31 May 2011
Audism Free America, a grassroots Deaf Activist organization in the United States, hereby beseeches the Italian government to not be mislead by the sensational and outrageous claims by the FIADDA (Italian Families Association for the Defense of the Rights of Deafness) and to stand by its original decree to formally recognize Italian Sign Language (LIS).
Audism Free America (AFA) advocates for Deaf American rights, cultural resurgence, 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.
Oralism (the belief that teaching children to speak is superior to signing and that natural signed languages should be banned from the life of a child), paternalism, and audism do not contribute to independent and healthy Deaf individuals. In fact many scholars have noted that the denial of a full natural and accessible signed LANGUAGE for Deaf children is a form of cultural and linguistic genocide as well as a crime against humanity.
While AFA is based in the United States, we care deeply about our Deaf brothers and sisters across the globe. We have been watching the news about efforts in Italy to degrade Italian Sign Language (LIS) to LMG (communications in mime and gestures) and we see that the FIADDA has issued a press release filled with errors and misinformation. The decree to formally recognize, respect and value LIS by the Italian government is a just, right and fair decree. LMG undermines all languages and is unjust, wrong, and harmful to Deaf people in Italy, as well as across the globe. If the Italian government is to support or validate LMG then your own spoken language should be changed to be called - a Linguaggio of grunts and utterances. Cool? NO.
The International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED) 2010 issued an Accord for the Future that calls upon all the Nations of the World to:
- be in compliance with the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities and the World Federation of the Deaf, which acknowledges the rights and importance of signed languages in Deaf children's education
- include the sign languages of their Deaf citizens as legitimate languages of these nations and treat them as equal to those of the hearing majority,
- facilitate, enhance and embrace their Deaf citizens' participation in governmental decision-making process affecting all aspects of their lives and much more.
If the Italian government chooses to support LMG instead of to valorize LIS, your decision should carry with it the consequence that all government business from now on be conducted in LMG only.
Let Freedom Roll,
Audism Free America