Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pervasive Audism in the Media: AFA's Letter to LA Times

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7 August 2014

Dear LA Times and Amina Khan,

Your reporting of “L.A. surgeons implant device to help deaf 3-year-old hear” and “For a 3-year-old boy, a risky operation may mean a chance to hear”(May 7 2014 & July 22, 2014) consist of a repeatedly one-sided view of surgeries that have been performed on Deaf and hard of Hearing children as well as communicating approval of these attempts to eradicate a diversity natural to the human race. 

 

This particular story illustrated gross negligence on the part of the medical profession. While you portray the FDA as “risk adverse,” the history of the FDA with Deaf children has not substantiated this.  In the 1980s when early cochlear implants were being done, 12 Deaf children died. The doctors who performed this surgery knew at the time they did not have medication to cross the blood-brain barrier if children experienced infections due to the surgery.  Yet, they went ahead.  Later, the FDA only placed a brief moratorium on cochlear implant surgery (see Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto describe these events http://usdeafhistory.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/final-transcriptforpanelexcerptpetitto1.pdf).  Why hasn’t THIS story been reported in any popular press?  And guess who led that experimental surgery?  Yep, Dr. House the same folks “helping” Auguste with the new auditory brainstem implant surgery.  While all are admitting this brain surgery is “risky,” it communicates that being Deaf is something one should be willing to risk one’s child’s “perfect health” to eradicate. In addition, one wonders if the parents were informed of the link between numerous (more than one) surgeries in early childhood with later learning problems (see http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111003080417.htm)

 

To further look at how the medical profession has addressed Deaf children and cochlear implantation, we refer you to the Harms Reduction Journal of April 2012 “Language acquisition for deaf children: reducing the harms of zero tolerance to the use of alternative approaches” which states “..the economic motivations behind the cochlear implant industry compounded by unrealistic optimism regarding the interface between technology and the human brain might be promoting earlier and broader use of cochlear implants in deaf children without adequate long term studies to support these actions…” and describes how the medical profession misinforms and coerces counter to the welfare of the child and his/her family (see http://www.harmreductionjournal.com/content/pdf/1477-7517-9-16.pdf). This disinformation is not limited to cochlear and brainstem implants but also includes stem cell experimentation on newborns and infants (see PR web by AFA objecting to this stem cell experimentation http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/1/prweb9108761.htmwhich thankfully was stopped by the ethics committee after one year).

 

How long will the public be exposed to these mythical “miraculous” and one-sided views of cochlear implants/auditory brainstem surgery? These type of stories are becoming an incessant bit of medical propaganda where the media is complicit in promoting medical solutions to being Deaf---as a “cure.” Where are the cases of disappointed individuals and families that have suffered educationally, emotionally and economically due to the fact this ‘miracle’ did not happen in the long run?  Where is your examination of the children who have had complications from this surgery?  Have they truly made the lives of these individuals better???  We encourage you to look, not at the experience of the PARENTS, but at the experience of Deaf adults who have lived through such “miraculous” surgeries.   Where is your examination of the cruelty done on animals in the name of cochlear implant progress?

 

We believe you, as journalists, should offer balanced reporting by showing families who choose to NOT have surgeries to fix their “perfectly healthy” Deaf child. We request that you to look at the human rights of a Deaf child and international documents which support the rights of the child  (http://audismfreeamerica.blogspot.com/2011/10/international-documents-asserting.html).  The actions by the FDA serve to highlight the medical community’s systematic effort to threaten the culture, language, and right to life of Deaf people—and therefore, endangering linguistic and cultural diversity in the United States.

We appeal to your journalistic integrity, to provide the public with a more complete and less prejudicial portrayal of Deaf people.  We believe in the power of media---and in the responsibility of the news-- to promote truth and justice.

Let Freedom Roll,


Karen Christie, Patti Durr, and Ruthie Jordan for Audism Free America

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.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Plea for Clemency: AFA's letter to Gov. Scott to FREE FELIX




11 June 2014

Rick Scott, Governor, State of Florida
cc:  Pam Bondi, Attorney General, State of Florida; Adam Putnam, Agriculture Commissioner, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services;  Jeff Atwater, Chief Financial Officer, Florida Department of Financial Services

Dear Governor Scott,

We are writing to you once again to request you undo injustice committed in your state by granting executive clemency/commutation of sentence for Felix Garcia. Mr. Garcia, a partially Deaf man, has served 32 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, a crime his Hearing brother recently confessed to committing. Both his brother and his sister have provided affidavits concerning his innocence.  Additionally, Mr. Garcia never had full access to information during his arrest, his trial, and imprisonment due to the failure to provide him with reasonable communication accommodations. Thus, he was unable to fully assist with his own defense.

Audism Free America (AFA), as well as others in the Deaf community has a grave concern for Deaf citizens in Florida, as evidence by the treatment of Felix Garcia.  AFA is a national grassroots advocacy network working to combat audism.  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.  Felix Garcia has been a victim of audism in being denied his rights to a fair trial and wrongful imprisonment.  We believe you have the opportunity now to look again at his application for clemency and do the right thing—granting him his freedom.  With the growing inmate population in Florida, you cannot afford to keep innocent individuals imprisoned. 

Please do not let Felix Garcia be an example of the failure of the Florida justice system toward innocent Deaf citizens. 

Let Freedom Roll,



Karen Christie, Patti Durr and Ruthie Jordan on behalf of Audism Free America

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

AFA Stands with CI Survivors and Victims




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hqj2C4S-FI4&list=UUcY3go7tTUJuZz6b1ijVLVw

setting:  Ruthie Jordan standing on the sidewalk in front of the Cochlear America building, she is wearing a blue AFA shirt, glasses and a black hat.  Back of the blue AFA shirt has a painting of George W. Veditz signing love/cherish with the sign for STAND as a frame around George and text at top STAND FOR JUSTICE.  The painting of Veditz and the hand stand is by Nancy Rourke.  T-shirts courtesy of Shawn Elfink)

Today is Memorial Day, the day we honor those who fought and still fight to ensure our Human Rights.  We remember all who suffered physical, emotional and mental trauma and others who paid the ultimate price.  In conjunction with honoring our military, AFA has come to stand, honor, and remember our Deaf children and their parents who have been lied to and taken advantage of by the medical system and cochlear implant companies.  We honor these Deaf children who have been robbed of their human rights, their identity, language, culture, and education.  We remember those who have struggled through the frustrations of educational systems that continually focus on speech and listening while oppressing, denying and isolating them. 
The biggest offender in the spider web of systems is the cochlear implant (CI) industry who continues to profit from Deaf children.  Lately, there has been much discussion about the 12 Deaf children who died from cochlear implant surgeries in the 1980’s.  (see interview with Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto, Cognitive Neuroscientist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gU7a1EH2jo&feature=youtu.be).  The facts of these deaths were swept under the rug and ignored by cochlear implant companies who continued encouraging the medical community to implant children and the surgeries have become an epidemic. 
On this day, many are communing with family, BBQ’ing, sharing stories and enjoying each other’s company while their Deaf family members are left out of conversations, forced to focus on the lips of others and try to follow what is happening around them. We are asking all members of our Community (Deaf, hearing, hard-of-hearing, parents, cochlear implant survivors, interpreters…) to STAND with us and return the rights of identity, language, culture and education to our Deaf children.  Stop Audism.
AFA wants to emphasize, we in no way blame or demean parents of Deaf children for choosing a CI for their child, we recognize the enormity of the medical system and that it is saturated with audism.  We hold the cochlear implant companies (Advanced Bionics, Cochlear America, and Med-El) accountable for the damage they cause by incentivizing their products and disseminating false, prejudicial, and disparaging information.  Together, let us reclaim our roots by working to return ASL, culture, identity and education to our Deaf children, they are our future.  LET FREEDOM ROLL!
(description: camera is panning around the Cochlear America building showing how large it is)
Cochlear America is just one of the companies earning millions from the bodies of Deaf children, they were founded in 1982 and their annual revenue is $500-999 million. 
Description:  Ruthie is dressed in a black long sleeve shirt that says “STOP AUDISM” on the sleeves and a black hat standing next to Heather, who is also wearing a long sleeve shirt that says “STOP AUDISM” on the sleeves.  Heather is holding 2 rolled up banners and some papers. 
Ruthie signing: 
Tonight we are standing against audism and challenging the Cochlear Implant industry to stop robbing Deaf children of ASL, Deaf Culture and identity.  We want Advanced Bionics, Cochlear America and Med-El to acknowledge the cognitive damage cochlear implants cause, expose the facts regarding the deaths of Deaf children from cochlear implant surgeries, and stop taking advantage of Deaf children and their parents. Description: Heather and Ruthie walk to the front door of Cochlear America where they use blue painters tape on the windows, lean AFA cards on the front door, and lay out the AFA STOP AUDISM banner.  There are 12 candles surrounding the AFA logo and Heather is sitting on the ground near them.  Ruthie is standing in the foreground signing and then moves and sits on the ground next to the banner and 12 candles.
Ruthie signing: Tonight we hold a vigil to honor the12 Deaf children who died from CI surgery that the Cochlear Implant industry refuses to recognize. 
Earlier, I mentioned research that has recently come to light that showed in the 1980’s CI surgery caused the deaths of 12 Deaf children and a panel of experts called for the end of cochlear implant surgeries in children.  Sadly, the CI industry ignored the panel’s recommendations and continue making billions of dollars off Deaf children and their families while disregarding the health of the whole child.  Now, we honor those 12 Deaf children who were taken from us along with honoring all CI survivors.

Description:  Ruthie kneels down to light the 12 candles that are in a circle around the AFA logo.
Ruthie signing: These 12 candles represent the 12 Deaf children taken from us, as we light these candles I imagine the experience of their parents as the doctors and audiologist came into their hospital rooms and said, Im so sorry your child is deaf, but we will send the audiologist in to explain a surgery that will cure them”…just like that, the childs light was extinguished before they had a chance to shine.  Tonight, we reignite their flames, so they may shine once again and know they are valued, honored and remembered. We also light these flames in honor of our future Deaf children, those who will carry our legacy, language, culture.  WE stand for them and for all.  LET FREEDOM ROLL!  Feel your spirits rumble and stand up, stop audism, tell the cochlear implants companies NO MORE!  When we free our minds, colonialism has no power and we can inspire Deaf children to be healthy, happy and whole. 
Heather signing: Bless the 12 Deaf children and carry them with us.
Description:  Ruthie and Heather standing while Heather is holding a lit candle. 
Ruthie signing:  Seeing the lit candle is inspiring and makes me laugh at the propaganda cochlear implant companies spread.  Cochlear Americas slogan is Hear now. And always, they try to convince people that the only value Deaf people have is their ears and mouth.  Little do they know, ASL is CHAMP Here now. And Always!

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