Tuesday, April 20, 2010

AFA Opposes the bill California AB 2072


April 16, 2010

Dear Members of the Assembly Health Committee:

Audism Free America (AFA) is a grassroots Deaf activist group which advocates for our human rights, cultural rights, and seeks primarily to challenge the ideological foundations of audism in America. Audism is attitudes and practices based on the assumption that behaving in the ways of those who speak and hear is desired and best. It produces a system of privilege, thus resulting in stigma, bias, discrimination, and prejudice—in overt or covert ways—against Deaf culture, American Sign Language, and
Deaf people of all walks of life.

AB 2072 violates the human and linguistic rights of Deaf citizens. We, the Deaf community, urge you to reconsider support of this bill. Our human rights at its core, value the promotion and protection of our culture and the right to a fully accessible and natural language. We, Deaf people, should be guaranteed the inalienable right to a language we can acquire naturally and equally - this being American Sign Language (ASL) in the US. It is the 3rd most popular language in the US and we assert that all infants who are Deaf and Hearing are entitled to this language.

However, the AB 2072 bill promotes disinformation which will be shared with parents, educators, and specialists under the guise of "communication options." These communication options are provided by medical professionals and specialists often operating under audist principles. The specialists are audiologists, Audio/Verbal Therapists, Doctors, Cochlear Implant surgeons, Speech therapists, and Hearing professors/researchers and all promote methods, technology, and services that approach the Deaf child as broken and unfit. Many of them actively EXCLUDE American Sign Language as part of the “options” of services they offer. In addition, entrusting "specialists" who have vested monitory interest in pushing for the use of invasive technology to be the agents that instruct the parents on their options is reckless and biased.

All communication programs for Deaf and hard of hearing children should be required to provide BOTH ASL and English. We, Deaf people are automatically "People of the Eye" and our acquisition of language, information and equality comes via having a fully natural and accessible language. ASL has proven to be successful for communication and
language development of BOTH Hearing and Deaf babies. AB 2072 bill is not written in a way that shows mutual respect for ASL—it is written with respect for the multitude of other “communication options” which are all English-based and often actively prohibit the use of ASL. As the bill is currently written, it clearly promotes Audism and Linguicism
(the belief that one language is superior to another - in the bill's case
English over ASL).

If this bill is to pass then you will be sanctioning crimes against humanity by endorsing and institutionalizing severe language deprivation via the Oral / Aural only AVT "options" that actively exclude lipreading, gestures and sign language (see AVT guideline #3 via the AG Bell Academy which certifies "specialists" in this exclusionary practice.) We, AFA, urge you to respect our human rights and understand that the bill is an example of AUDISM. We urge you to decline the bill to prevent the genocide of our culture and language.

Let Freedom Roll,