Literacy

The issue
Why is there such a high rate of functional illiteracy in the Deaf community, and what can be done about it?

CAD's position
The high rate of functional illiteracy is not a result of deafness in itself. Shifting away from the deficit model of early intervention and education and towards the difference model would help to improve the literacy and educational achievements of Deaf people.

The Canadian Association of the Deaf believes that a literacy status on a par with that of the general population is feasible and attainable for Deaf individuals today.

The CAD rejects the concept that deafness is the major cause of literacy problems in Deaf children. The CAD attributes the literacy and educational problems of Deaf Canadians to the impaired communication environment surrounding them; to the deficit model orientation of early intervention, education, and teacher training programs; and to the lack of qualified Deaf professionals and educators in all such programs.

The CAD supports the principle that literacy is a crucial access point for Deaf Canadians to the non-Deaf world, and that it should take precedence over spoken English/French skills in all of the above programs.

The CAD also subscribes to the difference model principle in which all the intact faculties and strengths of the Deaf individual are fully utilized in his/her development, as opposed to the attempted utilization of defective or inadequate faculties.

In order to enhance the literacy and educational status of the Deaf individual, the CAD makes the following points:

(1) The Deaf individual should have free and unrestricted access to
visible and natural language and communication.

(2) The focus should be shifted away from the deficit model and towards
that of the difference model in all early intervention, education, and
teacher training programs serving Deaf students.

3) Such programs should commit themselves to the training and employment
of qualified Deaf professionals and educators in significant numbers.

(4) Such programs should place greater emphasis on the employment
of print language as a key instructional and communication modality.

APPROVED: 23 JULY 2012

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
The Canadian Association of the Deaf
303 - 251 Bank Street
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1X3
(613)565-2882 Voice/TTY
(613)565-1207 Fax
www.cad.ca




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