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Interview With the Authors

Gina A. Oliva and
Linda Risser Lytle,
Authors, Turning the Tide: Making Life Better for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Schoolchildren

GUPress: What inspired you to write a follow-up to Alone in the Mainstream?

Gina A. Oliva: I always knew I would do another book because the push towards more and more children being isolated from other deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) kids was going to continue and that the number of children “alone in the mainstream” would continue to grow. So I knew that there would be a need to show “where are we now.”

GUPress: How many deaf camps are there? How important is that in a deaf child’s developing identity? How do you reach out to hearing parents of deaf kids?

Gina A. Oliva: A few organizations maintain lists, and I tend to refer to the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center’s (Washington, D.C.) list, which has about 70 programs listed. But, camps go defunct, and new camps crop up. The same is true for weekend programs—by the way, I learned about weekend programs as I was beginning the investigation of deaf camps—quite a few states and localities have them, but they don’t all have a sustaining base. In fact, a very big point we make in the book that I cannot emphasize enough is that these summer and weekend programs should not have to depend on the good graces of volunteers and benevolent donors. The children’s self-esteem and identity development should be part of their Individual Evaluation Plans (IEPs) and programs that bring children into contact with others who share the same issues is critical to healthy development.

Reaching hearing parents is a tough job. We advocate for individuals on the local level to network with each other (teachers, counselors, interpreters, audiologists, parents). Together, they can develop proposals and plans to bring to school boards and state personnel. Getting a weekend or summer program set up using local resources and also local funding is not a bad thing, but it would be better if states or the federal government got involved. The children need it, and when they grow up, they will look back and be incredibly thankful for the weekend and camp experiences.

GUPress: What is it that you hope to accomplish with this title that might not have taken place after the publication of Alone in the Mainstream?

Gina A. Oliva: Well first off, I think more Deaf adults, even those who don’t necessarily work in education-related fields, are more and more aware of the needs of today’s DHH schoolchildren. Facebook and listservs exist today that did not exist ten years ago when Alone in the Mainstream (AITM) was published. These social media vehicles should help to get the word out to more people, faster. Secondly, the ongoing sales of AITM suggest that some modest number of faculty members (interpreting education, special education, early intervention) is regularly requiring this book. So, we hope that the current “fans” will now also “upgrade” to using Turning the Tide.

Further, Turning the Tide tells more (actually much more) about the state of affairs in Deaf education and showcases the efforts of numerous professionals already working for good in this arena. I think Turning the Tide is the first book ever to do this. Parents and teachers will be glad to know that there is a whole cadre of individuals and organizations who understand deaf and hard of hearing children and want to help make life better for them.

16:2 Friday, February 28, 2014

What Works Well and What Does Not

Insights on How to Improve the Educational Environment of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Schoolchildren

In her first book, Alone in the Mainstream: A Deaf Woman Remembers Public School, volume one in the Deaf Lives series, author Gina A. Oliva combines her personal experiences with a survey of deaf and hard of hearing former public school students to describe what it was like to be the only deaf pupil in the school. In Turning the Tide: Making Life Better for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Schoolchildren, Oliva pairs with Linda Risser Lytle to focus on improving the educational environment of deaf students. To do so, they conducted an exhaustive study of deaf and hard of hearing students who attended mainstream schools.

Turning the Tide is a timely and much needed addition to the field of educating deaf and hard of hearing children,” states Debra Russell, David Peikoff Chair of Deaf Studies and Director of the Western Canadian Centre of Deaf Studies. “Personal narratives told by deaf and hard of hearing adults offer us powerful insights into the experiences of childhood, and in particular, into the nature of education. In this text, Gina Oliva and Linda Lytle have delivered a highly readable account of their research that sought to uncover the perspectives of people who have lived the experience of ‘inclusive’ education over the past 30 years in the United States. From these narratives, readers—whether parent, educator, interpreter, or administrator—can discover the layers of meaning that adults attach to their educational experiences, and by doing so, examine what works well and what does not work well in the current approach to education for deaf and hard of hearing children.”

Read more about this new study in chapter three, “The Struggle to Shape an Identity,” and use your exclusive subscriber discount to receive a savings of 20% off when you order Turning the Tide. When ordering online, type “FEB2014” in the box labeled “use promo code” next to the checkout button. You may also order by mail.


Working Text: Teaching Deaf and Second-Language Students to Be Better Writers features carefully crafted exercises using the X-Word Grammar approach to help students discover common language constructions that they can apply to their own writing. It also includes both in print and on a special CD all of the exercises and appendices in the Working Text: X-Word Grammar and Writing Activities for Students workbook. One reviewer on Amazon wrote: “For ESOL teachers who realize that context is everything in language development, this book makes sense. It shows how to help learners understand grammar much better by studying it in the context of what they read and write, and reminds us that we need to help our students read carefully, thoughtfully, and extensively if we want them to write well.” You can review the table of contents and read chapter one online. Order the Working Text teacher’s guide and the Working Text student workbook today.


“A must-read for anyone who has a deaf family member. Being the mother of a deaf child, it amazed me as I read my own thoughts and feelings in another person’s words...it was a true depiction of their life. Awesome book!”

“[Amy Signs] allows the reader to embrace an elevated understanding of previously unchallenged beliefs about abilities and disabilities. It leaves the reader with the knowledge that many people with Deafness are indeed, ‘Deaf and Bright’.”

“The book is well-written with stories of frustration and sadness balanced by humor. The authors give their honest opinions about doctors, hearing aids, acceptance and denial by family members, and even the trials and joys of traveling throughout a hearing world.”

These are just a few of the accolades accorded to the mother-daughter team of Rebecca Willman Gernon and Amy Willman regarding their book Amy Signs: A Mother, Her Deaf Daughter, and Their Stories. Read chapter 37, and order Amy Signs now. For your convenience, you may order online or by mail.


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