Sunday, November 15, 2009

CAD Request Official ICED Apology and links

The Canadian Association of the Deaf (CAD) has requested an official International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED) apology for the ICED Milan Congress 1880

see this link

link to the community group's proposed resolution calling for an apology from ICED - go to click ICED 2010 document

Language bigotry Milan Congress (info from Mask of Benevolence)

Facts on Milan Congress

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

AFA - Time to Undo Milan Congress of 1880

Greetings everyone,

AFA wants to share the proposed Vancouver 2010 Resolution: A New Era of Deaf Participation and Collaboration (click this to access the ICED 2010 proposed resolutions document)

Please help spread the word

This resolution is calling for ICED (International Congress on the Education of the Deaf) to apologize for the Milan Congress 1880 declaration that Oralism (oral/aural only) was the superior method of educating Deaf children, which led to the banishment of natural sign languages in Deaf schools and programs across the globe.

For more information see these vlogs below and the proposed resolutions (resolutions can be downloaded at Deaf British Columbia website

Let Freedom Roll


Why Do We Ask for An Apology from the ICED? Part I in International Sign Language

Why Do We Ask for An Apology from the ICED PART two in International Sign Language

Why Deaf Citizens of the World Should Come to Vancouver

Together we can - Getting an Apology is possible and just VLOG:

The Vancouver 2010 Resolution: A New Era of Deaf Participation and Collaboration
NOTE - we are having trouble uploading/linking the PDF so we have copied and pasted here but the formatting is off. As soon as we can get the PDF linked we will post that here.
The Vancouver 2010 Resolution:
A New Era of Deaf Participation and Collaboration

Many Deaf citizens around the world encounter a perception that being Deaf is considered a disability from nondisabled persons on a daily basis. The perception of being Deaf as a disability will prevail so long as it is treated as such by people throughout in many nations. This mindset also contributes directly and indirectly towards the exclusion and devaluation of all citizens who are “different” including Deaf citizens. However, in the view of a vast majority of Deaf citizens throughout the world, it is an inalienable belief and right to be a linguistic and cultural entity to be cherished by all. The Deaf culture is essentially a component of any society which enhances and embraces diversity, creativity and contributions to its economy, politics, arts and literature, and all other aspects that defines a society. Many Deaf citizens desire and thrive to contribute immeasurably to their nations, but the only way this will happen is if being Deaf and having Deaf cultures are respected. Nations are asked to involve their Deaf citizens in planning for a benevolent society.

The resolutions of the 1880 Milan Congress:
 Effectively removed the use of sign languages from schools for the Deaf around the world;
 Contributed detrimentally to the lives of Deaf citizens around the world;
 Led to the exclusion of Deaf citizens in educational policy and planning in most jurisdictions of the world;
 Prevented Deaf citizens from participation in governmental planning, decision-making, and funding in areas of employment training, retraining and other aspects of career planning;
 Hindered the abilities of Deaf citizens to succeed in various careers and have prevented many of them from following their own aspirations; and
 Prevented the opportunity for Deaf citizens to demonstrate their cultural and artistic contributions to the diversity of each Nation.
Let it be resolved that the international educators of the deaf in convention at the International Congress of Education of the Deaf in the City of Vancouver in July 2010:
 reject all resolutions passed at the Milan Congress in 1880;
 acknowledge the detrimental effects of the Milan resolutions and express their remorse for not having rejected them in the past;
 endorse the resolution adopted by the World Federation of the Deaf at its 15th Congress in Madrid in 2007;
 call upon the Nations of the world to ratify and adhere to the Principles of the United Nations, specifically those outlined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
 call upon the Nations to include the sign languages of their Deaf citizens as official languages of these Nations and to treat them as equal languages as those of the hearing majority;
 call upon the Nations to cease repression of the Deaf citizens and to facilitate and enhance and embrace their participation in all governmental decision-making processes affecting all aspects of their lives;
 call upon the Nations to involve their Deaf citizens to assist parents of Deaf babies and children in the appreciation of the Deaf culture and sign languages instead of solely focussing upon the medical and audistic aspects of being Deaf;
 call upon the Nations to make every effort to ensure that their Deaf citizens obtain information about their human rights; and
 Call upon the Nations of the world to recognize and allow Deaf citizens to be proud, confident, productive, creative and enabling citizens in their respective Nations.

This Expression of Apology is accompanied by the following clarifying explanations and definitions:
1. Our Perception
1.1. Deaf children are inherently and unavoidably bilingual. The innate bilingual characteristics of the Deaf children must be nurtured in order to succeed in education and in society. Furthermore, curricular programmes for Deaf children need to be identical to those for nondisabled children.
1.2. Professionals and parents of Deaf children do not have any choice as to what communication methods are the best for them. Deaf children have a right to the full use of two languages: one being the language of the nondisabled majority and the other being a sign language. Deaf children should be permitted to experiment and experience and use whichever languages they choose to try as they progress to their adulthood.
1.3. Nondisabled persons have no rights that are superior to those with disabilities.
1.4. Although it is perceived as a disability, being Deaf is a cultural asset and must be cherished and nurtured. Deaf children have a right to be exposed to Deaf history and culture curricular programmes in their schools. The “disability” status needs to be substantially minimized for purposes of educational enhancement and advancement.
1.5. “The removal of barriers for Deaf ... people to enjoy full participation in society”, as urged by the New Zealand Human Rights Commissioner, needs to be done.
1.6. The 1880 Milan resolutions have created a mindset of the public which has had very dire consequences for the Deaf in terms of education, employment, culture, et cetera. Removal of these resolutions will enable the change of the mindset that will greatly enhance understanding and appreciation of multiculturalism around the world.
1.7. Deaf participation in governmental policy-making and decision processes will enhance employability of the Deaf, improve educational quality, and increase the quality of lives of Deaf citizens and decrease their Nations’ financial burdens.

2. Selected excerpts from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (see one of the UN’s links to the New Zealand Sign Language version,
2.1. Article 17: Every person with disabilities has a right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity on an equal basis with others.
2.2. Article 19: States Parties to the present Convention recognize the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community, with choices equal to others, and shall take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community, including by ensuring that:
2.2.1. Persons with disabilities have access to a range of in-home, residential and other community support services, including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community;
2.2.2. Community services and facilities for the general population are available on an equal basis to persons with disabilities and are responsive to their needs.
2.3. Article 24: States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to education. With a view to realizing this right without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity, States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning directed to:
2.3.1. The full development of human potential and sense of dignity and self-worth, and the strengthening of respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and human diversity;
2.3.2. The development by persons with disabilities of their personality, talents and creativity, as well as their mental and physical abilities, to their fullest potential;
2.3.3. Enabling persons with disabilities to participate effectively in a free society.
2.4. Article 24: States Parties shall enable persons with disabilities to learn life and social development skills to facilitate their full and equal participation in education and as members of the community. To this end, States Parties shall take appropriate measures, including:
2.4.1. Facilitating the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf community;
2.4.2. Ensuring that the education of persons, and in particular children, who are blind, deaf or deafblind, is delivered in the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication for the individual, and in environments which maximize academic and social development.
2.5. Article 27: States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others; this includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities. States Parties shall safeguard and promote the realization of the right to work, including for those who acquire a disability during the course of employment, by taking appropriate steps, including through legislation, to, inter alia:
2.5.1. Prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability with regard to all matters concerning all forms of employment, including conditions of recruitment, hiring and employment, continuance of employment, career advancement and safe and healthy working conditions;
2.5.2. Protect the rights of persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others, to just and favourable conditions of work, including equal opportunities and equal remuneration for work of equal value, safe and healthy working conditions, including protection from harassment, and the redress of grievances;
2.5.3. Ensure that persons with disabilities are able to exercise their labour and trade union rights on an equal basis with others;
2.5.4. Enable persons with disabilities to have effective access to general technical and vocational guidance programmes, placement services and vocational and continuing training;
2.5.5. Promote employment opportunities and career advancement for persons with disabilities in the labour market, as well as assistance in finding, obtaining, maintaining and returning to employment;
2.5.6. Promote opportunities for self-employment, entrepreneurship, the development of cooperatives and starting one's own business;
2.5.7. Employ persons with disabilities in the public sector;
2.5.8. Promote the employment of persons with disabilities in the private sector through appropriate policies and measures, which may include affirmative action programmes, incentives and other measures;
2.5.9. Ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided to persons with disabilities in the workplace;
2.5.10. Promote the acquisition by persons with disabilities of work experience in the open labour market;
2.5.11. Promote vocational and professional rehabilitation, job retention and return-to-work programmes for persons with disabilities.

3. Resolution of the 15th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf
The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), its Members and the participants at the 15th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf in Madrid, Spain, 16-22 July 2007,
Reaffirming that deaf people are entitled to the same human rights as all social groups and that diversity is an intrinsic factor in the Deaf Community,
Recognising the importance of children and youth; deafblind; deaf with disabilities; immigrants; Indigenous peoples; Lesbians, Gays, Transgenders and Bisexuals; people in rural areas; religious minorities; senior citizens; and all deaf people as citizens of society with the same rights and obligations as other citizens,
Emphasising that by adopting positive actions, equality among all will be accelerated,
Emphasising that sign language is a human right for all members of the Deaf Community, including those who use assistive devices and implants,
Reaffirming that multi-lingual education in sign language gives deaf and hard of hearing people the best opportunity to achieve full citizenship and enjoyment of all human rights,
Have agreed that WFD and its Members:
 Have an obligation to work together to promote government ratification and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities thus assuring deaf people full attainment of all human rights on an equal basis with other citizens.
 Must work together as a collective group, and those from developed countries must work in close partnership with those from developing countries.
 Must adopt measures to educate and to sensitise the Deaf Community about the diverse variety of peoples and cultures within the larger Deaf culture.
 Must promote gender-equality programmes and policies to ensure the full development and empowerment of women, and adopt measures that combat violence and abuse against deaf women.
 Have responsibility to preserve, promote and protect sign languages and cultural heritages; and to formulate language policies to empower sign language, including indigenous sign languages.
 Have obligation to co-operate closely with schools and educational authorities to promote deaf children’s right to receive a multi-lingual/multi-cultural education and to implement training programmes to develop healthy identities for all deaf children, their families and CODA children.
 Should also protect the rights of children with cochlear implants and other sensory modification technologies to an education in sign language.
 Are responsible to sanction the employment of Deaf professionals in all fields that have an impact on the lives of Deaf people.
 Must promote the development of appropriate training programmes and qualifications for sign language interpreters, and follow WFD principles of co-operation with interpreters.
 Must incorporate the principles of consistent application of universal design with technological innovations of new products and services.
 Must formulate a statement of Deaf bioethics concerns and priorities, and quality medical and surgical care for deaf people, based on human rights principles.
 Have obligation to establish mentorship and positive leadership programmes for deaf youth, and involve them actively in political decision-making and implementation.
 Have responsibility to promote employment and self-sufficiency through Deaf economic empowerment.
 Are responsible to promote equal access to mental health services for all deaf people.

Programmes and actions developed by WFD and its OMs must take account of all deaf people. Special attention should be given to education in both developed and developing countries in order to eliminate any further disadvantage, which brings as a consequence unemployment, poverty, poor health and the lack of self-determination.
Education for deaf people, especially in developing countries, must be an initiative of Deaf persons from that country in order to include and impart their native sign language(s) and culture.
The linguistic and cultural rights of deaf immigrants must be respected as well as assistance provided in learning the language and culture of their new country.
Sign language interpreters are a fundamental resource in achieving human rights and full access. The term sign language interpreter is a concept inclusive not only of hearing sign language interpreters but also Deaf sign language interpreters and interpreter guides for deafblind people.
Technology and e-learning offer access to information are vital for structured and informal learning and promote independency. The principles of universal design will ensure full communication access and fulfilment of deaf persons´ human rights.
Equal and appropriate access to mental health services, through sign language and Deaf culture and by the provisioning of Deaf professional staff, is a basic human right of deaf people.
In reference to the growing demographic of an aging population, attention must be given to programmes and services for deaf senior citizens.
Sign languages serve as vital instruments to transmit culture and knowledge. The status and recognition of sign languages around the world will be strengthened through language policies, research and the preservation of and the teaching of sign languages. Sign languages should be a part of all national curricula.
The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), its Members and the participants at the 15th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf agree to promote and implement this Congress Resolution to all governments and authorities, demanding respect for the realisation of HUMAN RIGHTS THROUGH SIGN LANGUAGES .

4. Some Effects of the Milan Decisions:
4.1. Reduction in number of Deaf professionals instructing at schools for the deaf and at university teacher-training programs around the world;
4.2. Suppression of sign language use in many school settings;
4.3. An emphasis on speech production at the expense of education;
4.4. Acceptance of deafness as a “disability” and that of a mindset that views deafness as an incapacity to be cured, instead of cherishing the Deaf cultures around the world;
4.5. Exclusion of Deaf people from full functional participation in the broader society as citizens, including, to identify a few existing or past instances,
4.5.1. Denial of driver’s licences to deaf people in the 20th century;
4.5.2. Denial of adoption of babies and children by deaf adults in numerous countries;
4.5.3. Refusal to provide interpreters in a school setting and in numerous other settings;
4.5.4. Non-issuance of life insurance policies to the Deaf; and
4.5.5. Widespread incidence of “undereducation” of the Deaf around the world;
4.5.6. Denial of human rights and equality of the Deaf;
4.5.7. Continued high rate of unemployment and underemployment of Deaf citizens;
4.5.8. Exclusion of Deaf citizens from governmental bodies that develop policies impacting Deaf children and citizens;
4.5.9. Nearly non-existing public awareness of Deaf abilities;
4.5.10. Actual decline in quality of education for the deaf;
4.5.11. Loss of Deaf contributions to the economies around the world;
4.5.12. Loss of creativity in teaching deaf children;
4.5.13. Mismanagement of early identification/intervention of deaf babies.

5. Milan Resolutions (see
5.1. Resolution 1: Considering the incontestable superiority of speech over signs in restoring the deaf-mute to society, and in giving him a more perfect knowledge of language, Declares – That the Oral method ought to be preferred that of signs for the education and instruction of the deaf and dumb.
5.2. Resolution 2: Considering that the simultaneous use of speech and signs has the disadvantage of injuring speech, lip-reading and precision of ideas, Declares – That the Pure Oral method ought to be preferred.
5.3. Resolution 3: Considering that a great number of the deaf and dumb are not receiving the benefit of instruction, and that this condition is owing to the "impotence" (impotenza) of families and of institutions, Recommends –That Governments should take the necessary steps that all the deaf and dumb may be educated.
5.4. Resolution 4: Considering that the teaching of the speaking deaf by the Pure Oral method should resemble as much as possible that of those who hear and speak, Declares –
5.4.1. That the most natural and effectual means by which the speaking deaf may acquire the knowledge of language is the "intuitive" method, viz., that which consists in setting forth, first by speech, and then by writing the objects and the facts which are placed before the eyes of the pupils.
5.4.2. That in the first, or maternal, period the deaf-mute ought to be led to the observation of grammatical forms by means of examples and of practical exercises, and that in the second period he ought to be assisted to deduce from these examples the grammatical rules, expressed with the utmost simplicity and clearness.
5.4.3. That books, written with words and in forms of language known to the pupil, can be put into his hands at any time.
5.5. Resolution 5: Considering the want of books sufficiently elementary to help the gradual and progressive development of language, Recommends – That the teachers of the Oral system should apply themselves to the publication of special works on the subject.
5.6. Resolution 6: Considering the results obtained by the numerous inquiries made concerning the deaf and dumb of every age and every condition long after they had quitted school, who, when interrogated upon various subjects, have answered correctly, with sufficient clearness of articulation, and read the lips of their questioners with the greatest facility, Declares –
5.6.1. That the deaf and dumb taught by the Pure Oral method do not forget after leaving school the knowledge which they have acquired there, but develop it still further by conversation and reading, when have been made so easy for them.
5.6.2. That in their conversation with speaking persons they make use exclusively of speech.
5.6.3. That speech and lip-reading so far from being lost, are developed by practice.
5.7. Resolution 7: Considering that the education of the deaf and dumb by speech has peculiar requirements; considering also that the experienced of teachers of deaf-mutes is almost unanimous, Declares –
5.7.1. That the most favourable age for admitting a deaf child into school is from eight to ten years.
5.7.2. That the school term ought to be seven years at least; but eight years would be preferable.
5.7.3. That no teacher can effectually teach a class of more than ten children on the Pure Oral method.
5.8. Resolution 8: Considering that the application of the Pure Oral method in institutions where it is not yet in active operation, should be – to avoid the certainty of failure – prudent, gradual, progressive, Recommends –
5.8.1. That the pupils newly received into the schools should form a class by themselves, where instruction could be given by speech.
5.8.2. That these pupils should be absolutely separated from others too far advanced to be instructed by speech, and whose education will be completed by signs.
5.8.3. That each year a new speaking class be established, with all the old pupils taught by signs have completed their education.

6. Definitions
6.1. Audistic derived from audism: “The notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or behave in the manner of one who hears.” – Tom Humphries. It is a form of discrimination.
6.2. Bilingual: using or able to use two languages especially with equal fluency ( ) According to Dr. Susan Gregory of the University of Birmingham, “Bilingual education is an approach to the education of deaf children which uses both the sign language of the deaf community and the written/spoken language of the hearing community.” (See
6.3. Deaf culture: the social movement that holds deafness to be a difference in human experience rather than a disability (
6.4. Institutions (see 5.3 under Milan Resolutions above): public schools
6.5. Mindset: a fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person's responses to and interpretations of situations (; a mental attitude or inclination (

Friday, November 6, 2009

Awesome tools: Deaf Studies Digital Journal

Greetings everyone,

AFA is thrilled to share the news about a powerful tool for our community (Educational, Political, Social, and Cultural) - it is the Deaf Studies Digital Journal from the ASL and Deaf Studies program at Gallaudet University. It has good resources to educate the world about Deaf culture and natural sign languages as well as advocating for linguistic, cultural and human rights.

Let Freedom Roll!!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dr/DVTV ADM: AFA Boycotting...

Greetings everyone,

Audism Free America is committed to confronting audism peacefully and directly. Since DeafRead and DeafVideo.TV (DVTV) administration have sided with individual rights to engage in audism and linguicism (as well as other adverse ”-isms”) and because it refuses to add a prohibition against audism / linguicism in its guidelines. We AFA are boycotting DeafRead and DVTV effective today October 28, 2009 and we encourage others to join us in taking a stand against audism.

Audism: 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. ( This term was originated by Dr. Tom Humphries as “the notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or behave in the manner of one who hears.”

Linguicism: Ideologies, structures, and practices which are used to legitimate, effectuate, regulate, and reproduce an unequal division of power and resources (both material and immaterial) between groups which are defined on the basis of language (Skutnabb-Kangas 1988). (

Dysconscious audism: a form of audism, that manifests itself in Deaf peoples actions or lack of actions that communicates an acceptance and support for dominant culture’s norms, values and privileges. See Dr. Genie Gertz article in Open Your Eyes: Deaf Studies Talking. “We cannot ignore actions by our own community members that would be called audism and intolerable if done by those of the dominant culture. Our goal is to decry audism anywhere and we wish to have a healthy Deaf community including an online community that is free of audism.”

AFA opposes audism and lingucism as well as racism, sexism, heterosexualism, ageism, antisemitism, extremism, exclusivism, etc

AFA supports the recognition and protection of human diversity on this planet.

AFA looks forward to when DeafRead and DVTV add audism and linguicism to their guidelines.

If you want to leave comments, please go to youtube or send an email to

Please feel free to subscribe to our videos and blogspot at:

Let Freedom Roll

Friday, September 25, 2009

AFA: International Day of Sign Language Celebration 2009

*International Day of Sign Language Celebration*

Greetings, AFA thrilled to share with all of you about IDSL- The International Day of Sign Language Celebration. Some states in USA are hosting events to celebrate IDSL to demonstrate how much we cherish our sign languages. In California, there are different local events being planned in celebration of IDSL. . CAD- California Association of the Deaf just made a vlog about IDSL/ASL and you can look at it on YOUTUBE. All of the IDSL events celebrate all that is awesome and inspiring about ASL!

International Day of Signed Languages! How to celebrate? Start with this video below....

  o if you participate in a coffee shop gathering or Deaf
  Professional Happy Hour, take some time to discuss ASL
  o wear black shirt and/or a blue ribbon
  o host a Blue Ribbon Ceremony with others. Text for the ceremony can be found at
  the back of Ladd's book, Understanding Deaf Culture: In search of Deafhood
  o share ASL poems or stories--live or on film
  o Twitter and post in your Facebook notes to remind everybody to take
  a pause and appreciate, smell, see, feel, love our glorious
  language(s) and the people who created them.

  Share this with folks you know.

  CAD board 2009-2011
In California, the California Department of Education (CDE) in Sacramento is hosting Deaf Awareness Week by State Superintendent of Public Instruction- Jack O'Connell. DAW will educate and expose people to information about ASL as a language and Deaf culture.

  The Deaf Awareness Week activities are being coordinated by Andrew Laufer, an Education Administrator with CDE’s Special Services and Support Branch that houses the State Special Schools and Services Division. The free activities this week at CDE include a poster contest, lobby displays, a student skit developed by Deaf students, panel discussions, and a film about Deaf culture.

For more information on the Deaf Awareness Week activities, please contact the Communications Division at 916-319-0818 or visit For more information on the California School for the Deaf, Riverside, please visit or for the California School for the Deaf, Fremont, please visit

Also, in San Diego, California- Jon Lenois, who has interviewed with Bruno Moncelle about his vision of International Day of Sign Language (IDSL) celebration, is involved with DAW (Deaf Awareness Week) in San Diego to spread information about ASL, Deaf culture, and to gather to celebrate Deaf unity. There is his vlog you can watch--

Bruno Moncelle being interviewed by Jon Lenois can be viewed at:-

Jon Lenois shared about DAW event-


There is another local event in the east--specifically, here in Rochester, New York. We will have IDSL celebration this coming Saturday, September 26th. It will be at NTID's Panara theatre on the NTID/RIT campus and people are invited to come to join us in celebrating ASL. We will also have guests speakers--- some discussing differnt International Sign Languages, ASL performances, ASL poetry, and Deaf folklore. It will start at 3pm and last until 7pm. This will include a celebratory march beginning at 5pm. We will walk together in deep thought--about the preciousness of ASL, about how we cherish our eyes, hands, signs-- through vision, smell, feelings.... We also need to express our thanks and gratefulness to our Deaf ancestors who have passed down to us our glorious language.

IDSL is to inspire people to stand up and to appreciate our treasure of language--our glorious gems...that can ripple out to all people and ensure that our sign languages will be protected for future generations...

Let freedom Roll!!

PS Let me show you something that expresses how I really cherish ASL and wish to spread this passion for the IDSL celebration--

"LOVE in our ASL hands"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

AFA's Letter to Gallaudet BofT and PSAC

15 September 2009

Greetings to the Board of Trustees of Gallaudet University and the Presidential Search Advisory Committee,

Congratulations on naming the four final candidates for the position of President of Gallaudet University. As a grassroots community organization, Audism Free America (AFA) was encouraged by the fact that feedback from the campus community as well as the Deaf community at large has been solicited. Input from the stakeholders about each finalist has proven to be very important for the past two Gallaudet presidential searches. Hopefully, the input you receive will not be dismissed or ignored nor will there be attempts to stifle free speech and freedom of assembly prior to the final selection. No matter how qualified the person selected may be, s/he will not be able to govern the University effectively with out the support of the students, faculty, staff and alumni.

We request that Board Members remain mindful of the fact that Gallaudet University's Mission and Vision Statements include a commitment to an ASL/English bilingual educational environment. Given this, it would be of utmost importance for the Board to consider the record of commitment each candidate has made to bilingual education in her/his career, and choose the candidate who would best represent and uphold that commitment.

In addition, it is clear that the next President of Gallaudet University needs to be a person willing to take on the challenges of audism, both inside the University and as an ambassador to the outside. Thus, the Board should actively examine each candidate's history related to advocating against policies and procedures which have systematically discriminated against Deaf individuals. Many of us who work inside Deaf educational institutions have found--despite appearances to the contrary--that audism and hearing privilege are particularly rampant in these settings.

We wish you the best in selecting the finalist who will best fulfill the University's mission...and bring about real CHANGE at Gallaudet University.

Let Freedom Roll,

Monday, September 14, 2009

International Day of Sign Language

International Day of Sign Language

Rochester, NY

September 26, 2009

3 pm to 7 pm

Blue Ribbon Ceremony and Celebratory March

Panara Theatre, NTID

NOTE: tentative schedule

Questions? Contact coordinator Pam Conley at prcnge @


If you have plans for IDSL in your area and would like us to announce - send the information to audismfreeamerica @

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Celebrate IDSL !

Hello. AFA wishes to make a special announcement to all. One of AFA’s values is to cherish Deaf people and our language—ASL—which shows we are truly ‘People of the Eye.’

We are thrilled to notify everyone about an important event next month, in September. It is the IDSL celebration!

A French Deaf man named Bruno (opps!) Moncelle invented the idea that Deaf people from all over the world should come together celebrate sign language—IDSL, International Day of Sign Languages. Over the years, folks in Europe have gathered together on the International Day of Sign Languages, holding rallies and marches. This celebration has only recently made its way to America. Over these past few years, there have been IDSL celebrations in a number of places in America: California, Rochester, NY, and Michigan. People who have joined these celebrations have been Deaf, hearing, hearing parents of Deaf children, teachers and a diversity of people have gathered to collectively celebrate: our precious sign language, our history, the literary arts inspired by our language (poetry, storytelling, ABC stories, folklore, humor, jokes, plays, etc.).

Really ASL is awe-inspiring and beautiful! These feelings of appreciation for our language need to be spread throughout the land. We will not let these feelings die away.

We encourage you in your communities to take up a local celebration of some kind—big or small—on September 26th the last Saturday of September. One suggestion of how to celebrate: Friday night organize a ‘Blue Ribbon Ceremony” (see information about this ceremony in the back of Paddy Ladd’s Understanding Deaf Culture book or see The purpose of the Blue Ribbon Ceremony is to praise Deaf people of the past who have struggled through the dark ages of oralism, a rejection of sign language, and the oppression caused by audism. The Blue Ribbon Ceremony can end with an evening candlelight vigil to remember these dark times. As the day dawns on Saturday, it is time to celebrate the light and the warmth that ASL/the sign languages of other countries and the freedom to sign has brought into our lives---spreading festive feelings in our own communities, our country, and throughout the Deaf World. Saturday, September 26th you are encouraged to take up an event, which will serve to continue the growth of this tradition of celebration.

Next year, the year 2010 we can dream --of a huge march blocks long, with an enormous group of people--held on International Day of Sign Languages. Hearing people will take notice and recognize Deaf people on Earth as their equals—humans with their own unique language---sign!

AFA wishes to thank the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) for promoting the vision and idea of IDSL. AFA values all People of the Eye.

AFA supports IDSL celebration

AFA supports IDSL celebration: (For Text go to

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Audism Free America Update:

mark your calendar – international day of sign languages (IDSL) Sept 25 weekend – let us know if you have anything planned in your area that we can help promote
Fri Black shirts in memory of past suffering / blue ribbon ceremony
Sat Celebration of ASL

Links of interest:
Jon's interview with Bruno of France re: IDSL
International Vlog announcing IDSL 2007
Ella's vlog encouraging IDSL activities 2007
WFD blue ribbon ceremony at Joey Baer's site
DBC Blue ribbon ceremony at the Deaf Bilingual Coalition site

AFA received a letter from AG Bell board saying that it rejects all of our demands

Demands: stop excluding ASL from Deaf children's education and lives, stop misrepresenting ASL and Deaf people in the media, stop promoting cochlear implant industry and join us in calling for an impartial and independent investigation of CI

The keynote presenter, Dr. David Pisoni, at AG Bell conference in St. Louis expressed the need for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to look into the effectiveness of Cochlear Implants.
In his address he explained: Efficacy means “Does the CI work” (run or operate) Answer is yes. Effectiveness means “Does the CI effectively work for everyone” Answer is NO.

FDA needs to measure effectiveness not just efficacy


Link to sampling of simulated sound input via cochlear implants. (sorry this is not accessible to Deaf folks but you can play it for a Hearing friend or family member and see their reaction)
House Ear Institute samples increase from 4 to 8 to32 channels ending with the original sentence being played (what hearing folks hear)

AFA petition for the FDA - if you have already signed BIG thanks – pls send to others. If you have not yet, pls do so if you too want all the answers. We owe it to the infants, children, parents and adults who have gotten or are considering CI to have all the information possible.
700+ signatures so far – big thanks ALL

Monday, August 3, 2009

Western New York- DAS/Press Advisory

Buffalo Deaf Community

Emily Glenn-Smith
Video Relay: 866-757-5624

Monday, August 3, 2009

Deaf Adult Services New Hire Proves Destructive
Deaf Adult Services should be utilized to facilitate access to the deaf community in the public arena.
How can this be possible if DAS is not accessible itself?

Deaf Community to DAS Board “Do the Right Thing!”

Mission of DAS--Deaf Adult Services is committed to creating a bridge between the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Hearing Communities through advocacy, education, case management, counseling and interpreting services that GOVERN EQUAL ACCESS, symbolizing the accords of CULTURALLY AFFIRMATIVE principles in championing the rights of the Deaf.

The Board of Directors of Deaf Adult Services will sponsor a Community Forum to address following demands made by the Deaf Community at their last Board Meeting:

1. An EXTENSIVE search opened for a QUALIFIED executive director to lead the only Deaf agency in Western New York.

2. Equal access to communication in the office for staff members and community members that walk through the agency doors.

3. In the event that no candidates meet your liking, we request at minimum to have someone with knowledge and experience with the Deaf Community and fluency in ASL hired to work as equal counterpart to Mr. Burns.

4. We also request that the current executive director and the Board of Directors go through extensive cultural training to understand the importance of a qualified leader in the Deaf Community.

WHAT: Community Forum regarding the decision of the DAS board’s decision to hire an Executive
Director that is not fluent in American Sign Language or Deaf Culture

WHO: Buffalo Deaf Adult Services and Board, the Buffalo Deaf Club, the Buffalo Deaf, Hard of
Hearing and Hearing Community

WHEN: Monday, August 3, 2009, 7:00PM

WHERE: 2275 Clinton St. Buffalo NY 14206, Buffalo Club of the Deaf

VISUALS: Over 100 members of the Deaf Community in an intense Forum demanding equal access!

Members of the Deaf Community will be available for interviews after the press conference

Saturday, July 25, 2009

DAS Rally

Many individuals in the Deaf community of Buffalo and Western New York showed up during the Deaf Adult Services (DAS) Board emergency meeting last Wednesday, July 22 in the late afternoon. Pam Rhoring, the Deaf vice president of DAS Board, wouldn't allow Deaf people to go into the meeting and speak up and share their concerns. The Deaf community made a request to be able to "sign out" their grievances and finally they let them in. DAS Board will make an announcement by this Monday, July 27th by noon through VLOG about the results. Please show your support by signing the petition - for more information on this situation go to:

Friday, July 24, 2009

ATTENTION: Deaf Community & Western New York

AFA supports Buffalo and Western New York Deaf community & Allies advocacy efforts to have a qualified executive director lead DAS (Deaf Adult Service). DAS' board just hired a new Executive Director, Tom Burns, who is hearing and had never meet a Deaf person before, and had no knowledge of Deaf issues, Deaf culture, and American Sign Language. These skill sets were stated requirements for the job. The DAS board ignored these requirements and hired an unqualified individual who is supposed to supervise Deaf and hearing staff and oversee a program designed directly to REMOVE access barriers and to EMPOWER Deaf adults. The board of Deaf Adult Services has violated their own mission in this hiring decision.

The valuation of someone who can hear and speak and does not know ASL someone who meets the job requirements is an example of audism.

Many members of the Western NY Deaf community need your support. Please sign the petition below:

For more information on the situation - view this vlog:
ASL VLOG & Texts:

Latest press release:

On Wednesday, July 22nd, members of the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Hearing Community stood protest in the Tri-Main office of WNY Deaf Adult Services (or DAS). The reason: Community outrage over the decision to hire an executive director for the agency that directly serves this population who has no experience working with the Deaf or the ability to communicate through American Sign Language (ASL).

“How can someone who has never served the Deaf community, who purports to never having met a Deaf person, be given the charge to run an agency dedicated to breaking down barriers and advocating for us?” stated Dean DeRusso, the Deaf Systems Advocate at Regional Center for Independent Living. a Deaf member of the 35 Western New Yorkers present at a silent protest during an emergency board meeting at DAS.

“There is no disputing his qualifications as an administrator, but that is only 50% of his job, his hire and lack of understanding around Deaf issues and Culture is an affront to our community and we’re here to demand a reopening of the hiring process,” stated Emily Glenn-Smith.

Carrying black, white and red signs with a stark and simple message – “DAS ≠ ACCESS” – both the Deaf community and their hearing allies were present during the officially closed executive section to request:

 Reopening the search for a qualified director to the region’s only Deaf agency

 Equal access to communication in the office for Deaf staff members and Deaf community members that rely on DAS for services, including employment, housing, translation and legal assistance

 Finally, in the event that no candidates meet DAS’s qualifications as dictated by its mission that a director be hired, minimally, with knowledge of and extensive interactions with the Deaf community, as well as fluency in ASL

Some cynics from both the Hearing and Deaf communities might call this initial confrontation with the DAS board premature or unfounded, claiming that professional qualifications outweigh personal identity politics when it comes to running an organization of this kind. Deaf and Hard of Hearing recipients of these services, however, stand to lose the quality of service and vital opportunities for full acceptance among the hearing majority in key quality of life considerations, such as equal access to interpreting services and employment opportunities. For a community that routinely struggles to be understood, DAS is the last place where a Deaf or Hard of Hearing person would expect more of the same.

Deaf Adult Services is committed to creating a bridge between the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Hearing Communities through advocacy, education, case management, counseling and interpreting services. The agency’s guiding principle is equal access. For protestors, the agency’s decision to hire not only a hearing candidate, but one that has no working knowledge of Deaf culture stands in complete opposition to this mission.

Let Freedom Roll!

Monday, June 29, 2009

NAD's 1991 position statement on Cochlear Implants

For historical purposes - AFA is sharing the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) 1991 public position statement on Cochlear Implants
To see their current position statement on CI (approved in 2000) go to:

to see and sign AFA's petition to the FDA for an impartial and independent investigation into the long term physical, psychological, social, and cultural impacts of CI on infants and youths - go to:
petition in ASL

Cochlear Implants in Children
A Position Paper of the National Association of the Deaf (1991)

Background. On June 27, 1990, the Food and Drug Administration approved the marketing of the Nucleus 22-channel cochlear prosthesis for surgical implantation in children aged two through seventeen. (Commercial distribution for postlingually-deafened adults was authorized in 1985; investigational trials began in adolescents, age ten to seventeen, the same year and in young children, age two through nine, in November 1986.) This recent FDA approval of marketing childhood implants, recommended by its Ear, Nose and Throat Devices Panel, was based on a submission by the manufacturer, the Cochlear Corporation, which reported on a total of 200 implanted children, ages two through seventeen, who had bilateral, profound sensorineural deafness.

The position of the National Association of the Deaf. The NAD deplores the decision of the Food and Drug Administration which was unsound scientifically, procedurally, and ethically.

Scientific errors. Implantation of cochlear prostheses in early-deafened children remains highly experimental. There is no evidence of material benefit from the device in this population and there has been no evaluation of the long-term risks. There is no evidence that the speech perception of these children is materially enhanced and there is evidence that many profoundly deaf children would have better, however limited, speech perception with conventional hearing aids than with implants. There is no evidence that early-implanted children will do better at acquiring English than they would with noninvasive aids or with no aids whatever. There is no evidence that early-implanted children will have greater educational success, and reason to doubt that they will since children with severe hearing losses do scarcely better in school than those with profound losses. The FDA Panel has required the device packaging to include the warning that congenitally deaf children may derive no benefit from the device but the evidence for that conclusion is also strong for children deafened below the age of three and possibly age five or later.

Current programs of research on cochlear implant with children are conducted without regard to the quality of life that the child will experience as a deaf adult implant user. It is presently unknown whether the implant, and the profound commitment of parent and child to aural/oral training that is generally required, will delay the parents' and the child's acceptance of the child's deafness and their acquisition of sign communication; and the costs associated with these likely delays have not been assessed. The impact of the implant and the associated aural/oral training on the integration of the child as an adolescent and adult into the deaf community, on the child's social, intellectual and emotional development and mental health have not been assessed. This failure alone to consider the impact of the implant on the child's future quality of life qualifies the implant programs as highly experimental -- just what the World Federation of the Deaf deplored when it resolved, "[Implant developments are] encouraging for persons deafened after some years of hearing [but] experimentation with young deaf children is definitely not encouraged."

Procedural errors. The FDA erred in failing to consult formally with organizations of deaf Americans and with deaf leaders and scholars knowledgeable about the acquisition and use of sign communication and English in deaf children, the psycho-social development and education of deaf children, and the social organization and culture of the American Deaf community. The research evidence makes abundantly clear that early-deafened implanted children will rely on sign communication in school and in much of their lives; many, perhaps most of these children will become or already are members of the American Deaf Community. Otologists, speech and hearing scientists, manufacturers, parents and members of the FDA staff were all consulted formally by the FDA in arriving at its decision; its failure to consult deaf spokespersons represents, if an oversight, gross ignorance concerning growing up deaf in America, or, if willful, an offense against fundamental American values.

Ethical errors. Experimentation on children is ethically offensive particularly in these circumstances: new and high technology that entails invasive surgery and tissue destruction is used not for life saving but for putative life enhancement; adults such as these children will become, when given the option of such prostheses, overwhelmingly decline them; the parents who make the decision for the child are often poorly informed about the deaf community, deaf heritage and culture, and communication modes available to deaf people and their families. Finally, the decision to surgically implant a young deaf child is ethically unsound for a more fundamental reason. There is now abundant scientific evidence that, as the deaf community has long contended, it comprises a linguistic and cultural minority. Many Americans, perhaps most, would agree that as a society we should not seek the scientific tools nor use them, if available, to change a child biologically so he or she will belong to the majority rather than the minority -- even if we believe that this biological engineering might reduce the burdens the child will bear as a member of a minority.

The National Association of the Deaf advocates the following course of action: (1) The Food and Drug administration should withdraw marketing approval and revise the procedures employed for evaluating proposals for authorization of cochlear implants in children. (2) The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders should fund research on the present population of implanted children which will allow a comprehensive assessment of risks and benefits for the child that include social adjustment, mental health and quality of life issues. Pending the outcome of those studies, the Institute should not fund any additional implanting of early-deafened children unless an overriding need for that experimentation on children can be shown and conducted on a small number under highly controlled circumstances with comprehensive evaluation. In all research concerning deaf children, the Institute should require for new or continued funding that research programs involve deaf leaders and experts on the cultural aspects of deafness. Research programs that implant children with cochlear prostheses should include measures of material enhancement of speech reception and production, such as open-set recognition of ordinary conversation in moderately noisy environments, with and without lipreading support. The Institute should further convene meetings of medical ethicists, otologists, audiologists, deaf leaders and scholars of the cultural aspects of deafness to examine the ethical issues underlying research and practice in childhood cochlear implant, and it should fund research on these ethical issues. (3) Implant teams at hospitals around the United States should refuse to surgically implant early-deafened children and should provide a copy of this position statement to parents requesting such implantation for their children. Parents should also be provided with printed information concerning organizations of deaf persons in their community and other sources of information about the deaf community, its culture and its language and heritage.

Prepared by the Task Force on Cochlear Implants in Children Dr. Harlan Lane, Chair; Dr. Barbara Brauer, Dr. Larry Fleischer, Joyce Groode, Nathie Marbury, and Michael Schwartz, Esq. Submitted 12/23/90; approved by the NAD Board of Directors, 2/2/91.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

AFA petition to the FDA for an investigation of Cochlear Implants

view at youtube if video not playing here

To sign the petition

To: Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Dear Commissioner Hamburg,

Audism Free America (AFA) requests that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establish an independent and impartial investigation into the long term physical, psychological, social and cultural impact of the surgical insertion of cochlear implants (unilateral and bilateral) into the bodies of infants, children and youth.

The current research related to cochlear implant surgery has focused on medical issues and auditory functioning and has been undertaken by doctors. Yet, even medical risks associated with the surgery do not appear to be fully reported. The psychological and linguistic development of Deaf children is not solely a medical matter; there are issues of language acquisition, socialization, and psychological well-being; these have received very little attention. Thus, it is essential that the FDA-formed group conducting this impartial investigation must include Deaf and other individuals who are knowledgeable about Deaf culture, American Sign Language, human rights, audism* and linguicism (language based form of audism) since these are presently absent from the current research. There must be full transparency, full disclosure and an assurance of no built-in bias.

*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.

Many scholars have referred to the recent proliferation of cochlear implant surgeries coupled with the oral / aural only movement (prohibiting of signing and over-emphasis on auditory technology) as a form of eugenics that may lead to cultural and linguistic genocide of Deaf Americans. Because these infants and children are unable to give informed consent and are being denied a fully natural and accessible language, cochlear implant surgeries have also been identified as being a violation of human and linguistic rights. Clearly, the FDA needs a more in depth consideration of the moral and ethical issues associated with cochlear implants.

Given that the FDA is responsible to ensure the safety and effectiveness of these devices and protect the rights of citizens:

We, the undersigned, call for Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to immediately initiate an impartial and independent investigation into the physical, psychological, social and cultural impact of cochlear implants on Deaf infants, children and youth.


Sign petition at:

Saturday, June 20, 2009

AFA shares excerpt of Dr. Humphries dissertation re: audism

Excerpt from Tom Humphries’ dissertation:
Communicating across cultures (deaf-hearing) and language learning (pp. 7-10)

Reprinted here with permission from the author - many thanks to Dr. Humphries for coining the term Audism and for examining the unexamined.

"I grew up in a hearing environment and had all the values, behavior and mannerisms of a hearing person. I was especially proud of my success as a deaf hearing person. For all the wrong reasons. Every time I “passed” for hearing, I was extremely proud. In my isolation from other deaf people, I thought of myself as the only one of my kind. I disdained sign language. I was extremely proud of my English, my speech and my ability to communicate with hearing people where other deaf people could not. Needless to say, I felt superior to other deaf people. This was based on my ignorance of what other deaf people were like. From what I could see they were limited, uneducated people and it embarrassed me greatly to be identified with them. I delighted when hearing people compared me to other deaf people and labeled me successful and exceptional. I actively participated in putting down those people who signed, could not use English fluently, could not speak, and could not pass for hearing.

If I were asked, I might say I was hard-of-hearing even though I am profoundly deaf. If asked, I would recommend my experience, social and educational, for every deaf person. Those deaf people who were not as “successful” as I simply were not trying hard enough or were not gifted enough. Most of my life, I spent walking around in public places pretending to be hearing, trying to hide my difference. It is a lonely existence because you can speak to no one lest your difference be exposed. I managed to be happy most of the time by suppressing many, many feelings. I think it’s called “overcoming your handicap.” Why I thought that hiding it was “overcoming” it I do not know, except that this seemed to be the thinking of our society.

And society reinforced all of these ideas and attitudes of mine. Society demanded that I pass or be isolated completely. Society demanded that I conform and shamed me if I did not. Society talked of rehabilitation, institutionalization and charity for the handicapped. Society was perfectly willing to banish me to that twilight zone of invisibility for secondary members of society such as blacks, women, American Indians, and the blind. Society was willing to help me hide my difference if I wanted to go this route by teaching me to ignore and suppress my difference rather than acknowledge and accept it.

It was not until long after I had met other deaf people and lived with them for years that I began to acknowledge and accept this difference in me as something desirable. My education about myself and other deaf people began at seventeen. It took many years before I could actually think about deafness without suppressing how I felt about myself. For many of these years I continued to actively oppress other deaf people in many ways. I set myself up as an example of what a deaf person should be because it was a power trip. It was a power trip to compete with other deaf people for the rewards offered by the hearing society (good grades, jobs, scholarships, praise, inclusion, etc.) and win easily because I could speak, behave and think as a hearing person.

Where did I get disillusioned with these rewards? When did I begin to see what I had done to myself? When did I begin to recognize audist behavior? When did I begin to want to change? There are no dates, no events that I can isolate as being the beginning of change. I know only that I grew dissatisfied with the promises that society had held up for me. The promise of acceptance into society [sic]. It never happened. The promise of happiness as a full participant [sic]. It never happened. In a very real sense, the promise that my deafness should and would go away eventually because I would “conquer” it [sic]. It never happened. From this dissatisfaction came the questioning. It became very personal. The examination of my inner self to see what I really felt [sic]. Did I really like what I had become? Did I really accept being deaf? Did it matter if I were? Did I really know anything about myself? Was I in touch with my feelings? Was my attitude about deaf people the result of my own ignorance of my deafness? Was I as a person in the middle of dealing with other -isms really dealing with my audism? Was I as a person doing anything about my own needs? For that matter, did I know what I really needed?

Then the hard answers and the anger hurt. And the almost daily insights and learning about myself and my environment [sic]. Most of it painful too [sic]. Just how much I had bought into this system was painful to discover. I don’t think this is any different from the awareness that many women have suddenly found themselves with. I cannot emphasize too strongly that what happened to me was not any different from what happens to other people in other groups. The process of dissatisfaction, self-examination and striving for awareness and real change is something that is happening to many people. I am no exception.

I tried to relate feelings that I was having about what I viewed as oppression, discrimination and audism towards myself and other deaf people to what had and was happening to other minority groups. I found many similarities and this reinforced my desire to be aware of these things as they occur in my own environment. I began to wonder why I had let them slide by me in the first place. I was determined not to let them go by unquestioned anymore. I was determined to acknowledge them and call others' [sic] attention to them. It required that I eliminate these behaviors from myself. It required some confrontation with other people. It was a long time before I could feel good about being deaf, about other deaf people, about ASL and a deaf culture, about being different and a member of a minority group."


Humphries, Thomas. 1977. Communicating across cultures (deaf-hearing) and language learning, Ph.D. dissertation, Union Institute and University, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Monday, June 8, 2009

AFA: links to editorial and article - Deaf Folks in the Press

The mid-west is giving some much needed press space to Deaf people and the Deaf experience.

Editorial by John Lee Clark in the Star Tribune (Minn. paper) examining the importance of human diversity from a Deaf and Deaf-Blind perspective

Article in the Wausau Daily Herald about the Wisc. law mandating insurance companies cover Cochlear Implants and AFA's petition

Sunday, June 7, 2009

AFA: Audism in the hospital and workplace

Short vlog featuring a Deaf couple explaining how hearing son was told by a nurse to interpret for his parents while he himself was recovering from an appendicitis. Also comment about being passed over for promotion amongst hearing co-workers and then having hours cut while others remained full-time.

AFA: Audism in the workplace and not giving up testimony

if video is not playing above - go to

Short video of a Deaf woman explaining her experience at a small company where she was passed over for promotion and not allowed to get training by an engineer because she was Deaf. Instead of accepting this lot, she applied for work at Kodak and was hired there. When she gave her boss her 2 weeks notice he thought she should stay as did her co-workers to which she replied, "Do you really think I should stay here with no prospects of being promoted?" They realized it was a good move she was making. Overtime the small company she had worked at closed and her former co-workers joined her at Kodak, surprised and happy to see her doing so well. One day she was to get some updated training and saw that the same engineer that had discriminated against her in the past was to do the training. She left the area crying and when her boss, who valued her as a very good worker and person, found out the reason, he got the engineer to accept writing as a form of communication for the training. Years later when she retired the engineer approached her and congratulated her on all her years of good and hard work.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

AFA Vlog - AG Bell's Integrity????

If video not playing properly, go to:

This is a vlog covering the post addressed in our previous posting

AG Bell's Integrity

AFA has questions about AG Bell Association's integrity:
1. Will AG Bell Association honor its written word (hand written and email text - see below) that it would present AFA's demand statements to its board

2. AG Bell Associtation had a CART transcript made of the AFA and AG Bell Association meeting. AG Bell Association had insisted that AFA not videotape or audio record the meeting. When AFA requested a copy of this transcript - our request fell on deaf ears.

3. AG Bell Association has a position statement saying they recognize American Sign Language (ASL) and accept it yet:
a. the AG Bell academy endorses the AVT guidelines #3 excluding sign language
b. the AG Bell Association offers a scholarship for students to attend a mainstream college / university stating:
Spoken communication must be the student’s primary mode of communication.
c. AG Bell members complained to AG Bell Association president, Jay Wyant, for using sign language in a short video clip at the AG Bell association conference in WI. last summer (See latest issues of AG Bell's Voices)
d. Board member of the PA AG Bell association wrote a harsh editorial criticizing Luke Adams for using ASL and not using his CI in the Amazing Race tv program

AFA's questions for AG Bell Association:
1. will you honor your word and present our demands to your board and give us their decision?

2. will you provide us with a copy of the CART transcript of our meeting?

3. if ASL is accepted and recognized, why haven't you retracted your Pepsi letter (which many of your own members objected to), allow your scholarship award to go to students who use ASL equally, encourage your members to realize that many AG Bell members (Deaf and Hearing) use ASL, communicate to Board members of AG Bell chapters that AG Bell has a position statement in support of ASL and it is inappropriate for them to be publishing letters chastizing Deaf people who use ASL or no longer use their CI

On April 2, 2009 Audism Free America (AFA) met with five members of the AG Bell Association in their Volta Bureau AG Bell Headquarters.

AG Bell Association Executive Director, Alexander Graham, had communications director, Catherine Murphy put in writing that AG Bell Association would be bringing AFA's demand statements to the AG Board. (see above photograph of the written agreement and an email confirming the agreement)

EMAIL from AG Bell Assoc. re: agreement
On Thu, Apr 2, 2009 at 5:18 PM,
Catherine Murphy wrote:
Yes, we are planning to present your three demands statements to the AG Bell Board of Directors.

Catherine Murphy


Just after 24 hours elapsed AG Bell Association sent out an announcement denouncing Deaf people's right to free speech and assembly. (scroll down for AG Bell's 'immediate release')

AFA has sent emails to AG Bell Association asking if we could have a copy of the CART transcript of our meeting and when they would be presenting our demands to the AG Bell board. We have not received any replies to our email and our certified letter was rejected by AG Bell Association.

Finally AFA sent the below email

fromAudism Free America
toCatherine Murphy
ccAlexander Graham

dateTue, Apr 28, 2009 at 4:40 PM
subjectRe: April 2 Meeting


We have not received any replies to our emails and our certified letter to you was rejected. If we do not receive any email from you by Friday we will interpret these actions to mean:
1. that you are not honoring your word to present our three demand statements to the board (the written agreement and email message below (dated April 2, 2009))

2. that you will not be providing AFA with a copy of the CART transcription from the April 2, 2009 meeting

We look forward to receiving a reply from you.


One month has passed since this email was sent - no reply has been made.

to see emails AFA sent to AG Bell Association re: CART and Board go to:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rep. Cullen apologizes for the quote + AFA Thanks emailers

AFA thanks everyone who contacted Rep. Cullen’s office about the offensive statement.

Thank you to everyone who has been signing the petition to Gov. Doyle also

Excerpt from Rep. Cullen’s office printed here with permission:

Monday, May 18, 2009, 8:20 AM

Representative Cullen is fully aware that deaf and hard of hearing individuals are very valuable members of our society, fully capable of getting jobs, going to school, and accomplishing whatever they wish in life. He understands this very well and apologizes for the quote that was in the Associated Press story on the bill’s passage. The quote was a one sentence quote from a 3 – 4 minute speech on the importance of the bill and, as such, was certainly not taken in context. While his word choice during the speech was poor, the quote in no way serves as an indicator of his feelings, motivations, or character.
Ritch Williams Clerk, Committee on Insurance Office of Rep. David Cullen

Response to email below – printed here with permission:

Sunday, May 17, 2009 2:58 AM
Representative Cullen:

My boyfriend, Andrew Taylor, is Deaf and has a wonderful job, a family, including our daughter, and had a fantastic education at California School for the Deaf. I’m thankful to his mother for not making the decision to implant him. Implanted kids don’t tend to be allowed to sign: education is so focused on speech that they miss the education that you and I had! In addition, if you were to do some real research, just by walking into your local deaf educational programs, you may find that those cochlear implants don’t make children hearing. Many kids have had serious health problems and have died due to the surgery you are advocating for, a surgery for a disability that Deaf people find as a small inconvenience at most! Apologize for your statement that kids need cochlear implants to keep jobs, etc. Get educated!!!


Patty Killough

Friday, May 15, 2009

Cullen's staff sends a reply to AFA re: our letter for an apology

Greetings all:

Ritch Williams of Rep. Cullen's office sent AFA the reply below in response to AFA's letter requesting an apology from Rep. Cullen for his offensive statement in the media

1. Rep. Cullen has not replied directly to AFA or composed a statement himself to be sent to AFA by his office

2. It appears that Rep. Cullen's office is misinformed about what early intervention means. It seems that they equate early intervention to mean cochlear implants and auxillary listening devices and aids

3. Rep. Cullen's office equates the reading level and unemployment rate to be caused by the lack of early intervention (i.e. hearing aids and CI and therapy) to make Deaf infants and children HEAR and not a result of discrimination and the failure of Oralism (oral / aural only education) and simultaneous-communication methods that have been rampant in the U.S. for the past century

4. it is unclear as to why Rep. Cullen's Deaf sister would not be allowed to keep her job if she did not have a cochlear implant. If she risked being fired because she is Deaf, we would have hoped that her bother would have worked for legislation that helped ensure that Deaf people did not experience discrimination in the work place instead of working for legislation mandating insurance coverage of cochlear implants

5. Mr. Williams states that Rep. Cullen drafted the bill at the request of parents of Deaf children and based on his own personal experience

6. Seems that Mr. Williams is not aware that the word hearing impairment is not cool with most Deaf people.

7. At no point did AFA call Rep. Cullen an audist. We do not appreciate Mr. Williams and inturn Rep. Cullen's office misquoting us. We, AFA, said that Mr. Cullen's comments were offensive and an example of audism. Even within the context of responding to low scores and employment, the statement is still a form of audism. To say if Deaf folks can get hearing aids and cochlear implants as babies they will be more productive members of society and be able to keep jobs etc - aims to fix the individual and not the problem of discrimination and audism in our society.

Deaf people who have had hearing aids and cochlear implants since a young age and have undergone intensive therapy still experience difficulties in school and in group settings because of ignorance and insensitivity.

8. The hysteria may be with the rampant thrust to implant infants at a younger and younger age and to keep them away from any Deaf adults or Deaf environments - all in the name of making them members of society.

We have - been there - done that for the past 100 years.

9. Why hasn't Rep. Cullen included in the bill or pushed for another bill that insurance companies would be mandated to cover the removal of CI and coverage of ASL materials, mentors, and therapy?

10. It is interesting to note that Rep. Cullen's office sent out no press release clarifying their statement and position after the quote ran on April 23, 2009. It seems that they did not care if they were quoted out of content and did not have any concerns about offending Deaf people. By Rep. Cullen's lack of reply and Mr. Williams reply on his behalf, it seems clear that they still do not care if their position, sentiment, and way of thinking is offensive to Deaf people.

This leads us to wonder that since other disenfranchised groups often have lower reading and writing scores and higher unemployment, will Rep. Cullen be advocating for the passage of legislation for insurance companies to cover new early intervening medicine or technology to change these people also?

let us know what you think of Rep. Cullen's staff member's reply - email us at


Williams, Ritch
to Audism Free America
date Fri, May 15, 2009 at 12:26 PM

hide details 12:26 PM (5 hours ago)


Follow up message

The comment you are referring to was certainly not reported 100% accurately and we understand the vast array of misgivings after it was included in the AP article. It was never his intention to offend anyone and the quote was not in context. As we heard during the legislative committee process, statistics point out that deaf and hard of hearing children that do not receive early intervention graduate from high school with about a 4th grade reading level and then 76% of those are unemployed following graduation. Representative Cullen cited those statistics before what he was quoted in the article as saying…the reporter even left out “…more productive…” before the “members of society” part of the quote.

Again, those comments came after his citation of the statistics on reading level and employment for children who do not receive the benefits of early intervention – whether via hearing aids or cochlear implant. We received those statistics from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, a paper from Karl R. White of Utah State University, and information we gathered from the Gallaudet Research Institute website. Again, they are in reference to children who do not receive intervention in one way or another.

The legislative committee process on this bill consisted of a public hearing in which we heard from over 100 individuals – children who are deaf or hard of hearing and their parents made up about 95% of those speakers. Representative Cullen drafted this bill at their request, but also because of his personal experiences.

As the brother of two siblings that had/have hearing impairments, Representative Cullen is fully aware that deaf and hard of hearing individuals are members of society, members of our workforce, and successful students in our schools. While his hard of hearing brother has passed away, his sister was one of the first recipients of a cochlear implant in Wisconsin and the procedure has allowed her to continue her work as a public school teacher in the 10 years since she received it. It is because of their experiences that Representative Cullen was the main author of this legislation and worked to get it enacted into law after a few years of languishing in the legislature. To claim that he is an “audist” or somehow lacks the knowledge that deaf and hard of hearing individuals are valuable members of society is a complete stretch, but I suppose that can happen if one decides to use a one sentence quote – and an incomplete one at that – to completely characterize an individual and their motivations, interests, and feelings.

Finally, there has been a great deal of hysteria by some that mistakenly think the bill requires parents to get hearing aids or cochlear implants for their child. That is NOT the case. We took into account the testimony we heard last session from some parents who choose not to utilize early intervention – or any intervention – for their deaf or hard of hearing child. The only thing the bill actually does is tell insurance companies that if a parent chooses to get hearing aids and/or cochlear implants for their child, then the insurance company of the parent must pay for the costs. We are assuming that parents of deaf or hard of hearing children will make fully informed decisions and do what they feel is best for their own child.

Ritch Williams
Clerk, Committee on Insurance
Office of Rep. David Cullen
216 North, State Capitol
(608) 267-9836

AFA: Petition - Prevent Senate Bill #27/Assembly bill #16 from becoming law

Sign the petition:


Governor Doyle
115 East State Capitol
Madison, WI 53702

To Governor Doyle:

We, the undersigned, request that you do not sign senate bill #27/assembly bill #16 mandating that insurance companies cover the exorbitantly expensive and invasive implanting of children with cochlear implants since their effectiveness is inconsistent and because cochlear implants are often used in conjunction with denying an infant and children the right to a fully accessible natural language.

The notion that being Deaf is an affliction and an abomination which alienates one from society and leaves them dependent and isolated is a myth and rooted in 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.

Not only is there a danger that some infants and children can be harmed by cochlear implants, there is also the potential danger that people interpret this bill to mean that they must have their child implanted.

When any government participates in the attempt to create a perfect race of people and to prevent a natural language from flourishing, it is known as eugenics. We do not wish for your state to be mislabeled as promoting eugenics and linguistic and cultural genocide.

If this bill is to be signed into law it should be amended to state that insurance companies should also cover the cost cochlear implant removals for people who no longer wish to have these devices in their heads. Furthermore, it should mandate that insurance companies cover American Sign Language materials, therapy, and support services for families, infants, and children as research has shown that giving a Deaf infant and child a fully accessible, visual language ensures linguistic, cognitive, social and emotional success.

Senate Bill 27:
Assembly Bill 16:


Let Freedom Roll!
Ruthie on behalf of AFA

Yes Cullen said those words - awaiting a reply from him

Hi all

An update - some folks have said that Cullen was misquoted in the media saying:

“This bill is going to allow children to keep their hearing, to become members of society, to go to school and keep a job.”

AFA understands that it is easy to be misquoted or taken out of context. The statement was made on April 23 and carried by the Associated press in radio, TV and print outlets.

Cullen's office never made any public attempt to retract the statement or clarify the context in which it was stated. AFA sent Rep. Cullen a letter Thursday at 12:05 am asking for an apology for this statement and inviting him to learn more about audism.

We received no reply. We called his office today to:
1. confirm that Rep. Cullen made this statement - the answer was YES he said those words.

2. ask for a reply to AFA's letter. The staff member said they did not receive any email from AFA. AFA checked that our email address for them was correct and yes it was. We also confirmed that our email was sent out of our gmail account successful with no bounce back or notification that it failed to deliver.

3. AFA has re-sent our letter to Cullen's office and also invited, Cullen to reply with an apology for the statement and clarification that we could post on our public website.

4. AFA also took the opportunity to make sure Rep. Cullen's office was familiar with the word Audism and the response was yes they were. AFA still took the opportunity to explain that while Rep. Cullen may have been quoted out of context - he did make that offensive statement, which indicates the believe that to hear and speak is superior to being Deaf and that is audism.

We look forward to a reply from Rep. Cullen