American Sign Langauge: Not a Human Right?

Why is ASL still marginalized today and tomorrow? Deprivation of ASL is a form of Linguicism?


Calling Out Talila “TL” Lewis

Calling out Talila “TL” Lewis, co-founder of so-called HEARD (Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf) organization. Those people who worships TL for her hearing privilege to oppress Deaf community.

Forcing to Use Voice or Face Consequences



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.

fullsizerender-7.jpgSimultaneous 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

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


A CODA’s Experience About Spring Awakening



With the permission approved by Becky Stuckless, a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) to share with you (Thank you, Becky for your courage!)

“So my Spring Awakening experience was not what I expected! I was reminded of my privilege as soon as I arrived to purchase tickets. A couple was struggling to communicate with the ticket agent at will call. I almost offered to interpret and then realized they seemed embarrassed and frustrated all at once.

I went to the open window, purchased my tickets for the next day and left. Feeling incredibly guilty for my privilege the rest of the evening. The show itself was not what I expected. It had some really dark parts that left me sad and I wasn’t prepared for it. I wasn’t thrilled with the sim-com and wonder why they couldn’t do the entire thing with both a Deaf and hearing person. I again felt the benefit of coda/bilingual privilege.

I found the ASL message to be much more explicit than the English message and was reminded by Doug the benefit of my bilingual privilege.”


The Change of Power Dynamics in Department of Interpreting at Gallaudet University

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Interpreting American Sign Language (ASL) and its cultural history has always been a hallmark of Gallaudet University, the world’s only liberal arts university for the Deaf in Washington, DC. The importance of interpretation to the mission of the university has been demonstrates through the years, and the cadre of professors who articulate and facilitate between ASL and its spoken counterpart English today is an essential arm of higher learning.

Not too long time ago, ASL was added to the university bilingual mission statement. Our basic goals for Gallaudet University are to better understand ASL and to infuse this bilingual knowledge into various facets of higher education.

So it is quite appropriate for Gallaudet University to apply ASL to interpretation. It points to a new and growing partnership between the Deaf and interpreters and call for expanding this partnership beyond the university to the many public and private groups that interpret cultural history of the Deaf. This is crucial, because the challenges of a dynamic future of the Deaf will surely place greater demands on professional ASL interpreters. Increased knowledge about ASL-English interpretation.

There are some interpreting majors at Gallaudet who talks and signs known as SIM-COM (simultaneous communication) at the same time oppressing ASL—even talking without ASL in food courts, library, educational classrooms and the Department of Interpreting (DOI) needs to educate interpreting majors that oppressing ASL is the root of the language oppression. Faculty and students at Gallaudet University has offered the same diagnosis, and belated users of ASL themselves regularly assert that Gallaudet University administration has offended Deaf people’s dignity, pride, and honor. That is a branch of ignorance at Gallaudet.

What should we make of it? Can anyone point to a greater language hegemony whom interpreters refuse to learn the power dynamics of Audism where DOI needs to offer a full course about Audism? There is no policy about Audism in DOI. That is a fact. For a modern example of the kind of Deaf community that can be fashioned out of an exclusive reliance upon ASL, who are those people on the Gallaudet administration ostracizing Deaf people for using ASL?

Even though there is no shortage of brilliant minds in the Deaf community, Deaf people are simply oppressed by Gallaudet University—with the newly elected president, Roberta “Bobbi” Cordano that will hopefully make a huge change to reduce the human ignorance and make ASL a primary language all over Gallaudet University campus including interpreting majors or interpreters who should not talk and sign at the same time or talk without ASL is purely offensive for Deaf students on the campus.


Copyright © 2016 Jason Tozier

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


Spring Awakening: Are We Being Language-Bastardized With Choice?


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.

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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.

Thoughts about Speaking/Voicing at Gallaudet From Two Hearing Students


Hi JT,

Thanks for thinking of me and allowing me to share some of my thoughts.

Living on campus is one of the best ways for hearing students to truly immerse themselves in Deaf Culture.  However, when two or more hearing people gather in the absence of a Deaf person, the urge is to switch to SimCom or voiced English (I don’t know which is worse).  This means that entire dorm rooms, cafeteria tables, and even classrooms follow this unwritten policy.  If one person switches languages, then the entire group is pulled toward English because it is our first and native language.  When faced with the decision of choosing a downhill path and a uphill struggle, most would choose the former.  But that is not why we are here at Gallaudet.  We are not here to practice our English.  We’ve done that for our entire lives.  We are here to completely dive into a language that is not native to us.  But when voicing happens on campus, it becomes a black hole, sucking in all hearing people, regardless of their good intentions.  It takes every fiber of self control to sign answers in response to voiced questions.  However if everybody understood this, respected the mission statement and language policy of Gallaudet University we wouldn’t feel this internal struggle between which language to choose. But for now all I can do is surround myself with as many Deaf people as I can find so that both on and off campus I will not have to choose which language to use.

Although there are many hearing students who voice on campus, I believe that there are even more hearing students who are uncomfortable with this unwritten philosophy.  These students are just not confident enough in their signing to surround themselves with Deaf friends, not confident enough to ask their hearing friends to “Please for me, voice-off”, not confident enough to stand strong in the presence of a black hole.  However it is our job as allies to stand up for a voice off campus.




Hi JT,

I was just thinking about some of my frustrations regarding this issue and two things that hadn’t yet come to mind did.

1. Escapes
Many hearing people here, even ones who are very skilled in ASL, have difficulty signing all day and feel the need to speak English as a way to escape, to have a moment where they can feel themselves. This can be true of any person in another culture, or if they moved to china spoke Chinese all day, they may need some times where they speak English. So, when hearing people live on campus with only hearing people they treat their room as “the escape.” They feel their room is the only place where they can be themselves. I think that anthropologically this makes a lot of sense.

2. Hearing Culture Conflict
However, this becomes a problem when the entire suite is hearing because then the suite allows hearing culture to take over which can be a problem for someone like me who does not feel the need to participate in hearing culture. Hearing people behave certain ways in hearing environments because of their hearing and there are also certain manners that accompany that. As a hearing person who does not feel like I need a “break from using ASL” I don’t have the ability to only sign in a suite where everyone speaks because it is considered very rude in a hearing environment for someone to speak to you and for you to not speak back if you have the ability. In doing so i would be rejecting their right to speak which they do have in their own bedroom without deaf people around. This creates a culture conflict amongst hearing people on the campus because how their hearing culture exists changes, and it affects the way ASL exists in Gallaudet when there are all of these pockets of hearing culture due to the fact that there is such a concentration of hearing people in the graduate school.

Didn’t come to any conclusions but i thought i should share it.



Copyright © Jason Tozier

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Department of Interpretation Scandal at Gallaudet University #2


Dr. Metzger,

I am writing an email about what happened in the cafeteria on November 10th at 7:45pm.

While we were eating and we were offended by seeing other table with all senior interpreter students speaking to each other and using Sim-Com. There’s that certain girl, AK, who talked all the way without signing. Our group had a discussion how to make the right approach without cause a lot of hassles because we already knew several stories about AK and her attitude problem.

KO, who is currently on her second year at Gallaudet for the interpreter programs, was willing to tell them to sign without finger pointing. She waved to get their attention and told all of them to nicely please sign for our equality access of communication in the public. However, AK’s lack of responses ended up hurting us even more and she only replied, “Do you have problem with that?” KO ended up again told her to please sign in public. AK decided to make an unnecessary attack statement, “She has a right to use English because it is her first language.” I looked away because it did really burn me off. I tried to figure why she would want to become an interpreter if she refused to respect Deaf culture. Why would she want to be an interpreter in the first place with all Deaf people here?

After three deaf students stood up and told her repeatedly to respect us and use sign for the sake of our equality access. We also friendly mentioned to her of how we understood that English is her first language. She got silent and we thought the argument was over. However, she rolled her eyes and continued to talk with voice, just to rub in our faces and that made me even more upset. I stood up, out of my anger and told her, “This is not first time. Can you just simply respect us? How is that so hard for you?!” She smiled….disgustingly smiled. To be honest, I didn’t remember what I said to her that much because I was very angry. I told her that she clearly is only coming here for money and didn’t care about Deaf culture. I told her bluntly, “Look at KO, she also is an interpreter student and she never uses her voice around us, ever. Oh, you didn’t know that? This exactly is what we need from interpreter that really into deaf culture, not just for money!” At that point, KO jumped in between of us and told her, “Why wouldn’t she sign and Gallaudet is the only Deaf university in the world and she can’t sign…?” She yelled at us, “You can’t tell me what to do because I am here for 5 years!!” She literally tried to walk toward to me but the person who sat beside her intervened. The argument gradually became out of control. The nice guy stopped our argument and explained to us how he understood our feelings. That was when everyone cooled off. After that, we decided to leave the table in peace.

That is why I felt this entire argument was unnecessary.  All of this went out of control just simply because of her disrespectful attitude. We cannot tolerate that. She just doesn’t care about our feelings or living as Deaf people. She doesn’t care about this very much. If she could have the privilege of getting a well-paid job as an interpreter but does that change her behaviours? No, it doesn’t because it’s irrelevant to the profession of interpreting. We Deaf people are experiencing much pressure on language barriers, discriminations and such in the hearing world on daily basis. We do not want her to feel she has the privilege to oppose our well-valued culture. Again, we cannot tolerate that.

This contrasts to the goals of Gallaudet University where everyone, both hearing and Deaf, lives together and preserves our Deaf culture and language. It would be reasonable if she can set aside her own language for some time and socialize with the Deaf people on campus with sign language. From what I’ve heard a lot of stories about her unprofessional behavior including my recent situation, that proved to us that we cannot trust her as an interpreter for the sake of our community in future. What is the point for her to continue studying and become interpreter if she’s still being disrespectful with unprofessional behavior as an interpreter? Suppose if I go to see doctor with her being there as an interpreter, it would be considered highly inappropriate in regard to the issues of trust and attitude. Therefore, I am certain that an interpreter with attitude problem like AK is unsuitable for the future job. PERIOD.



Copyright © Jason Tozier

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

Department of Interpretation Scandal at Gallaudet University #1

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Hi Dr. Metzger,

I am emailing you to share what I experienced in the cafeteria on November 10th.  My friends and I were eating dinner when the table next to us, who were all senior interpreter students, were using Sim-Com.  This is my second year at Gallaudet and I have observed the same group of people repeatedly using Sim-Com in the cafeteria. On Monday, my table and I decided enough was enough and I took on the responsibility of getting the table’s attention to ask if they could please sign. One girl, who I have learned has a strong history relating to other similar situations, immediately replied ‘do you have a problem with that?’  Her name is AK.  I then said, ‘yes… can you sign?’ and asked her ‘if she didn’t sign, where is the equality…?’  She then replied that she had a right to use English because it is her first language.

She also said repeatedly after I continued to ask her to sign, that ‘we could either: discuss the use of ASL and discuss the use of English or was I just going to make a statement?’  I still am not sure what her point was by asking me if I wanted to discuss the use of ASL and English.I don’t think there is anything to discuss…  I could tell this was not the first time she had to defend herself because her responses to me were automatic, almost scripted.  She wouldn’t even allow the points I was making to soak in.  The other interpreting students at the table were silent.  The argument did stop for about 30 seconds…

We figured that it was over and thought the hearing table was going to proceed to sign – but we were wrong.  AK continued to talk and that was when my roommate, RP, stood up and told her that it was obvious that she was only becoming an interpreter for the money and that she didn’t care about Deaf culture. (RP has had a run in with her in the past because AK interpreted for her and a group of other Deaf people and she was acting very unprofessional).  AK’s response to this was to ‘fuck off.’  RP did respond back ‘no, fuck you’ and then RP compared me with AK.  She stated that I was also an interpreting student (AK didn’t know I was also in the program until my roommate told her) and that I manage to sign day in and day out.

I stepped in again and asked her ‘why she wouldn’t sign?  That Gallaudet is the only Deaf university in the world and she won’t sign…?’  Then, AK yell/signed at me that ‘I didn’t have to tell her that because she has been here for five years!’  Things cooled off and the table then signed. The next day BD apologized to my roommate and said that AK’s attitude was unacceptable and that he wanted to talk more in depth later about what happened and that it wasn’t right for them to be using Sim-Com.  Then, on Thursday BL also apologized to my roommate saying that it wasn’t right for them to have been using Sim-Com.  We all find it very difficult to understand why AK is unwilling to accept this and seems to be very content remaining ignorant and unapologetic for her behavior.

This entire argument was unnecessary.  There is only one reason it happened and it’s because of AK’s bad attitude.  I feel it is absolutely necessary that you know about this situation. After telling two of my teachers this story and many of my friends, every single person knew exactly which girl I had this argument with before I even described her. I personally do not think the Deaf community, the interpreting world or Gallaudet needs this kind of attitude representing them.  Also, to hear that this student has been complained about in the past and continues to act this way frightens me.
Thank you, KO

Disappointment at Gallaudet

ImageDuring the Graduate School Orientation (GSO) week at Gallaudet University where I am beginning my academic journey, I participated in an activity, 25 Questions Activity, that allowed me to get acquainted with another graduate student I had not met. It was a learning fun for both of us and I wanted to blog about it.

We shared by telling each other who we are, what school we are in, and what improvement we would like to see at Gallaudet. I graduated with top honors and I am in the School of Deaf Studies/American Sign Language (ASL) Studies. My activity partner (her name withheld) is an interpreter-turned-teacher student who is very proficient in American Sign Language (ASL).

I complimented her skills in ASL because I was shocked to learn that there are many hearing graduate students who are not. She then told me she ran in an Audiologist student who has refused to acquire ASL. She asked why she came to Gallaudet, and her reply was: “Cheap!”

We discussed and agreed that Audism is prevalent in the graduate school at Gallaudet University. We attended a lecture about the university Sim-Com (simultaneous communication, meaning signing and speaking at the same time). The speaker explained that it is the university faculty that is a stronghold of this Sim-Com policy, this language bastardization.

From this GSO activity, we agreed that ASL is not a sound-oriented language. Signing and speaking at the same time means a language marginalization. Even a hearing individual sounds funny and ungrammatical when following the Sim-Com policy.

I knew, now I know, it is going to be an uphill battle if we were to accomplish the bilingualism mission at Gallaudet University. However, the first impression is lasting, and I’m disappointed.


Copyright © 2013 Jason Tozier

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