A guest vlog by David Eberwein on Top Five Myths:
Myth 5: No English, ASL only
Myth 4: Deaf activists lack political savviness
Myth 3: Deaf activism turns people off
Myth 2: Deaf activists don’t know what hearing parents want
Myth 1: Deaf activists = Militants
Bravo! Thank you so much for vlogging. Many people don’t realize that DBC leaders come from a diverse range of backgrounds, Deaf, oral, institution, mainstreamed, and hearing people, too!
There are many hearing activists but they are not called militants for practicing advocacy. Yet the deaf people are called that. Likewise, I have always found that very odd that trying to improve our civil rights and have umhampered access to a fully accessible natural and visible language make us ‘militants’ when it is others who try to deprive us the opportunity to become well-rounded deaf individuals as afforded to hearing people.Reply
It’s good to see http://www.joeybaer.com is back in business. Now, I want to ask DE a few questions if he doesn’t mind. I’m only going to focus on the myth #5: ASL only, no English. I totally agree with DE on all other myths.
How do you define English? This is an important question, because from my perspective, there are two components to English language, one is spoken and other is written language. I believe it is important for the Deaf and hearing people alike to understand this difference. What we really want is ASL as the “spoken” language and “written” English, this is the “correct” way to define the goal of placing ASL on par with English language.
This is something Gallaudet missed out when it wrote the new mission statement. To some hearing people, Deaf oralists, proponents of cued speech, SEE, etc. could view “English” language as the definition of learning both spoken and written components. It’s far better to declare plainly that we support ASL and Written English, so no one could construe it as an attempt to replace English with ASL.
Naturally, that’s only my opinion, but we owe it to ourselves to explain the bilingual philosophy better and clearly define what we mean by “English” to other people asking the same question as I do above. I realize at this point, it’s all semantics, but every detail is important if we want to send the right kind of message to a wider audience.
Joey, welcome back to vlogging. We MISS you!Reply
DE, wonderful wonderful essay! THANK YOU!
Ditto to MZ! Thank you, thank you!Reply
Yes indeed, “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” from Declaration of Independence.Reply
We have that right too. Thanks for clarifying the myths and encourage proactive thinking instead. Encourage social action via legwork rather than behind keyboard, too.
Excellent! Very eloquent and convincing argument. I especially agree with myth #4. I have always been impressed with the Deaf Community and its abitily to rally together and make a united stand when they see an injustice. Ie. DPN 1 and DPN2.
Anyone who believes that the Deaf Community lacks the ability to utilize the political process and media is living like an ostrich with their head in the sand.
From researching on the issue of Deaf Militancy and Elitism for years, DBC and other deaf advocacy groups are no deaf militants.
You, DE, made a good point about whose are really the real militants to suppress the practical and successful language acquistion/development approach based on ideology without realizing the potentials of visual-spatial language, etc.
We sometimes have to take a stand and take action to make things right which controvesty usually follow. What we could do about it? More public outreach and education program what the DBC is all about. Keep broadcasting the DBC messages and goals to convey clarification and purpose of deaf activism. Just don’t recycle the DBC messages and goals in tiresome manner.
Yes, Picardo90! That’s what I always mention the written English, instead of just saying the English language in general.
From my own understanding about the DBC postiton, they do not condemn the use of spoken English during the AVT therapy. The DBC just want ASL to be part of the AVT therapy for the necessity of language acquistion/development stage. I am probably mistaken about the DBC postiton.
I am with you, Picardo90 about the queasy part of spoken English during the educational process for deaf youngsters which would confuse them more than being helpful for their language acquistion/development.
The DBC seems pragmatic on the issue of spoken English by not forbade it. DBC already compromise on the usage of spoken English not to affront the hearing parents of deaf babies in any way.
I do not see any compromises from the AGBAD camp. Where are their compromises? If the AGBAD people choose the hard tactics and refuse to make any efforts to work out the AVT therapy with the DBC.
So the AGBAD will seen as a real militant in the end. Don’t the AGBAD people want to resolve the AVT therapy what is the best for deaf babies. Let’s work together and get willing to sit down for the policy development regarding the AVT therapy for deaf babies.
We are waiting for you, AGBAD people!
Robert L. Mason (RLM)Reply
Way to go, DE! That was some great myth-busting right there. 🙂
In response to RLM’s comments on compromising(#7)… I’m wondering, have there ever been ASL or Baby Sign Language resources on display at any AGBell exhibit?
The reason I ask is because I’m aware that at Deaf conventions you’ll always find an AVT-oriented booth or two. No one has a problem with it. Everyone’s welcome. So, again, has AGBell ever reciprocated by welcoming booths that feature Baby Signs or any other ASL-oriented material? This might be a naive question but I want to know for certain.
Whatever the answer, I can say with 100% certainty that the Deaf world I joined late in my life has always been a friendly, welcoming environment. iTo slap the term “militant” on deaf advocates is nothing more than a smear campaign.
Applaud *hands waving* We need to be heard!
Wonderful! I like your points of information. They are definitely correct. People who fight for freedom are not militants! Oppressors like AGBAD and anti Deaf poeple are militants. We have to stop them by informing and educating public about who they are. We believe in good life for everyone.
Go, DE, GO!!!!Reply
One of the best ways to advocate for Deaf kids is to show them great Deaf adults like you who can speak out eloquently with sophisticated and articulate language. Show parents the difference between Deaf babies allowed to develop naturally – visually – and oral deaf people who have little chance of acting, speaking or being equal citizens . Thank you for your hard work.
A seeing hearie,
Welcome back, Joey Baer!
And great vlog, DE! Whenever you explained and elaborate on the issues, I nodded along with you and exclaimed, “YES!” repeatedly.
It is my hope that people will understand that assumption is never a good thing to start with.
Strongly worded/signed! Thank you! These points need to be hammered upon and expanded upon for the benefit of the parents and uninitiated hearing people so that they understand the Deaf experience and background.
One way to overcome resistance is through strong, unambiguous language such as yours. We need that just as much as we need more accepting language that are easier to digest. The two approaches compliment each other.Reply
Excellent clarified of all myths. I never thought of those five myths occurred amongst DBC. Your DBC already made a clear msg that showed that already got attention with good intention because DBC already moved good start with a simple msg! I can understand every one wants to have same opportunity what hearing people do but equal to them? Liberty and freedom that is a big challenge for all of us as a minority! That is good question!Reply
Militant equalizes to radical politicial, in fact, most Deaf people who are involved with the activities such as Deaf advocacy or others are not militant at all, laissez-faire! but in general, most of them are very conservative politically! I am not conservative but very liberal in my view on social issues like DBC.
AGBELL is much stronger in an opportunity of ecomonic that can buy liberty, freedom and independence from being limited themselves and compare to our Deaf advocacy! What do we benefit from Deaf advocacy in much weak in an opportunity of economic? That is a reality!
No English but only ASL that is fantastic. We all have to accept English but in our Deaf community use ASL as a lingusitic minority. Most hearing people are well aware of that, Again English is a matter or economic and politic. We can not divorce from English otherwise we are not producitve people! Equal to English and ASL is possible for general in this country!
Equal to what American people speak English we have to live with English! ASL is our choice as a first language.
Welcome back, Joey! What a great way to kick off the return of your vlog on DeafRead! DE was very inspirational! Gave me goosebumps!
Right! There is a blog written by a hearing mother with a CI deaf boy — there are varied comments in there.
I often think that maybe many hearing people, especially new hearing parents do not believe our stories as many professionals tend to be very nice and supportive to them. They find it very hard to believe that these very same professionals have made our lives twice as hard by making us oralists, forcing us to wear hearing aids/headphones and enduring hours of speech therapy.
Of course they want to do the best for their deaf children, it is no question about this but we need to find ways to get them to believe our stories, listen to us and to understand where we are coming from. Otherwise, the cycle keeps repeating itself over and over.Reply
I think Picard90 made valid points that myth #5 may be miscontrued by hearing people thinking deaf people wants to do away with spoken English and written both and go with only ASL. That would frighten many parents. To them, spoken and written are sybiotic – cannot exist without each other. We may need to make that clear in our mission statement at Gallaudet and DBC.
DE, excellent post as always.Reply
Thank you Joey for hosting a guest.
DE, thank you for bringing up this myth. I am sure there are another 5 to wrap up top 10 myths.
Nonetheless, it’s terrific presentation!
Again, Long Live ASL!Reply
Excellent vlog, DE. I share the community’s frustration with the popular misconception that “Deaf Activism = Deaf Militancy.” That is such a lie, such a complete and utter absurdity, that at this point in time I honestly think that people who continue to believe this are unwilling to open themselves up to new messages.
The only thing that I’m willing to give such people is that, yes, over the years a lot of “deaf” (note the lower-case ‘d’) people *really were* rejected by X number of “Deaf” people (evidence: that widespread and idiotic “Think-Hearing” sign). I think that’s where a lot of their resentment comes from, and thus their need to disempower ALL Deaf activism by equating it with militancy.
I hope that as the values of the community shift over the coming years, their will be an increased emphasis not only on advocating for bilingualism but also on not rejecting people for things they had no control over (examples: the family they were born into, the school they were placed in, the primary language they were first exposed to, etc). I think that a lot of people, both Deaf and deaf, already realize this and already frown on the practice of such rejection, but it’s still out there, and it’s still doing its damage.
I also wanted to add… Picardo90 above, that was an EXCELLENT response. That’s some of the best feedback I’ve seen yet on Gallaudet’s new Mission Statement.
Again, DE, excellent blog, and I’m glad Joey Baer’s website is back in the mix of things!Reply
Exactly! Great video de-mything the myths.
The worst myth is “militants”. To me, it’s just stereotyping and a word one easily cuts and pastes and labels us for something that many hearing would also do – had it been something worth their life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.Reply
Response in videoReply
Commenters- thank you so much for your input!!!!
Picard90- I understand completely what you mean by clarifying “written English”. I am with you in spirit! However, for political and practical purposes, let’s keep it simple and say “English.” (We don’t say “signed ASL”. :)) DBC wants ASL to be the “key” of everything- throughout education and life. We gotta keep our message simple and not confuse people. RLM’s right- that is DBC’s position at this time. It’s all about framing.
By the way, research shows that ASL ACTUALLY enhances speech development! Mind-boggling to some, yeah! But– parents need to know that if they want a “guarantee” that their Deaf child will have speech skills, they can simply go for ASL. Again, framing. And winning people over to our cause.
Drolz- you are so right. The Deaf community embraces people of all stripes, and generally has been very flexible about booths at our conventions… Yet we have a rep of being “rejectors”, “mean”, “offensive”, etc. Hmm.. where did that smear campaign come from, I wonder? I certainly experienced rejection, cruelty, and abusive treatment at the AG Bell conference last July, like you and your family did!
MikeS- amen! Amen! Legwork not just keyboarding!!!!! JUST DO IT!! SEE YOU ALL IN MILWAUKEE JUNE 2008!!!!
In regards to each myth:
*Myth 5: No English, ASL only*
I agree that this is wrong. I have never met a Deaf person who said, “English is unnecessary..ASL only!!!”.
*Myth 4: Deaf activists lack political savviness*
Well….it depends on which Deaf activists…..also on the situation..sometimes it’s time to be ugly/mean…sometimes it’s time to be nice and understanding…sometimes folks mess up both…
*Myth 3: Deaf activism turns people off*
Depends on who…but for most Deaf people..it doesn’t turn them off because we all say, “I understand where you are coming from” when we see a protest for Deaf rights…
*Myth 2: Deaf activites donâ€™t know what hearing parents want*
Depends on who….but yes I agree 90% of us have hearing parents and we have an idea of their thought processes….
*Myth 1: Deaf activists = Militants*
The expression that comes to mind is, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”….
All in all, a nice vlog…and next time there’s a protest I’ll shoot an E-mail to the leaders to open up dialogue….I should have done that before the AG Bell protest at least….I wasn’t clear on the mission objectives…
I am SO inspired by your message- that you will open up dialogue next time!!! Thank you! We all need to do that, even when we disagree- and even after dialogue and if we still disagree, fine- the important thing is– dialogue happens.
I’ve been VPing with a lot of people on this, and will continue to do so.
Thank you, J.J.Reply
Equality is fine… why n’t you seek equality in armed service that we deafies are labelled as 4-F.Reply
That is most sore point of deaf’s rights…We know that we are capable to serve for our country in some way…
Great vlog on the myths, DE. Glad these are out in the mainstream as I get weary of the myths over the years!
I hope that you plan to add your vlog on 5 myths on the Deaf Bilingual Coalition website, will you? Add English version of your vlog would be great as well for the deaf/hearing non-signers.Reply
Great vlog. It is a clear message about myths. I like that. I was reading the comments. Picard has written that gotten my attention about promoting to people that we want ASL to be a “spoken” language. that’s what we are fighting for. We need to explain clearly to people and educate as well. We, deaf, people want to ensure all of deaf children has an access to ASL.
My argument is why don’t school explain to parents that school will emphasis written English even though we use ASL to teach.
DE, you’re right we don’t need to say “signed ASL” because there is already a word of sign in ASL. However, English doesn’t have word of spoken or written in English. Therefore, we must explain the difference of spoken and written English. I fully support to explain to undereducated people about how important we want ASL as a “spoken” language in classroom with written English as a emphasis.Reply
I canâ€™t agree with your Vlog that doesnâ€™t seem organized.EQUAL isnâ€™t clearly explaining that both of us are equally the same. How about non ASLers have access to read this with either captioning or English version?
Elle and I agree one dialogue is good.Reply
ASL, a spoken languauge….English, a written language…a revelation.. Will emphasize that p to the parents of DHH infants. I am a Deaf teacher. For your information, I’ve filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles Unified School District for the lack of access to communication in my work environment. It has been five long years for me. The judge will make a decision with the two lawyers during the 1st week of October. If it is denied, then our twenty four DHH teachers will become plaintiffs. Access to communication will change everything….including the civil right to communication…starting the infants…..wink.Reply
The differences can seem more between Deaf and deaf than between Deaf and Hearing perceptions. Most of the very sincere, valid, and determined blogs and campaigns to get sign/cultural rights sorted out, appear to ignore or ride roughshod even over ‘deaf’ campaigns.
The greatest issue is in percieving what oralism IS, a lot seems to be completely misinterpret it as attacks on speaking deaf people and those using Aids and CI’s. I think there is little doubt a small core of deaf activism, target them too and quite deliberately. In the pursuit of cultural rights, activists are determined people, that is why they are activists ! But I often think inclusions and acceptances can get very lost on the way at times in the heat of debates….
I think too much time is being wasted because specific campaigns by default, will exclude others, we need more inclusivity between Deaf and deaf urgently to prevent a complete split, that’s the reality.Reply
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic. Gee, there are so many myths out there about deafness .. someone oughta write a book.Reply
Great vlog, DE.
It is not only hearing people but deaf people with “hearing mentality” who put down deaf activists in order to “save their face”.Reply
Thanks for clarifying this.. I totally really totally feel great watching this. My 2 Deaf daughters goes to NCSD it is oppressed but with their mom and dad advocating what is best… This makes me feel better that we are not “miltant” spelling is wrong intentionally…
Thanks, this will also make me stronger as the fight begins again this year.Reply
Excellent JOEY!! I agree 100%…i am with you alllllllllllll the way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Reply
Forgive me–i goofed…WELCOME BACK Joey! EXCELLENT to whomever did the vlogging about the 5 myths…..:-DReply
Amen to what you said!!! Im a black deaf person who wants to see deaf black people have the same things as white deaf people have.. . Keep up the work!Reply
All are myths? Nah, it depends on who we are talking about. Be careful what you say next time, David.Reply
#37- “Free” thinker. I stand by my arguments that these all are myths. You are free to disagree, but you did failed to come up with counter-arguments. Instead, you threatened- “be careful…”. (That is a feeble attempt to stifle dialogue.)
Be an adult and come up with reasons why you don’t think these are myths.Reply
Just caught up with your vlog! Absolutely awesome!
Your description of these myths have reflected the perspectives of some commenters from varied blogs/vlogs and from hearing individuals. Hey don’t forget that I.K. Jordan even labeled the protesters militants just because they are protesting for social injustice as there were issues that ASL was not prioritized in a supposingly deaf mecca. Yes, these myths have been emerging at different places! Also don’t forget that AG Bell is encouraging the idea that “they need to forget that they are deaf” and planted the notion that there is a bitter, angry deaf community that scares the hearing parents away. I have seen ’em and all and I know that some of you have!
By the way, I think you need to pay bit more attention, Free thinker.Reply
DE…excellent presentation…I wanted to send this presentation to my mother…but sad to say, she would not understand…because (sad to say) she is ASL literate 🙁 Some of the information that you shared, my mom would think opposite. I have a “d”eaf brother…and my mom looks at him first before me to prove whole “D”eaf are like him. NOT TRUE…I had to work really hard to prove my success. I went to college, I worked (definitely not in retail industry..or making minimum wages). I live 2,000 miles away from my family while my 33 years old brother (deaf) live with my parents. Doesn’t that prove anything to them? No, it doesn’t. My mom wants me to have C.I…my mom forced me to have speech therapy (even when I was in MSSD) but with my decision…I declined to take speech therapy because I value and pride in ASL! I don’t let them humilate ASL nor Deaf community by hiding our language or pride in Deaf culture! 🙂 Thanks DE!Reply
Barb DiGi & ChrisHGaitab,
You are very welcome!
There’s an interesting discussion going on at ASC’s website– Sharon Duschensu (sp?)’s vlog on child abuse, etc.
DE, this is a good vlog. Can you PLEASE add subtitles?
Basically right now your video speaks to other Deaf ASL users. This is not the audience you need to convince! You need to reach people who haven’t experienced ASL – parents and teachers who see Deaf people, any man or woman on the street who hits your vlog. Deaf ASL users already understand the issues, it’s time for us to begin going into the mainstream.
My 2 cents – JReply
Excellent pointers!! Regarding to myth #4, there is a lot of room for improvement in term of political savviness in some cases. Generally, we are one of skilled people that take the courage and act on something we felt as appropriate. In some cases, we really need to be cautious on how we plan rally or protest.
Its worth mentioning my interpretation on public responses in our region to recent DBC activities during AGB Conference in recent months. We felt that the DBC peaceful rally during the event could have been better handled with proper leadership, especially in areas of public relations.
First, it was unclear to which type of audience the DBC rally is targeting to, to AGB conference participants, to the public in DC or to ourselves (Deaf community)?
Secondly, the most powerful message out of the rally event was the event when the hotel staff stratched a little girl, actually that’s what everyone has been talking about not the agenda of the rally itself. DBC’s agenda is long forgotten.
Lastly, strong and well-planned leadership is very much needed to make rally more successful.
Here’s after-thoughts regarding how and what peaceful rally should consist of:
1. 7:00am – 8:00am: Free coffee & donuts sponsored by one of the donut outlets to attract more people to the area (preferably at the permitted street corners nearby where the conference takes place), including medias (tv, radios, bloggers and even vloggers).
2. 8:00am: Once key media (tv & radio) are in place, have keynote speaker (either leader of DBC or politican) presents a brief welcome remarks and state the purpose of rally.
3. 8:15am: Have notable biligual experts present all facts and findings regarding to the value of biliguals. (Again, media need to be there). As a reminder, media usually come and go within minutes.
4. 8:35am: a short rally march around a block or two.
5. Rest of the day, distribute the flyers at proper locations.
Repeat Day 1.
The message coming out of rally should go out to wider range of public, including key congressional staff, key State and federal leaders such as Department of Education, key medical associations, etc.Reply
#42- Joseph, thank you. Honestly, Deaf activists have been accused of militancy far more often by other Deaf people. This vlog is indeed for the Deaf community. But I agree with you, this needs to go out into the mainstream as well, because it’s the system that screws us and causes divisions in our beloved Deaf community.
#43- Deaf Caveman- thank you for your excellent suggestions. To clarify, the DBC has actually been discussing what you suggested the past few months. Keep in mind that the DBC is in its infant stages, and we decided to go and stage the first protest in nearly 100 years against AG Bell. Of course, we will improve on that next year in Milwaukee! See you there!Reply
Beautiful! Beautiful! and Beautiful! Look at Amish people whom we don’t change. Why can’t we be left alone and respected?!Reply
After watching a Vlog of Deaf Power Militants: Top 5 Myths by David Eberwein, I really feel relieved and realize that I’m not the only one who feels that way.
Some of CAL-ED/IMPACT board members are not happy with the theme for our next CAL-ED/IMPACT conference that will be held in Fremont in March. The theme is supposed to be â€˜Ripples of ASL Infinite Possibilities for DHH Childrenâ€™.
They want to replace ASL with the words Sign Language. I tried to tell them that even though the words mean a similar thing, itâ€™s more powerful and meaningful to use the words ASL since itâ€™s a language of its own here in the USA. I was trained to be a mentor for American Sign Language/English Bilingual Professional Development. I have been reading a lot of books that many researchers have written. One of the researchers mentioned that sign language is a term with reference to using sign language in the world. Itâ€™s too broad. We need to be specific. We need to address us here in the USA and use our country specific language, ASL! If we say sign language we are referring to British sign language, German, Australian South Africanâ€¦. sign language and so on, is that what we want?
Not only that, these hearing members think that the deaf communities are trying to divide them. Thatâ€™s not true. I like David Eberwein mentioning that we are trying to become equal with them in both languages our primary language, ASL (sign language) and English, our second language. The Deaf have worked hard at functioning in our country in ASL and English right now. We deaf communities are not trying to divide with hearing people. But we do want to continue becoming equal. We have been oppressed in the past, having to do what many hearing people think is right for us. Now its time for us to tell the hearing what we want. Itâ€™s not defiance, itâ€™s our right! We want to work as a team, we want balance between ASL and English, we want to be a part of the hearing community and for them to be a part of ours, but we must have a say in what we think is right. We want the hearing members of the board to open their minds and listen, really listen to what we are trying to say, instead of over ruling us with their opinions and what they think is right for deaf education. This is what the majority of Deaf want so let it be!
After seven years of teaching my deaf students, in the pilot program at Marlton school, I have seen how much they have improved their bilingual acquisition, their primary language, ASL (sign language) and their second language English. As I taught, I emphasized both languages at all the times. They are able to express their primary language, ASL (sign language) while they are reading English. How amazing! They are on grade level. Right now they are in 6th grade and they are using 6th grade curriculum. How exciting that itâ€™s happening now. Itâ€™s not my class only; itâ€™s all over the nation now with ASL/English Bilingual Professional Development. CAEBER (Center for ASL/English Bilingual Education and Research at Gallaudet University that developed AEBPD (ASL/English Bilingual Professional Development) would like to have all deaf and hard of hearing programs to have the same goal. Some DHH students are not doing well in English due to lack of their primary language, ASL (sign language). Itâ€™s important to expose DHH students to their own language, ASL and then they will be able to do well in English.
Co-chairperson Ginny and Brenda have rolled up their sleeves and found many wonderful contacts for workshops and entertainment. Iâ€™m telling you how fortunate they are as their school, CSDF (California School for the Deaf in Fremont) has provided them many wonderful updated information related to ASL/English to use at the CAL-ED/IMPACT conference. FYIâ€¦ CSDF engaged AEBPD at their school and itâ€™s a big success out there. Check it out.Reply
I made a comment on the Organge Deafie blog and hopefully it will enforce what you have been saying all along.
The links you provided are for body part repairs like fixing or restoring hearing loss.
How can you fix something that is internal like “Deaf Within?” The Deaf Mind within includes, deafhood, deaf identity and deaf pride and etc.?
This is not something you can decipher by saying we will fix or restore your hearing and then the changed world is back to normal. When you have the Deaf identity (The Deaf Mind) inside and that is more powerful than just assuming that they need to have their ear parts fixed.
The most powerful inner core that makes up â€œDEAFâ€ beings (The Deaf Mind) is made up with a certain traits that earned through the Deaf experience and nothing else.
Not many people can understand this because they do not have that â€œDeafâ€ (The Deaf Mind) experience and this is what separates the DEAF from deaf.
The deaf wants their hearing fixed and will agree majority with your links you posted; however, the DEAF Mind will not agree because of the Deaf flame is already lit inside them and will not succumb to any form of cure or restoration of hearing.
It may sound absurd, again, this is what I mean, and you need the Deaf experience in order to understand the entire being, (The Deaf Mind).Reply
well Good Molly gosh! that is the key.you right on that but I wonder when will you able to start on with that? if you able can do that then why not start this ASAP? LOL I will be more happy to help you if you need all of help? then ask away.
DE… That’s my boy!!! Way to go!!!!Reply
How do I join you actively?Reply
How about transcribing the video or subtitle it so hearing people can read and understand the myths being perpetrated against deaf people.