Back on July 15, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the mandate, that public school textbooks include accomplishments of gay, lesbian and transgender Americans, into law. In his written statement, Brown said, “History should be honest.”
Are we honest about ASL? About ASL in schools? About ASL in higher education? About ASL in Deaf Education? About ASL in our state and federal governments?
I had learned a great deal of information from Swanhilda Lily and Dan Gough about Bimodality–an academic freedom that needs to be examined in Deaf Education today and tomorrow. I’ve given a lot of thoughts about this. I recognized that ASL-English bilingualism is a great importance for Deaf Education, to be a student in the context of this ASL-English bilingualism was, for me today, is a noble gift. It is also a labor of love to do ASL, which means perpetuating in ASL.
As a student of Sociology, I have personally and professionally witnessed that ASL began to be adulterated. The role played by the general American and Canadian societies in making ASL impure by adding English elements to signs for educational purposes is responsible for the fact that it launches the language bigotry, generating the hegemony of English (listening and speaking) over ASL, though today this stands implicitly and tactically speaking only for the choice of the hearing parents of the Deaf for language development and communication. I would take note of the considerable difference that exists in doing ASL. Although ASL has its capacity of language borrowing, a person who signs in the English word order runs the risk of “speaking like a book.”
Why ASL-English bilingualism matters: the subject is so huge, so complex, and so dear to my heart that I have decided to begin my approach to it by answering the implicit question with another question, using the technique of query-as-response–a traditional, perhaps time-honored method of indicating the almost impenetrable difficult of a subject, and certainly, as every Deaf individual knows, a good way to confound the questioner until you can think of an acceptable answer that has least a glimmer of coherence.
The answers that emerge may really depend on how the Socratic questions are formulated: Why, for example, is ASL-English bilingualism good for the Deaf? Why does it not matter to most people and governmental agencies? What is its relevance to the literary tradition in our world society? What is its contribution to the civilized life of the world? My attempt to devise a response to these various elements constitutes a kind of preliminary appraisal of some of the thorny, ongoing, apparently never-to-be-resolved problems that surround the question of ASL-English bilingualism.
That is exactly why Bimodality needs to examine and discussed more in Deaf Education today.
Copyright © 2016 Jason Tozier
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