April 3, 2016
Dear Deaf Community,
As the George Washington University (GWU) President, Stephen Knapp, told the 2015 graduating class,
“We depend on you to repair what earlier generations have broken, to build what we have left unbuilt, to learn what we have not yet learned, to heal what we have so far left unhealed” (Irwin and Ingeno, 2015).
As you may already know, Nyle DiMarco is currently in California to compete in Dancing With the Stars (DWTS). We are extremely proud of his great success on the show. Recently Nyle experienced a backlash, a letter to the Washington Post from Meredith Sugar, President of Alexander Graham Bell Organization (AG Bell). CAD commends the Deaf community for taking a united position against Sugar’s audistic letter, which is filled with misleading information about American Sign Language and Deaf children:
Support Nyle DiMarco and LEADK
While we are in the midst of this uproar with #AGBellLies, let’s not forget to give your utmost support for Nyle DiMarco to keep on doing his incredible work on DWTS and support his cause, Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids (LEAD-K), so the volunteers can continue with their legislative push for language equality, ASL and English. Also, please take the time to to read LEAD-K’s recent open letter to The Washington Post.
Don’t forget to watch Nyle on DWST tomorrow night!
Defund AGBell and Its Partners
It is important to support Nyle DiMarco and LEAD-K. At the same time, we need to vigilantly follow the money and educate AGBell’s funders about the harm they are causing with the six points listed below with discussion topics that you can share with the funders and the lawmakers about why AGBell Association and their partners need to be defunded.
NAD and CAD
AG Bell has a long history of destroying Deaf lives. This was why the National Association of the Deaf was founded in 1880 and California Association of the Deaf in 1906. This battle has gone for too long. Now it is our time fight back effectively for once and for all. Yes, our time is now.
AGBell’s History of Atrocities
Deaf people became alarmed with the atrocities caused by Alexander Graham Bell, the person. Dr. Bell attempted to ban Deaf people from marrying other Deaf people by proposing a law. The AG Bell association that was set up in his honor has continued with perpetuating Dr. Bell’s harmful actions against Deaf citizens. They attempted to make Deaf people forget that they are Deaf by denying us signed languages and access to the Deaf community (Paddy, 129). They also pushed to sterilize us and euthanize us. Dr. Bell’s ideologies were the foundation of the Holocaust movement (Black, 2003).
AGBell’s Ideologies Still Harming Deaf Children Today
AGBell Association’s “oral only” and “no ASL at all cost” ideology is dangerous and harmful to the Deaf children who take the most burden of AGBell’s atrocities when they grow up with delayed or deprived language, cognitive, and literacy skills. Their actions likewise are affecting Deaf adults’ mental health.
Dr. Julia Hecht, a pediatrician who promised to do no harm to Deaf children, wrote in two of her blogs:
“Language deprivation and consequently brain damage is the single greatest risk to deaf babies and children. I agree with this assertion by Sanjay Gulati, M.D., (Professor at Harvard Medical School)…In my experience, their level of hearing and their ability to speak has nothing to do with what they achieve or how they feel about themselves…What compels families to ignore the facts…and choose the other, risky, disruptive, and even detrimental methods for their (deaf) child? This is where we must shine a light” (Hecht, 2016).
Researchers such as Dr. Tom Humphries have concluded that ASL and other signed languages do not intervene with speech, so CAD concludes that there is no need for AG Bell organization to continue its existence.
AGBell and NCHAM (Karl White)
AGBell’s partnership with Karl White’s National Center on Hearing Assessment and
Management (NCHAM) alarms us, because they are aggressively influencing the medical field without the leadership of the bilingual and multilingual (signed languages, including ASL, and English) Deaf professionals and community.
CAD’s 7 Talking and Signing Points
CAD wishes to share our adapted 7 effective talking points for the Deaf community members to use in our fight against AGBell’s atrocities. We used those talking points with one of NCHAM’s funders, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), to share our concerns about NCHAM’s partnership with AGBell:
Point #1: Doing Harm to Deaf Children who become our Deaf Adults
A. Focus on oral only language has robbed many Deaf children of fully accessible language and healthy social emotional development.
B. Lack of language development could cause academic difficulties and delays.
C. Those children are generally not assessed for their language development till second grade. We passed SB210 to require language testing of all Deaf babies and toddlers, age 0-5.
D. Major consequence: Deaf children arrive at Kindergarten without much or no language. Those children are thus NOT ready to learn at age 5.
E. Petersen & Rems-Smario (2013) asked if Maslow took language for granted and suggested that, to accomplish each of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, one needs language to accomplish all of the steps to self-actualization at the top.
Point #2: AGBell and NCHAM are harmful for Deaf children and their families.
A. The goal of AGBell and the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (NCHAM) is to ensure that all infants and toddlers with hearing loss are identified as early as possible and provided with timely and appropriate audiological, educational, and medical intervention.
B. Language intervention is not listed as one of services provided by AGBell NCHAM.
Consequently, NCHAM’s focus on audiological, educational, and medical intervention has adverse effects on Deaf babies and toddlers’ language development.
C. Many families never learn about the extreme benefits of ASL till too late. “Parents
misinformed about ‘potential and probable implications’ of not giving fully accessible language exposure early (Hall & Henner, 2015).
D. High unrealistic expectations for CIs: “it’s the only option”.
Point #3: AGBell and NCHAM would not include or involve Deaf adults in management of their audiological, educational, and medical interventions.
A. National Association of Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has ten program standards.
Below is the description for #8 is Community Relationships:
The program establishes relationships with and uses the resources of the children’s
communities to support the achievement of program goals. Relationships with agencies and institutions in the community can help a program achieve its goals and connect families with resources that support children’s healthy development and learning. What to look for in a program:
The program connects with and uses museums, parks, libraries, zoos, and other resources in the community. Representatives from community programs, such as musical performers and local artists, are invited to share their interests and talents with the children. The staff develops professional relationships with community agencies and organizations that further the program’s capacity to meet the needs and interestsof children and families.
B. NCHAM is developing ASL classes for families but has not contracted with appropriate ASL entities to develop those online ASL classes.
Point # 4: Research that does not include Deaf People and misinterprets of brain imaging research (language cortex, not auditory cortex).
A. Amateur and ideological biases in hypothesis, design, outcomes, and conclusions.
“…danger of this approach is that we can become inappropriately confident about our amateur research outcomes, reaching hasty and premature conjectures dressed up as quasi-scientific conclusions. Sometimes we rely on the opinions or knowledge of others. This is also problematic as opinions may be based on stereotypes passed down through the generations” (McNaughton et al, 2010).
B. Must include ASL (Bilingual and Multilingual) Deaf people: “Research is a process legitimated in our society as producing knowledge and therefore ought to be in the hands of those who want to use and benefit from it—particularly when it is information about our own lives” (McNaughton et al, 2010).
C. Inadequate and inappropriate research conclusion: there is a paucity of research about outcomes of their service provisions to deaf children and their families. If there is research, they usually do not include ASL Deaf children (ASL and any signed languages).
D. CI Research has been highly variable and is not focused on first language acquisition. Getting an implant does NOT equate to language access (Hall & Henner, 2015).
Point #5: Language Deprivation & Brain Damage cause lifelong difficulties, starting with their K12 education because of “ableism” and “audism.”
A. Hehir (2005) said, “…ableist assumptions become dysfunctional when the educational and developmental services provided to disabled children focus inordinately on the characteristics of their disability to the exclusion of all else.”
B. He also wrote, “…I began to see more clearly how deeply some educational practices reflect this prejudice. Requiring deaf students to lip-read rather than sign…”
C. Instead of changing shifts at Kindergarten when their language is delayed or deprived, many school programs continue on same damaging teaching patterns where their education is more focused on speech development more than on academics.
D. Their lack of academic achievement is blamed on two things: their hearing status and on their lack of language that NCHAM promotes through their mission focus of “audiological, educational, and medical interventions.” But we now know it is lack of language, and not their hearing status per se.
E. If they are concerned about the education of Deaf infants and toddlers, how do they expect the Deaf children to be able to achieve academically without language development?
Point #6: Social/Emotional Development & Mental Health as a result of Language
A. Deaf youth has a vicious cycle where they engage in drugs and alcohol use earlier because of language deprivation. Language Deprivation > Difficulty Expressing Self > Increase in Distress > Difficulty with Coping Skills > Drugs and Alcohol Use.
B. We are now suggesting the possibility of Language Deprivation Disorder (Hall & Henner, 2015).
Point #7: AGBell and NCHAM discriminate against Deaf people
A. Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against deaf people.
B. There are inappropriate descriptions of our needs throughout the AGBell and NCHAM websites; this is not the scope of our discussion. However, to illuminate an example, from a search of NCHAM’s Resource Guide of 526 pages and 39 chapters, we can see only 43 instances of the term, “ASL” whereas the term “hearing” showed up 2939 times. The 33 times “ASL” showed up in the Resource Guide were in three chapters written by Deaf authors. Out of 39 chapters, only three were written with Deaf authors.
Keep the great momentum of resistance going, Deaf Community. You are building a new future. Together we can end #AGBellLies.
CAD Board of Directors
Julie Rems-Smario, President
Marla Hatrak, Vice President
Deanne Bray, Secretary
Dodi Ellis, Treasurer
Matthew Sampson, Director of Membership
Shelley Stout, Director-at-Large, Northern California
Kavita Pipalia, Director-at-Large, Southern California
Hall, W.C. and Henner, J. (2015) Is it deafness or language deprivation? Presentation at National Leadership & Training Conference. Retrieved from: http://www.scribd.com/doc/285197475/Identifying-and-Intervening-with-Deaf-Children-at-Risk-for-Language-Deprivation
Hehir, T. (2005). New directions in special education: Eliminating ableism in policy and practice. Boston, MA: Harvard Education Press.
Irwin, J. and Ingeno, L. (Summer 2015). Apple CEO: The best view in the world. GW Magazine, Summer 2015.
MacNaughton, G., Rolfe, S., and SirajBlatchford, I. (2014). Doing Early Childhood Research. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Black, E. (2003). War Against the Weak. New York, NY: Thunder’s Mouth Press.