Friday, October 28, 2011

AFA presented at American University

Anthropology studies at American University hosted 8th Annual, Public Anthropology Conference and their theme is "(Re)Defining Power: Paradigms of Praxis."  We, AFA Reps went and gave a presentation on Saturday, October 15th, 2011 about "Hey, Listen UP & STAND Up!: AUDism & Social ACTivism"
Let Freedom Roll!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

AFA's Letter to Telstra Protesting Dimity Dornan's Audist Statements & Practices

23 October 2011

David Thodey
CEO Telstra Corporation
Locked Bag 5639
Melbourne VIC 3001

Dear Mr. Thodey,
We condemn your organization’s recent award to Dimity Dornan as Telstra’s Queensland Business Woman of the Year and write to express our expectation that your organization will withdraw this award in addition to issuing a formal apology. 

The statements made by Dimity Dornan in Sydney Morning Herald upon receipt of this award clearly demonstrate that she is not the person who would promote the Telstra Awards in a manner worthy of an organization of integrity.  It is an outrage that an individual who works with Deaf people and looks upon their life situation as akin to one suffering from polio. In fact, for many Deaf people that which causes the greatest suffering in our lives is exactly the attitude expressed by your Business woman of the Year—the practice of audism.

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, the signed languages of Deaf people, and Deaf people of all walks of life.

Other quotes by D. Dornan over the years show a consistent pattern of audism ( and (

“A functionally deaf child needs to learn about the world through vision whereas a functionally hard of hearing child learns everything about the world through hearing and fits very nicely in a hearing society and becomes a very strong contributor to that society and therefore is very economically sound.

“Hearing loss, as we know, is the most common disability in newborn babies, worldwide, and it’s often diagnosed too late for optimal treatment. And in addition to this sad fact, there are presently only enough trained, uh, listening and speaking professionals to effectively treat 8% of all the children and adults, uh, worldwide with hearing loss. The good news is, today we stand where polio was 20 years ago. Through a combination of newborn hearing screening and most important point, the, our wonderful cochlear implants and digital hearing aids and early auditory verbal intervention we now have the potential to decimate the very serious consequences of hearing loss globally.

In addition, D. Dornan’s business practices are suspect.  Many auditory-Verbal Centres promote therapies which do not allow Deaf children to sign.  Denial of a fully accessible language is the violation of a human right for Deaf children according to international bodies such as the United Nations (see Articles  21, 24, and 30 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, pages 211 and 227 of the  World Report on Disability of the World Bank/World Health Organization).  Even these organizations which mention Deaf people under the umbrella of disability, acknowledge the importance of the linguistic and cultural rights of Deaf people.

Such denial of human rights becomes a concern of Deaf people throughout the world.  Although we are an American grassroots organization committed to combating audism, we know that audism anywhere harms Deaf people everywhere.  Because of this, we must speak out.

The Business Woman of the Year Award  appears to be an honorable and a prestigious award celebrating women of exceptional achievement. Your website notes that qualified candidates must demonstrate “integrity” and possess “a balanced approach.”  Dimity Dornan’s comments as well as her business practices neither show her as a person of integrity nor one who has a “balanced approach” to dealing with the people she believes she serves.

Your award celebrates the achievement of women in a world where sexism hopefully is no longer tolerated.  We ask that you take a stand to show that you will not tolerate audism and ableism-- by withdrawing D. Dornan’s Award and issuing an apology for the audist comments made by your award winner. 

Let Freedom Roll!

Audism Free America

Karen James
Commonwealth Bank

Mark Steyn
Hudson Australia/New Zealand

Michelle Sherwood/Danielle Horan
Executive General Manager Strategic Marketing
Sensis Pty Ltd/White Pages

Chris Carr
Managing Director
Nokia Australia and New Zealand

Jackie Frank
Publisher/ Editor
marie claire--Australia

Monday, October 17, 2011

People of the Eyes are watching you!

AFA reps visited AG Bell-
Ruthie: Hello - Do you know what's up and where we are now? AG Bell property. We are going to take a stroll up the steps and leave our calling card (holds up AFA's Father of Audism AGBell card) as a message that "The People of the Eye are watching you." So come on up with us.

Look there is a bell here (rings the bell). That is OURS that we left them last time - a bell for AG Bell.

Let Freedom Roll. We are going to keep on keepin' on in coming here until the barricade barrier crumbles down...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

International Documents Asserting Rights of Deaf Children

International documents 
asserting the linguistic, cultural, 
educational, and human rights 
of Deaf children

Below are documentations from the United Nations (UN), World Health Organization/World Bank (WHO), World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED) which declare that Deaf children have the right to a natural signed language in early educational programs.

Article 21 - Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas on an equal basis with others and through all forms of communication of their choice, as defined in article 2 of the present Convention, including by:
e. Recognizing and promoting the use of sign languages
Article 24 - Education
3. States Parties shall enable persons with disabilities to learn life and social development skills to facilitate their full and equal participation in education and as members of the community. To this end, States Parties shall take appropriate measures, including:
b. Facilitating the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf community;
Article 30 - Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport

4. Persons with disabilities shall be entitled, on an equal basis with others, to recognition and support of their specific cultural and linguistic identity, including sign languages and deaf culture.

World Health Organization (WHO) and World Bank - WORLD REPORT ON DISABILITY
Deaf students and those with intellectual impairments argue that mainstreaming is not always a positive experience (41, 42). Supporters of special schools – such as schools for the blind, deaf, or deafblind – particularly in low-income countries, often point to the fact that these institutions provide high-quality and specialized learning environments. The World Federation of the Deaf argues that often the best environment for academic and social development for a Deaf child is a school where both students and teachers use sign language for all communication. The thinking is that simple placement in a regular school, without meaningful interaction with classmates and professionals, would exclude the Deaf learner from education and society. [p. 211]
"Promote Deaf children’s right to education by recognizing linguistic rights. Deaf children should have early exposure to sign language and be educated as multilinguals in reading and writing. Train teachers in sign language and provide accessible educational material." [p. 227].
Enabling Environments section:
Feliza: “Until I was 19 years old, I had no opportunities to learn sign language, nor had Deaf friends. After I entered a university, I learned sign language(s) and played an active role as a board member of Deaf clubs. Since I completed graduate school, I worked as a bio-scientist in a national institute. I mainly communicate with my colleagues by hand-writing, while I use public sign language-interpreting service for some lectures and meetings. My Deaf partner and I have two Deaf personal history gives me the distinct opinion that the sign language and Deaf culture are absolutely imperative for Deaf children to rise to the challenge.” [p. 168]

[see also]
WFD embraces these following human rights and educational principles:
· Like all people, Deaf people have the right to full access to quality
· Deaf people are primarily visual beings, whose eyes are their portal to the
world of information and knowledge. Thus, sign language and
visual strategies must be made available to Deaf people as a birthright. (Deafblind people may predominantly depend on their tactile sense and have the right to learn sign language, Braille and mobility skills.)
Under “Current Situation” section
Moreover, even in industrialised countries, the majority of current Deaf education programmes do not respect the linguistic human rights of Deaf children. Indeed, most Deaf education programmes fall into the language deprivation category described in theoretical models of education of linguistic minorities. “Language deprivation” for Deaf people means ignoring the use of sign language as a basic communication means, as a language of instruction and as a school subject. Following this, the linguistic human rights of Deaf children are grossly violated in educational programmes all over the world.
Under “Current Research” section
Deaf students learn best through visual modalities and depend on sign language.
- Sign language is a valid linguistic means of conveying thoughts, ideas and emotions. Hearing babies whose parents use sign language have a head start in communicating with their parents. Increasing numbers of hearing people study and utilise sign language annually.
- Deaf children who are in school are often in programmes that do not meet their needs, educationally, socially or emotionally. These include oral programmes that exclude the Deaf learner’s right to visual access to education, professionals fluent in the sign language used by the Deaf community, and supportive, enriching and appropriate environments. Such programmes fail to meet the Deaf child’s needs and goals, and are detrimental to the Deaf child’s educational development, self-esteem and overall well-being.
Under “Linguistic Human Rights” section
- The UN supports the rights of students from minority cultures, specifically the right to education in their mother tongue. This includes the right of Deaf children to the sign language of their country. Previously mentioned new Convention emphasizes that without respecting linguistic rights of the deaf students, their human right can not be fulfilled [see]
- WFD supports the right of Deaf children to acquire full mastery of their sign language as their ‘mother tongue’, as well as to learn the language(s) used by their family and community [see]
- Deaf children must also have access to adult role models fluent in sign language.
Under “Inclusive Education” section
WFD holds that the least restrictive environment for a Deaf learner is whatever is the most enabling environment for that learner. Full inclusion for a Deaf learner means a totally supportive, signing and student-centred environment. This permits the learner to develop to his/her full educational, social and emotional potential. This is stated also in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Under “Statement of Rights and Recommendations” section
To ensure that the educational rights of Deaf learners are fulfilled, WFD therefore:
• Reaffirms its position that all Deaf people, including Deaf children, have the right to full access to quality education through visual modes, including indigenous sign languages. This position is supported by several international conventions of the UN.
• Supports early identification of Deaf infants and youth, followed promptly with sign language environments and educational intervention strategies and programmes, in partnerships between families, Deaf adults and professionals.
• Calls upon governments to ensure full and equal access to and educational success for Deaf learners based on regular education goals, standards and curricula.
• States, furthermore, that such curricula should provide the opportunity for students to learn in and study both their local/national sign language and the local (written) language as academic subjects.
WFD calls upon national and regional/provincial governments to:
• To sign and ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and modify their education legislation to follow this Convention.
• Put into practice policies or guidelines regarding early identification of and intervention for Deaf children that maximise their visual capabilities and sign language.
• Legalise sign language and quality education for Deaf people of all ages.
• Provide the resources necessary for the development of effective programmes for teaching sign language and Deaf Studies (history, culture, etc.) to involved people, such as:
o Families of Deaf children
o Teachers of Deaf children, administrators and other professionals
o Professionals, including doctors and therapists, for preschool Deaf children
o Interested parties such as but not limited to community service providers, interpreters, and other students
• Provide support for programmes for Deaf people to receive training and become employed as teachers, educational professionals and members of educational teams.
• Establish high standards for quality education programmes and outcomes, from early childhood to professional education, for all Deaf people equal to that for all people; implement assessment and monitoring programmes to ensure that each learner makes appropriate progress.
• Ensure that Deaf learners who may be placed in mainstream educational settings have access to the services of educated, trained and qualified sign language interpreters, other needed support services, Deaf peers and role models, and full participation in both the educative and co-curricular processes.

From Statement of Principles:
Reject all resolutions passed at the ICED Milan Congress in 1880 that denied the inclusion of sign language from educational programs for Deaf students
From Accord for the Future:
Call upon all the Nations to involve their Deaf citizens to assist parents of Deaf infants, children and youth in their support services for both Deaf and hearing family members
Call upon all Nations to refer all identified Deaf infants to regional and national organizations of the Deaf, schools and programs for the Deaf for support with early intervention