Monday, January 23, 2012

AFA's Letter to Indiana Legislators Opposing HB 1367

23 January 2012

Indiana State Legislators
200 West Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2731

Dear Legislator,

This letter serves to express Audism Free America’s staunch opposition to Indiana House Bill #1367.  House Bill #1367 is dressed-up as a bill which will ensure Deaf and Hard of Hearing children achievement of “optimal communication and academic abilities” after being placed in the hands of “an appropriate agency” (determined by the Office of Management and Budget) at a cost which is undeterminable.  It fails to explain how the Outreach Services at the Indiana School for the Deaf (staffed by professionals in the field) will be improved upon by these vague actions.  It is completely incomprehensible except when considering the big picture.

In May 2011, Governor Mitch Daniels appointed to the Board of Directors at the Indiana School for the Deaf individuals who had vested interest in the HEAR INDIANA organization. HEAR INDIANA is one of the biggest supporters of House Bill # 1367.  This organization, which professes to be all about “options, choices and unbiased information” is a chapter of the AG Bell Association.  The AG Bell Association promotes the Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) method which specifically excludes American Sign Language as well as other “visual language systems.” These organizations are behind the recent legislative actions in the states of Delaware and Utah as well as Indiana.  Their unwritten agenda is clear---to influence states to close traditional schools for Deaf children in the United States and increase the number of so-called Option schools (which are exclusively oral/aural).  While these programs proclaim they are new and dealing with recent technological advancements that impact education, this oral/aural only methodology is actually antiquated, as well as exclusionary and oppressive.  These programs deny Deaf children access to a natural signed language which has been documented via decades of research to be acquired with the same ease and manner as individuals acquiring spoken language.

It is clear that the recent House Bill 1367 is part of an overt and systematic effort to ensure the education of Deaf children in your state is moving toward forced assimilation promoted by oral-aural only approaches such as LSL/Option Schools.  Such an effort results in denying Deaf and Hard of Hearing children a fully accessible, natural language, cultural identity and education of the whole child for a world in which the languages and cultures of both Deaf and Hearing people are respected.

As a national grassroots network, Audism Free America is  committed to combating 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, American Sign Language, and Deaf people of all walks of life.   For bilingual/bicultural Deaf Americans, clearly, House Bill #1367 is threatening their way of life and that of future generations.

We strongly urge you to do the just and right thing by voting against the House Bill #1367 and encouraging your fellow legislators to do so as well.

Let Freedom Roll!
Patti Durr, Karen Christie and Ruthie Jordan 
on behalf of AFA