The Rochester Method Reporter: Niatalie G. Faulve
Rochester Method Was a way of educating deaf students by allowing fingerspelling and oral language only To make deaf communication like English print as much as possible (Musselman 2000) Was named after the Rochester, the home of the first school to try to use this method, the Rochester School for the Deaf (founded February 3,1876) formerly Western New York Institute for Deaf-Mutes in Rochester, New York
Dr. Isaac Lewis Peet•had the idea to prohibit all gestures from deaf students’ schoollife (Rosenberg-Naparsteck, 2002). He even recommended prohibitinggestures in family life (1878)
Professor ZenasWesterveltFirst superintendent ofRochester School for theDeaf in 1876 the schoolused the combined methodof signing ang lip reading
Professor ZenasWestervelt took on the idea and, in 1886, announced that his school was only using fingerspelling and speech At the school, one-third of classroom time was in lip- reading and speech (Rosenberg-Naparsteck, 2002). Students learned written language more quickly because of fingerspelling (Rosenberg-Naparsteck, 2002). Rochester Method was developed to integrate deaf people into the mainstream society
The method survived for about 70 years, but essentially died because it was impractical Teachers and even successful students found that fingerspelling took too much time and energy Some research has shown that the Rochester Method produces better language skills, but modern educators tend to agree that using different strategies according to the child’s abilities, experience and situation is the best educational method (Musselman, 2000).
RULES FOR THE ROAD Use the hand you write with. That is your dominant hand. The only time you would use the other hand is for emphasis when you are much more advanced. If you are ambidextrous, pick which hand you will use to fingerspell and consistently use that hand. Do not go back and forth. For practice, hold your right wrist with your non-dominant hand to make sure that your palm is facing out. Do NOT bounce your hand/arm. Holding it (#2) should help you. Palm should ALWAYS face out towards the receiver except for the letters “H” and “G.” With these letters, the palm faces the signer.
Speed is not important. Do NOT make it a goal to fingerspell fast. Work on being smooth and on making the letters of the word you are spelling flow together without being choppy. Speed will just naturally develop much later. Do NOT say the letters you are fingerspelling as you spell – whether it is to yourself or to the receiver. This is a TERRIBLE habit that is very hard to break.When you fingerspell, especially when you’re new and not fluid, it may be necessary that the deaf person watch both your hands AND read your lips. Deaf people cannot lipread letters. Say the word as you sign it. Also, saying it to yourself creates a mind-set of each letter individually, instead a word as a whole.
Fingerspelling is NOT a substitute for a vocabulary word you don’t know.Always use fingerspelling as a last resort. Mime, gestures, using other words, and writing are all better alternatives that fingerspelling everything you don’t know. When reading someone’s fingerspelling, try to see the whole word instead of looking for letters. When we read print we don’t look at each letter. The same thing applies here.
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