Image of Julie Rems-Smario
Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Fremont, Calif., November 20, 2019—The Ohlone College Psychology Speaker Series welcomes Julie Rems-Smario as she presents Language Deprivation, The Overlooked Social Justice Crisis on Friday, November 22 at 7 p.m. in the Smith Center at Ohlone College, 43600 Mission Boulevard, Fremont, CA 94539. A leader in the Deaf community and social justice activism, Rems-Smario will deliver a one-hour talk on the importance of early sign language exposure for Deaf children.

In California, 14,000 K-12 Deaf children are generally denied American Sign Language (ASL) (or any natural signed language) as their natural language of instruction along with English. More than 80% of Deaf children do not know ASL. Instead, they are taught in spoken English only, with or without visual supplement.

ASL is now the third most taught language in the United States for hearing students to meet their dual-language requirements. While California public schools are offering ASL classes to hearing students, most Deaf students do not have access to their own natural signed language despite equally deserving multilingual opportunities in ASL and English. The negative impact of this language delay is great and affects their education, success in life, and their overall sense of self and belonging.

“I am in my third ASL class, and I’ve learned so much about language deprivation and the obstacles that Deaf people face in education and the larger community,” says Ohlone College Psychology Professor Sheldon Helms. “Much of it has almost nothing to do with their ‘disability’ and everything to do with the fact that the system is gamed against them. That’s why the Psychology Club wanted to bring her to campus to help shed light on this subject and to help educate people on the need for more ASL education.”

In this talk, Rems-Smario discusses the impact of withholding ASL from Deaf children, in K-12 Deaf education, why Deaf children are the lowest-performing group of students, and why they are doing poorer than children in poverty, children with other disabilities, and children in ESL classes.

Rems-Smario is the founding executive director of DeafHope, PR director of LEAD-K, and past president of the California Association of the Deaf. She currently works as an education programs assistant at the California Department of Education Deaf and Hard of Hearing Unit. Her involvement in these three organizations reflects her great passions: the rights of abused Deaf women and children, the language rights of Deaf children, and political activism.

Her past work has included directing California’s Newborn Hearing Screening Project (NHSP), supervising SB 210 data, developing resources for families of Deaf children, and providing technical assistance to K-12 Deaf education.

Tickets for the event are $10 and proceeds will go to supporting the Ohlone Psychology Club in bringing top-level speakers to campus each semester. Parking on campus is $4 without a current student permit.

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This talk will be delivered in ASL, and will be Voice Interpreted for the hearing.