Wednesday, April 9, 2014

AFA Looks Back to 2010


Audism Free America 

reflects back on the past 5 years


AFA began in 2009 – to see that year in review go to:  http://audismfreeamerica.blogspot.com/2014/02/happy-5th-anniversary-afa.html

AFA alerted the community about Clarke school removing the Deaf in its name –
Clarke School for the Deaf changed to the Center for Oral Education to Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech

We shared information on our video meeting with Nancy Bloch NAD CEO and we issued a Wake Up Call to the NAD.  See http://audismfreeamerica.blogspot.com/2010/04/afa-urges-nad-wake-up-action.html and later we put forth five questions about audism to each of the finalists for NAD CEO.

We actively opposed AB 2072 – a bill in California that later was vetoed by the Governor.

We provided a list of resources on audism and linguicism.

We shared our concerns with the community and wrote a letter to the Judge about a Deaf father being court-ordered to force his Deaf daughter to wear her cochlear implants all her waking hours even if they were causing her discomfort or she wanted to have them off or a while. 

We revisited our 3 demands to AG Bell Association – which are still valid and need to be addressed by AGBAD. 

We informed the community about fines and lawsuits against Cochlear Americas and Advanced Bionics.

We sent a letter to NTID President Search Committee identifying the qualities desired for the next president of NTID. 

We expressed our grave concerns about the unjust killing of Native-American Deaf woodcarver, John T. Williams by a Seattle police officer. 

We were involved in advocating for the ICED to rescind the ICED Milan 1880 resolutions and we received a response from the ICED 2010.

We issued a PR web on the Historic Announcement Rejecting the Exclusion of Sign Language in Deaf Education http://www.prweb.com/releases/2010/07/prweb4295374.htm



Friday, April 4, 2014

FREE FELIX NOW !!!

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Greetings All…..
As you may be aware  Felix Garcia, an innocent Deaf man who has spent the past 32 years in prison, is up for clemency hearing in September. There is a Facebook page and petition that goes to the Florida Governor (the state where Felix is being held).  If Florida Governor agrees to grant clemency to Felix, he will finally be free.  YOUR support is NEEDED NOW by signing the petition, joining the Facebook page, and using #FREEFELIX. 

Sign the petition here:

Visit the Facebook page here:

In 2012, AFA wrote a letter to Governor Scott on behalf of Felix (see http://audismfreeamerica.blogspot.com/2012/01/afas-free-felix-letter-to-fla-governor.html). Below is more information we received concerning recent articles published, a tv spot, an op-ed written by Felix Garcia's pro-bono attorney, and other links.

Felix's freedom is in your hands!! 


Let Freedom Roll
for Felix too!

AFA


SaintPetersBlog
Gov. Scott and Cabinet have a chance to do the right thing for Felix Garcia
March 27, 2014
By Peter Schorsch
Click here to see the article:

Tallahassee Democrat
Reggie Garcia: Help deaf people be heard
April 1, 2014
By Reggie Garcia
Click here to see the rest of the article:

 WFLA-TB (NBC) - Tampa Bay, FL
News Ch8 Today
March 26, 2014
Click here to watch this video segment:

See also:
http://behearddc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47:facts&catid=34:facts&Itemid=2

Thursday, April 3, 2014

AFA's Letter Concerning Iowa School for the Deaf Supt Search


2 April 2014
Ms. Rose Vasquez,
Search Committee Chair
And Ms. Marcia Brunson,
Policy and Operations Officer
Board of Regents

To Ms. Brunson and Ms. Vasquez,

It has come to our attention that the education of Deaf children in Iowa is endangered and as a national grassroots network of Deaf activists, dedicated to combating audism*, we feel compelled to respond.  It is clear to us that the recent actions of the Board of Regents translates into a systematic effort to ensure that the education of Deaf children in your state is moving toward the closure of Iowa School for the Deaf and resulting forced assimilation of Deaf students in your state.

Is it intentional that you have not included on your search committee for Superintendent significant Deaf representatives nor representatives from vital stakeholders such as ISD alumni and Deaf Community members?

Is it intentional that you have not sought a QUALIFIED individual for the Superintendent position who has an advanced degree in the areas related to the education of Deaf individuals?

Is it intentional that it is not a priority that the Superintendent of a Deaf school can communicate directly with the stakeholders and students she/he is expected to serve and protect?

Is it intentional that you are not actively working with the Deaf Coalition of Iowa to build a stronger relationship between the Deaf community and the Iowa School for the Deaf?




Unfortunately, these efforts will leave the future generation of Iowa Deaf students academically at risk.  Not only is this unjust, there are international documents which your actions violate in principle:

The International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED) in 2010 noted that, many Deaf citizens are being prevented from “equal access to decision making, employment opportunities and quality education” and therefore urged all nations to “facilitate, enhance and embrace their Deaf citizens’ participation in all governmental decision making processes affecting all aspects of their lives.”

From the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:
Deaf children have the human right to accessible learning which “facilitate(s) their full and equal participation in education and as members of the community.”


At this point in time what is needed is a visionary Superintendent who is dedicated to improving the education of Deaf children in Iowa by putting into practice an innovative challenging educational program at Iowa School for the Deaf that will prepare Deaf students as global citizens.  Relying heavily on a search committee that has minimal knowledge of Deaf culture, ASL, and community accountability within the Deaf-World does not bode well in leading to an Audism-free new Superintendent.

The passion of the members of the Deaf Coalition of Iowa shows a great investment in the importance of the future of the Iowa School for the Deaf and the education of all Deaf children in Iowa. This investment the Board and future Superintendent cannot afford to loose.

Let Freedom Roll,



Karen Christie, Patti Durr and Ruthie Jordan
For AFA

*Audism is attitudes and practices based on the assumption that behaving in the ways of those who speak and hear is desired and best. It produces a system of privilege, thus resulting in stigma, bias, discrimination, and prejudice—in overt or covert ways—against Deaf culture, American Sign Language, and Deaf people of all walks of life.

Cc:  Robert Vizzini, Deaf Coalition of Iowa, deafcoalitionofiowa@gmail.com
       Patrick Clancy, Superintendent of Iowa  pclancy@iowaschoolforthedeaf.org

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

AFA's Letter to RSD Board: Representation in Search for Superintendent

17 March 2013

Rochester School for the Deaf Board Members
Rochester School for the Deaf
1545 St. Paul Street
Rochester, NY 14621

To the Board Members of the Rochester School for the Deaf,

A great responsibility is upon you in the choice of the next Superintendent of the Rochester School for the Deaf (RSD).  At a time when Deaf schools face constant threats of closing and cuts, a strong visionary leader is certainly needed.  This adds further importance to specifying the qualities of such a leader and the process by which this individual is chosen.

Audism Free America (AFA) is dedicated to combating discrimination against Deaf people.  Relying heavily on an outside agency that has no knowledge of Deaf culture, ASL, and community accountability within the Deaf-World does not bode well in leading to an audism-free new superintendent.

AFA joins with the Rochester School for the Deaf alumni Association and the Advocacy Committee for Fair Search Process as well as other community organizations to support the call for more inclusive representation on the Search Committee.  Members of the community have clearly stated that the Committee should include:  an RSDAA representative, an RSD faculty Representative, an RSD staff representative and one RSD parent.  Including such key stakeholders on the Search Committee is appropriate and will build greater trust in the search process. 

RSD’s Educational Vision (see www.rsdeaf “About RSD”) begins “The faculty, staff, Board, families, alumni, and volunteers of RSD are dedicated and committed to…”
In addition, faculty, staff, families and volunteers (many of who are alumni) are identified as  “vital resources.” 

AFA calls upon the Rochester School for the Deaf Board to take actions, which will utilize and honor all of these vital resources, which are needed to carry out RSD’s educational vision.   We call upon you to unify the school, the community and the stakeholders by including the above representatives on the search committee.  We do believe that the Board can creatively combine the hiring of an external firm with having an inclusive Search Committee.

The passion of the members of the RSD alumni, the Rochester Deaf Community and its allies shows a great investment in the importance of the future of RSD.   This investment the Board and future superintendent of RSD cannot afford to loose.

Let Freedom Roll,

Karen Christie, Patti Durr and Ruthie Jordan
For AFA


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Happy 5th Anniversary AFA!


Happy Anniversary!!!  Happy Anniversary!!! Happy Anniversary!!!
Happy Anniversary!!!  Happy Anniversary!!!


Audism Free America (AFA) celebrates 5 years.  AFA is a grassroots Deaf activist network in the US, which advocates for Deaf American rights, cultural resurgence, and seeks primarily to challenge the ideological foundations of audism in America.

5 Year Review:  YEAR ONE 2009
            January                 AFA was founded

            March                   AFA’s mission statement in ASL and English released

April                     AFA’s historic meeting with the CEO of the AG Bell Association in the Volta Bureau, Alexander Graham and 4 other representatives of AG Bell Assoc.

AFA’s 3 Demands to AG Bell and current status

AFA Demand 1:
1. the AG Bell Association and Academy cease and desist from denying Deaf infants, children, and their families the right to a natural and fully accessible language.

Good News 1:
AG Bell removed Principle #3 from its Auditory-Verbal Therapy (AVT ie LSL) guidelines
Principle #3. Guide and coach parents¹ to help their child use hearing as the primary sensory modality in developing spoken language without the use of sign language or emphasis on lipreading.

Bad News 1:
many practioners of AVT / LSL still urge parents not to sign with their Deaf children and AG Bell has not clearly stated that it accepts the use of ASL and English as important parts of a Deaf child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development.

AFA Demand 2:
2. the AG Bell Association cease and desist from misinforming the public and the media about ASL Deaf people. The AG Bell Association has not retracted its letter to Pepsi objecting to the commercial featuring ASL in a positive light and continually paints ASL Deaf people as unsuccessful and dependent.

Good news 2:
To our knowledge, since 2009 AG Bell Association has not sent out anything to the public or media misrepresenting ASL.

Bad news 2:
AG Bell still has not retracted and apologized for its highly offensive and unjust letter to Pepsi yet.   Times a wasting:   AG Bell – do the right thing and make amends. 

AFA Demand 3:
the AG Bell Association cease and desist its incestuous relationship with cochlear implant manufacturers and join AFA in calling for an independent and impartial study of the physical, psychological, and social impact of cochlear implants on infants, children and adolescents.

Good news 3:
AG Bell removed Advanced Bionics and Cochlear Americas from their Circle Alliance Founding Partners.  Advanced Bionics and Cochlear Americas are cochlear implant corporations that have had numerous lawsuits, fines, and recalls.  It has also removed any ad banners from its website for Advanced Bionics or House Ear Institute.

Bad news 3:
AG Bell continues to have Advanced Bionics and Cochlear Americas sponsor their conferences and continues to promote their products for them.  AG Bell’s Volta Review continues to propagate “studies” that are financed by cochlear implant corporations with small Ns (numbers of participants) and selective information.

At the 2009 historic meeting to discuss our demands with AG Bell Association CEO and other representatives, we had a sit-in at the end of the meeting to gain assurance we would get a response.

During this weekend in April 2009, we also had a Blue Ribbon Ceremony at Gallaudet University and a rally and demonstration at the Volta Bureau:  The AG Bell Association Headquarters.
Thank you to all the volunteers, participants, support from afar and more who all made this possible.



AFA Blue Ribbon Ceremony at Gallaudet University 2009




AFA Rally in front of AG Bell Volta Bureau 2009

AFA’s Blue light Vigil at AG Bell’s Volta Bureau 2009


In addition to our April 2009 direct action work,  there were other notable AFA activities in 2009:

AFA videotaped testimonies of Deaf people and Hearing parents’ experiences with audism and lobbied for a clear understanding of the term “audism” and the harms that discrimination against Deaf people causes to our world.

Good news:  Audism – the term became better understood and utilized
Thank you to everyone in the community who has labored hard and long to get the term audism into the dictionary and recognized and understood.
Bad news:  Audism continues to be a pervasive experience of Deaf people.
****************************************

AFA Advocated for the International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED) to rescind the ICED 1880 Milan Congress resolutions, which ushered in the dark ages of Oralism (oral / aural only – ban on natural sign language in schools and homes across the globe).

Good news:  ICED 2010 Vancouver formally recognized the harms of the Milan 1880 Oral only mandate, expressing remorse and issuing a New Era Accord for the Future.
Thank you to the British Columbia Deaf community and the members of ICED as well as all the other advocates who have worked throughout time to get the ICED Milan 1880 overturned.
Bad news:  Much of the New Era Accord, especially related to Deaf representation and education in all Nations remains to be put into practice.
****************************************

AFA advocated that if Wisconsin Bill 27/16 passed demanding that insurance companies automatically cover cochlear implants ,then they should add to the bill that ASL development and materials be automatically covered by insurance companies.  We also demanded an apology from Senator Cullen for his offensive remarks.
Mixed news: the bill passed to require insurance companies to automatically require coverage for digital hearing aids and cochlear implants but parents reported problems with the system later.  Senator Cullen did apologize for his statement.
Thanks to all who wrote letters and engaged in efforts to challenge the system.
****************************************

AFA releases its petition calling for an independent and impartial investigation into pediatric cochlear implantation.  See http://www.petitiononline.com/AFA62509/petition.html

Good news: during a time when it was taboo to discuss cochlear implants within our community as their was a campaign to sanitize, whitewash, and minimize any problems or concerns with cochlear implants, AFA began to investigate the numerous recalls and fines cochlear implant corporations have had and seen a clear pattern to deceive the public.   Since taken a stand to seek the truth and facts about the impact of cochlear implants on the whole child, the Deaf community has moved out from under the false claim that cochlear implants are just fancy hearing aids and that cochlear implants are no longer controversial. They are.  WE ARE still demanding answers.
Bad news:   In addition to needing to continue to push this investigation, the naïve public is continually exposed only to those “miraculous moments” when implants are first activated.
****************************************

AFA participated in rallies against the selection of an unqualified Hearing director for Deaf Adult Services (DAS) in Buffalo, NY.

Good News: Later the director stepped down and a Deaf director was hired.
Thanks to all those brave Buffalo folks who stood tall with their demands.
Bad news:  Unqualified Hearing individuals continue to apply for and be hired in positions where suitable Deaf candidates are turned away.
****************************************

OTHER ACTIVITIES:

·      AFA promoted and participated in International Day of Sign Language rally and march.

·      AFA wrote a letter to Gallaudet Board of Trustees and PSAC on their 2009 search for a new president of Gallaudet University.  See http://audismfreeamerica.blogspot.com/2009/09/afas-letter-to-gallaudet-boft-and-psac.html

·      AFA boycotts Deafread and DVTV due to their refusal to recognize Deaf people as a cultural and linguistic group in their guidelines. 

·      Announces the launch of the Deaf Studies Digital Journal http://dsdj.gallaudet.edu/ which includes scholarly papers in ASL in addition to videos, visual art, and commentaries about the Deaf experience. 

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A Summary of  AFA’s Year Two (2010) will follow in the next post.