After watching The Daily Moth to talk about Spring Awakening: Accessibility for Deaf interview between Jehanne McCullough, an activist, DJ Kurs, Deaf West Artistic Director and Linda Bove, American Sign Language (ASL) Master. McCullough protests the theatrical stance on Sim-Com (simultaneous communication, meaning signing and speaking at the same time) promoting Kurs and Bove to reconvene by interview as viewers occupied their time to watch why it is OK for Kurs and Bove to say that Sim-Com is good for the audience in theatre settings. That is a political marketing right there.
Tom Humphries wrote “Talking Culture, Culture Talking”, we the Deaf often told stories but we don’t know about “hearing” stories. I am not talking about stories we acquired from, say, Shakespeare, da Vinci and the like. I mean stories about when, where and how they discovered the Deaf. In theatre, there are three phenomena: (1) stories, (2) actors/actresses and (3) audience. We had been rehearsing in these triads. Our stories must be accurate; we must act them out; and the audience must appreciate them. Simple. All three phenomena are in ASL—no questions asked. Is the theatre a stronghold of this Sim-Com policy, the language bastardization?
Kurs and Bove does not meet the qualifications, which ranged from failing to vigorously oppose and hold discussions on apparent attempts to organize a “Sim-Com” in theatre. Kurs and Bove does not respect Deaf people’s preference to have ASL only——they are publicly disrespecting and demeaning, and breeding an environment that can cause language hegemony towards Deaf people. They were defensive on that part. Notice that they said the same thing when they said that Sim-Com is not allowed in educational settings, but theatrical sets, yes! They coached each other to make sure they are on the same page.
Charges of Sim-Com dominated statements made by McCullough after the show, I applaud McCullough for bringing it out the truth that it hurts Deaf people in long run to change the theatrical settings to promote healthy and inclusion, and listen to any suggestions the Deaf community would be happy with. There is one of couple things that Bove mentioned that Deaf West is not an ASL-centered theme, but a sign language theatre. That breeds a great deal of language hegemony—does Bove even realize what she was saying like that?
The chilling part is that when Kurs said that hearing people do not understand ASL—therefore, Deaf people cannot understand spoken English to make it even out. What is that supposed to mean? That is not even scholarly answer. Theater is all about knowledge that requires education, it is one of the greatest way to introduce the issue of human rights, and how Deaf people can be human rights champions right in their own communities by using ASL. That can be also incorporated in larger theatrical themes of celebrating diversity, encouraging tolerance, prevent “hearing-dominated” language, bullying, and resolving conflict in constructive ways. Not only that but Kurs and Bove do not realize that Audism is prevalent in theatrical settings they allow to make it happen.
From the show, Spring Awakening, it is huge disappointment that they allow signing and speaking at the same time allows language marginalization—does hearing actors on the theatre settings sounds funny and ungrammatical when following the Sim-Com policy? Think about that. I understood the importance of theatrical settings because of my experience as an actor for Deafhood Monologues. It was a huge wake-up.
DJ Kurs and Linda Bove need to apologize for being insensitive feelings for Deaf citizens. Commit Deaf West to ASL-centered to fulfill their demands. Admit that Sim-Com is a failure to prioritize the education of Deaf people during show.
Finally, acknowledge Sim-Com is built on false myths taken from hearing educators, honors language bastardization, appropriates Deaf culture in some of its art and stories and asserts the legacy of hearing supremacy and its language must be stopped.
Copyright © 2015 Jason Tozier
This text may be freely copied in its entirely only including this copyright message.
—Leonardo da Vinci (c.1490)
Remember the ‘80s TV show,The A-Team? Good times! Now there is a team called The F-Team in 2015. They promote hate speech targeting Deaf people—their own people. I draw the line when a Deafhood-hater use the Internet who targets Deaf people by throwing offensive hate messages. Every group being fair game to this unsavory person makes this practice acceptable? The message we are missing is the lack of democracy for cultural diversity, especially for the oppressed people (e.g.; Deaf returned citizens) who are still rejected to this day by the mainstreamed society and who are not empowered yet. That is the key.
How would Deaf returned citizens feel if the Deafhood-hater and its peers approve a show of mocking and degrading them? What kind of message is this sent to the Deaf returned citizens and their families who struggle against discrimination and prejudice on a daily basis?
What about the self-esteem of those Deaf returned citizens already demoralized by the extensive Audism in Deaf community? To add the salt on the wound, Deafhood-hater’s show is not being financed for their money via website’s fees. Those people can practice hate speech elsewhere—-something is very wrong with this picture degrading its own minority groups.
The Deafhood hater needs to examine at what price to their self-esteem and pride in themselves as Deaf people are they being asked to sacrifice when they permit the hater to continue on the rights of hate speech.
It is important to be aware that the Deaf eyes are the infinite at our command to express hands that is, the work of sharing stories. The society we live is to convey a message that it reiterates to them that the intention ill had been directed their human rights. Their strength as a Deaf returned citizens had been attempted to intentionally undermine their learning experience is distorted and offensive.
Patrick Henry shouts 240 years ago on March 23rd stands up and said those words that would forever stamped one of the most important historical trademarks, “Give me liberty or give me death!” is what it would send death stare in their eyes that targets Deaf returned citizens in all of congressional districts in America, the liberty we do not forget. The death stare: to look fixedly at someone with so much hate in hopes that their face melts, explodes, or caves in with extreme discomfort and pain.
In large part, it is the result of the “neglect” and reflects America’s tendency to send a cruel and unusual punishment known, as Eighth Amendment in the Bill of Rights that would violate in our eyes is infinite.
The society needs to be confident that that the Deaf returned citizens’ needs shall be accommodated as best as possible. Not only have they had been granted an extension on their life, they switch the topic to a path for the pursuit of happiness. They are in effect getting a second chance is accurate and adequate.
Why are Deaf returned citizens held on a different standard?
Copyright © Jason Tozier
This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.