Gallaudet University: A Signing Community?

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Honestly, as three days ago, when I was at Library of Congress to see private collections of old letters hand-written by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, Sophia Fowler Gallaudet, Edward Miner Gallaudet, Laurent Clerc, the list goes on—to help out a friend for PhD dissertation.

ASL stands for American Sign Language. They all had the goal: ASL-centered, ASL-oriented, ASL-controlled for Deaf people who comes from all walks of life. Between 1815 and 1847 letters, they all were fierce. They knew that sign language is the best and powerful to overcome intellectual oppression. The very same letters I read, where Sophia writes to T.H. Gallaudet:

I love Laurent Clerc. I love seeing his signs.”

Sophia became the matron for Gallaudet University. Without the matron of Gallaudet University, sign language would not be there. Sophia knew sign language was the pivotal moment.

That was the goal to see ASL everywhere on Gallaudet campus and that was all they wanted. That was the bottom line. That was it. Sign language changed Sophia’s life forever. That was history in the making!

Laurent Clerc and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet sailed together for destination back to America. They both knew that sign language have the power to directly represent and protect the interests. They stood true until their death.

Gallaudet University, the world’s first university for Deaf, to claim Deaf people’s intellectual life to ASL across the educational landscape and reject oppression practice; Hearing people with hearing privileges walk and talk around on the Gallaudet campus, insulting ASL that should be appreciated our language, that is ASL within the institution of higher education.

ASL is a step in the direction of intellectual equity, as the huge banner rolls out front of parking garage at Gallaudet University across from Union Market, makes an official statement that it is signing community. Can we really see Gallaudet University an ASL-centered university only? We need to make sure Gallaudet University as an ASL-centered needs to make a clear sense of what ASL is used for so that we are in a position to navigate Gallaudet as an ASL community. Signing is like mode of communication. Signing can be Sim-Com. Oh yeah, Sim-Com is still practiced at Gallaudet. It is better to use ASL instead of signing.

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Yet, there are hearing people who talk without sign language, oppressing ASL on the campus that is supposed to be sacred for Deaf people. Please look at my most previous post, Signing Community: Hypocrism at Best where seven videos were sent to me by several Deaf people who felt insulted.

Why do you think Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet went all the way to England to join in the audience and witness Deaf people signing and writing on stage, and that was where T.H. Gallaudet shook hands with Abbe Sicard—the history of all the Deaf is the most beautiful thing! Is Gallaudet University enough ASL-centered with instruction and scholarship?

The huge banner “We are Gallaudet University: A Signing Community” needs to examine more and I mean, really deep in heart. Audism is not allowed at Gallaudet University. It is a big problem! When hearing people talk on the campus designed for Deaf people, is exactly the struggle for Deaf community to feel oppressed. The latter attitude is that the term “oppression” has been most invisible mirror, oppressing ASL and Deaf people.

Should we allow language hegemony by hearing people? Deaf people had fought hard for ASL. We all cannot deny that. Is it intellectual oppression? Behind the university gates, oppression is everywhere and that is embarrassment. There is no way Gallaudet University should not allow people talking and insulting ASL, its linguistic and cultural heritage of the Deaf, period.

Again, “We are Gallaudet University: A Signing Community”–Can they really be honest with themselves? When hearing people talk on campus, they do not see ASL as a human and it continues to be oppressed. Deaf people are hurt. Deaf people are suffering. That is the real answer.

 

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We cannot forget the passion in ASL. That’s our mother tongue. After all, we are the ones to push for change. No more Audism! If they use that banner, then the major point of using ASL on the campus is to transform the language and culture to intellectual life. That’s how it is supposed to work. ASL is intellectual property and that is it matters the most……for Deaf people whose ownership is ASL first on the campus.

Again, please be honest with yourself. Gallaudet University is not a signing community. Not yet. It is better if the banner says: Gallaudet University is an ASL community.

-JT

Copyright © 2019 Jason Tozier

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

 

 

 

 

 

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