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Thread: Impotance of Teaching Deaf to Fly

  1. #1
    Deafhawk's Avatar
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    Impotance of Teaching Deaf to Fly

    I wrote this last year on the old Forum. Today I am writing lesson plans to teach good basic stick & rudder skills, situational awareness, collision avoidance and ADM to professional pilots, experienced pilots (nice way of saying old), pilots who are having medical certificate challenges and pilots/student pilots who use English as a second language. The courses result in Private Pilot - Glider certificate, Glider category addition to Private or Commercial, and/or LSA Glider endorsement. I was thinking about the last time I flew an approach and landing with refference outside the cockpit only - 45 years or a cross country by pilotage and dead reckoning only - 40 years. It is scary thinking about a bird strike wiping out the ASI or a meteor shower (a politician may be more likely) wiping out the GPS system. If I had never had those skills it would be horrifying.

    Just read this article http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?C...-f30ac27cd61a& about the demand for pilots.

    English is my second language, American Sign Language is first. I do not think in English and my deep thinking language has a much different syntax and structure. ASL happens to be very spacial and visual in nature, fits and applies to aviation very well. Now, most student pilots have English as a second language. Still, most instructors are native English speakers. The linear nature of English does not fit the thought patters well of more spacial and visual languages like Chinese (I don't speak or understand Chinese but their writing is pictures and I can get more meaning intuitively than from any other written language). If instructors can adjust their teaching message for ASL users, we will be better able to adjust for other language users (thinkers). Since ASL accommodates aviation concepts very well, the adjusted teaching message will be more clear rather than degraded.

    I failed my first written test (we called them written test because we actually used a pencil, now they are called knowledge test). I had studied a yellow book called Private Pilot (those of you who are old enough know it well). Bob Wagner, my instructor, (his Great Grandinstructor was Orville Wright and he still flies biplanes for Classic Waco) adjusted the teaching message at a chrome and Formica table in the kitchen of the farm house at the airport (could be a Norman Rockwell painting). Bob drew pictures for me and used his hands (as most pilots do it isn't a big leap to Sign Language) to depict airplane attitudes. I could not understand the ideas well enough from the book in linear English. I passed the test easily when the message was adjusted. Bob did it naturally as I'm sure many instructors do today. However, it is not natural for many instructors today and us old guys are beginning to die off.

    The more we develop instruction for Deaf, the better will be the instruction of the majority of students now and in the future.

  2. #2

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    I grew up in a town with the state's deaf school. I took a college course in ASL, but the only coherent statement I can remember from the class is "I forget how to sign." LOL

    I now work at an optometrist's office in my hometown. Once I had a deaf gentleman come in wearing a Cessna 150 t-shirt. When I asked his occupation, he said that he was retired, then made a swooping hand motion and said, "Fly!" I quickly began scribbling questions on a sheet of paper! "How do you communicate with ATC?" and the like. He took the paper, grinned, and said one word that made me slap my forehead in recognition of my own stupidity: "NORDO!" He and I talked about flying, his plane (indeed a C150), and Oshkosh. He was one of my memorable patients! (Along with the guy with medical paper work from the UAE Department of Aviation! lol)

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deafhawk View Post
    The more we develop instruction for Deaf, the better will be the instruction of the majority of students now and in the future.
    I agree with you entirely. I actually had the pleasure to fly back seat with Stephen Hopson, the first deaf IFR pilot, while he was studying for his IFR rating. His instructor, Jason Edwards, was my private pilot instructor at the same time. Jason straight out told me that working with Stephan made him a better instructor and Jason being a better instructor consequently made me a better safe pilot.

    I am living proof of your statement.

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