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.