This is not the first time that I’ve blogged about being a fan of the work that Ty Pennington and the
Extreme Makeover-Home Edition team does to support so many families of children with special needs.

Yesterday’s program was no exception as the team rebuilt the Oregon School for the Deaf and also provided students with hearing aids. That’s where the story gets a bit emotional and complicated. A seemingly supportive action from the heart has stirred up controversy in the deaf community and not everyone is applauding the team’s well-meaning action, fueling an age-old, heated discussion about disability and society’s apparent need to “fix” children with special needs.

I do applaud the efforts of the EMHE team, and I am also sensitive to and well aware of the emotional arguments of those who may not. I believe that sometimes, we can agree to disagree on some complex human issues for the sake of the good of our children and the valuable discussion that our differences of opinion may create. I’m pretty that sure no harm was intended here. I think we should pay particular close attention to how the students feel about their newfound ability to hear.

You can watch the students receive hearing aids here (complete with an appearance of Marlee Matlin), and view the full EMHE episode here. Then, make up your own mind about intention and results, while also becoming more educated about the deaf community as a whole.

The world of special needs and its differing voices at times proves remarkably complex, just like its many challenges.
Photo Judy Winter 2010