ASL Advocates American Independence?

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Laurent Clerc: United Nations Human Rights Prize

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70 years ago on December 10th, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was brought up with the idea to recognize that as humans we adopt equal rights, freedom, and pursuit of happiness.

I just read the winners for 2018 United Nations Human Rights Prize who deserve an award. From the United Nations website writes:

The United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights is an honorary award given to individuals and organizations in recognition of outstanding achievement in human rights.

In the past, United Nations Human Rights had given to someone who passed away such as Eleanor Roosevelt. Why not Laurent Clerc? He contributed to Deaf community in the heart of human rights. Establishing the first American Deaf School in Hartford, Connecticut. For next 50 years, the school had trained many Deaf students in the field of educators to teach Deaf pupils to be successful. Laurent Clerc’s spirit embodies the self-determination of the newly Deaf space; his thoughts are still considered the strongest influence in Deaf people’s bodies, minds, and spirits.

Laurent Clerc’s quote:

“A knowledge of history is extremely useful; it lays before our eyes the great picture of the generations that have preceded us; and in relating the events which passed in their time…it lays before us the precepts of the wise…of all ages…”

There was no “rehabilitation” program or education for Deaf students. Laurent Clerc predicted the importance for future of the Deaf citizens to preserve and perpetuate in the language and culture, protecting and promoting ASL. French influence upon American Sign Language (ASL) and intellectual life of the Deaf has become quite pronounced as the result of the contact between Deaf people to seek for higher education. Not only in America, but influenced Canada as well, too.

Last September 2018, United Nations recognized its first International Day of Sign Languages, and it is a huge step. There was more than 70 million Deaf people living world wide, according to the World Federation of the Deaf, the higher education is pretty difficult to grasp, only two percent out of 70 million Deaf people have the human right access to a formal education.

Since Laurent Clerc’s arrival in America, his mission has been to provide quality individualized education honoring the talents of Deaf students, making sure they were given the highest opportunities to acquire academic skills necessary for success.

Making sure the long journey, the dark moments of doubts and struggles, going through series of emotional, mental and physical—and the feeling in a life time would end up being over, until Laurent Clerc’s arrival made sure it was never over. It was very much part of human right. Being the state of Deaf is a human right in the highest form of freedom.

Honestly, I do think Mr. Laurent Clerc deserve United Nations Human Rights Prize, the largest honour of lifetime work. What do you think?

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-JT

Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier

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

References:

https://usdeafhistory.com/tag/laurent-clerc/

https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/news/dspd/international-day-sign-languages.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Prize_in_the_Field_of_Human_Rights

 

 

The Washington Monument of Higher Education for Deaf Students

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130 years ago, on October 9, 1888—the Washington Monument finally built after 40 years of battles. It was also a battle for Deaf people during that time from 1848-1888.

Imagine in 1848, Deaf people would have struggle with learning enhancements in higher education and hungry for Deaf education, and it was a battle for sure. National Deaf-Mute College (now Gallaudet University) did not built until 1864. Between 1848 and 1865, the politics were heavy invested, standing up for America’s values while dealing with Civil War must have been mind-boggling on Deaf non-students and Deaf students.

The Washington Monument was built in honor of first American president; it was also world’s tallest stone structure and tallest obelisk, it stands 555 feet high. Imagine Deaf students from Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb went down there and took the courage to walk all the way to the top and see the view of Washington, D.C. including the sighting of world’s first college for Deaf students. What were their thoughts when they grabbed the opportunity to see the beacon of higher education?

At the same time, think about pain and struggles what Deaf people had gone through. One year before the Washington Monument was opened to the public, Alexander Graham Bell founded Volta Bureau, the center to teach Deaf to erase their identity by controlling their lives for profits. Eight years before the Monument, Oralism spread the fires and banned sign languages around the world, and what would it look like when it happened during the days of Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb in 1880.

Picture this. The Oralism Monument: 555 feet high—the dominance of Deaf people’s lives. College Hall: The elevation is 75 feet. 75 feet x 7.4=555 feet.

It would take 7.4 ‘College Halls’ to overcome the power and influence over Deaf people to make Alexander Graham Bell happy. During that time, president of the college, Edward Miner Gallaudet stood fiercely strong against Alexander Graham Bell’s push for Oralism.

The Edward Miner Gallaudet Residence, which now as House One where Gallaudet University presidents live there, imagine what EMG was sitting there on a chair thinking how to make now Gallaudet University an ASL-centered more than ever. The biggest question, did EMG ever visit the Washington Monument and grabbed the view at the top of 555 feet and understood the higher education and protect ASL for Deaf students today and tomorrow? Which place would be first thing for EMG to look for on the top of world’s tallest building? Or was Washington, DC filled with trees that cannot see the view of now Gallaudet University?

It must have been high road for Deaf students to walk all the way to the top of Washington Monument to defy odds and show the world that Deaf people can do anything. It was all about unleashing the hidden power of language bigotry and hegemony.

One more thing, the reason behind Washington Monument came together in our neighborhoods, universities, workplaces, and communities to keep the dreams open for Deaf students of understanding, personal interactions that will make them better educators and share their life experiences to build higher education and human connections in any shape.

The tallest university obelisk goes to Laurent Clerc who inspired Deaf America today and tomorrow. Can it ever be funded?

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-JT

Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier

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

 

 

 

 

 

Why You Should Pick Gallaudet To Be Your Home

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Let’s begin in the beginning where we are on our own. When you are walking across Gallaudet University, you will see a rise of a gleaming memorial to discover your Deaf identity in this time line. The old bricks of great hands built Gallaudet University together, the ambitious effort to create a Deaf-space integrated, so connected, ASL continue to flourish. With the sidewalks that has hold the foot prints of Great Hotchkiss, Foster, Draper, Amos, Veditz, Tiegel, Fay, Hanson, McGregor, Clerc and list of game changers had found their home.

As Laurent Clerc writes, “A knowledge of history is extremely useful; it lays before our eyes the great picture of the generations that have preceded us; and in relating the events which passed in their time…it lays before us the precepts of the wise…of all ages.”

Just any time you see the flag of Gallaudet University, the welcome would be your entrance to your home. The flag flap in the wind at the at the entrance to each of our eyes–for the higher learning mecca in Deaf world. That is where the most attractive piece of human being and the state of being Deaf.

For the purpose of the journey for Gallaudet University, the most important Gallaudetian motto: There is No Other Place Like This in The WorldBy far came in the year of 1864, the search for home to empower Deaf people, no longer in the sullen silence of despair had found hope in National Deaf-Mute College now known today as Gallaudet University. What is Deaf Space and why should Gallaudet be your home? One of its key ideas, the creation of having Gallaudet as your home, helps to continue the future of Deaf stories there, and will not be forgotten. Let’s carry the flames of 1864 to today.

To make it even more real home, it would take a breathtaking in its sheer scope to make radical changes, for example, get involved and in repealing Audism on Gallaudet campus. Let’s end the witch-hunt. Funding is the name of the game. Tough-on-hate policies. Work to defeat fear-mongering culture. Ban hearing privileges.

Stop allowing propaganda style to infiltrate our common senses. Gallaudet University needs to bring ASL ethics and philosophy back into Gallaudet’s higher learning system. Today on the campus of Gallaudet University, I was told that it is only 50% of people who works there do not know ASL. Is there any validity why we should bring it up in this dialogue in a concrete reason?

If we do not take action above then why are we still creating a culture of fear? How would you pick to make Gallaudet your home? Even today, the energy of Gallaudet viewed as an important “cardinal” chapter in Deaf community, the glory years of ASL stories, and the old Deaf souls, still carry satisfying memories around Gallaudet community. Then it is time to think whether you should pick Gallaudet University as your home. Hey, are you home now?

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-JT

Copyright © 2017 Jason Tozier

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

 

The Nation Was Also Built By Laurent Clerc

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History Through Deaf Eyes 

Today, May 1st is Immigrant Rights Day! Consider, to begin with a colonialism scene in Deaf world–especially in America that time. In 1816, Laurent Clerc to begin his journey for America knew the destiny to create in the name of Deaf Education. Clerc was the ONE who generated Deaf Education, without him, it would not be the same. It was a fate to get rid of Audism and break the colonization.

This was the time that Clerc had to articulate his teaching philosophy in America. The ability to acquire and use sign language exclusively is valuable for Deaf students in the field of literatures and Clerc strive to have students actively thinking about higher education within minutes of entering the classroom, and when communication something Clerc pushed to use as much sign language as possible.

Clerc had been teaching for long time, and I’m sure he enjoyed this work a lot. He had coordinated Deaf Education and there is no way he would realize that his presence had developed and facilitated many courses through the College-wide Curriculum Committees and Higher Education Commission. His gift for America was a huge amount of time, and through this process, he determined to boil down his teaching philosophy to higher principles that Clerc as an immigrant made a huge difference today.

The most important principle of Deaf Education is always demonstrating a passion for higher learning. Unfortunately, there is no unique recipe for passion that works for all Deaf students. While for some Deaf students it is important to know how to use ASL, others find the ideas for education in ASL interesting by themselves.

The final grade has been a top-priority for many Deaf students, but I am sure that Clerc always do his best to explain that it should an ultimate goal for acquiring skills in ASL. Otherwise, students would gain the skills in ASL after classroom is over and that is very desirable for Clerc.

So, I feel that Clerc as an immigrant with his credentials why Deaf Education is important and where it is used today and explain the ideas behind philosophy and linguistics, propagating the idea that ASL can be approached from two perspectives, science (descriptive) and art (prescriptive). Before proceeding to the theory Clerc would give a lot of examples and usually draw appropriate pictures.

Clerc’s passion is enthusiasm for acquiring and mastering ASL for Deaf students. His enthusiasm must be infectious enough to transmit to the students. In this case they would learn ASL because of ASL itself and not only because it is used somewhere else. The goal here is to share the beauty of ASL. Deaf students, I am sure that have never complained about a lack of enthusiasm.

We reinforce Deafhood every time we use ASL. © Jason “JT” Tozier 2017

Clerc might not also realize that he brought human rights of the Deaf in America. It was all about modeling and teaching professional behavior and respect. To Clerc, teaching and learning is palpable: When Clerc can see it in a student’s visible delight in acquiring and using ASL jargon; when Clerc can read the excitement in students’ essays about ASL or Deaf experience that is also part of Deaf Studies, Clerc cannot say anything better than an Irish writer, W.B. Yeats about teaching when he wrote:

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

Clerc’s energy had ignited in Deaf students a passion to learn as much as possible and be professional within the field of Deaf Studies. I can best summarize in one word for Clerc: passion. Passion helps the Deaf students engage in the course assignment, even if there is no “correct answer” in the processes of exploring the language and culture of the Deaf. Engaged students in classrooms must work hard, write about their Deaf experiences, and learn to think, respect others, and above all, have fun!

Clerc was the most important Deaf immigrant in America. Thank you, Laurent Clerc for your genius and innovations. You were the face of human rights! After all, we are a nation of immigrants. Behold the Deaf community in highest standard possible! Yes, Immigrant Rights are Human Rights!

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-JT

Copyright © 2017 Jason Tozier

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

References:

https://www.neh.gov/explore/history-through-deaf-eyes