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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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The Rising of Lotus Flowers: Self-Education by Deaf Children in Thai Boarding Schools

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1. This statement is based on information garnered during my long work experience in the National Association of the Deaf in Thailand and my marriage into a Thai family with three deaf daughters.

2. Interview with Owen Wrigley, November 1991, Tak, Thailand.

3. Observed on June 6, 1991.

4. Videotaped on January 1990. These encounters hint of the vigilantism described by Jules Henry (1976a, 170). He describes classrooms where teachers support children’s intra-group criticism as exhibiting a “Witch Hunt Syndrome.”

5. Since the schools opened in 1953, only one case is known of a deaf student who had deaf parents. In other countries, children from deaf families often learn sign language fluently at home and have a distinct advantage in communication and academic readiness over children from nonsigning families.

6. In a deaf school where most students commute daily across a big city, they may value speaking and hearing among peers more highly than at isolated Bua. This observation is the researcher’s impression from three years in an urban school for the deaf where students had regular contact with hearing people.

7. Interview with Grade 5 at Bua School, October 5, 1991.

8. “He’s smart, really smart!” exclaimed a group of younger girls at Dok Khoon when they saw me using a sign language. They were too far away to judge the content, so their opinion may have reflected their recognition of someone who broke out of the “muteness” of most nonsigning visitors.

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