Born with full hearing, Jaye Brown became deaf as a child. She is now a well-loved American Sign Language Teacher at Shasta College in Redding, California, working to bridge the language gap between the hearing and the deaf.
Last week, Brown was shocked to learn that her contract at Redding was not going to be renewed. College officials told her that one of her students had complained about a gesture she had made, and she would not be invited back the following semester. Jaye Brown was also evaluated, along with her husband Calvin Brown, for her performance in the classroom using a "Peer Evaluation". This "peer" was a full time Spanish teacher at Shasta College. She was evaluated in a lab class where little instruction takes place. Her and her husband both received poor evaluations and Jaye was nearly immediately told her contract would not be renewed.
Distraught, J. Brown and her students say that this is a misunderstanding. American Sign Language speakers use body language, facial expressions and large gestures to communicate. This issue was a communication issue and a cultural gap, they say. People who use American Sign Language rely on using descriptions that are most noticeable. Students and Brown are fighting to get her job back.
Professor Jaye Brown has taught at Shasta College for 12.5 years as an adjunct professor receiving no tenure and no benefits. She has created much of the curriculum currently used. In the classroom, Professor J. Brown enjoys using humor and placing students in an everyday typical "Deaf family" situation. She is loved by many students of Shasta College and the Deaf Community.
Tell Shasta College to address this issue with the campus community. If J. Brown was fired for a misunderstood gesture, she needs her job back. This issue is larger than Shasta College, and is an issue for the whole deaf community and their allies.