International Leaders Summit: Using Dialogue to Center the Conversation on the Education of Deaf Children and Youth in the 21st Century

Article excerpt

On July 18, 2010, the eve of the 21st International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED 2010), the International Leaders Summit was held at the Center for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada. A total of 120 world leaders from 32 countries participated. Presenters, including students, led the conversation on current perspectives, teacher preparation, worldwide resources, and major issues affecting the education of d/Deaf and hard of hearing infants, children, and youth. Summit participants recognized that advances in detection, early intervention, and technology present challenges in meeting the needs of a student population more diverse than at any other stage in history. While it was acknowledged that needs differ in various parts of the world, there was a consensus that change is required to prepare students to handle challenges in the 21st century.

Held on July 18, 2010, in Vancouver, Canada, the International Leaders Summit was designed to give educational leaders both d/Deaf and hearing the chance to listen to and speak with each other in a focused manner. Advances made in the areas of technology, early identification, and intervention, along with curriculum changes and the accumulation of professional knowledge, have resulted in a student population with a greater diversity of needs than at any time in history.

The day opened with video presentations by two students each from Australia, England, Japan, and the United States, followed by a live panel discussion of students from Canada. From there, the dialogue focused on three selected topics pertinent to educators:

1. Issues facing education and how to meet the changing needs of d/Deaf and hard of hearing students. Speakers from Israel, South Korea, the United States, and Greece initiated the discussion.

2. Skills and knowledge that teachers need to work with students. Discussion was led by presenters from Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Belgium.

3. Worldwide resources, support, and partnerships that are needed to enable students to derive maximum benefit from technology, early intervention, and advanced teaching methods designed to meet the requirements of a changing population. To balance views from both developing and developed countries, presenters on the third topic were drawn from South Africa, China, Jordan, Thailand, and the United States.

Following short presentations on each topic, a facilitated dialogue took place. The individual presentations set the stage for the dialogue, which followed from the perspective of the speaker and the part of the world he or she represented. Then, a short summary was given by Roz Rosen (National Center on Deafness, California State University, Northridge, United States), representing developed countries, and Nassozi Kiyaga (Deaf Link Uganda), representing developing countries. The day concluded with the editors of the American Annals of the Deaf the Volta Review, the fournal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education and Deafness, and Deafness Education International providing their perspectives and steps for the future.

The Power of Dialogue

Dialogue is shared inquiry, a way for people to think and reflect together. It provides an opportunity to listen to others and to tell one's own story. "It challenges you to shift your attitudes about relationships with others, so that we gradually give up the effort to make them understand us and come to a greater understanding of ourselves and each other" (Isaacs, 1999, p. 9). The art of dialogue empowers people to learn with and from each other. Dialogue challenges old models and proposes a method for sustaining partnerships between hierarchies and those who come from differing philosophies, cultures, or backgrounds. Dialogue differs from discussion and debate in that its purpose is to seek to open possibilities and see new options, while the purpose of discussion and debate is to try to make a decision, and in so doing bring closure and completion to a conversation. …