I had a mind-bogging conversation with Deaf professor who works at Gallaudet University and prefer ASL for communication, information, and knowledge this evening. The professor had been working there for long time, and one day, the professor was required to attend a departmental meeting. The Chair of the department is also Deaf. The department has the majority of hearing teachers. The chair had asked that Deaf professor to use voice for hearing teachers’ sake. The professor is not required to do it. Despite the professor never used voice before. Why now? Right there, it is very much oppressive and hostile environment. We all must remember: Gallaudet’s most complicated motto: “There is no other place like this in the world.” It is supposed to be most safe place in the world.
This is 2018, and Gallaudet University is practicing language bigotry and language aversion against ASL. The worst thing was coming from the chair who is Deaf has ordered that professor to use voice—do you think it is double oppression? Deaf people who uses ASL have led lives of suffering and emotional distresses within an unforgiving, if not hostile, hearing social hierarchy in the environment where ASL is marginalized and visual modes of communication forever ignored at Gallaudet University.
At the same time, we must remind ourselves that Gallaudet University is a well-known reference to the attitude of honest acceptance for the state of being Deaf. In our own language, ASL stands for much more than just ASL. It is deeper meaning is our culture, that is, Deaf culture. As we the Deaf people at Gallaudet University continue to struggle by being forced to use voice, the university becomes attuned to erratic priorities for the Deaf people.
The Deaf chair who ordered Deaf professor, where is the leadership power for empowering bias-free, stress-free, hostile-free, and success at Gallaudet University? By forcing to use voice has destroyed many Deaf people in the past to benefit not only themselves, but ASL continues to be oppressed today.
Simultaneous Communication known as SimCom will be less workable if ASL was allowed. Deaf people using ASL are smarter. SimCom will not change the foundation of ASL society; Deaf people could never adapt to a new order of the Deaf. Gallaudet University MUST never endorses any attempt to force Deaf professors to use voice. It would be like blaspheme because being state of Deaf is divinely endowed with manifestation for ASL.
That Deaf professor should not deal with emotional distress and the majority of hearing teachers in that department build their case against ASL entirely on their own speculations. These people value speculations and are serious about making academics out of them. Unfortunately, many of them have never really studied what ASL does and does not.
Their communication speculations have been misused to defend educational bankruptcy; to support linguistic and cultural colonialism; to persecute ASL against Deaf people; to support the oppression of ASL; to oppose ASL as their first choice to use language every day; to condemn Deaf people to use ASL;
We must be open to new truth about ASL at Gallaudet University. We must stop language hegemony against ASL. William Shakespeare once said, “Even the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.”
Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier
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There is a story that needs to be seen. At this hour, Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Washington, D.C; is offering a position for Chapter Relations Manager that pays $60,000 a year. The picture you shall see above:
“There is a terrific opportunity for a real ‘people person’ who is great with details! AG Bell helps families who have a deaf child who is learning to speak and the professionals who support them with a focus on helping children catch up to their peers with typical hearing by the time they start school….”
But, it is not what it caught my attention though. “…people who have worked with association chapters or fraternities….” the key word is fraternities.
Many stories which became mine to share with you. Kenneth Lane was an embittered guy who lost his hearing late in life and went to Gallaudet University. He became a fraternity brother there. He talked down to many of Deaf people and their own parents and they boycotted and had him kicked out.
Kenneth simply hated being Deaf. He was conservative; He would supplement hearing people. When Lloyd Ambrosen, a CODA superintendent at Maryland School for the Deaf (MSD) announced that he had accepted to become Vice President of NTID, about 75% of teachers at MSD left, too. They refused to deal with Kenneth. As for Lloyd Ambrosen whom had a heart attack and died just a month before starting at NTID. It was a great loss.
One day, Kenneth visited Carl Schroeder in the English Department and told him that he was very proud to know that one of his star students was teaching English. Carl was like, “Oh, shit.” Kenneth hated himself. He was simply in wrong agenda. Even Kenneth advised Carl to use simultaneous method (SIM-COM) in the English Department for which Carl was well known to refuse it.
Not only that but Kenneth became a bigot against Deaf people and many of Deaf parents even hearing parents of Deaf children at MSD and they all boycotted and got out of MSD. Ken became a mean-spirited guy at MSD. Many parents were his classmates at Gallaudet and they did not like him passionately.
David Denton arrived at MSD with a different philosophy called Total Communication. It was a disaster. Denton, on the other hand, hated Deaf parents and the school alumni. He even forbad the alumni from coming to the school, even for sport games. It was just awful.
David Denton and Kenneth Lane were good friends. They shared the same goal: AGBell’s philosophy and look down Deaf people in a mean-spirited way.
Kenneth Lane was a Director of Publications for Volta Review under Alexander Graham Bell Association. He was a high school principal for MSD. He had a military personality. Anyone who is in fraternity at Gallaudet who supports Alexander Graham Bell’s philosophy is a traitor. That kind of educational leadership is very evolving, ranging from strict discipline to sound discipline to informed citizenry.
After all, “There is a terrific opportunity for a real ‘people person’”.
Copyright @ 2017 Jason Tozier
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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.