Saturday, March 30, 2013

AFA's letter to Senator Richter demanding apology


Letter Audism Free America sent to Florida Senator Richter and CCed Chairman Arron Bean demanding an apology for offensive, false, and unjust remarks he shared during the open Health Policy Committee meeting.  The letter was also sent to the Democrat minority leader, Senator Sach, and the Tallahassee newspaper.

March 30, 2013

Dear Senator Richter

The remarks you read and made in your closing statement to the Health Policy Committee on May March 20, 2013 in favor of SB 1240 are offensive, highly prejudicial and unjust.  [See below]  We call upon you to issue a public apology.  You clearly judge people based on their ability to hear and speak and not on the content of their character.  Your reading of an unjust and inaccurate email and your added commentary portraying Deaf people who do not speak as limited, helpless, isolated and impotent is wrong and has no place on the Senate floor or records.  This blatant mischaracterization of Deaf ASL people is not acceptable, especially by an elected official.

Deaf ASL people are not LIMITED, sir.  In fact it is you who exhibits a significant limitation in your thinking and awareness.  Deaf ASL people are multilingual and multicultural - they can and do save people from drowning, tell their parents "I love you," ask for directions and GIVE directions, and not only order and deliver pizza but they actually own restaurants and MAKE dough.

So if you are truly worried about the ability for Deaf people to function in a Hearing world - you will work to remove bias, ignorance, and prejudice such as the type you just submitted for legislative consideration.

Speech and audition are already a part of services offered to Deaf infants and children.  Oral / Aural programs deny Deaf children the right to a fully natural and accessible language.  Systematic Oralism has been condemned by the International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED) 2010 New Era agreement and accord for the future as well as the UN Convention on the Rights of Person's with Disabilities, the World Federation of the Deaf Education Rights for Deaf Children, the World Report on Disability by the World Bank & the World Health Organization, the Babbidge congressional report, the Commission on the Education of the Deaf (COED) congressional report and a recent GAO report on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children.

We request that you issue a public apology for your disrespectful, unjust, and inaccurate statements immediately.  We also invite you to read and endorse this letter at the next Senate hearing on this subject.

Let Freedom Roll,

Ruthie Jordan, Patti Durr, and Karen Christie on behalf of Audism Free America
cc: Arron Bean, Chairman

Senator Richter’s closing statement to the Health Policy Committee on May 20, 2013:

“Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. You notice
when people waived and support, they said, ‘We need this information.’

Members, that’s purely what this bill does. It gets information to them. It doesn’t
direct, it doesn’t force, it puts the information in the parent’s hands.

And, relative, I think there is a challenge in front of the bill, with the funding.
And, I’m open, will be very open to understanding that because I want to see that
these parents get it.

Today, the parents have to “opt in” to get that information, otherwise they don’t get

And in my quick close, I’m just going to read an email that came in, its brief and it got my attention. 

Richter reading from email:
‘Parents always tell me that they wanted their child to hear or say, I love you,
benefit from the wisdom and love of grandparents, ask for directions if lost or in
need of a restroom, order a pizza and be able to simply shout out for help when
needed. Imagine how hard it would be to find someone who understood sign
language when you were frantic because a sibling is drowning. When someone can
only communicate with less than 1 in 5000 people.’

Richter adding commentary “like those that are talented, like these wonderful people here. They’re fluent in sign.”

Richter returns to reading the email ‘The world becomes a much smaller place.  It’s understandably hard to find a job, so you might end up lonely and marginalized.
Bucking a trend,

Richter’s commentary “as Senator Joiner pointed out,”

Richter returns to reading the email ‘is difficult under any circumstance,
and in this instance, it is terribly hard.

If a deaf person never had a choice, his or her best chance for happiness might
be…restricted to the signing deaf culture. But a choice is possible today, and over
time, it will be less expensive.’

Richter’s commentary “And I ask for your support of this bill that we’ll keep
moving through and working on.”