Wednesday, April 29, 2009

AFA: People Testimonies

Ruthie Jordan:


Wow.. the support of AFA Raly April 3, 2009 was so inspiring. We want to thank all of the people who came to AGBell's main office at the Volta Bureau in Washing ton DC to participate in the rally.

Thank you for coming to show your big heart and how much you care for this AFA’s cause to change the future when it comes to Audism.

We want to thank you. It means a lot. You made the cause visible – people from all over saw how much you care and want to end audism. Many of you spent your hard earned dollars investing in AFA by flying or driving to the rally. Many folks came from all over, staying the whole day and evening on Friday. Those who could not attend still participated by making and wearing blue ribbons sharing them at schools and in the workplace. Some communities hosted events like Blue Ribbon Ceremonies in solidarity with AFA. California and other local areas around the nation hosted events. Again we want to thank you for rolling up your sleeves and being involved.

This shows we can build this movement and work together. Just as the Blue Ribbon is a source of inspiration, we are inspired by your peaceful activism. This exchange brings about mutual support and collectivism, which is wonderful to see. For those of you who were not sure about AFA and decided to come see for yourself by coming and meeting AFA, we thank you! Some people talked about coming but unfortunately didn’t make it. Hopefully, next time, they can make it when we come together for our next event.

Some people have been approaching us and emailing us to share their experiences with issues AFA is combating under the different spheres of audism We collected some videos during the rally of people sharing their experiences of audism related to Deaf babies rights to language, employment, families, and the oppression of Deaf people.

Again, as a whole – AFA is very inspired by your activism and would like to thank you for all your support and belief in moving forward and plowing a new path to change our future.

Let Freedom Roll.

Paddy Ladd:

Hello I am thrilled to see AFA building this momentum – the meeting, protest, proceeding forward, and supporting each other. I hope you continue to move forward with this cause. I am proud of you.

Shannon and Starr:

Shannon: Recently a Deaf teacher in a mainstreamed school in our area was to be fired due to budget cuts. A little boy named Jasper, his grandmother and parents brought this to our attention. They cherished this Deaf teacher who used a fully accessible language with the boy. For her to be gotten rid of just like that!

Star: Let me explain more….the school had four teachers of the Deaf, three were oral and the other one was Deaf and used ASL. Well guess who they decided to cut?...yes, the signing teacher. We said NO – the Deaf child must have options in education. To only provide an oral ONLY education – that is not an option.

Several of us from our organization went to the school board meeting. The school board of course discussed the economy and the reasons for the cuts. They said they wanted to preserve the most qualified teachers. We found this interesting because of the four teachers of the Deaf, the one they fired had TWO teachers licenses. They contradicted themselves and we called them on it. That is discrimination! We had the opportunity to speak and tell our concerns. We know that the board is ignorant about the needs and rights of Deaf children so e had to educate them.

Shannon shared her experiences going through school with an interpreter and teachers who only talked.

Shannon: Yes, we needed to expose them to this. Yes, then it was my turn and I explained my experiences. My struggles. Nothing changes – it’s the same as when I was in school.

Star: After our presentation the board was speechless. Recently, they just voted – on Wednesday?

Shannon: Just recently

Star: Wednesday – they VOTED TO REINSTATE the teacher who signs

Shannon: big hand wave!

Star: – A signing teacher for Deaf children who demand a visual language – it’s a must-have as well as having a Deaf role model. It’s a “must-have.”

Shannon: This happened because we decided to roll up our sleeves and stand up and speak out. We did this through respectful dialogue and educating the board on issues they are unfamiliar with. It’s important.

Star: The point is if we stay silent….nothing happens,

Shannon: FINISHED!

Star: but we stand up and speak out, we can make a difference.


Star: Advocate for Deaf children. If you speak out we can make a difference. Will you get in trouble? No, instead people thank you for taking a stand and it hits the media.

Shannon: V O I C E. Empowerment (2x)
Star: we have the support of the community for that. You can use your voice and speak out. There is nothing wrong with that.

Sallie Mae:

I am Sallie Mae Pauley from VA. I’ve been to Gallaudet. I’ve been through racism. I grew up in Black schools and white schools and experienced mainstreaming. Later I went to Gallaudet 1975 left and came back in 2005.

Today I just went to the Audism Free AFA rally. I had a revelation. It really hit me hard being at this rally. I support this protest and this cause YES. At the same time my concern is why are people of color not more visible? Yes there were some diversity there but not in leadership roles.

It reminded me of my experiences within Black Deaf schools and White Deaf schools. I feel a calling to be a leader. The same today – I felt a calling to be a leader promoting diversity. I am so happy I went for it and am so inspired now.

AG Bell Association’s oppression of Deaf folks made me look back at how White folks have been oppressing Blacks. We encounter the same issue of oppression. Even though for Blacks we see some improvements for the better recently. Oppression by AG Bell parallels the Black experience.

It’s my hope that when folks see me representing them, they can say
“if she CAN, then I CAN do the same.” We have this bond and innate understanding. Rather than having all the leaders be White and thus making us feel like we can’t join or are not welcome. Doesn’t matter if it is just a few people of color at the start. Just by having one Black person there, it can mean a great deal to the Deaf community.

I hope one day you will see that we mean business and work to STOP THE CYCLE period!

When I first saw the plan was to have five White people go up the stairs – when I saw them discussing this with the police – I thought to myself “No way. Not one Black person. In the vlogs, no Black people will be shown. Then people will think, why should I help and contribute?” So I decided to be assertive and step forward.

I asked where is the Black representation or people of diverse races? Their response was “oh, we did not think of this.” Ella said, “Do it!” Swap with someone (right now I can’t remember who I traded with). So I joined and I felt PROUD and GOOD. I felt… I can’t explain it – NO WORDS can describe this! It was more of a feeling of empowerment – Deaf power. United, going up the stairs together, wow!
History P R E V A I L S. History has prevailed!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

AFA: Hearing Mother of Deaf child speaks out!

Beth speaks out at International Day of Deaf people and Sign Language in
Norfolk, VA. September 29, 2007
(Voice of Beth's speech)

Hello my name is Beth and I am the proud hearing Mom to Lily age 2 years, 7 months and Deaf. I was living in Ocean City, Maryland at the time that Lily was diagnosed as having moderate to severe hearing loss. I am thankful Lily was diagnosed in MD because the first Audiologist she encountered encouraged me to learn sign. He told me that was the most important thing I could do for my child is to give her a visual language. He told me no matter what technology is here today that Deaf children need ASL as a first language. I am so thankful he was referred to me first. The Maryland School for the Deaf would drive 2 ½ hours each week to do home visits. My life would be different today if I was exposed to Audio Verbal Therapy and oral training. Although that is not the case in Hampton Roads!

I moved to Suffolk for family support in May of 2006 and hoping I could find more resources for my daughter. I have been climbing an uphill battle since I have moved here. Lily is being raised with ASL as her first language and English as a second language. I also want Lily to know about Deaf Culture and history. I want my daughter to be proud of what other Deaf have done so that her life is better today than their’s was. I want her to know that being Deaf is a part of who she is and she can be proud to be Deaf. I also want her to know that she comes from a hearing family that is loving and ready to make a commitment to her by learning American Sign Language. We hearing folk aren’t so bad but give us a chance We hearing parents, are too, learning.

I am reaching out to all Deaf in Hampton Roads because we need a change. My support has been given to me through the Deaf community. Most of my networking resources have been passed to me through Deaf individuals. Please keep it up but we have a lot of work to do!

Little has been given to me through early intervention programs,,, this just proves how dire our need is!

In a perfect world when you are told your child is Deaf you would get to meet Deaf adults to understand their perspective. Parents are pushed by the doctors but yet many hearing parents with a Deaf child have never met a Deaf adult. That is very sad and we need to change that current situation. I knew very little until I met a Deaf adult.I was very blessed to have my daughter diagnosed in MD Because of this knowledge of what a hearing parent needs to know…. I needed to know that that most important thing you can give a child… any child…is the gift of language…a language both she and I understand… a visual language and that is American Sign Language…

But you must understand what hearing parents go through….

Hearing Mom, don’t teach your Deaf child sign “they will never be normal” or “AVT will only make your Deaf child normal” I have heard this from several doctors in the area. Also, because I have made the decision to NOT implant Lily with a Cochlear Implant, The doctors have made me feel like I am committing child abuse. They have told me so,I am abusing my child because I opted NOT to have her implanted with a cochlear implant. I am happy to say we don’t see those doctors anymore.

Here is my issue with the Cochlear Implants and Lily. She is responding at 30 dbs with her hearing aides she is maximizing on her residual hearing but yet they want to implant her. Lily has a medical condition that will one day make her profoundly Deaf so they want to implant her now under that assumption. They are so eager to implant her… yet I resist this major brain operation…. This intrusive, invasive, brain surgery… I cherish my child as a whole being… I chose ASL instead. My daughter is bright, she’s brilliant, she’s capable of so much…. But those who don’t recognize ASL while never know.

The big issue is the education of Deaf and HOH kids. The state of Deaf education in Hampton Roads is unacceptable. I have fought and fought only to be turned down in spite of IDEA laws…I dream of a Charter School,,, a central school for all the Deaf and HOH kids, so they could all be together in Hampton Roads. I fully support Residential Schools but we need some other options in VA but I, like many parents, wont sed my child away….. I want these benefits here, now, for my deaf child.. Lily is a brilliant Deaf child and she deserves to be able to have access to everything a hearing child has. She will, one day, be leading this county to a brighter, more beautiful, equitable future.


Yes I want to hear my daughter speak and that is the natural inclination of all hearing parents.. English is my first language, I want it to be hers, too. We all want sameness and hearing parents are frightened by differences in language. I have come to accept that my child is different and she is a child of visual learning… she will always be a “child of the eye” – her natural access to language is through her eyes, thus she learns through American Sign Language.

Hearing Lily speak is not the issue The issue is literacy. Lily’s speech might never be perfect but she needs to be able to read and write at an age appropriate level. That is my goal! But a school system that graduates a deaf child at a 4th grade reading level is one that has not only fail deaf children before Lily, but is already set up to fail my daughter.

Now here I stand and this is the battle I face for Lily and all the Deaf and HOH kids out there. I am desperately trying to make a change but this is a difficult battle and we need YOUR HELP.

“No children left behind” is an oxymoron………….All Deaf children are being left behind and will be continued to be left behind. I am determined to make sure that Lily will not be one of those children. She will not be left behind!!!!!

Thank you...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

AFA press release about Historic Meeting and Rally

link to PR web

Audism Free America: Outcomes of the Historic Meeting and Rally at the AG Bell Association Headquarters

Washington, DC (PRWEB) April 13, 2009 -- Audism Free America is a grassroots movement made up of Deaf and hearing people from across the United States and Canada who are bringing about awareness of Audism - defined as attitudes and practices based on the assumption that behaving in the ways of those who speak and hear is superior, desired and best. AFA maintains that Audism 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.

On Thursday April 2, 2009 Audism Free America (AFA) met with the AG Bell Association at their Volta Bureau headquarters to discuss AFA's three demands that were presented to AG Bell Association one month prior to the meeting. The AG Bell Association is an organization devoted to strict oralism (oral / aural instruction only)…listening and speaking. While the AG Bell Associations states they do not discriminate against sign language or work to ban sign language, their organization does not include sign language as part of a Deaf child's language and literacy acquisition. AG Bell is made up of hearing professionals, specialists, and parents with only a small minority of Deaf adults as members or staff members.

AFA presented its three demands to the AG Bell Association which address audism:

"AFA's demands call for: (1) AGBell Association to stop excluding a natural and fully accessible language (American Sign Language - ASL) from Deaf children, (2) stop misinforming the public and the media about Deaf people, and (3) to join AFA in calling for an impartial and independent investigation of the physical, psychological and social impact of cochlear implants on Deaf children and adolescents."

At the meeting, three Deaf members of AFA (Ruthie Jordan, Patti Durr, and Karen Christie) staged a peaceful sit-in to achieve some tangible commitment from AG Bell Association that these demands would be addressed. The Washington, D.C. police were called to the Volta Bureau. After some discussion, the AG Bell Executive Director, Alex Graham instructed the Communications Director to put in writing that AFA's demands would be brought before the AG Bell Association Board and that AFA would be contacted as to the results.

The following day, Friday April 3, 2009, AFA held its peaceful rally outside of the AG Bell Headquarters. In addition to security hired by the AG Bell Association, two Washington, DC policewomen were stationed in front of the Volta Bureau (AG Bell headquarters) all day. The protesters were peaceful and non-violent in exercising their first amendment rights of free speech and assembly. Over 200 people participated in the rally and vigil while hundreds of people hosted simultaneous events in their hometowns in support of AFA and the fight to end audism.

A press release issued on April 3, 2009 by the AG Bell Association, "AG Bell Denounces Demonstrations," went out only one and a half hours after the peaceful AFA rally had begun despite the promise to bring the AFA demands to the board the day before. "AG Bell's press release stated AG Bell has a long history and tradition of supporting civil rights for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing by working in cooperation with other national organizations to ensure that our legal, health care and education systems, entertainment industry, and places of employment are free of discrimination. (Alex Graham, Executive Director of AG Bell Association, April 3, 2009)"

AFA maintains that civil rights include the right to be born, the right to pick a marriage partner, the right to pursue a livelihood, the right to appear on the stage, TV or screen, and a right to a fully accessible, natural and humane educational experience. AFA points out that "Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, the organization's founder, worked to prevent Deaf children from being born, worked to stop Deaf people from marrying each other, and worked to stop Deaf people from becoming teachers." According to AFA, the organization bearing AG Bell's name has worked to prevent ASL and Deaf culture from being seen on the stage, TV or screen, and worked to exclude ASL from the classroom and the dining rooms of America in order to promote oralism exclusively (oral / aural only instruction and lifestyle).

Dr. Bell's legacy continues with the AG Bell Association's Children's Legal Advocacy program, which provides funds to families suing public school districts that use ASL-based instruction, and through the principles of its Auditory-Verbal Therapy (AVT) programs, one of which states that "…families should be coached to not use sign language…"

On January 31, 2008, AG Bell Association wrote to PepsiCo admonishing Pepsi for airing a commercial showing ASL Deaf people. AG Bell Association claimed that the commercial created a "misleading stereotype" and stated that speaking Deaf people are "positive role models who have met the challenges of this condition." The National Association of the Deaf, the American Society for Deaf Children, and the Deaf Bilingual Coalition as well as many of AG Bell Association members objected to AG Bell's letter to Pepsi yet the AG Bell Association refused to issue an apology or retract their letter.

During the April 2nd meeting, AFA asked for a retraction of the Pepsi letter. The AG Bell Association's Director of Communications, Catherine Murphy, countered with a request that the AFA rally scheduled for the next day be cancelled if the AG Bell Association retracted the Pepsi letter. The AFA responded that the rally would be a celebration in recognition that one portion of one AFA's demands had been met. As of this date, the AG Bell letter to PepsiCo has not been retracted nor has an apology been issued.

In regards public awareness campaigns, AFA states, "We are committed to peaceful engagement and believe that the parents of Deaf children have the right to being fully informed about ASL and English, to be informed how Deaf people are misrepresented in the media, and the great potential that lies within each Deaf child."

Throughout the April 3rd rally and vigil, attendees from all over the U.S. as well as Canada, Columbia, and England, shared their own personal testimonies about how audism has tragically affected their lives. During the candlelight vigil, five AFA members, (with DC police permission due to AG Bell's authorization of DC Police to arrest any AFA trespassers), took a historic walk up AG Bell Association's staircase leading to the entrance of the Volta Bureau thus symbolizing the call to AG Bell and their organization to end audism. AFA calls for unity in order to create the best opportunities for those who are Deaf including the human right to visual language which includes ASL, literacy, and livelihood.

AG Bell's immediate press release denouncing AFA has not hindered AFA's resolve. AFA states that it is exercising good-faith that AG Bell's Executive Director Graham will honor their promise to bring AFA's three demands to their board and eagerly awaits their response.

AFA states "We cannot be united with the AG Bell Association organization if it is untrustworthy and portrays any group that advocates for the civil liberties and linguistic rights of Deaf people as unconscionable. It is critical that AG Bell Association members, parents, oral Deaf children and adults understand that AFA values them and welcomes them to join with AFA in its mission to end audism and to see that Deaf people are valued as equal in language, culture, employment, and equally represented in all walks of life by those who are Deaf themselves.

AFA's 2nd follow up email to AG Bell Assoc

Read bottom up:

1st follow up email sent to AG Bell association after the April 3 rally

2nd follow up email sent to AG Bell Association after one week with no reply from AGB


Sent 4/13 at 8:22 am

Greetings Mr. Graham:

We have not received any reply from you in regards to our request below dated 4/6. Please let us know when you will be sending us a copy of the CART transcript as well as when the Board will be meeting to discuss our three demands.

During our Thursday April 2, 2009 meeting, the director of communications stated that AG Bell, the man, did not work to ban ASL and recommended that we read up on history a bit more.

We were each flabbergasted by this claim as it is counter to AG Bell’s own writings, work and purpose in founding his association. The statement is also contrary to several scholars and historians in the field.

Here is a list of scholarly sources that your staff, board and members may find enlightening to help you understand the legacy of audism on which your association is founded.

Again, we look forward to a reply from you very soon in regards to the CART transcript and the Board’s decision on our demands.

Thank you in advance for your attention to these matters.

Let Freedom Roll,



Baynton, Douglas C. Forbidden Signs: American Culture and the Campaign Against Sign Language. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Baynton, Douglas, Jack Gannon, and Jean Lindquist Bergey. Through Deaf Eyes: A Photogrpahic History of an American Community. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press, 2007.

Bell, Alexander Graham Memoir upon the Formation of a Deaf Variety of the Human Race. 1883.

Lane, Harlan. When the Mind Hears: A History of the Deaf. New York: Random House, 1984.

Schulman, Seth. The Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Bell’s Secret. New York: W.W. Norton, 2008

Van Cleve, John V. and Barry A. Crouch. A Place of Their Own: Creating the Deaf Community in America. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press, 1989.

Winefield, Richard. Never the Twain Shall Meet: Bell, Gallaudet and the Communication Debate. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University

On Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 5:26 PM, Audism Free America wrote:

Greetings Mr. Graham:

Again, thank you for your time on April 2, 2009. We are requesting a copy of the computer assisted real time transcription (CART) of our meeting with you for our records. We were told that recording the meeting was not allowed. We understand that the CART was provided as an access provision for the two Deaf AG Bell representatives. Since the CART is a word file and permanent record of the meeting, we would very much value having a copy for our history.

We would also like to know when we can expect a response from the AG Bell board in regards to our three demands.

Thank you very much.

Patti Durr, AFA

Friday, April 10, 2009

AFA Rally part 4 (last part)

AFA Rally part three

AFA Rally part 2

AFA Rally part 1

AFA Historic moment- a symbol of our Deaf souls

We, 5 AFA went up on the AG Bell stairs and stood to send a message to AG Bell and people: STOP AUDISM! Its a historic moment for all and see a symbol that our Deaf souls are with us.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

AG Bell Twitter's Live Feed

AG Bell had a live feed going to Twitter during AFA's rally

Read bottom up for the first to last entries

NOTE: there are many errors in their live feed

There were approximately 200 rally and vigil attendees. Deaf, Hearing, signers, non-signers, some with CI, young, old, different races and ethnic groups, from CA, Oklahoma, NY, DC, VA, MD, MA,..., England, Columbia, Canada etc

Notice how AG Bell likes to portray us like a tiny bunch of wild animals - its laughable because we were all so happy to be out advocating for Deaf folks to be seen as human and ASL to be valued and accepted. We had many pleasant exchanges with people in the area including the school across the street.

It is also interesting to note that the police were put on stand by since 6:20 in the morning when rally wasnt to begin til 11 am. LONG DAY for them!

Furthermore, their immediate release was generated before the rally even began. Wow, they make alot of interesting statements in their release before even witnessing the peaceful rally.

Many of you staged peaceful events in your area in support of AFA - thank you so much - pls blog/vlog about it and send letters to the editor to your local newspaper to help Audism End.

Over a hundred and fifty of you responded to the CDR action alert call - we thank you so much for having done this also.

We have sent an email to AG Bell's Executive Director requesting a copy of the computer assisted real time transcript of the April 2nd meeting for our records as well as for a response from the Board in regards to our three demands.

Let Freedom Roll

AG Bell Twitter Live Feed


1. Back to business as usual today at the Volta Bureau. Thanks for everyone's support last week!about 21 hours ago from web
2. AFA protest over. May be coming back tonight for a candlelight vigil. (but will be with glow sticks)2:23 PM Apr 3rd from web
3. Ruthie reported that @ sit in, (after dear Catherine left) that AG Bell had a change of heart about their demands. Interesting observation.1:21 PM Apr 3rd from web
4. AFA made speech outside; talked about 4/2 meeting. Ranted about dear Catherine Murphy but thought Alex was nice.1:20 PM Apr 3rd from web
5. has been receiving lots of phone calls and e-mails from both sides. Thx. for msgs. To receive free AG Bell Update: PM Apr 3rd from web
6. - Window view of protestors from Volta Bureau.11:59 AM Apr 3rd from TwitPic
7. Demonstrators wanted to "come in for a visit" and take a tour of the Volta Bureau. Tour and visit were denied.11:38 AM Apr 3rd from web
8. Demonstrators shouting through bullhorn as moms pick up children: "Deaf children have a right to learn ASL. AG Bell can go to hell."11:06 AM Apr 3rd from web
9. was asked to come out of Volta Bureau and make a statement. We heard them loud and clear yesterday. So we declined.10:35 AM Apr 3rd from web
10. protestors are about to get in between angry moms in BMWs and their children at private schools across street.10:06 AM Apr 3rd from web
11. @joshlibby Great, thank you so much! Your support counts - here's a direct link to make it easy for you to join: AM Apr 3rd from web in reply to joshlibby
12. Cowbell wasn't loud enough. They started using a bullhorn, but ended quickly. Police presence has increased to 4.9:38 AM Apr 3rd from web
13. looks like protest crowd has diminished somewhat. weather has improved to sunshine. T-storms forecasted for afternoon.8:33 AM Apr 3rd from web
14. Rachel Arfa, John Stanton, and Catharine McNally are present at the Volta Bureau -- just catching up over lunch! 45-50 Protestors outside.8:04 AM Apr 3rd from web
15. inaccurate fact on sign: "9% of AG Bell members are deaf." We corrected them at meeting yesterday, but apparently they didn't listen.7:34 AM Apr 3rd from web
16. advance posting of press release: "AG Bell Denounces Demonstrations" AM Apr 3rd from web
17. A deaf and hard of hearing unit of DC Police are standing by. They know ASL and will work with demonstrators, who are yet to arrive.6:20 AM Apr 3rd from web
18. AFA Demnd. 2: retract a letter it wrote to Pepsi in Jan 2008 regarding the portrayal of individuals who were deaf in a Super Bowl commercial5:41 AM Apr 3rd from web
19. AFA Demnd. 1: "cease and desist from denying Deaf infants children and their families the right to a natural and fully accessible language,"5:10 AM Apr 3rd from web
20. is staying dry. It's a rainy day out there. Wonder if that will dampen the AFA protest outcome. We shall see, starting at 9 a.m.3:15 AM Apr 3rd from web
21. met with the AFA representatives this morning. One demand was for us to retract the January 2008 Pepsi letter. More to report in morning.5:32 PM Apr 2nd from web
22. Stay tuned... Live Updates from the Volta Bureau on April 34:40 AM Apr 2nd from web

Monday, April 6, 2009


A few pictures from the AFA April 4th rally and vigil

Saturday, April 4, 2009

AFA Rally update

HI all

just a quick note to update you on the rally

There were folks from all over the U.S. today - even a bus load of Rochester people - whoooooooooooo

Rally was peaceful and inspiring - included several marches, inspirational speeches, and information sharing with people in the area

There were two interpreters inside the guarded AG Bell building

There were two signing police officers outside the AG Bell building ALL DAY

AG Bell released a misleading and offensive immediate release misrepresenting AFA, its goals, and its actions this afternoon. Clearly, indicating that it would not take our three demands seriously as it DENOUNCED AFA's peaceful activism

AFA rallied at the AG Bell headquarters to be seen and understood. We are protesting AG Bell's exclusion of ASL, and misrepresentation of Deaf people, ASL and Deaf culture. (See Below)

There was a vigil march around the neighborhood.

There were over 10 police people on the scenes in the evening. Five Deaf people (Ruthie Jordan, MJ Bienvenu, Karen Christie, Sallie Mae Pauley, and Jehanne McCullough climbed the long steps of AG Bell's Volta Bureau and touch the Pillars. Jordan signed out, "We are standing here to send a message to AG Bell that we are here and to stop audism."

Those of us watching below were all "signless" as to how to describe this powerful moment.

We will be posting more video, pictures, and commentaries soon.

We remain committed to direct peaceful and positive confrontation.

Thank you to EVERYONE who attended the rally and vigil and all those who hosted events in their area and sent us emails and wishes of support.

We felt your positive spirit with us.

We have just begun.

Let Freedom Roll


AG Bell's immediate release. Can you find all the fibs and fabrications???

Fri, April 03, 2009 - 12:36:00


Protest group's latest call distracts public from
the real issues impacting individuals who are
deaf and hard of hearing

The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) today denounced repeated demonstrations against the association and its members by several groups claiming that AG Bell discriminates against individuals who are deaf who use sign language, specifically American Sign Language (ASL).

Founded in 1890, AG Bell is the only national organization dedicated to supporting children and adults who are deaf or hard of hearing that use spoken language and hearing technology to communicate.

A demonstration at AG Bell's national headquarters is scheduled for today by supporters of a recently formed group called "Audism Free America" (AFA) to "direct attention to the audism that is promoted by institutions like AG Bell," and that AG Bell "has been an active force in the denial of linguistic and human rights of Deaf citizens through its practices of audism," according to a March 6 press release. AFA claims that the "American public is indoctrinated with attitudes of paternalism, bias and discrimination toward Deaf people" as a result of AG Bell's advocacy efforts.

In response, AG Bell Executive Director Alexander T. Graham stated, "AG Bell has a long history and tradition of supporting civil rights for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing by working in cooperation with other national organizations to ensure that our legal, health care and education systems, entertainment industry, and places of employment are free of discrimination. It is absolutely not true that AG Bell discriminates against individuals who are deaf and use sign language, and that it works to ban sign language. Such demonstrations only serve to distract the public's attention away from critical issues such early hearing detection and intervention for children with hearing loss and meeting the educational needs of those children regardless of the communication outcome they seek."

Since July 2007, another group affiliated with AFA has been staging demonstrations at AG Bell national conferences and state chapter meetings claiming that AG Bell is against sign language. In an effort to clarify its position on this issue, the AG Bell Board of Directors approved an official position statement on ASL which states, in part, "AG Bell acknowledges that a chosen approach depends on culture, family interests and desired communication outcome. AG Bell believes that the language and communication approach chosen should be based on an informed decision made by the child's parents/family and based on their own unique circumstances...AG Bell does not believe that ASL should be prohibited or restricted as a choice, nor does AG Bell advocate against learning ASL as part of a child's overall development if that is what the child's parents desire."

Regardless, AFA initiated this most recent demonstration at AG Bell headquarters and issued a call to action for supporters to demonstrate at oral/aural only programs in their local areas; in other words, to demonstrate at local pre-schools that offer a listening and spoken language educational approach for children who are deaf.

"This latest effort to target pre-schools and pre-school children I can only describe as unconscionable," stated Graham. "To protest and criticize families who choose a particular communication and language approach is the height of intolerance."

"For nearly 120 years, AG Bell has served as a resource for parents, professionals, and deaf and hard of hearing individuals who wish to pursue the listening and spoken language outcome and it will continue to do so," said John R. "Jay" Wyant, president of the AG Bell board of directors. "It is time for this community to finally put to rest long-standing grudges and work together on issues of mutual interest. Now, more than ever, we must have a united message as we address opportunities to reshape public policy related to communication access, health care, education and job training, and other vital needs of this community. And that is what we are - we are part of a community that includes all individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing regardless of their chosen mode of communication - and that is our larger responsibility."

The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing helps families, health care providers and education professionals understand childhood hearing loss and the importance of early diagnosis and intervention. Through advocacy, education, research and financial aid, AG Bell helps to ensure that every child and adult with hearing loss has the opportunity to listen, talk and thrive. With chapters located in the United States and a network of international affiliates, AG Bell supports its mission: Advocating Independence through Listening and Talking!

Friday, April 3, 2009

CDR sets up an action alert in support of AFA's demands

The Center for Disability Rights (CDR) in Rochester, NY has issued an action alert to have folks send emails to AG Bell Executive Director and Director of Communications urging AG Bell to meet our demands

go to and send your email NOW - BIG THANKS


I am a concerned citizen who is aware of the meeting that took place the morning of April 2 between yourselves and the grassroots Deaf activists’ organization known as Audism Free America (AFA).

American Sign Language is the preferred language of communication for thousands of Deaf people in America today. Audism Free America represents the idea that is shared by Deaf from across the country – that Deaf have the right to use and preserve American Sign Language. They understand that individuals have the right to choose for themselves a method of communication other than the language of ASL. That being said, a Deaf individual who chooses to use American Sign Language as opposed to the auditory/oral method of communication promoted by your organization should not be portrayed as inferior or substandard in comparison.

What I am asking of you is to please seriously consider the demands of AFA. Firstly, to retract the letter that was sent by your organization in January of 2008 to Pepsi. Within that letter, you urge Pepsi to “develop some creative ideas to promote other facets of the deaf community and to highlight positive role models who have met the challenges of this condition and thrived using spoken language.” Instead of promoting the interests of all the diversity within the deaf community, you have promoted the ideas your agency represents. Within the letter, you have referred to users of American Sign Language as “isolated from mainstream society,” which is far from the truth. This letter promotes a condescending and distasteful view of Deaf people who use American Sign Language, and with that, AFA is requesting that you retract this letter.

Secondly, AFA is asking that the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing work in partnership with Audism Free America both now and in the future – to promote an equal and diverse view of all people that are deaf and hard of hearing, and not upholding the message that one is inferior to the other. The truth is that struggle befalls us all, and we can attain much more if we work together to increase awareness. The first way in which you can work together will be to share AFA’s request with your Board of Directors.

However, it is impossible to move forward and leave the past behind if you have not admitted the offenses of the past. Therefore, Audism Free America is asking for a pubic apology from the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing regarding the hurtful attitude on comments conveyed by your organization thus far. With that apology comes the possibility to move on and move forward.

I am confident that if your organization meets the requests of Audism Free America, all deaf people can work together to achieve something that has never been seen before – true and utmost equality!

I appreciate your time. Thank you.

Update that AG Bell sent to its members

Rally is still on for today at AG Bell headquarters - Volta Bureau. The rain will water the roots of our tree as we grow in unity and empowerment through peaceful and persistent direct confrontation.


Below is an excerpt from the AG Bell update blast

Note: AG Bell stated the CART services were provided for the two Deaf AG Bell representatives. We found the CART interesting as it had some humorous errors. We asked for a copy of the CART transcript as it is recorded documentation of our meeting...despite the fact that in previous communications with AG Bell, they had forbidden us to do any type of recording. Additionally, we were not informed in advance that they would be having CART. We also brought our own interpreter as it would have been unreasonable to have only one interpreter sign and voice for 10 people.

We look forward to having a copy of the transcript for our records and history.

We look forward to having a response from their board in regards to our three demands.

> AG Bell thanks Children’s Hearing Institute for sponsoring this edition of AG Bell Update
> donate today
> Thursday, April 2, 2009
> In This Issue….

AG Bell Meets with Representatives of “Audism Free America”
> In anticipation of a planned demonstration at the national headquarters of AG Bell, representatives from AG Bell and Audism Free America (AFA) met at the Volta Bureau on Thursday, April 2. Agenda items included three “demands” for AG Bell to “cease and desist from denying Deaf infants children and their families the right to a natural and fully accessible language,” for AG Bell to retract a letter it wrote to Pepsi in January 2008 regarding the portrayal of individuals who were deaf in a Super Bowl commercial; and for AG Bell to support a call for an investigation into the physical and psychological affects of cochlear implants on children. AG Bell provided an ASL interpreter and CART.
> AG Bell was represented by John Stanton, chair of AG Bell’s Public Affairs Council; Catharine McNally, member-at-large; Alexander T. Graham, executive director; Judy Harrison, director of programs; and Catherine Murphy, director of communications. AG Bell responded to each concern presented by AFA, providing documentation and clarifying its position on several of the issues raised. At the conclusion of the meeting, AFA representatives demanded that AG Bell sign “demand agreements” with an ultimatum that they would not leave the Volta Bureau until the executive director signed the agreements. After notifying police, AG Bell negotiated that in exchange for a peaceful departure of the representatives of AFA, it would present the group’s demands to the AG Bell Board of Directors. (emphasis added)

AFA/Blue Ribbon Ceremony Part 3

AFA/Blue Ribbon Ceremony Part 2

AFA/Blue Ribbon Ceremony Part One

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pre-Rally event Thur 7 - 7:45 pm SLCC at Gallaudet

Pre-Rally event Thur April 2 7 - 7:45 pm SLCC at Gallaudet
AFA Rally Fri April 3 11 am - 5:30 pm AG Bell Headquarters 3417 Volta Place, NW
AFA Vigil Fri April 3 7 pm AG Bell Headquarters

AFA/AG Bell confirmed meeting:

Ruthie explains a letter AFA received from Catherine Murphy, director of communications at AG Bell Association. We immediately asked for permission to reprint the letter here but did not receive permission until late Monday night and wanted to have an ASL version go up with it.

We also asked the name of the interpreter for the meeting and what specific issues AG Bell Association wanted to cover in their time slot during the meeting as we have made our agenda clear in advance. No reply on the items above yet - we were told we would have the specifics today Wednesday but none so far.

We look forward to the meeting tmw at 9 am - send your positive thoughts


March 24, 2009

Dear Ms. Jordan,
We are confirmed for April 2 at 9:00 a.m. We feel a maximum of five representatives from your organization is an adequate number for a productive meeting. As I mentioned in my previous email, we have already contracted with an ASL interpreter for the meeting.

I recommend the following ground rules to ensure a productive meeting on April 2:

AG Bell and AFA representatives will be prepared to begin and end the meeting promptly at the designated times.
-As a reminder, no audio or video recording will be permitted.
-Meeting participants will be respectful of the interpreter and not interrupt someone who is already signing/speaking.
-There are 20 minute blocks of time for each side to have an opportunity to state its issues to minimize any disruptions.
-No demeaning or derogatory language will be used, this includes referring to the AG Bell organization and its staff as "audists."

For April 3, AG Bell's primary goal is to ensure the safety of its staff and all participants involved. The District of Columbia is a federal district and therefore has more stringent standards of conduct for demonstrations. Specifically, you should be aware of these parameters:

-There is vehicle traffic in the area and not much room on the sidewalks to stand, please plan accordingly.
-The Volta Bureau is not a public building and the property surrounding it is private property.
-According to DC code, demonstrations are only allowed on public property (i.e., the sidewalk) and cannot block any entrances or exits to the building or the driveway.
-Demonstrators will not be permitted to loiter on AG Bell property. No exceptions.
-The Volta Bureau is located in a residential neighborhood surrounded by single family homes with the exception of a private school across the street.
-If other residents feel you are creating a disturbance, or trespassing on their property, they are well within their rights to contact police.
-Any attempts to disrupt the normal course of business, any instances of trespassing or destruction of property, or attempts to harass AG Bell staff or invited guests entering and exiting the building will not be tolerated.
-There are no public facilities available in the immediate area.

Attached is a final agenda.

Catherine Murphy
Director of Communications
AG Bell
3417 Volta Place, NW
Washington, DC 20007