, but just that, you know, I think sometimes people who, who have disabilities are, are kind of, I don't know, tokenized or expected to be like the model for their entire community, you know, that because she's deaf and she knows how to use American sign language. That it's her job. When we have dinner with friends who don't know how to sign it's her job to teach them how to sign some phrases at dinner and as, and as cool as that is. I also see that that can be somewhat burdensome, that you can't just exist as a dinner guest. You're also existing as this like representative of your community or this teacher of the language that community exists. And so it is something that we had to be, we had to have some conversations about, and I had to be, had to put an, you know, establish some boundaries about when it's appropriate to talk about work and when we should just be together, you know?
Speaker 0 00:10:28 Yes. I think I do often see even my own self being tokenized as the girl who uses a wheelchair and people use that opportunity to ask questions and learn. And, you know, they'll say it almost is like all of their accessibility problems that they faced or any questions that they have regarding disability awareness and accessibility now falls on you. And like you're supposed to be the master knower of everything, really two disabilities, Audrey, if your daughter faces out or if, if you have seen that as well. But I certainly experiencing it. It sometimes is difficult to strip that away and just be seen as a person, not a person with a disability, not, I don't know, I don't know your daughter's name, but, um, uh, Maya, Maya Avaya, who is deaf. And I think that's the first thing that everyone sees is the obstacle versus Maya. How has she learned or how have you learned how to deal with that?
Speaker 1 00:11:45 Well, I think some of the work that I've done around cultural competence is like out just outside the disability sphere. You know, if you're thinking about gender or race or culture, you know, really understanding that identity is, is multifaceted, right? There are so many dimensions of who we are as humans. And it's really easy for, you know, it's really easy for us to look at a person and like consolidate them down to like one factor of identity. And I think part of what's helped me to kind of realize like, yes, she's deaf and yes, that's a huge part of who she is, but it's not the only part of who she is. I think I learned some of that outside of my relationship with her, like maybe working with families who might, you know, speak Spanish and, and trying to figure out like, how does that culture and that language play into their identity, but not become the only thing about their identity that I'm responding to.
Speaker 1 00:12:48 And I think it's that word that kind of helped me come home and go, Oh, wow, sorry. You know, I realized that I'm not looking at the whole person. Sometimes I'm only looking at this one page. And I think those kinds of conversations have helped her be more aware, like more critically aware of when that might be happening, like outside our family. And I think that's also, you know, because we've had a safe space to talk about some of those things at home that I think when she's out in the, in the, in the broader world, she can kind of identify it and she's got strategies to say, yeah, I get, I get what you're saying, but right now that's not what we're talking about. Or yeah, I understand that you're responding to this facet of my identity, but I also want you to take into consideration this, this other, you know, part of who I am. And so I think being able to kind of back off from the deafness and learn that in other, in other spaces that I work in has helped me to kind of bring it home and go, wow, I'm, I'm seeing that I'm doing to you what I'm trying not to have teachers or principals, you know, do in other areas, I'm having to learn that, you know, at home. And I think having those conversations at home have helped her, you know, be able to have them out in the greater world.
Speaker 0 00:14:10 I love how you have that open transparency with her. But I think also it sounds like she's pretty feisty. She knows when she's been tokenizes and only being looked at through one identity versus a Maya as a whole. So I think that also stems into the parenting. So I would give you some kudos to that. So to be able to recognize when only one part of yourself is being looked at, you know, that takes maturity and it also takes some, I guess, other it's not really practice, but you have to be in those situations to be able to identify when that's happening to you so that you can learn to speak up for yourself.
Speaker 1 00:15:03 Yeah. I, I think, um, I have to give her her dad's and credit, you know, he's not as deeply entrenched in like the disability world or the special education world. So he's always been a really good balance to, to sort of call me out when I'm, when I'm kind of going to that one, one, one thing that I'm so deeply, you know, entrenched in, he's like, Whoa, wait a minute. You know, it's still a Maya, you know, she's the kid that like, you know, doesn't let you tell her what clothes to wear to school. Do you really think that he's not gonna, you know, push back if she feels like somebody is marginalizing her? Like, he's kind of been a really good champion for her just as a kid, you know? And, and I've, I've been that champion around the deaf kid, but he's been that champion around. She's just a kid. Like she's just our daughter. So that's, it's been helpful to have that sort of that balance or that push and pull that, that alternative perspective.
Speaker 0 00:16:05 Definitely it keeps everyone humble and grounded and that's, that's, uh, a beautiful partnership for sure to have that and for her to also experience that. So I kind of want to get more into your involvement with deaf education and your timeline for, you know, the research and other education that you received. And I know that you also coauthored a book and have led trainings all across the world. So talk to me a little bit, a little bit about the curriculum that you've created.
Speaker 1 00:16:43 Yeah, so we, um, I worked with a team of researchers at Georgia state university to develop the only evidence-based literacy curriculum for children who are deaf and hard of hearing in the whole world. And it's been a really interesting journey because you know, so many people, they kind of look at deafness the way that they look at vision. So, you know, if you, if you need glasses, you just go to the eye doctor and you put your glasses on and boom, you can, you can see, but that's not quite the case for children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Even if they do get a cocoa implant or hearing AIDS, they still have to like learn how to listen. And they have to train their brain to, to, to process spoken language. And then they have to learn how to talk. Or if they're using American sign language, they have their parents and their family, family members have to learn how to, to use ASL and, and the child has to learn how to use ASL.
Speaker 1 00:17:42 And so there's this huge part of literacy that's dependent on language. And a lot of our kids who are deaf and hard of hearing come to school without proficiency in a first language. So it's, we've had a lot of just honestly, a Bismal outcomes in reading for kids who are deaf and hard of hearing, because not only do they have a difficult time learning how to read, if we're teaching them how to read the same way we are teaching all the other kids, but they also had this language piece. And so we, we created this literacy curriculum. That's teaching children language at the same time that it's teaching them the skills that they need, how to learn to read. And so we have like several different approaches. We have an approach for kids who are, who are using their, their ears, ears, only kids, kids who are using their ears and learning and using spoken language.
Speaker 1 00:18:35 We have an approach for eyes, only kids. So children who are using their eyes, who are, who are using American sign language. And then we have an approach for kids who might use their eyes in their ears. They might be learning American sign language and spoken language. And so we've tried to really consider like individual learner profiles and provide ways that teachers can differentiate how they provide instruction for those different learners. Another thing we've really tried to look at is, you know, still today, a lot of educational materials are not representative of a diverse student population. So when I started looking at other published materials for children who use American sign language, specifically like, um, materials that show the hands, if they're going to spell a word, or if they're going to sign a letter, a lot of the materials were made to represent students who are white. And yeah, definitely.
Speaker 0 00:19:40 I mean, I have a few friends that are deaf and hard of hearing and I do sign. And at one point I did try to learn some sign language, suing YouTube, and it was all white males teaching it and all of the images for a different sign and hand signals. I don't think I said that. Right. But, um, the, um, I guess the different pictures for signing, they're all white pants.
Speaker 1 00:20:06 Yup. Absolutely. And so, yeah. I mean, how do you, how do you see yourself as a person who signs, if none of the materials that are used to teach you that language represent you and what you look like? Yeah. Sorry, go ahead. Go ahead.
Speaker 0 00:20:27 Total tangent here. But my, I have friends that are doctors and they are in their residency program right now. And they have patients that are black and they have skin issues and they, I saw in their Twitter, it was how are you supposed to diagnose certain skin conditions when everything that we've taught, been taught in our textbooks are white people who have skin conditions. There's no. What does rosacea look like on someone who's black, it's only rosacea and people who are white. I mean, that's just a general example, but it's just, so I think we're starting to become more aware of the elephant in the room and that we are not having diversity in our content, in our textbooks as well. I mean, thinking about the Americans with disabilities act this year, so many people have said, well, in my early education, no one talked about ADA 30 or eight, just ADA in general. And so it's just, I think there's lack of diversity and awareness for so many things, especially under represented minorities. So to your point, it's, I'm sadly not surprised. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:21:48 It, it really is. I mean, especially relevant to what our country is encountering right now around, you know, racial inequity and the lack of like true, authentic action. So I feel like in the world of education, we've been talking about diversity and cultural competency and, you know, responsive teaching. I feel like we've been talking about those things for a really long time. I don't know if we're doing as great of a job as actually doing something about those things. Like, I feel like it's, sometimes it's just a lot of, like, it's just a lot of talk and there isn't like authentic action behind it. So, you know, what, what, what does it mean to truly show a child that their language is their language? Well, it means that you can't just have, you know, white people as their only models. You know, you've got her, you've got a house they've got there, they've got to speak themselves.
Speaker 1 00:22:50 So I think that was something that we really pushed for was to have that, that representation in the materials, but not wonderful and patient and the materials around, you know, race or gender, but also around language because, you know, I don't know how much you know about the field of, of, of deathbed or deafness, but there's like sort of an, a pretty deep rift within the community about what the best way to educate children who are deaf and hard of hearing is like the best way to provide language. You know, there are people who think children shouldn't sign. There are people who think children's should get implants and they should home be forced to speak. And so we also tried really hard to ensure what I call language equity. So we're coming out in addition to the and teacher trainings, we're also coming out with an app in September that will hopefully support teachers virtual instruction.
Speaker 1 00:23:55 And we've tried really hard to ensure that there's language equity within that app. So like an example might be like vocabulary, bingo, irregular, old, bingo. Like you would always play it except with words instead of numbers. And there's a version where children can hear a word that's spoken and then, you know, they put their little bingo, their little digital bingo marker on the picture that represents that word. But then there will also be an alternative version of the game where instead of hearing the word, they'll see the word signed in a short video, and then they'll, you know, they'll play the same game, but just really ensuring that regardless of what language the child is using, they're able to engage with the instruction or engage with the materials in an equitable way, you know, that, that provides support to all the kids, not just the kids who are easy to teach, you know what I mean?
Speaker 0 00:24:49 Oh, interesting. So this app that you're creating will be available for any child, not dressed kids who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Speaker 1 00:24:59 Yeah. Essentially anybody that would want to use that could use it. I mean, it, it's, it's aligned with our curriculum that looks at, you know, literacy and language instruction for children who are deaf and hard of hearing, but we've got that approach for kids that you spoken language. So really any child that might be facing some challenges or struggles around reading development or language development could absolutely benefit from the app.
Speaker 0 00:25:26 Wow. That's amazing. I love the idea of creating that equity, especially in early childhood education where the imprinting is vital and they're absorbing so much information all at once. That's the best time to do it. Um, one question that I had, I'm talking about, you were saying earlier, many children are not proficient in a first language. And when you're saying that, is, was that specific to deaf or hard of hearing individuals? Or are you just saying that in general?
Speaker 1 00:26:07 Well, we, in that instance, I was talking about you were deaf and hard of hearing, but we're finding more and more frequently children. Um, children's specifically children from households that may have a lower socioeconomic status. We're finding that, that those children are coming into school without they may have language, but it may not be age appropriate language. And so I would consider those children not having a fully formed one. You know, if you're five, you should have the language of a five-year-old. And if you don't, then that means we've got some work to do. And we're seeing that, you know, we're, we're seeing that across more, more and more student populations. So, Hmm.
Speaker 0 00:26:57 So for the children who are deaf or hard of hearing, you're seeing, you're seeing that many of them are not proficient in a first language. Do I understand that American sign language is then their first language or not, not, they don't have anything, not even English, not Spanish.
Speaker 1 00:27:15 So that's a great question. Um, a lot of the children come in with no language, like let's say they come from a household where the family is speaking Spanish and they haven't been able to get access to hearing AIDS or a cochlear implant or audiological care. Then that child doesn't have access to the Spanish that's being spoken in the home. And when they come to school at the age of five or three, if they're in a special ed pre-K classroom, they literally have no language, none. And the same is true. If it's spoken English in the home or, you know, 90% of children who are deaf and hard of hearing are born to hearing parents. So let's say the child doesn't have an auditory nerve. Well, no, there are no hearing AIDS that will fix, you know, that access issue when it comes to spoken language. Well, most hearing parents don't know ASL. So now you've got this baby and you're trying to learn a new language on top of caring for a newborn. It's, it's really complex what we're asking these parents to do when it comes to facilitating their child's language development. And sadly, we don't provide equitable resources to all families. And so a lot of our kids are coming in with literally no language.
Speaker 0 00:28:41 Wow. That's seriously stunts their brain growth. I'm sure. Significantly. I mean, if you go five, six years of not having language, I mean, I can just only imagine what are the obstacles that they're going to face in general? I mean, not, not to mention like all the social issues that they're going to run to, like bullying and all those other things of just growing up and being a child and being surrounded by peers and being made fun of, but just in general down the road, they'll S they'll probably significantly face, you know, probably struggling getting a job, going to college. Like all these other things. There's so much that goes into the first, what is it? The first seven, eight years of your life is when it's so crazy.
Speaker 1 00:29:28 Yes. The first years of life, your neural connections in the brain, so that the development of the infrastructure of the brain is driven by language in the first three years of life. So if you don't have access to language and it doesn't matter what language it is, it doesn't matter if it's spoken. It doesn't matter if it's signed. It doesn't matter if, if one parent speaks Spanish and the other one speaks English, and then you have someone help you to support your ASL development. Like it doesn't matter what the language is. It just matters that the child gets access to language. And if they don't, then we see some pretty profound impacts on cognition and neural development and brain infrastructure that supports everything that you've touched on from, you know, academic outcomes to social, emotional development, you know, executive functioning, you know, all of that is dependent on brain development and early access to language. And typically children need to have developed fully language by the age of seven. Otherwise it becomes incredibly difficult to provide a language after the age of seven.
Speaker 0 00:30:43 Sure. But so then what, in that case can be done, you know, let's say you have multiple children that come in and they didn't have health insurance to be able to afford cochlear implants or, you know, they were never taught ASL because they were born to hearing parents and their hearing parents didn't care, or didn't find the time to, to learn ASL. Do you know what, what can be done there? I mean, is there anything, do you guys provide cochlear implants? Are there other services and programs, nonprofits that help with that?
Speaker 1 00:31:18 So we absolutely have nonprofits in the state of Georgia that will provide hearing AIDS and the external device for cochlear implants free of charge or at a minimal cost for families in need. They, I don't know of any nonprofits that, you know, would facilitate surgery or the internal implant, but we do have programs in Georgia for families in need that provide those health insurance services, particularly to children so that they can access, you know, the medical care that they need. It's great that nonprofits fill that space. But what I really look at, at least in the policy work that I do is, is how do we ensure that we don't need those nonprofits? How do we ensure that the system is responsive to diverse families and their needs? So that the minute we know that a child might be deaf or might be hard of hearing, we can, you know, dispatch a team of people who can support that family, whether it's, you know, teaching them how to use ASL, whether that's, you know, walking them through a surgery and their fears around a surgery. And then what follow up care looks like if they get a Coke or implant, you know, if the system was really working for diverse families, then, then we, we should hopefully be able to alleviate some of these issues that we're seeing around access or language development, equity, those types of things.
Speaker 0 00:32:52 Sure. Some of that probably is occupational therapy. Is that right? Okay. Absolutely. Would that be the team, as you're saying, if that were a perfect world that would be dispatched or would it be other experts?
Speaker 1 00:33:06 So it would be like a multidisciplinary and team. So it would be speech, language, pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, people who are, um, mentors. So death mentors who are able to provide authentic instruction in American sign language, you know, deaf and hard of people who specialize in, in the language development for kids who are deaf and hard of hearing. Sometimes people before they're ready to accept, you know, an occupational therapist in their home. Maybe they just need to talk to another parent. That's, that's, that's a little bit further in their journey. So, you know, we, we have a nonprofit that's supported by the department of education that will connect parents of children who are deaf and hard of hearing who are just starting their journey with other parents who are a little bit further along the journey so that they can just, you know, feel like they have an ally. I feel like they have somebody that's like lived that same experience that can kind of walk them through those emotions and those fears, those questions and things like that. So there's a lot of, there are a lot of resources out there it's just their access issues. And then again,
Speaker 0 00:34:21 Your son, I mean, it's not just the deaf and hard of hearing community. I mean, it's all disability community and really any underrepresented minority feast access and equity issues systemically.
Speaker 1 00:34:35 Right. You know, even just thinking, you know, I'm thinking about some of the parent guides who are wonderful and amazing, but you know, we only have one parent guide that speaks Spanish. So are we really providing the same type of access to our Spanish speaking families here in the state that we are to families who use English? Definitely know what I mean? You can't just write,
Speaker 0 00:35:01 Send out that one person covered all entire state of Georgia, like that just isn't feasible.
Speaker 1 00:35:08 So, you know, it's, it's definitely something that we have to be really cognizant of in how we recruit people into the system. You know, that we are really doing our due diligence to seek out employees and, um, professionals and parents who are, who really are reflective of our state population, not just, you know, the, the, the majority population, I guess I could say definitely it's a,
Speaker 0 00:35:44 It's very convoluted. Um, in order to achieve that goal, I'm sure it's not an easy pathway to success. And when you're saying to bring on these different educators and individuals, are you talking about more? So just like general elementary school teachers at have awareness, or you're talking about like specialized people and educators.
Speaker 1 00:36:11 Yeah. Actually both. There are several like major transactions that families go through from when their children enter the system, if you will. So like at early intervention and, and then they move through early intervention, transitioned into school age. And then of course, once they graduate, they transition into their, you know, adult postsecondary lives. There are these major transactions that families go through that help children develop language. They help children develop literacy, but they also help the family develop the skills they need to support their child and all along those, all along that journey, all along those transactions, we need to have people who are representative of our entire state population. So yes, it's important to have teachers that are diverse and who are able to be self reflective around their, their practices. We also need doctors and we need nurses and we need, you know, therapist and, um, social workers, you know, we all it's, uh, it's, it takes a village, right? I know that's probably sort of cliche, but it takes the village and all of the people in the village, all of the stakeholders we need to be looking and, and evaluating whether or not those stakeholders are really representative of the families and the children we're trying to serve.
Speaker 0 00:37:40 Exactly. Just making sure that there's representation based on the population to serve those who are affected and need the assistance,
Speaker 1 00:37:52 But also not getting caught in that, in that like we were talking about earlier, just tokenizing people that we aren't just checking a box, you know what I mean? Okay. We've got one, we've got one person that speaks Spanish box checked. Okay. Move on that. We're, we're trying to be more intentional about, you know, looking at the whole person. Yeah. So maybe they speak Spanish, but are there other, are there other pieces of that person's identity that make them more or less effective in working with other Spanish speaking families? So, yeah. Yeah. It's definitely a complex issue.
Speaker 0 00:38:27 I know you're doing wonderful work in this space to chip away at it. No doubt.
Speaker 1 00:38:32 I'm frying. Yeah. I
Speaker 0 00:38:36 Mean, like you said, it definitely won't be accomplished. I mean, just like anything, it's not going to be accomplished in a single lifetime. Like, it'll take multiple generations after you. And even after me to continue to break down these barriers and these inequities for not only people with disabilities, but just unrepresentative, immunities and minorities. I mean, I don't even know if we'll ever, ever solve all the problems, but, uh, certainly can make a big dent right through it. I did want to jump back into specifically on your curriculum, because I understand that you pass legislation to, well, not use specifically, but you worked with, uh, our state government to pass legislation that ensures children who are deaf or hard of hearing are on a path to grade level reading in the third grade, which is really fascinating. And you're also talking about the different profiles to differentiate these learners. Can you speak to, what, what does it look like for an eyes only learner versus an ears only learner versus the ears and eyes learner?
Speaker 1 00:39:44 Okay. Yeah. So, so just really quickly, this whole idea of a third grade level reading. The reason we focus on that is because at after third grade, we really stopped teaching children how to read, and we expect them to be proficient readers. And then after third grade, we expect them to start using their reading skills to learn other academic content. So we teach you how to read from kindergarten through third grade. We expect you to be a reader in third grade. And then after that, we don't really teach you how to read anymore. We want you to use your reading skills to learn social studies or science content.
Speaker 0 00:40:26 Well, it's crazy because my mom's a fifth grade teacher just like on a level and she stays so many students come in that are on a third grade reading level. And it kind of makes sense because like you, you were just saying is we stopped. Teaching offers are great. And I never really understood that. Right. Of like, why are they on a third grade level? It seems to be consistent.
Speaker 1 00:40:47 It's something that we've created, you know, it's, there's no, there's no law or rule or developmental benchmark that says that you can't learn to read after the third grade. I mean, we teach adults how to read all the time. You know, we w I've, I've looked at at programs that are used with, you know, adults who may be illiterate, who want to learn how to read, who want to get their GED or go back to college or, or, you know, get a high school diploma, something like that. And, you know, we teach, we teach adults how to read. So this we've, we've kind of created this issue in that we've decided that we're not going to teach them how to read after third grade and what happens. Yeah, totally. A problem is something that needs to be changed in education. But this big thing about third grade level reading is that it's, it's a huge predictor for lots of things that happen after third grade. So you can predict a state's high school graduation rates based on their third grade level reading scores. Wow. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:41:51 So do I understand that you're saying if you know, 50% or 60% of children have a third grade reading level or higher leaving third grade, you can then predict it to stay that the same by the time they graduate. Is that what you,
Speaker 1 00:42:07 So it might not be exactly the same because you know, some children do continue to learn even if, how to read, even if they're not getting direct instruction or, you know, maybe somebody steps in and provide some additional supports. But yeah, essentially, if you look at the third grade level scores for your state, you can predict, you know, once those kids get to high school, you can kind of predict what the percentage of graduates at that, in that school year are actually going to actually graduate high school dropout rate. Wow.
Speaker 0 00:42:42 That's really fascinating. And also really horribly sad to know that you can predict that so early in advance. And I mean, it all goes back to these neurological pathways that you're talking about and being formed. What has been your, what have you seen in the graduation rates based on these fines?
Speaker 1 00:43:02 Well, you know, the, the last school year that we gave the Georgia milestones assessment, so the third grade reading assessment, the last school year that we gave, that was the 2018 19. We didn't give it last year because we weren't in school at the end of the year because of COVID. So 2018, 19 only 42% of the entire student population in Georgia read on grade level. Wow. That's and that's the highest score of years. That's the high highest. Oh my goodness. So you know, how many DHH children read on grade level in that same year? I probably say 20% good guests. 15% 15.
Speaker 0 00:43:47 Yeah. I can only imagine they are significantly just that they don't have the same, like you're talking about all these issues about equity. They don't have
Speaker 1 00:43:56 Equity, right. So it's definitely gonna be half. We, we, we have seen increases in the States high school graduation rates. And I think a lot of that is a Testament to the, the increases that we've seen in literacy rates in the general student population. So we are making progress at that, that, that sort of global student level. But when we start to like drill down at some of these student populations, where there are these, you know, different learner profiles, we are not realizing those same gains. And, um, you know, last, last kind of thing to put out about that third grade level reading. And then we can talk about learner profiles, but you can actually predict a state's incarceration rates based on third grade level reading. So when it all ties back to
Speaker 0 00:44:48 The neurological pathways, the executive functioning, social, and emotional development, there's so much that is deeply integrated and rooted in what you learn in these first seven years of your life and how that impacts the rest of your life.
Speaker 1 00:45:08 Right? So it's just, I mean, this is like, in some instances, you know, I don't want to be dramatic, but in some instances, I mean, this is like life or death for some of these kids, you know, this is, this is, do you graduate from high school and have, you know, a ton of options about what you're going to do with your life? Or do you not graduate from high school? You are functionally illiterate as an adult, which decreases the number of options that you have to engage in society, you know, and, and we're making those decisions for children when they're eight years old in the third grade and they don't know, no,
Speaker 0 00:45:47 It's not their responsibility to speak up and voice their opinion. Hey, I'm not being taught how to read. Right. They don't know.
Speaker 1 00:45:58 So I mean, we, we, you know, part of what's so, so important about, you know, curriculums is that when you develop a curriculum, you, you have to develop an evidence base behind it. So, you know, we did a, a national randomized control trial with foundations for literacy, just like you do a randomized control trial with a new medicine to see if it works. You knows some people get a placebo, some people get the medicine, and then you, you study the outcomes and you determine its effectiveness. We did the same thing with our curriculum. We did a randomized control trial, done kid, got their business as usual instruction. And then other children got our intervention. And then we would compare their outcomes from the beginning of the school year, to the end of the school year and all the children that got the curriculum, our curriculum, they had significantly higher outcomes. And, you know, all of the skills that we measured versus the kids that got business as usual. So we're not trying to like pedal, you know, snake oil. We're really trying to come in and tell teachers and schools and school districts like, look, we, this works, we know this works for deaf and hard of hearing. So, so, so invite us in, let us work with your staff, let us work with your teachers. And, um, you know, we, we, we will, we will help you realize gains for, for these unique learners. Well, there's,
Speaker 0 00:47:28 It's really amazing to know that your, what is it called an experiment is that it was an experiment, right?
Speaker 1 00:47:37 Make your middle design, your experiment work,
Speaker 0 00:47:43 Then it's proven based on doing it. How many years did you do it for what was, was it just one school year or multiple schools?
Speaker 1 00:47:50 There's the randomized control trial was one school year, but the curriculum has been studied for its validity and its effectiveness. It was studied for well, four years of development and then six years of research. And then the final year was, you know, that final research year was, was that, that randomized control trial that co culminating study. So smaller studies leading up to the randomized control trial across six years and then the randomized control trial.
Speaker 0 00:48:22 So that was your doctorate degree. Right. Okay. Got it. And, and so through this curriculum, you have these profiles, eyes, only ears, only ears and eyes. I am really interested in learning. What does that look like?
Speaker 1 00:48:39 Okay. So do you remember how you learned to read by chance?
Speaker 0 00:48:45 It started with picture books and with picture books, just like maybe one word on it. And mom and dad would, you know, flip through the pages at night, we would read before bed time and they'd be like, what is this garden? It's a bird. And then you say bird. And then I had books that had textures on them. So the bunny had fought like a cotton ball fuzz on it. And then the snake had some like leather texture on it. So it was like very tactile and sensational and visual, so multiple ways. And then over time, you, you increase some of our words on a page and then you start sounding it out. But I think your parents start reading it to you and you memorize what they're saying.
Speaker 1 00:49:33 Yes, you are, you, you could be a reading researcher.
Speaker 0 00:49:38 I just have a photographic memory. So I remember things so vividly of just like thinking of my parents, like sitting in their lap and just learning how to read. I used to do Bob books. Uh, and then, um, man, now, now I amazingly can answer my own question. What's eyes only ears only, but now it makes sense. Um, and then I had reading rainbow. So I had audio books as well. So things would read aloud to me. So I would listen and read the books. And then there were some things that were like coloring based. I had a pretty diverse integration with learning how to read. It was very visual, very tactile, different sensations. And
Speaker 1 00:50:17 So you you've hit on two major skills or domains that are necessary to learn how to read the first is language or meaning based. So when your parents read to you, you were sharing language with one another. You know, they were teaching you new vocabulary. Maybe you didn't sound out the word cat, but you heard your mom and your dad say cat, and then they might point to the word. And then you might touch the page with the furry cat, you know? So that was sort of them helping you to develop the language or the meaning based skills that are necessary to read. And then you later started talking about, and then the words got more complex. And I started learning to sound them out. And that's what we call the code based skills of language. Those are those like skills or strategies that you use to actually figure out what the words on the page are.
Speaker 1 00:51:13 And the most simple skill would be what we call letter sound correspondence. So you look at the letter C and you say, and you look at the letter a and you say, ah, and you look at the letter T and you say at great cat, right? That's how kids who are ears, only kids. That's how they learn how to read. So they've, they've got the language piece, they've got a shared language with their families. They, they both use spoken language. So they're developing language with their, with their families and their homes. And then they bring that language to school. The teacher builds on the language, but then she also teaches them those sound base skills, those codebase skills, this, these letters say this, these sounds, and you smooth them together. And it makes a word. So that's, that's essentially how our eyes only kids. I mean, our ears only kids learn, but we have what you talking about. Lots of tactile materials, lots of visual materials. We might have them make body movements to help their brain remember the sounds that they're learning. So that that's kind of that's, that's your, your ears only kids.
Speaker 0 00:52:24 Then you had the, the body language. I remember in kindergarten and when we were learning Spanish, because I think we only learned Spanish up until like fifth grade. And then we had the names of the days of the week. We had a dance and a song and we would do different like Domingo, Lunas, ferritin, you know, all that. I don't remember the exact dance, but okay. That's very interesting. So using body language and different code base to learn these different letters and language,
Speaker 1 00:52:57 Right? So then you think about your ears only kids. So children who are using American sign language, well already
Speaker 0 00:53:07 Ears are eyes only. I'm sorry. Eyes only kids' eyes only. Okay.
Speaker 1 00:53:11 Google, you're your eyes. Only kids who are learning American sign language. So they're learning a visual language. Well already we have a disconnect there or, or, or a challenge because most of these children who are eyes only kiddos are born into families who are hearing. So the families are using spoken language and that child is using or needs access to a visual language. And so already you're having some, some inequity around access because there's a language mismatch in the home. And so if we don't get in there early and help that family learn American sign language, and we don't expose that child to, you know, other deaf people who may be fluent users of ASL, we have that child come in and already there they're behind because they don't have that age appropriate language. Sure. And then, right. So they, they come in, they don't have a language.
Speaker 1 00:54:23 So now the teacher is trying to teach them language, but she needs language to teach them. So how do you use language to teach a child language if they don't have any clue exactly. How do you teach language without having language? Right. And then on top of that, how we teach most kids to read is that this letter makes a sound well, if you can't hear the sounds that the letters make, how do you learn how to read with that approach? Well, you don't. And so what we do is we teach them, let her handshake correspondence. So we show them an AE. And instead of having them tell us that it makes the ass sound, they, they use the finger spelled handshake. So we, so letter sound correspondence is what we use for kids who are using their ears and let her handshake correspondence and finger spelling is the strategy that we use to help kids who are using their eyes and their that's, that's an emerging, that's an emerging, um, field, if you will, we don't have a ton of research on what that really looks like.
Speaker 1 00:55:38 You know, we only have research looking at that strategy for children who are in really early elementary. We don't really, and we don't have a lot of research on it. So, you know, this is, this is pretty novel. Um, this approach is pretty novel. And so we're also trying to teach teachers how to use it because it's not something that they are familiar with or used to using. Sure. So can you, what is the, what is that? What are you considering a handshake? So if you're doing the handshake for the letter a it's, um, if you were to do a closed fist, but then put your thumb to the side. So you've got your, you're just talking about like signing
Speaker 0 00:56:24 Yeah. The different, the different letters. Okay. So that's called
Speaker 1 00:56:27 Yeah. It's called the handshake. Exactly.
Speaker 0 00:56:29 Okay. Got it. Got it. So, yeah, I kind of know that
Speaker 1 00:56:33 Technical term, a hand date. Oh shit. Oh, okay. So you're shaking hands all day long. I'm sorry. Okay. And shape. Yes. Your, your hand makes different shapes for every letter. Okay. Makes sense. Yeah. And then you put those letters together into a word. Sure. Yes. So you do the shape, Percy, the shape for a, and the shape for T and then you put that together in a word. And so the word is represented by a sign. Not always, but most of the time. So you can finger spell the word cat, but you also have a sign for the word cat. So we teach children a code based strategy that uses American sign language that uses hand shapes and finger spelling instead of using a code based strategy that uses letters and sounds
Speaker 0 00:57:33 Well. It's interesting. I'm just thinking about, okay. So they can't, they're not hearing anything. So I'm hearing sounds, I'm just wondering what that experience would be like when they actually, or if they ever can, can actually hear what cat sounds.
Speaker 1 00:57:53 So then that kind of gets to your eyes and ears learners. There are a lot of children who are deaf or hard of hearing who may get hearing AIDS or a cochlear implant. And there's a lot of variability in how effective those devices are for children to, um, clearly access spoken language. So some kids who get a cochlear implant do amazingly well, and they learn spoken language like a typically developing child and they don't need visual supports and they don't need American sign language, but some children might have, you know, let's say auditory neuropathy, which they can hear sounds, but they had a difficult time processing, spoken language, like streams of spoken language. So they may have some spoken language ability. They may be able to learn letter sound correspondence, but they may need some signs support to provide more access to spoken language. So they might learn letter sound correspondence, but they might also learn letter handshake correspondence. They might learn both approaches and they might use both approaches, but they might use one approach for a word that they can hear easily. They might use the sound based approach for a word that they can hear easily. They might use the finger spelling approach for a word that's more difficult for them to hear. And so, yeah, they're, they're really interesting thing. Yeah. Okay. So
Speaker 0 00:59:32 I understand summarize your curriculum and what you're doing. So you have these different profiles. And so the idea is identifying what child matches to what profile
Speaker 1 00:59:45 And then create and give them a way to learn language perfect. That's exactly right. That we, we provide them assessments that they can give the children before they start the curriculum that kind of helps them get an idea of what learner profile that child child might fall into. And then they use the instruction and the materials that are appropriate for that particular profile. But then they keep evaluating as they're giving that instruction because sometimes a child might end up, you know, it looks like they might be a spoken language kiddo and an ears only kiddo. And they might end up throughout this school year, transitioning more into an eyes and ears kiddo. And maybe they use some finger spelling and some sign language for support. And so, yeah, we want to make sure that teachers aren't having to create all of that material themselves, that we're saying, okay,
Speaker 0 01:00:47 It's so stressful. I mean, I know that just firsthand through my, I guess second hand through my mom watching her, she's like, I got to it's basically you have to redo your curcumin every year for every subject. It's nuts.
Speaker 1 01:00:59 It is. It is. It's not, it's not a reasonable app. No.
Speaker 0 01:01:02 Oh. Because the standards change, I think like every year or something it's ridiculous
Speaker 1 01:01:06 Every year, but your kids change every single year. So what worked for last year's class a hundred may not work for this new year's class. And that, that I think is a little bit unfair for some of our teachers, you know, we're asking them to do so much. So we've tried to give them the tools they need. So then they can go and, you know, build the house instead of them trying to like make the hammer and, you know, solder the nails or like here, here's the hammer, here's the nails. Here's how to use them now go, and then they can run with it. And, you know, not only do we hope it makes their life easier, but we hope that it gives them the tools. They need to actually get the outcomes that we want for our students. You know, we need to get down to the students and are we doing the best we can for them so that they can be as successful as possible.
Speaker 0 01:02:02 Wow. It's, it's so fascinating. I mean, there's really no other words for it. It just, how, I mean, I'm learning so much about different profiles and kind of just bringing it back to what I learned growing up and being able to, you know, pull out those different ways that I learned and be like, okay, this was an eye only approach. This was an ear only, this is an ear and only yup. And it's really amazing. So thank you so much for all that you're doing. I've learned incredible amounts just within equities and just different profiles and what needs to be done and what are the issues that are standing in our way? Is there anything else you wanted to share? I mean, no, I think we've, we've covered quite a lot. I'm so grateful for you giving me this opportunity. You know, any time that I can kind of elevate this community and bring awareness there, they are such a small community. They're not a lot of people who are deaf and hard of hearing out there in the world. So anytime that I can bring some awareness and hopefully, you know, help elevate the community and their needs, I'm always grateful for it. So just thank you so much. You're welcome. Well, thanks so much, Stacy. I really appreciate your time and expertise and we'll talk to you later. See you on Instagram.
Speaker 2 01:03:26 Thank you friends for listening. Please rate and follow this podcast or text card at (470) 588-1215 with comments and suggestions tune in next week for another disability topic.