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Carl Schroeder and Why Literacy in Deaf Community is Important Today

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Today is late Carl Schroeder’s birthday—he would be 64 years old. Also, he shares the same birthday as the greatest Deaf visionary leader in America, Laurent Clerc. As for Carl to be the first person to coin American Sign Language (ASL) philosophy and ASL Storytelling Theatre. How fitting! Learning stories from Carl was one of my greatest time in my life. He lived in a beautiful and quiet town in Oregon, about 45 minutes drive from Portland, Oregon. Most of the times when he would visit Portland, he would come down to my apartment and we both would zoom to Powell’s, the largest and best bookstore in Pacific Northwest, which was five minutes from my apartment.

Once when he asked me to house-sit his residence while he was away for ten days—at the same time, he said to me, “I am going to give you those books and I expect you to read and write me an essay when you’re done with it” and I was like, “Wait a minute, I thought, I did not expect like that” but looking back, I realized that he made me a better writer out of this and pushed me hard to understand philosophy than ever. Heck, he was better explaining in person than paying up for classrooms. That was how good he was.

We would spend hours in there browsing books and talking about each books we would purchase—even sometimes, we would exchange books once we finish with those books. He PUSHED ME to to set up a club called American Sign Language Book Club (ASLBC), to make sure it would be in wonderful feature of humanity and begin to draw together strands from reading, reviewing, referring—and linguistics of ASL—to explain why we are so compelled to use ASL exclusively. ASLBC allows people to examine how ASL sustains our community and promotes our academia. It made many meanings.

It was best times when we both were talking about books and how important public libraries are today. I was totally bummed that Carl could not make it to Washington, D.C; in November 2013—we both were about to give a lecture at Library of Congress to talk about literacy in Deaf community because we both understood what public libraries are very critical for literature. The lecture would have been awesome!

Carl created thick pictures of what was going on in literature, particularly about Deaf community. There is often a symbolic relevance behind his story-telling skills, behind his descriptions of nature and life. Almost mythical. He also gives mostly physical descriptions how to challenge Audism and we end up not knowing very much about the power dynamics of Audism. He also taught me about today’s interpreters that are from an old school of thoughts, trained to view the Deaf as clients and to justify their claims of misunderstanding and other things.

Professor Schroeder was phenomenal. It is OK to be controversial—it’s about challenging the oppressive society. It is important to appreciate public libraries everyday. Discover the radical new way we the Deaf people are treating our most traumatic memories with a single book. Public libraries are good for your soul!

Happy birthday, Carl.

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Chilly and Rainy Oregon. 2012.

-JT

Copyright @ 2016 Jason Tozier

This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.

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2 responses

  1. Thank you, Jason, for the beautiful commentary!

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