Sunday, May 31, 2009

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



If video not playing properly, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccDZO8nSfzc

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

http://audismfreeamerica.blogspot.com/2009/05/ag-bells-integrity.html

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


Greetings:

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.

AFA

---------
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:
http://audismfreeamerica.blogspot.com/2009/04/afas-2nd-follow-up-email-to-ag-bell.html

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!!!

Sincerely,

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

NOTES:
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 audismfreeamerica@gmail.com

--------------------------------------

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


hide details 12:26 PM (5 hours ago)


Reply

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

video

Sign the petition:

http://www.petitiononline.com/AFA51309/petition.html

------------------

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: http://legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB27hst.html
Assembly Bill 16: http://legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/AB16hst.html

Sincerely,
-----------

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

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Contact Cullen for an apology for audist statement AFA sample email

video



AFA is committed to combating audism and misrepresentation of Deaf people in the media. AFA has sent a letter to Rep. Cullen (see previous posting in this site) and AFA encourages Deaf and Hearing folks to send an email, fax, or give a call to Wisc. Rep. Cullen - feel free to use the text below as you see fit.

Representative David Cullen website and contact information below:

http://www.legis.state.wi.us/W3ASP/contact/legislatorpages.aspx?house=Assembly&district=13

Room 216 North
State Capitol
P.O. Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708

Telephone
(608) 267-9836 Or
(888) 534-0013

District Telephone
(414) 774-4115

Fax
(608) 282-3613

Email
Rep.Cullen@legis.wisconsin.gov


-----------
SAMPLE LETTER:
AFA has already sent representative Cullen an letter explaining the term audism so he is familiar with the concept. If you prefer to use a different word in the sample letter below - discrimination, oppression, prejudice - etc. Please feel free to put in the word you feel best fits.

If you want to keep the word audism but want to add a short definition (the notion that to hear and speak is superior to being Deaf) please do.

Thanks for contacting Cullen.
______________

Greetings Rep. Cullen:

You have been quoted by the associated press in several media outlets on April 23, 2009 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.”


I find your remarks about Deaf people who do not have hearing aids or cochlear implants to be offensive and a form of audism.

We look forward to an apology from you and evidence that you fully understand the pros and cons of cochlear implantation and its impact on infants and children.

A voting and tax paying member of society,

AFA to Rep Cullen - Deaf Folks ARE Members of Society

video


Below is a letter that AFA wrote to Wisc. Rep. Cullen.

We have sent it to:
Rep. Cullen
media outlets which carried Cullen’s quote
National Association of the Deaf
Deaf Bilingual Coalition
Deaf Youth USA

In our next posting we will have a sample letter that you can send to Rep. Cullen and next is a petition to Governor Doyle asking him not to sign the bill into law that would mandate insurance co. to cover cochlear implants.

Senate Bill 27: http://legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB27hst.html
Assembly Bill 16: http://legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/AB16hst.html

On a side note - thank you all who have been showing your faith, support, and hope by taking a stand for justice and against audism.

Let Freedom Roll

-------------------

May 15, 2009

Representative Cullen:

You have been quoted in the media as saying that the bill to have insurance companies cover very expensive cochlear implants “is going to allow children to keep their hearing, to become members of society, to go to school and keep a job.” Associated Press, April 23, 2009 – see link below

We would like you to know that your statement is a blatant example of 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.

We would like you to know that your statement exemplifies great ignorance and is very insulting. We would like you to know that –
1. Cochlear implants do not allow children to KEEP their hearing. The children are Deaf.

2. Deaf people are members of society and pay taxes, vote, work, live, and raise families fine with or without hearing aids and cochlear implants.

3. Deaf people have been going to school in the U.S. since 1817 and are able to keep a job.

We realize that you may have never met a Deaf person who uses ASL and loves Deaf culture. We realize that you may view being Deaf as an affliction and something that needs to be fixed.

We wish that you would do your homework when advocating for legislation that directly impacts a people, culture, and language of which you know nothing about.

Cochlear implants do not restore full hearing, they are incredibly expensive especially with the current push for two because one is inadequate. Even with two the results are iffy and the risks are several. Furthermore, implants require years of intensive costly auditory verbal therapy, which bans lipreading and American Sign Language. Many individuals who have cochlear implants still utilize access services of oral or cued speech interpreters AND/or computer aided real time transcription.

While many view cochlear implants an expensive “start up” cost to prevent other auxillary aid expenses (such as interpreters and CARTS) later in life, this has not proven to be the case.

We invite you to issue a formal apology for your accidental audism and we welcome an opportunity to meet with you to discuss audism and this bill more indepth.

Let Freedom Roll,

Audism Free America

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/04/23/cochlear_implants/

Monday, May 11, 2009

Response to Wisc. Bill and Cullen's statement

Congrats and thanks to Tim Riker for writing this response and getting it published

www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/letters/print/chi-0511vplettersbriefs2may11,0,1555936.story
chicagotribune.com
Success for deaf community
May 11, 2009
This is in response to “Wisconsin could be first to require cochlear implants” (News, April 23). Sometimes the worst things in history have been done with the best intentions.

Lawmakers tend to simplify an issue and say if more children have access to cochlear implants then they would be able to close down the Wisconsin School for the Deaf. The reality is, they are ignoring some critical aspects.

Babies, whether they are hearing or deaf, can acquire language skills through American Sign Language before they can speak. The benefits of early language development from sign language is more consistently successful than relying on an invasive surgery that could cause death or other serious side effects. Sure there are success stories, but what about those children who still cannot understand speech even after years of extensive speech training?

The formula for success of any deaf child must include positive deaf role models and a positive self-identity. This means that schools must have deaf teachers and administrators who can empathize and communicate effortlessly with them. It’s understandable that parents would want their children to remain close to them and to hear and speak like them, but it is dangerous to cling to the false hope that cochlear implants or intensive speech therapy will make their children “whole” again. That puts the child at a tremendous disadvantage and puts him or her through unnecessary risk.

As a Democrat and deaf person myself, Rep. David Cullen (D-Milwaukee) does the deaf community a great disservice when he says, “This bill is going to allow children to keep their hearing, to become members of society, to go to school and keep a job.”That is an insult to me and many in the deaf community because it tells society that unless deaf people can hear and speak, they are unequal, uneducated and unemployed. That is fallacious and his comments only encourage discrimination on the basis of a person’s ability to hear and speak.

I am living proof of a successful deaf person without cochlear implants; I have a degree from Georgetown University, work at an investment bank and am certainly an equal member of society.

—Timothy Riker, Chicago

Copyright © 2009, Chicago Tribune

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Letter AFA has sent to Senator Cullen

video


Below is a letter that AFA wrote to Wisc. Rep. Cullen.

We have sent it to:
Rep. Cullen
media outlets which carried Cullen’s quote
National Association of the Deaf
Deaf Bilingual Coalition
Deaf Youth USA

In our next posting we will have a sample letter that you can send to Rep. Cullen and next is a petition to Governor Doyle asking him not to sign mandating of insurance co. covering of cochlear implants and hearing aids the bill into law.

Senate Bill 27: http://legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB27hst.html
Assembly Bill 16: http://legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/AB16hst.html

On a side note - thank you all who have been showing your faith, support, and hope by taking a stand for justice and against audism.

Let Freedom Roll

-------------------

May 15, 2009

Representative Cullen:

You have been quoted in the media as saying that the bill to have insurance companies cover very expensive cochlear implants “is going to allow children to keep their hearing, to become members of society, to go to school and keep a job.” Associated Press, April 23, 2009 – see link below

We would like you to know that your statement is a blatant example of 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.

We would like you to know that your statement exemplifies great ignorance and is very insulting. We would like you to know that –
1. Cochlear implants do not allow children to KEEP their hearing. The children are Deaf.

2. Deaf people are members of society and pay taxes, vote, work, live, and raise families fine with or without hearing aids and cochlear implants.

3. Deaf people have been going to school in the U.S. since 1817 and are able to keep a job.

We realize that you may have never met a Deaf person who uses ASL and loves Deaf culture. We realize that you may view being Deaf as an affliction and something that needs to be fixed.

We wish that you would do your homework when advocating for legislation that directly impacts a people, culture, and language of which you know nothing about.

Cochlear implants do not restore full hearing, they are incredibly expensive especially with the current push for two because one is inadequate. Even with two the results are iffy and the risks are several. Furthermore, implants require years of intensive costly auditory verbal therapy, which bans lipreading and American Sign Language. Many individuals who have cochlear implants still utilize access services of oral or cued speech interpreters AND/or computer aided real time transcription.

While many view cochlear implants an expensive “start up” cost to prevent other auxillary aid expenses (such as interpreters and CARTS) later in life, this has not proven to be the case.

We invite you to issue a formal apology for your accidental audism and we welcome an opportunity to meet with you to discuss audism and this bill more indepth.

Let Freedom Roll,

Audism Free America

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/04/23/cochlear_implants/