Sunday, September 19, 2010

AFA endorses Deaf & Native community

AFA is concerned and would like to share sad news from Seattle, Washington. A Deaf Native American, John T Williams (see photo)recently passed away. This is what happened: A cop saw him carrying a knife and yelled at John to drop the knife three times. Then, the cop shot him 4 times in the chest. John died instantly from the shooting on the street. We, AFA truly grieve for his brothers, family members, friends, Deaf Native Community members, and our Deaf community. We have also signed the petition protesting this incident and endorsing their call for a rally asking the Seattle Mayor and city officials to investigate this truly horrific tragedy.


This deadly incident never should have happened to John T Williams.The cop could have used other means to confront him such as using a taser, sign language or gestures--but instead they responded making a flawed assumption, shooting a Deaf man 4 times. Imagine: John T. Williams was only about 10 feet away and yet he was shot 4 times. That was a deadly decision that was truly sad. We encourage Deaf community members and all others to sign the petition to support calling for an investigation of that incident. There are a number of good reasons for us to take action to sign this petition. For many years, we, Deaf people have been seen, experienced, and been aware of events such as this one. We know that there have been many incidences and issues of concern with police officers. Sometimes, the police are involved with misunderstandings, some have demonstrated jumping to conclusions, some have made serious errors in decision making, and approached Deaf people in dangerous ways. As a result, Deaf people are at risk for being shot--leading to injuries or death; Deaf people have told stories of being pulled over and needing to deal with miscommunication with the police; police have responded with violent actions when Deaf people have simply been trying to use sign language to communicate; in addition to many other situations where Deaf people's safety is at risk. Its been reported that innocent Deaf people have been killed, injured or arrested by the police. There are also some issues related to AUDISM and police officers demonstrating this attitude. It has occurred repeatedly in our life time and it will even today in the year 2010, it is still happening...

(Sigh)We (Deaf community members) are very concerned and recommend to tap all of you to wake up, to roll up your sleeves along with us to take action challenging the legal system such as the police to educate them about Deaf people, encourage them to learn sign language and Deaf culture, and learn how to deal with us appropriately. Learning some sign language, the officers could communicate with Deaf people when they are pulled over such as asking for driver's licenses, telling them to slow down, warning them not to use a knife or gun, or anything related to safety and other issues. We also encourage you to contact the mayor of your town to check on how the police are trained to handle Deaf people and other relevant issues. The mayor could change and improve the criminal justice system for our Deaf community including Deaf people with Low vision/Blind and Deaf people of color, and other minority groups.
Because we value the diversity in our Deaf community, we need to work to ensure our safety. Some Deaf people STILL feel paranoid and scared around police officers because they know that police officers could easily decide to take action against an innocent citizen that could result in shooting death or injury. The police do have a job to do and in that job they have the POWER to decide to violate the rights of people which can lead to the loss of life. AFA values you all and encourages you all to take action to cause a ripple effect in the community so that incidents such as what happened to John T. Williams will not happen again in our life times. This must STOP. Deaf people have died in incidents such as this... We value the Deaf community, all of you...

Audism Free America

Monday, September 13, 2010

AFA: End of Milan (130 anniv) and the New Era Beginning


AFA would like to tell you about a historical event in Deaf history, commonly known as Milan 1880. This was a historical event in Deaf education that removed sign language from the classroom. This event took place from September 6-11 in 1880 – 130 years ago today.

In Milan, Italy there was a convention in which many Hearing educators and 1 Deaf person convened. They discussed and debated and then voted. The vote was in favor of removing and banning natural signed languages in favor of oral / aural methods – Oralism ONLY. This declaration had a profound and far-reaching impact on Deaf children’s education and upbringing. The lights went out on their education in natural signed languages. Their hands were silenced – speech and listening ruled the day.

Families struggled with communication – there was a disconnect and a chasm of understanding even amongst peers. Looking in ward, there was a loss of identity and an absence of feeling centered. One was always off kilter. This has been our enduring experience for the past 130 years. We have lived this through and through for the past 130 years.

FINALLY this past summer at the ICED (International Congress on the Education of the Deaf) people convened and discussed the matter concluding that Milan 1880 was WRONG – the removal and banning of natural signed languages from Deaf education was truly wrong so they issued a proclamation to the world of their sincere regret for that unjust past declaration in favor of Oralism and official removed those past erroneous resolutions. They also declared that hence forth natural signed languages should be included in Deaf education across the globe. When a Deaf child is born they have a natural right to be exposed to a natural signed language in educational, social, family settings and this can take place between Deaf and Hearing people ensuring global citizenship. This will positive influence their lives – their education will soar, their socialization with soar, their center will be found and rooted to be whole and complete as an inalienable right hence forth.

Text quote:

We learn ASL

We learn through ASL

We learn about ASL

“Forbidding Deaf children to learn/acquire sign language is a crime against humanity”

- Lawrence R Fleischer

Now with this new accord for the future in which natural signed language is recognized, we need you Deaf people and members of our community to send out our energy and pull up our sleeves so that our central core is strengthened and grows. We bring it forth to share with Deaf children –via going to schools, Deaf clubs, Deaf social events – meeting Deaf and Hearing parents so they know that natural signed language is truly a language and a beautiful one at that. We need to get this message out and a ripple effect to take place.

We need you, YOU, to do your part. To core being – I am Deaf and I am Human and I am ASL. This will be spread outward and impact a positive CHANGE. We can then come together as a collective community – our international comm-unity – this is a new beginning.

Really I kiss-fist this Deaf artwork behind me here (indicates the artwork behind her). It relates to what we are discussing here – natural signed languages are really a remarkable gift to Hearing and Deaf people – Hearing babies, Deaf babies… All of us.

Why? Envision the world is round and a Deaf and Hearing person go onto an airplane – it takes off and soars – and sky dive. The Deaf person signs, “Wow, whoa – this is so beautiful. Check out the landscape below us – see the sun glistening on the lake and the eagle flying above…” Meanwhile the Hearing person can only gesture “two thumbs up” as the wind and air goes rushing past their face as the plummet downward with a few other basic gestures “clap, clap, disco dance.” They both land on the earth and approach a person at a window. The Deaf skydiver explains about her/his experiences through the window but the Hearing skydiver cannot shout loud enough for the person behind the glass to get the information. They move on to go scuba diving, jumping into the ocean going down under the waves with oxygen tanks and the Deaf person signs, “wow, look at that beautiful puffer fish going by, and that creature, and that and watch out a shark.” S/he looks back and indicates to the Hearing partner – “look out a shark’s coming.” The Hearing person just gives a “thumbs up” and takes out the oxygen tubing to try to speak but then has to put it back and returns to the surface.

Look at that – signing is handy and dandy. Three different spheres make up the whole. Signing can be used on three layers of our one earth (underwater, on the surface, and in the air). Signing is phenomenal, champ – it can be part of your educational experience, your work experience, your whole life. Wow, it is so inspiring – take it out and take a good gander at it – its beautiful and precious.

Hence forth we encourage you to roll up your sleeves and when audism come a calling – just blow it away. When lingucism rears its ugly head – don’t suppress your feelings, let it all out. Speak the truth and take a stand. Show the world how to be audism free. Show what being DEAF truly means to you. Thank you very much. Let Freedom Roll.