School Forces Deaf 3-Year-Old to Change the Way He Signs His Name (VIDEO)

deaf 3-year-oldToday's bad decision made by authority figures with no common sense is brought to you by the Nebraska public school forcing a 3-year-old deaf boy to change the way he signs his name because the "gesture resembles shooting a gun." Yes, that's right: Because Grand Island Public Schools' policy forbids the use of any "instrument" that "looks like a weapon," little Hunter Spanjer is being told to, effectively, change his name. Without sound, the only language Hunter knows is S.E.E. (Signing Exact English). The sign for his name is how this boy identifies himself. These people are going to mess with a 3-year-old special needs child's sense of self because he sort of looks like he's playing cops and robbers?!

Not if Hunter's family, the ACLU, or the National Organization for the Deaf have anything to do with it.

The ACLU sent a letter to the school district asking them to reconsider their policy, while the CEO of the National Organization for the Deaf has promised legal assistance to Hunter's family if it becomes a necessity. Meanwhile, I'm blown away by Hunter's dad. Brian Spanjer has showed considerable restraint with his tactful expression of disapproval: "I feel like it was an overreach on their part and I expected a lot better from the local school district."

As a parent, I'm pretty sure my reaction would've been more along the lines of: "You want an obscene gesture?! I'll give you an obscene gesture!"

I'm fairly confident that the school will buckle under all of the aforementioned pressure, which is only mounting as more and more people hear about Hunter's story (there's a Facebook page devoted to his cause), but it still makes me absolutely sick that we live in such an insensitive, clueless society. Saddest of all, I'm not even surprised this happened at all.

Do you think Hunter should be forced to change the way he signs his name?


Image via Huffington Post

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jpfsmom jpfsmom

I have a question. or is he simply signing "H" which resembles a "shooting motion" least in American Sign Language.  I know to spell his name he would have to make the "H" gesture and is that the entire issue is about? 

nonmember avatar Gretta

Are people really this dumb?

nonmember avatar Liana W.

I saw a really excellent post on this yesterday that corrected my initial reaction:
"There are several different issues here, but from a deaf education perspective, the biggest problem has nothing to do with the school's policy. Hunter was given a name sign that is not culturally appropriate, and it was given by someone (apparently) with no knowledge of Deaf culture.
"You cannot just use a basic sign from a sign language dictionary for someone's name! (Thank goodness the child's name isn't "Randy" and given the sign for "randy/horny.") Whoever did this doesn't know the long-term effects of what they've done, in terms of literacy, concept knowledge, and assimilation into the Deaf community. As he gets older, Hunter's use of his name sign could even be seen as a threat in a public place, if someone doesn't know what he's doing... and hearing people *won't* know.” (continued)

nonmember avatar Liana W.

“I've worked in deaf education for 10 years and I've seen this same kind of situation over and over. Someone teaches a child two words that have two different meanings, but they use the same sign. When Hunter sees the word "hunter," he's going to assume it means him. Well, why wouldn't he? The adults around him are using the same sign for "Hunter" as for "a hunter / a gunman," so because of this, there's no way for the child to distinguish one from the other. He needs to know that one is a proper name for himself and the other is a common noun referring to a person doing a specific action. Right now, he might think that everyone with a gun has the name Hunter; or, he might see a picture of someone deer hunting, be shown the sign "hunter" and think that he's supposed to be someone who kills animals. It could take years before he is able to understand that there's a difference, since both words are being presented to him the same way.” (continued)

nonmember avatar Liana W.

"Another issue I have here is that there are very specific cultural rules involved with name signs. They are to be given by a DEAF person. They are based on personality traits, sometimes trademark physical characteristics, sometimes hobbies, or an adult's career. Does Hunter often use a gun? If not, then the name sign is inappropriate.
"I believe that it's in Hunter's best interests for his parents to change his name sign *immediately* while he's still young (but NOT because of this ridiculous violence policy). It isn't a huge, traumatic thing to change a name sign, and it's a fairly common practice. For example, in Deaf culture, if I'm a member of my local Deaf community and I move to another city where someone has the same name sign I do, then I must change mine."

This was the *meat* of her comment that really addressed the issue of the article.

howcrazy howcrazy

His sign is similiar to the sign for hunter in see, he does not use asl. It has been individualized so he will know the difference between someone speaking to him and someone speaking of a hunter.

nonmember avatar Another Guest

NO! That's his NAME. Have a little common sense, administrators.

cmjaz cmjaz

Good info Liana. I always wondered if deaf people had to spell out their entire name when meeting someone.

rocamom rocamom

His name is Hunter and he's 3.. leave the kid ALONE!!

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