Tuesday, November 21, 2006
We all cannot forget how Gideon, an articulate, vibrant-signing eight-year-old deaf boy from an art of truest form of a deaf masterpiece produced by Mosdeux has captured our hearts and formed a desire for the likes of many deaf children. Using his natural language, ASL, he has offered a precise explanation on what an atom is and how magnets work that is loud and clear. It is not only about how he uses ASL , it is about who he is as a person. He greets his sister with affection putting his arm around her and being able to remember her sister's birthday date. This is so natural and compassionate. Gideon has also captivated us making our jaws going awed on how he signed a storm telling stories. Have you noticed how he has mastered as a storyteller when shifting into different roles, how he uses classifiers and how he describes the subjects/objects using long-shot signs and close-shot signs? On top of everything else, he definitely loves to play with language. Play is powerful in language development because it goes beyond effecting children's direct experience of the world to facilitate meta-cognition and meta-linguistics, that is, thinking and communicating about direct experience (as when the Gideon talks, smiles, and tells stories about motion rides on a boat and in a bus). His ability to express in this clear, visual language is like music to our eyes. There is no evidence in struggle when he answers the questions as he has replied fluently in ASL. Gideon has adopted a role as a master of play whereas he has demonstrated a formidable authority on the subject. He is able to display resonant signs on jaw-dropping and added a drool sign in the end. That is an example of language play. He is just taking an opportunity to create and experiment with some of those ways to explain how he feels when learning the way magnet works or how he narrates the story in motion. He defintely plays to experiment with linguistic and cultural routines. Play provides an opportunity to pick apart received structures, and to reframe, reformulate, and reorganize the material into new categories and combinations. Gideon is able to transport learned material into the realm of his imagination, where he can be free and able to re-shape and re-express it. Here he can digest the learned material about science topics and make it his own using his natural language, ASL, that is. He plays to escape English rules, and to assert his own control over the material using a high degree of ASL fluency. Afterwards, he can return to English's rules where he is able to derive his knowledge of ASL foundation to apply in reading and writing fashion. According to the article, "The relationship between literacy and ASL", written by William Vicars mentioned that Michael Strong and Philip Prinz had conducted a three year study of 155 deaf students in which they found a statistically significant positive correlation between a high degree of ASL fluency and English literacy. Gideon is indeed the future of the order of deaf people only IF we continue to fight to preserve the value of bilingual-bicultural education for ALL deaf children including hard-of-hearing children (when I say deaf, it means hard-of-hearing as well). We must continue to overwhelm more research findings to support this concept and to show living proof how deaf children are able to master English skills who already have acquired ASL since birth. This is the most critical learning period where a language is to be acquired fully in an immersed environment. We all know this but why isn't there a law to push for deaf babies to be exposed to ASL immediately? Take a look at Deaf Educational policy Scandavian policy and how changes in teacher education curriculum in Sweden. "Swedish educational materials center has produced a new book in English about process writing and process signing. It is also accompanied by a video. This insight, into how to develop the Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency and literacy levels in deaf children's first language is consistent with all the bilingual research (the highest achieving students are those who had their first langauge supported throughout their education and developed literacy in their first language as well as their second--in fact these children score higher levels in high school than monolingual children). This approach to teaching very young children to compose on video and do school assignments and creative "writing" in sign language, supports an easy switch to process writing (like writers workshops) in written Swedish and later English. I don't even see discussion of this methodology in the U.S., yet they have been using it long enough and with so much success that the book written by these two teachers was translated into English." Where were we in this? Why is it that here in U.S., we continue to struggle to implement such programs in deaf education? Perhaps there are some discussions of this methodology that have taken place in some schools for the deaf but it is not determined as a unified decision-making on how to better educate a deaf child as there are too many controversies in America. We continue to prove, prove and prove using countless research journals and articles on the benefits of providing biglingual and bicultural deaf education. The practices and applications of this theory have only scanted in deaf education field across America since most schools for the deaf and mainstreaming programs are not even steering in this direction because of this obsessed priority to focus on speech and hearing which is considered a "selling point" to parents. This has been a common traditional path that is comfortable for educators, administrators and staff who have been trained in programs supporting this practice. We need to question more about how deaf education programs prepare teachers for the deaf. Imagine if we unify to continue to give more pressure to the legislature in the state level and eventually the federal level to adopt this practice and policy that is mandatory for all deaf children to receive such methodology where they are able to master English starting with well developed ASL skills since birth (there are ways to make this work as I will comment in my next article). Then imagine from the outcome of this poltical action, there will be more Gideons out there! ASL gloss: Deaf Education Unity Same! English : Unity for Deaf Education!
Posted by Barb DiGi at 6:53 PM
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle in Speaking Out Essay section A By Karen Christie, Patti Durr and Barbara DiGiovanni, Guest essayists (November 14, 2006) — As members of the Rochester deaf community, we wish to clarify issues surrounding the "Unity for Gallaudet" protest that resulted in the termination of Jane Fernandes as the school's president-to-be. Media have perpetuated the erroneous idea that the protest related to Fernandes not being "deaf enough." In response, Fernandes branded the protesters anarchists and terrorists. Such terms have been alarmist and distract from a complex set of objections to the way the administration has managed Gallaudet and the unfairness of the search that resulted in Fernandes being chosen. Fact: Six years ago, Fernandes was named Gallaudet provost without any search process or faculty input. In the latest poll, most faculty proclaimed no confidence in Fernandes, Gallaudet's current president, I. King Jordan, or the trustees. (Note: the majority of the faculty are hearing.) Fact: The search committee failed to include a highly qualified African-American deaf person in the finalist pool. Fact: The protesters demanded that Fernandes resign and the search process be reopened. They did not demand appointment of one of the other two finalists, both of whom are deaf, use American Sign Language fluently, have deaf family members and are members of deaf culture. Myth: "Deaf culture" is a misnomer. Jack Slutzky, who retired after teaching at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology, called ASL a street language that has no place in the classroom (Speaking Out essay, Feb. 4, 1997). He recently denied the existence of deaf culture (Speaking Out essay, Nov. 3) based on a dictionary definition of culture. In anthropology, culture is defined as a way of life for a group of people who share traditions, language, values, behaviors and artifacts. Many scholarly books and articles have been published on deaf culture. Any questioning of the definition, existence, validity or rights of deaf culture is detrimental fallout from the Gallaudet protest. Myth: Advocates for deaf culture and ASL want to establish an exclusive community. Ousted president-designate Fernandes' comments relating to the trepidations of deaf people concerning cochlear implants have reinforced the myth that deaf people reject people with cochlear implants. In truth, becoming a member of deaf culture does not require shutting out the hearing world but instead it requires becoming involved with two languages, ASL and English, and two cultures, deaf and hearing. The either-or stance is ironic because it was the classic approach taken by oral-only educational programs for deaf children which forbade the use of sign language, denied the existence of deaf culture and encouraged students to reject peers who signed. Focusing on oral skill development was done at the expense of the educational development of many children. In contrast, deaf culture has always been inclusive and a bilingual education has always embraced the use of ASL instruction (as it is the most accessible and natural language for deaf people) with an equal emphasis on the importance of English. Myth: Gallaudet's recent "ineffective" rating by the government is a result of ASL/deaf culture militancy on campus.The U.S. Office of Management and Budget noted: "Gallaudet graduates who find employment commensurate with their education declined from 90 percent in 2001 to 69 percent in 2005." This decline occurred during Fernandes' tenure as Gallaudet provost. Somehow, Mr. Slutzky attributes this to rampant use of ASL whereas most Gallaudet professors use spoken English and simultaneous signing. We thank Mr. Slutzky in advance for refraining from proclaiming himself spokesperson for the rights of deaf people. We clearly can do so ourselves. Christie and Durr teach at NTID; DiGiovanni teaches at the Rochester School for the Deaf and is the mother of deaf children. This essay also was signed by 25 other members of the local deaf community. E-mail Christie at firstname.lastname@example.org. (feel free to leave your comments here as well) For those of you who need background information on what Jack Slutsky had mentioned in his essay, see essay below: Gallaudet is isolating its deaf students By Jack Slutzky (November 3, 2006) — I am totally dismayed and more than a little angry over the events at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. The trustees voted late last month to terminate the appointment of incoming president Jane Fernandes, the subject of months of protests. These feelings have been aroused in me by phrases being bandied around: "not deaf enough," "not my kind of deaf," "deaf culture," "not adequately committed to American Sign Language" and "Gallaudet, the leading college for the deaf." I taught at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology for more than 27 years. My son, who was born profoundly deaf, is an assistant professor at an upstate university teaching hearing students. I have worked with and for people across the country who are deaf or hard of hearing for more than 40 years. I mention these facts to give credibility to my words. Gallaudet University is not the leading university for the deaf. It might be the oldest, but it is far from the best. Judging by the success of Gallaudet students in the classroom and workplace, Gallaudet is not even a close second to NTID. To say that Fernandes is "not deaf enough" or doesn't "use the right kind of communication" is as insulting as it is bigoted. I worked at NTID with a dedicated faculty and staff, deaf and hearing, to enable students who are deaf to reach their potential and become full-fledged members of society. And they have! To have shut themselves in a small enclave a few radicals call "deaf culture" would have insulted the vast numbers of people who are deaf, people who are as heterogeneous as any group in this country. The dictionary defines culture as the development of intellectual and moral abilities; enlightenment acquired by the study of the fine arts, humanities and the sciences; and the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief and behavior that depends on the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations. Ergo, "deaf culture" is a misnomer! American Sign Language does not make a culture. When Fernandes spoke in January of expanding Gallaudet to embrace all forms of deafness, and all modes of communication deaf people use to communicate, she ruffled the feathers of a few defensive hermits afraid of sharing, of growing, of becoming. Most Americans who are deaf or hearing impaired do not embrace American Sign Language as their language of choice. Most parents of deaf children do not embrace ASL as their language of choice. Most employers and educators of deaf people do not embrace ASL as their language of choice. I have told my son and hundreds of students I have worked with: I care not how you communicate, but that you communicate. I care not what you choose to study, but that you can and do choose. I care not what you choose to do with your life, but that you have choice in life. Embracing a biased, bigoted misnomer called "deaf culture" and an absolute adherence to ASL will only inhibit your participation in society. Shame on you, Gallaudet trustees, for caving in to threat and for failing to defend the rights of people across this country who are deaf.Slutzky, of Le Roy, has been a writer since he retired from RIT 10 years ago. E-mail him at email@example.com. (Note that we had written "Shame on you, Jack" but it was deleted by D and C, oh well)
Posted by Barb DiGi at 5:14 PM
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
November 6, 2006 Q. Explain your experinces at Gallaudet when you were attending, and how does it contrast and/or compare to the current situation? My experiences at Gallaudet from 1984 to 1986 opened a window of opportunity for me to be immersed in an ASL environment where diversied Deaf people mingle other than my deaf family and hometown deaf community. I have fond memories at Gallaudet and developed several everlasting friendships. One of my buddies was Suzy Rosen as we share the same dorm, the good old Krug Hall, also Tim Rarus and Greg Hlibok resided there. We were just college kids having so much fun. About contrasting and comparing the current situation, are you referring to the DPN 1988 and Unity for Gallaudet? If so, I have not gotten the opportunity to experience the DPN 1988 protest. Here is an article that shows analysis by Patti Durr between two movements http://www.aslcommunityjournal.com/blog/. If you are referring to the administration, faculty/staff and students, I can tell you a few things. About the administration, I recalled prominent deaf leaders such as Roz Rosen and Harvey Goodstein leading Gallaudet College (at that time). There were no Deaf Studies programs nor Linguistics on ASL department just sign language department. I recalled how the Student Body Government was filled with ambitious, and strong-willed leaders. My perspectives on Gallaudet teachers vary from marvelous to appalling. I enjoyed having an Algebra teacher who was so fluent in ASL but had to put up with another teacher who was patronizing my class. Oh you may wonder if they are deaf? Actually both of them are. The quality of education may have improved today than my time as I would like to believe. I have seen more advanced program and expansion of departments at Gallaudet Univeristy which is a good thing. The unfortunate change is the declining population at Gallaudet. I recalled we had about 3,000 students and the dorm was getting full. Today it is not even an issue. Q. Why are you so invested in this protest? Any particular reason? I have been following the protest since May but not as closely as I should. Last October, a growing number of FSAA members who participated in supporting the protest had drawn my attention. I decided to take the time to analyze and gather documents to convince myself that the protest is justified. I have been around people who have shown little understanding of the purpose of the protest so I wanted to contribute my articles to see the light. Q. What are your stance on the overall protest? Were you with the protest at the start? As I had mentioned earlier, I was being objective at first. Remember that there are always two sides of the story but the question is who should we believe? That time in May 2006, the development of negative track record of Fernandes' was little known and was not yet shared by the faculty and the staff. I was picking up the aspects of historical problems faced by the faculty when Jordan ushered Fernandes as a provost without faculty input and acceptance. Gallaudet University has violated shared governance and that needs to be changed. If it weren't for the protest, there will be a number of years ahead to break this barrier; not only about governance but about racism and audism. How could BoT choose a black deaf candidate who met more qualifications over most candidates who were the finalists? How could it be possible that the professors still don't master the use of ASL in the classroom? Q. Do you have any soultion to this crisis? (Is it something else other than total resignation by JKF or is there any other alternative? State it.) For JKF to step down as president-designate is the first solution as we have seen this to happen. It helps to pacify the Gallaudet community for now but the Board better come up with a plan to select an interim president who will correctly represent Gallaudet University for a time being. They need to revisit the guidelines in the search process and make modifications where more input from FSAA is encouraged. The BoT must make more effort to gather the pulse of the Gallaudet community. Q. What is your reaction to the arrest on Oct. 13th and the "massacre" at MSSD Gates on Oct. 24th? I asked myself; was the arrest really necessary? Heck, no! It was really appalling to learn that I.K. Jordan ordered the arrest especially that he was a product of the 1988 DPN protest which put me in a twisting mind-boggling state. But on the other hand, this event triggered more deaf prominent leaders to respond to Gallaudet administrators and the BoT by sending countless letters and popped up more than 86 tent cities! Perhaps it is a good thing to have a "Black Friday" arrest to happen since it creates a symbolic moment especially on Friday, the 13th. What a right timing for that and thanks to Jordan for contributing the picture of oppression and shame by his own actions. Yes, the students were blocking the gates although they had kept one open and allowed MSSD students and staff through. There were a few tactics done by the protestors that I found not supportive such as vandalism but it was not frequent and severe. The overall protest where the students could have the right of freedom of speech was conducted in a non-violent peaceful way so to the contrary to what Fernandes and Jordan had labeled them as the mob, anarchists and terrorists. Oh please! They manipulated the media using a well spent PR to orchestrate the lines to counterattack the protestors making them looking bad and themselves strong. For the students to be bulldozed during their dozing moments raised many eyebrows especially when the students were not even checked by the PPT or DPS in their tents first. My impression is that these departments have failed to communicate with the students and have bored oppression upon them by reacting physically. A student lost his piece of a toe and the way Jordan's administration had reacted like "it was just a toe" disgusted me. It tells me that there is a lack of empathy and care by the administration toward the students. I was even more shocked to learn about what Dr. Mather said about how Fernandes as a provost had neglected the familiy of Carl Duprees. See video The Legacy of Carl Dupree. Q. What inspired you to write an pair of essays? Will you be writing another one very shortly? I just wanted to take the role as a researcher to gather the facts on justifying the aspects of the protest. It is like discovering pieces of dinosaur bones and putting them together to identify what kind of creature it is. As we most have read the infamous article from retired NTID teacher, Jack Slutsky and other articles from ignorant journalists, we have decided to form a coalition of Deaf activists seeking to educate the public about removing the misconceptions and myths of the protest and the Deaf culture. I feel that the impact on how the outsiders view the Gallaudet protest was either vague or patronized. So I have decided to start up my blog like many others and my website is http://deafprogressivism.blogspot.com/. Well folks, we still do need a lot of work to do! Just speak out and write what you think is right. Go ahead and make a statement! This is America!
Posted by Barb DiGi at 1:16 AM
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Two strikes by the Gallaudet Board of Trustees October 14, 2006 I was a student at Gallaudet for a couple of years back in the early 80's and it certainly held great memories for me. Naturally, I want the same for my two young deaf children and future generations, that is, if they choose to go to Gallaudet. I am very concerned about what is happening and it does affect everyone who cares about Gallaudet as well.It was heart-breaking to see my nephew along with one hundred thirty three brave souls arrested on Black Friday, October 13th, 2006. Now thousands of the Gallaudet community members are fighting for getting their voices heard at the Capitol Hill. Eighteen years ago the Board of Trustees (BoT) selected a hearing president over a qualified deaf president candidate that led to the protest we all know as DPN. Dr. Jack Gannon called this event "the week the world heard Gallaudet" and even wrote a book showing how the students were heard loud and clear. Now once again, the BoT repeats history but did not hear out the majority. In the past two weeks, we have seen an overwhelming number of supporters wanting the future Gallaudet president resign since she is not considered the right leader. A group of twenty members of the Board including I. King Jordan and a Presidential search committee have been a part of the process in recommending and selecting the future Gallaudet president.Although this website on Presidential search at Gallaudet has explained how search committee works, it is to the contrary of what the polls have reflected the Gallaudet community. According to the announcement by Leah Katz-Hernandez, she reported the statistics on a poll that was conduced at Gallaudet University during the finalist selection back in the spring of 2006. Gallaudet University Students polled 58% for Steve Weiner, 81% for Ron Stern and 13% for Jane Fernandes while the faculty polled 64% for Weiner, 53% for Stern and 36% for Fernandes. Why aren't the members of the board following the pulse of the Gallaudet popular choice? Why select a presidential candidate who is not popular among the community? How can an unwanted leader lead against a tsunami-like wave? Like some universities I have read about how search committees are formed and are commonly consist of alumni members, students, faculty members, staff members and active community members making recommendations that usually reflect their popular endorsement of the community members to their Board of Trustees (BoT) about top candidate. As for the Gallaudet world, the selection by the BoT for a president of a university that only serves a mere 1,461 students (Spring, 2006) has not correctly represented the majority. On October 16, 2006, 82% of the faculty voted for the 2007 Gallaudet president to resign. Dr. Alfred Simone, a current Rochester Institute of Technology president, further stated the following, "It is recognized that the decision really lies with the Board of Directors - it is they who have the fiduciary responsibility for the welfare of the university. However, solid principles of shared governance require that the Board solicit and listen carefully to input from faculty, staff, students, alumni, and other constituents, and that there will be conversations with these constituents so that as much information as possible can be obtained and as much understanding as possible can be achieved on all sides. This process should not be rushed. It should be deliberate and thorough. In the end of that process, the Board of Directors should make the decision that, in their judgment, is the best for Gallaudet. They have a unique point of view and a unique responsibility to make this decision. If the decision is made in this fashion, I would expect - certainly hope - that all the constituencies (whether they favor the decision or not) would support the new president whomever it is." There are two valid points made by Dr. Al Simone. His first point stressed the fact that the role of BoT is to listen carefully to the whole community. I am not talking about just appearing on campus just enough to be seen but to be in frequent contact to note the general perspective and to engage in thorough in-depth discourse with its diversified population. The BoT should hear and engage with various college constituencies, i.e. trustees, sponsors, faculty, students, administrative leaders, staff, collective bargaining units, and local community leaders. Dr Simone's second point reiterates the standard in the process of selecting a Presidential candidate should take its time frame extending a total of 6 to 12 months. According to this website by the University of Illinois, "the Committee agreed that it would be rare for a search at these levels to be completed in less than six months. However, such a search should be structured with the assumption that it will not exceed one year in length. In the event that it extends beyond one year from the date of the last published advertisement seeking applicants, the readvertisement of the position should be considered." The selection process took about 7 months and was criticized for not utilizing the entire allotted time frame considering the three finalists were not as qualified when compared to previous applicants or to known deaf leaders who had not yet applied. College search committees typically look for credentials that they can put on a checklist and use to narrow the list of candidates. A doctorate is an obvious requisite also having higher education experience. One of the finalists did not even hold a Ph.D degree nor hold a higher education background. Nevertheless, we should not let the timeline control us as it stated clearly that the re-advertisement of the position could be considered if the pool of the candidates was determined to fall short of the criteria. What the BoT overlooked when justifying that the selected candidate who possessed a top-notch resume was her lack of charisma. It is considered one of the most important qualities to have as a deaf leader in a community where the ability to relate and openly share feedback, comments and concerns is paramount.Gallaudet is a close-knit community with its unique characteristics but the BoT, including I.K. Jordan, have not aligned themselves with the choice of the majority. The calls of Gallaudet students, faculty, staff, alumni and constituents have apparently fallen on deaf ears. We must resolve this crisis by preventing a third strike to happen. Just communicate much more openly and be in sync with the population of the Gallaudet community. Barbara Di Giovanni
Posted by Barb DiGi at 12:13 PM
Has Jane K. Fernandes become a symbol of SCARE (Social Injustice, Coldness, Audism, Racism and Egocentrism)?
Has Jane K. Fernandes become a symbol of SCARE (Social Injustice, Coldness, Audism, Racism and Egocentrism)? October 6, 2006 There are waves of distrust and fear rushing through Gallaudet campus. Right now it is pointless to debate whether Jane K. Fernandes is a potential leader of Gallaudet since we all know the fact that the majority today does not agree with the selection of Fernandes. But the question is why? Selected documents (interviews, newspaper quotes, testimonies, etc.) have been gathered in this article to show the BIG picture of the protest. It is relevant to gather crucial facts through primary sources rather than relying on secondary sources which usually produce distorted views, possible misconceptions and skepticism.It has become increasingly obvious that the students, the faculty and the alumni have already set their unapproved tone about the future Gallaudet president especially when they confronted their experiences with her as a provost. Fernandes chose not to take the advice of university presidents that she needed to seek a position at another school since as a provost she had to make decisions and choices that weren’t popular. (Hearing Loss, September/October 2006). She knew the risks involved but went ahead to apply for the position. It is chaotic right now at Gallaudet thanks to her not following the invaluable advice of other university presidents. At first, I tried not to be one-sided when hearing negative comments about Fernandes so I relied on actual documents that include interviews, newspaper articles and short presentations that she gave as a provost and from eyewitnesses who were there. I only saw one of a very few positive articles on Fernandes as a provost and a list of supporting letters for her from the 9thprez.com website. On the other hand, there was a history of difficult relations between a group of faculty, staff and students. Based on testimonies from websites, Dr. Lynn Jacobwitz's presentation and an experience confronted by a parent in a letter plus countless letters by respectable deaf leaders in the websites such as gufssa.com., the sources on finding cons are overwhelming.Even my former high school student (an easy-going and cooperating type) told me that as a Gallaudet student, he couldn’t even work with Fernandes and had to withdraw the project relating to freshman seminar because of the hardship and struggle to get along with this provost. He later found out that he was not alone as it had been too common among the majority of Gallaudet students. The media has been receiving various messages such as demanding Fernandes to resign because she is considered “not deaf enough”. Some articles stated, “Although Fernandes was born deaf, protesters have claimed she isn't "deaf enough." (ie. not deaf enough article). Now recent news articles are showing that Fernandes is the one who is claiming that she thinks she is not deaf enough. During the interview with Fernandes found from the Examiner website, she said, “I am a victim of a deaf cultural war. I’m not the right kind of deaf person”. This quote reinforces her playing the “deaf card” and it is hindering the real reasons behind the protest to the public. One of the many reasons that Laurent Clerc Center teacher and staff disapproved Fernandes is that “Fernandes put a stop to the Teacher Evaluation System that was used for many years. When problems escalated, she had the revised TES implemented. Dr. Fernandes did not bother with follow-up review to make sure the process was just and fair.” One of the important qualities of an effective leader is to follow up with such project.Even before she became a provost, she was planted in the position by her supporter, Gallaudet President I.K. Jordan without following appropriate procedure. From the campus progress news website, Alison Aubrecht, who holds two degrees from Gallaudet and now works for the university as a personal counselor at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD), explained that “Fernandes was provost for six years and her performance was unsatisfactory, Fernandes was appointed by King Jordan without faculty participation, and the faculty gave her a vote of no confidence because she was unwilling to share governance with them.” I.K. Jordan even admitted he made this mistake six years ago in the recent interview. There is one (of many) video clip interview that brought me to a point that I can’t fathom the idea for her to be a world leader of today’s deaf culture and community. This video clip; David O. Reynolds from TVDEAF.com, has showed us that Fernandes has expressed that combining English and ASL can be practiced by individuals who are fluent in both languages as she is referring to simultaneous communication. Reynolds stated “it is like mixing oil and water”. Fernandes even admitted in this video interview that she is not fluent in ASL. Her signing ability may not exceed to the higher register of ASL level Imagine a not-so-proficient English–speaking Presidential candidate was selected to run an Ivy League college such as Oxford. What would the community think and react? However this is not primarily the reason for her to resign.One of the requirements as stated in the Gallaudet President qualification is that the President is to be fluent in American Sign Language and English. It is amazing how she managed to be an acting director of ASL Programs at Northeastern University in Boston and even a chair of the Department of Sign Language communication at Gallaudet long before she became the provost at Gallaudet where is the home is in the heart of Deaf Mecca. It is no question that on paper, her qualifications sound so appealing whereas the perspective by the Gallaudet community carries a completely opposite perception of who Fernandes really is based on what they have seen and worked with her in person. Statistics don’t lie and we all know we cannot ignore the numbers. Moreover, one of the American democratic principles is based on how majority rules in decision-making. It is amazing that she quoted, “I don't believe for one second that my resignation would help. I think that my resignation would hurt the university very badly, and I think that my resignation would result in years of instability in the governance of the university itself, and right now, we have a very strong and unified governance, and I need to be able to take control and lead the university.” How can she, with her standoffish reaction, actually think she can be an effective president for Gallaudet University that is swarmed by an opposing majority? She is hurting Gallaudet more by refusing to give in to the demands that are supported by the majority not only by the Gallaudet community but the world. Fernandes has transformed to a symbol of SCARE (social injustice, coldness, audism, racism and egocentrism) although she claimed that she has been working diligently to improve these areas but the perception of the majority of students, faculty, staff, alumni and constituents does not feel the positive impact from Fernandes when working as a provost. It is time for Fernandes to wake up and smell the coffee. Say SCARE no more!! Barbara Di Giovanni
Posted by Barb DiGi at 11:07 AM