Tuesday, February 23, 2010

AFA: Clarke on Recent Name Change

Greetings our community & allies,

This is very important alert about AUDISM happening on Feburary 22, 2010 from president; Bill Corwin at Clarke School for the Deaf / Oral Education in Northampton, Mass. The president response to Clarke alumni and friends about Clarke on recent name change.

Here's a letter he response:

February 22, 2010

Dear Clarke Alumni and Friends,

As many of you may know, Clarke recently changed its name from Clarke School for
the Deaf / Center for Oral Education to Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech.
I appreciate the passion and deep feelings so many of you have for Clarke and I
am writing to address concerns that have been raised by some of you about the
name change, and to share with you some of the reasoning behind the change.

To begin with, I want to state in the strongest possible terms that Clarke is
not seeking to deny anyone's deafness. As the proud parent of two deaf children,
I believe that it is very important for my daughters and all deaf children to
take pride in their identity. I also have the utmost respect for each and every
alumnus of Clarke, regardless of the philosophy of deaf education they each
embrace, and regardless of which communication mode(s) each person chooses for

At the same time, there have been tremendous changes in deaf education in recent
years, and the change in our name reflects this. The children who participate in
the programs at Clarke's five campuses are benefiting from advances in
technology that allow them to use either hearing aids or cochlear implants to
develop listening and spoken language skills. The development of those skills is
at the heart of our mission, and the new name reflects that mission.

We are a very different organization than we were just a decade or so ago. We
are now five campuses, and the majority of the children we serve are under seven
years old and located outside of Northampton. Their families are interested in
Clarke because they want their children to learn to listen and speak, using the
best technology and teaching methods available. In the extensive research we did
about our name and our identity over a two-year period, the message of listening
and speaking was one that was embraced very strongly by a wide range of people,
including alumni and alumni parents.

We debated at great length the removal of the word "Deaf" from the Clarke name.
Among the reasons for doing so was the fact that schools with the words "School
for the Deaf" in their names are increasingly associated with programs that
emphasize signing. Based on the former name of Clarke School for the Deaf,
many people have wrongly assumed that our approach emphasizes signing.

To best attract families of deaf and hard of hearing children who have the
ability to learn to listen and speak, we needed to convey Clarke’s area of
emphasis including the work we do and the approach we use. The primary focus of
the name change was to appeal to the needs of potential and current Clarke
children and their families, now and into the future.

Research we conducted showed that Clarke has been perceived by some as being a
bit behind the times, perhaps because we were viewed as being slower than others
to embrace the idea that cochlear implants would revolutionize deaf education.
Our old name did not help to counter that perception, but we believe that the
new name does.

During our research we noted that several other schools serving deaf and hard of
hearing children have also adopted names with a similar theme. AG Bell has also
recently adopted a major accreditation program focused on Listening and Spoken

We are deeply sorry to anyone who has been offended by the recent name change at
Clarke. It was the furthest thing from our intention. I understand that some
alumni feel that they were not sufficiently included in the process, and I would
like to address that here.

We do have alumni representation on the Clarke Board of Trustees, and as I
mentioned, alumni and alumni parents and many other stakeholders participated in
the research that ultimately led to the name change. However, at the end of that
process, we were wrong in not apprising Clarke’s Alumni Council of the name
change. The Council should have been notified, and they should not be held
responsible in any way for this misstep in the process. I very much regret this
mistake on our part, and plan to work with the Council at their meeting in March
so that we can learn from this experience and move forward together.

One of the recent alumni comments on the CSAC site stated that it seems that
Clarke is no longer the school that most alums grew up in. Similarly, at
Homecoming last fall, during a question and answer session, one of the alumni
asked if I thought that Clarke was going to survive. I responded with a strong
yes, but said that we are likely to look very different from the Clarke that
many alumni have known.

These are times of great change and promise for Clarke and for oral deaf
education in general. They are also times of great economic challenge for
nonprofits everywhere. Clarke must broaden its appeal so that we can serve more
families and strengthen ourselves programmatically and financially. Clarke is
not one campus with four satellite locations; we are an organization with five
equally important campus locations. Northampton is the only campus with school
programs for children beyond a first/second grade level.

We believe that our evolving programs best meet the changing needs of families
who want their children to learn to listen and speak using the latest
technology. In addition to our greater focus on younger children, we are also
now directly serving more children in mainstream settings than ever before.

In closing, I know that many of you think of Clarke as a family. I do as well.
Before joining the Clarke staff, it was clear to me that my daughters'
experiences at Clarke made us part of a very special and unique community. That
community is something that my children, wife and I cherish about Clarke, and
want to help preserve. Each one of you is part of this special community, and
your dedication to and support of Clarke are very important to me and to the

Again, I am heartened by the fact that many of you feel passionately about
Clarke, and I truly appreciate your comments. I hope that we can continue to
dialogue about this and other issues affecting Clarke as the organization moves

Bill Corwin
Clarke Schools

His letter is not acceptable and disinformation about our Deaf people. It is AUDISM!

Please share with others.
Update and VLOG coming soon!!

Let Freedom Roll!!