1. Create mandatory Deaf cultural competency/awareness training for social workers (specifically those assigned to children who are born deaf or become deaf before age five), physicians, and audiologists. Social workers are assigned to every deaf child, but not all social workers are trained in Deaf culture literacy and often approach their roles from a hearing-centric perspective. This training would be important because social workers may have the ability to influence and educate parents and ensure that the best interests of deaf children are kept in mind. Physicians already undergo mandatory training in cultural competency. This solution proposes adding a cultural competency course about Deaf culture and American Sign Language.

Three most important “yes, ands…”

  1. Yes, and this should definitely be formalized and mandated across physicians and social workers.

Yes! We agree with this. By this solution being formalized and mandated, we hope that it can reach more people and be more effective.

  1. Yes, and, with the proper training, these social workers would be able to influence different aspects of the child's life such as education and future work, not just their parents! The more exposure and awareness, the better!

That’s exactly what we were thinking! We’re hoping that our proposed solution will impact these children in all aspects of their lives. Not only is learning ASL important for communication, it also opens the door to the Deaf community, social learning, and important cultural inclusion.

  1. Yes, and in perhaps the training could also include other areas of focus such as gender or race. It could quite possibly make the child feel more comfortable and better adapt to their environment and positively respond to treatment!

We think that this is a great idea and extremely important, but we’re not sure if these things fall into the scope of what we plan to do. While issues of race and gender inevitably intersect with almost all topics, including ours, we’re not sure how we should incorporate this idea into our project. Thank you for this suggestion, we will continue to think about this!

Three most important “yes, buts”

  1. Yes, but there is a possible risk of varying training levels based on the funding that is dedicated to a location's social work department.

This is always going to be a risk no matter what type of training that you are trying to implement. But the hope is that this training will not be very expensive and therefore will not be a huge burden on the social work department

  1. Yes but we're worried this isn't moonshot material, especially because physicians already undergo this training yet the problem is still super apparent

While physicians undergo cultural competency classes, this is still an issue because those cultural competency classes do not address the Deaf Community and Deaf Culture. Our moonshot is to address the serious issue of language deprivation and this is just one of the ways that we thought that we could do this at a grassroots level.

  1. Yes, but would there be a risk of segregation?

Do you mean segregation between hearing and deaf children? In terms of language acquisition, that is what we are trying to combat in this moonshot project. If you mean segregation along race and socioeconomic status lines, then we agree that this could be a huge risk! But we hope that this training will not be hugely expensive and therefore will not be a burden on the social work schools.

  1. Add ASL to language apps like Duolingo. The lack of widely accessible and low-cost ASL language courses creates a barrier/deterrent for people to learn ASL. By adding ASL as a course offering on Duolingo, a widely popular and easily accessible language learning app, more people may take the initiative to learn ASL.

Three most important “yes, ands…”

  1. Reducing barriers to ASL is a hugely important strategy in opening the doors to ASL learning for people

Yes! We completely agree with this. Few high schools, and even fewer middle schools, offer ASL as a language option. As a result, many people do not have access to language learning. Making these resources accessible and widely available would likely encourage many more people to learn ASL!

  1. Yes and would this course offering be free or incur cost?

As Duolingo currently exists, there is a free version and a premium version (with more options and resources) available. We were modeling this idea off of this platform, so there would be a free version of ASL language learning as well as a more in-depth premium version.

  1. Duolingo is usually on a small screen and I'm not sure how you would incorporate this. What if you use ASL animojis - instead of focusing on your face and how your face moves, it can be instead on how your hands move!

While this is a really good idea and we would love to incorporate a few animojis into the service, the signers facial expressions are hugely important and can change the whole meaning of what they are signing. Therefore we think that focusing on the facial expressions and the hands are equally important. The other problem that may occur if we use animojis is that the learner will not be able to see proper hand positions and handshapes that are crucial to the meaning of sign language.

Three most important “yes, buts”

  1. Yes, but is an online course enough to train people in deaf cultural competency and awareness and instigate real change?

This is a very important and necessary consideration. We feel as though an online course has the potential to inform and educate people, however it is important that society wants to change the stigma. Of course this is not an “end all be all,” but this will definitely provide a big step in the right direction. Spreading awareness can be as easy as posting relevant information on social media, so we believe a robust online course/application can provide important change.

  1. N/A: Only received one “yes, but”
  2. N/A: Only received one “yes, but”

Our revised solution(s):

Based on the feedback we’ve received, we believe that our first solution is the clear winner for our moonshot project. We think that the best way to solve language deprivation in deaf children born to hearing parents would be to intervene on a grassroots level and address the bias that we see in the medical community. Currently the solutions to “fix” deafness that a parent receives from the medical community is quite binary, either the child can learn spoken language or only know how to sign. What we proposed is to create a low-cost training program for Social Workers and physicians to change this mentality. We would like to have these important medical workers truly present all the options to hearing parents and show that these options do not have to be implemented independently. They can work in conjunction with each other and they often yield better results for the child when they are working together.