Deaf 3 year old asked to change his name?

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Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
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Deaf 3 year old asked to change his name?

Hunter Spanjer, 3-Year-Old Deaf Boy, Told By Preschool To Change Way He Signs His Name (VIDEO)

Video that shows the sign at the link.

In a move blasted by rights groups, a 3-year-old-deaf boy has been told by his Nebraska school district to change the way he signs his name because the gesture resembles shooting a gun.

Hunter Spanjer uses the standard S.E.E., Signing Exact English. He crosses his index and middle fingers and waves them slightly to signify his name. And, Grand Island Public Schools' policy forbids any "instrument" that "looks like a weapon," reported NCN (see video above).

While crossing his fingers is a slight modification to the standard gesture, one meant to give it the personal touch, according to NCN, Hunter's family is outraged by the district's reaction.

"Anybody that I have talked to thinks this is absolutely ridiculous," Hunter's grandmother Janet Logue told NCN. "This is not threatening in any way."

Hunter's dad, Brian Spanjer, told The Huffington Post on Tuesday: "I feel like it was an overreach on their part and I expected a lot better from the local school district."

Spanjer posted a letter on Facebook that the ACLU sent to the district "politely" asking it to reconsider policy.

Howard Rosenblum, CEO of the National Association of the Deaf, told HuffPost his organization was prepared to assist the Spanjers with legal action if necessary. "A name sign is the equivalent of a person's name, and to prohibit a name sign is to prohibit a person's name," he wrote in an email.

A district spokesman told the Nebraska station the school was trying to come to the best solution for preschooler Hunter. The Huffington Post left a message with the district for comment early Tuesday.

Brian Spanjer has begun a Facebook page devoted to protesting the school's action. "Absolute madness and blatant disability discrimination," wrote Sheryl Booth.

Blogs have taken up Hunter's cause as well. A commenter on Lenore Skenazy's site Free-Range Kids asked, "Whatever happened to common sense and shared humanity, not to mention respecting the dignity of a 3 year old and his family?"

Hunter signs his name by crossing his middle and index fingers? leaving his thumbs up? and then wagging his hands.

Thoughts? Is this school going too far in their "no weapon or weapon-like thing" policy? Or should they enforce it across the board for anything they believe signifies a weapon?

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

Yuck.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

Ridiculous. They should be ashamed of themselves. What kind of people come up with this stuff?

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
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Crazy.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

Yeah, this seems offensively idiotic to me. It's his freaking name. I can't believe anyone in their right mind would think that "changing it" is even an option.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

This gets a big ole HELL NO!

His name is Hunter? But the issue is how he signs his name? Ummm...

Yeah, talk about over-reaching.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Yeah, this seems offensively idiotic to me. It's his freaking name. I can't believe anyone in their right mind would think that "changing it" is even an option.

Not defending but they aren't asking him to change his name, just his name sign.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

Yeah...big fat no to that district.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

In Deaf culture, that is the same thing. A Deaf child is given a sign name that is much thought over. They are given that sign name, and have that same sign name for the rest of their life unless they change it when they get married or other major life changing event.

AkMomma07's picture
Joined: 07/04/07
Posts: 1159

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

In Deaf culture, that is the same thing. A Deaf child is given a sign name that is much thought over. They are given that sign name, and have that same sign name for the rest of their life unless they change it when they get married or other major life changing event.

^ This!

They are way over reaching and out of line.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

Definitely going too far.

Alissa, I saw your siggy! Congrats!

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1535

Makes you wonder what kind of adult was thinking this? Are they not using common sense at all?

smsturner's picture
Joined: 05/11/09
Posts: 1303

This is nuts. It's his name. It's even registered with the sign language assoc. Smells of an equal rights case to me if they don't drop it fast...

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

In Deaf culture, that is the same thing. A Deaf child is given a sign name that is much thought over. They are given that sign name, and have that same sign name for the rest of their life unless they change it when they get married or other major life changing event.

"smsturner" wrote:

This is nuts. It's his name. It's even registered with the sign language assoc. Smells of an equal rights case to me if they don't drop it fast...

Can I ask you two a question that is slightly OT? Did you notice they use SEE instead of ASL? Is this common where you are? I remember people having some really strong opinions on it back when I was in college.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Can I ask you two a question that is slightly OT? Did you notice they use SEE instead of ASL? Is this common where you are? I remember people having some really strong opinions on it back when I was in college.

I can unequivocally tell you that it is not common and judging by your post it seems you are of that view? Correct me if I'm wrong though! The use of SEE is more common among hearing parents with a deaf child because you sign exactly how you speak. Deaf people do not 'speak' the way hearing people do.

My mother is an only hearing child of deaf parents and is a certified sign language interpreter in ASL (and she also is fluent in SEE and BSL) and she says that the deaf community really views SEE as a cop out by hearing parents who they view as not motivated enough to learn what will and should be the language spoken in their child's community. My mom sees it from time to time. She intervened for a deaf girl in a mainstreamed classroom who used SEE. She was terribly segregated from the deaf community, but my mother said she though the girl's parents wanted it that way - to keep her in a hearing world and minimize her 'deafness', so to speak.

smsturner's picture
Joined: 05/11/09
Posts: 1303

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Can I ask you two a question that is slightly OT? Did you notice they use SEE instead of ASL? Is this common where you are? I remember people having some really strong opinions on it back when I was in college.

I'm sorry...I'm not understanding, why should it matter which one they use for his name? If it's his name, it's his name. It's like saying his name is on the state birth certificate but not the federal. It's still his registered name.
Or are you just curious of my views on the language itself? I know a little ASL, and no SEE, and honestly will admit to being too ignorant of the whole argument to make a judgement. But I will be reading this with interest to see more about them Smile

Clairesmommy, i forget your name, i'm sorry. It's very interesting to hear about it. What a sad story for that girl. Her social needs can't have been being met. It's great your mother was able to help.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"smsturner" wrote:

I'm sorry...I'm not understanding, why should it matter which one they use for his name? If it's his name, it's his name. It's like saying his name is on the state birth certificate but not the federal. It's still his registered name.
Or are you just curious of my views on the language itself? I know a little ASL, and no SEE, and honestly will admit to being too ignorant of the whole argument to make a judgement. But I will be reading this with interest to see more about them Smile

Clairesmommy, i forget your name, i'm sorry. It's very interesting to hear about it. What a sad story for that girl. Her social needs can't have been being met. It's great your mother was able to help.

It's Lisa, btw! Smile She wasn't able to help. She was paid to interpret what the teacher said and that's about it. Yes, she helped her with telling time, helping her get on the right bus, teaching her how to pay for things in a store, etc. but my mother would've been kicked to the curb if she went against the girl's parents' wishes and tried to introduce her to the deaf community.

I can't speak for ethanwinfield, but it's plausible that being such an enormous difference between SEE and ASL, that the school's view is that there wouldn't or shouldn't be such a strong emphasis in having a deaf 'name' or name symbol per se, and that he could've easily just finger spelled his name. Now, I absolutely do not agree with that (if that's what the school was thinking). I'm just playing devil's advocate a bit and trying to think of why the school thought it would just be so simple to say/sign his name in another way. Hearing people or people who've had no exposure to deaf culture sometimes have a hard time accepting deafness as a culture and not a disability. While I definitely see it as a culture, I do still believe deafness is a disability, in the strictess sense. A person is not able to hear - disabled. That's basically where it stops for me though. My grandfather was the smartest, wisest, most hilarious person I ever met. I'm sad I never got to have a real conversation with him.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

"smsturner" wrote:

I'm sorry...I'm not understanding, why should it matter which one they use for his name? If it's his name, it's his name. It's like saying his name is on the state birth certificate but not the federal. It's still his registered name.
Or are you just curious of my views on the language itself? I know a little ASL, and no SEE, and honestly will admit to being too ignorant of the whole argument to make a judgement. But I will be reading this with interest to see more about them Smile

Clairesmommy, i forget your name, i'm sorry. It's very interesting to hear about it. What a sad story for that girl. Her social needs can't have been being met. It's great your mother was able to help.

ASL is a recognized language. SEE is signed exact English - not a recognized language - and like Claire'sMommy said, it is less for the deaf child and more the hearing parents.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

"mom3girls" wrote:

Makes you wonder what kind of adult was thinking this? Are they not using common sense at all?

I know right?? I guess I can see one person coming up with a stupid idea, but where did they find enough people to go forward with this?

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

ASL is a recognized language. SEE is signed exact English - not a recognized language - and like Claire'sMommy said, it is less for the deaf child and more the hearing parents.

This is really interesting to me. I knew there are different types of sign language, but didn't know the difference between them.

So, when I sign the alphabet, I'm doing SEE, but if I sign "more" or "please" with my kids, its ASL?

I can certainly see where the debate between use of the two would come from. Interesting.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
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"kris_w" wrote:

This is really interesting to me. I knew there are different types of sign language, but didn't know the difference between them.

So, when I sign the alphabet, I'm doing SEE, but if I sign "more" or "please" with my kids, its ASL?

I can certainly see where the debate between use of the two would come from. Interesting.

The hand alphabet is still ASL, but if you're spelling out each word in the order that you speak as a hearing person, that would be SEE. The hand alphabet is used by both ASL and SEE. Same with 'more' or 'please' - used by both languages. The difference is the sentence structure, primarly, and that SEE uses all the pronouns, adverbs, etc. ASL doesn't so much. If you're using SEE you'd sign "I am going to the store"; if you were using ASL you'd sign (I don't know the exact order) "I store go" or something similar. I remember very clearly writing to my grandfather "I'm going outside to play" and he wrote back "Too dark. Danger for cars." I guess from a spoken language perspective you could equate it to learning French and using a different structure - and that English isn't interpreted word for word in the same order. KWIM?

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
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"kris_w" wrote:

Definitely going too far.

Alissa, I saw your siggy! Congrats!

Thanks!

That is interesting about the difference in culture between SEE and ASL. Is it possible that the parents (or child) liked the sign in SEE for Hunter better as a name, but in general they speak ASL?

I took an ASL class about 5 years ago, and I actually loved the sentence structure of ASL; it was so much simpler than having to remember a bunch of pronouns. A couple of years ago I happened to be looking for Oragel in a store and needed help. The employee I found was deaf, so I just signed "Baby teeth hurt. Medicine?" and she got it. I was so happy and proud. Biggrin

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Thanks!

That is interesting about the difference in culture between SEE and ASL. Is it possible that the parents (or child) liked the sign in SEE for Hunter better as a name, but in general they speak ASL?

I took an ASL class about 5 years ago, and I actually loved the sentence structure of ASL; it was so much simpler than having to remember a bunch of pronouns. A couple of years ago I happened to be looking for Oragel in a store and needed help. The employee I found was deaf, so I just signed "Baby teeth hurt. Medicine?" and she got it. I was so happy and proud. Biggrin

That is awesome! Good for you Alissa. A lot of people with basic ASL would be very intimidated to sign (kinda like me using French in Quebec ;)) but most deaf people are so gracious and thankful when a hearing person tries to communicate in their language.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Can I ask you two a question that is slightly OT? Did you notice they use SEE instead of ASL? Is this common where you are? I remember people having some really strong opinions on it back when I was in college.

DH is also a certified sign language interpreter. (He works in the school system with Deaf students). My degree is also in Deaf Studies. I would agree with Lisa. ASL is what is accepted by Deaf people. There are still many people who sign SEE. What is most common is a mesh between the two (Contact signing). Let me give you an example. An English sentence would be "I walked the dog" in ASL it would be "Dog I finish walk" They are two completely different languages. One is English expressed with signs. The other is a language built upon a complete culture.

mom2robbie's picture
Joined: 01/20/07
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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

DH is also a certified sign language interpreter. (He works in the school system with Deaf students). My degree is also in Deaf Studies. I would agree with Lisa. ASL is what is accepted by Deaf people. There are still many people who sign SEE. What is most common is a mesh between the two (Contact signing). Let me give you an example. An English sentence would be "I walked the dog" in ASL it would be "Dog I finish walk" They are two completely different languages. One is English expressed with signs. The other is a language built upon a complete culture.

Thanks for sharing this. I had no idea! I used to manage a cell store back when blackberries were still new. They were great for deaf people and I had a lot of sales that way. I found out later from one of my customers that they recommended me to their friends as I was patient and tried to use what little sign language I knew. I wasn't purposefully doing anything differently in trying to get sales but I guess it was appreciated. The only really funny thing was the one time I forgot to put the BB on vibrate for them, they came right back and we shared a laugh over my forgetfulness Biggrin

Joined: 05/23/12
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I watched the video twice and I watched the name being signed carefully. I just can't not even figure out what dangerous weapon that resembles. Big fail.