Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Is ASL fading? It all depends on YOU!


A vlogger, Seek Geo, originally raised the question if ASL were fading since he noticed that more people who wear hearing aids don't know signs today as compared to those who know more in the past. I have a theory to why this is happening.

People with mild-to-moderate hearing loss may use hearing aids that they are capable to hear speech sounds (although it is not accessible 100 percentwise) which may explain why ASL is not even considered necessary for them. Too often, this has been misunderstood as determined by the school system or by those who have limited understanding about the role how ASL is crucial in enhancing cognitive (thinking) skills especially in Deaf babies.

Another possible reason why we see more people wearing hearing aids who don't know signs is that there is an increased number of late-deafened adults wearing hearing aids. It is becoming more acceptable to wear hearing aids in public than in the past that most of them are no longer embarrassed or humiliated to show it. Thanks to former Presidents Reagan and Clinton as models giving a message to the the society that it is okay to wear it, it is no longer considered a stigma as it used to be.

This part was edited out of the vlog:

According to the statistics from Deaf Health Task Force in 2004, it said that "approximately 1 in 10 Americans, or more than 28 million people, has some degree of hearing difficulty, and about 1 in 100 has a profound hearing loss." So we can conclude that there are more people who have mild hearing loss than those who have profoundly-severe hearing loss.

Nowhere in the Deaf Health Report said that there is a decline in ASL users.

Today, there is a growing popularity of ASL in American colleges and universities (Welles, 2004) even in high schools and some middle schools recognizing ASL as a foreign language.

This part was edited out of the vlog:

According to David Stewart and Jerome Schein, Language in Motion, (1995, pg. 148), it stated that, "Some of the laws have been supplemented by state and local acts that expand the right of deaf people to full participation in a community's affairs. For that reason it is safe to assert that the demand for sign language interpreters will increase greatly over the coming decade, as will the demand for sign language instructors. " There has been a 400% increase in establishing ASL programs in educational programs which is a bliss. This is evident that ASL programs are expanding for hearing people to learn and for ASL users to teach because the demand is higher than before. Thus, it contradicts with the assumption that ASL is fading.

We already know that the demand for ASL interpreters is on the rise than before and that we are now facing shortage of interpreters thanks to video relay services who recruit the best of best.

We already can see that the trend in schools for the Deaf is leaning toward bilingual education since oral method and Total Communication method are ineffective. ASL has been neglected in the past century in Deaf education but rediscovered when research shows that it has been helpful for students to improve better cognitive thinking skills and literacy skills when establishing ASL as L1 (first language since birth). There are more research departments sprouting across America providing more materials on ASL and how to bridge to English. If ASL is really fading then explain me why the demand for ASL interpreters and bilingual educational programs are on the rise?

Hence, it may be true that today, there are more and more CI/hearing aid users are brushed away from signs since mainstreaming enrollment has numbered for those who are isolated from other Deaf peers. The other cause has been due to the lack of educating to parents about the benefits of ASL . They have been misled to the concept that their Deaf child who has residual hearing will not need to know and use ASL. In addition to that, "hearing supremacists" (coined by Carl Schroeder?) who are resistant in exposing and encouraging ASL in school and home environments are part of the problem. Also AG Bell and AVT groups contributed greatly to this problem.

It is disturbing that they are denied ASL interpreters because they have been determined that they have the ability to "survive" throughout the mainstreamed school years since they are able to hear some, lipread some and speak quite well for a Deaf person. However this issue has been resolved by federal laws (P.L. 94-142, Rehabilition 503, IDEA) that Deaf students have a right to an interpreter. But there is a flaw.

Even when there are cases that "ASL interpreters" are provided in mainstreaming programs, it is most likely that they don't carry an educational interpreter certification and that it is not designated to provide fully ASL immersed environment. This is a major factor that prevents Deaf students develop proper ASL skills and that there are more mainstreamed solitaires that their opportunities to interact with ASL users have been diminished. We know that it has been typical that those who may not have a chance to be exposed to ASL or not properly been exposed to ASL while growing up. As they turned into adults, they may get to immerse in ASL environment mostly in colleges that have a critical mass of Deaf students. They still reported that they wished to use ASL when growing up thanks to the screwed up Deaf educational system and the manipulation by the hearing supremacists, AG Bell and AVT supporters.

George Veditz's famous quote: "As long as we have deaf people on earth, we will have signs...the noblest gift God has given to deaf people." That is so true that ASL will always be here to stay but we need to analyze further whether if the number among Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing people is declining due to varied reasons as explained earlier.

Now look (listen) here, if we continue to be apathetic and not fighting for Deaf babies and Deaf children's right to ASL just like DBC is doing, then it may be more likely that ASL will shrink for Deaf population. So it ALL depends on YOU allowing ASL to diminish in the next half century. Never mind the technology that "helps" them to hear since it doesn't come with guaranteed outcomes. ASL is 100 percent accessible and guaranteed for any Deaf child even with CI or digital hearing aids that they won't miss out any information ever. ASL helps them develop better self-esteem, leadership and social interaction skills but there are some idiots in this industry making wrong decisions to eliminate ASL in their lives.

(Note: The summary above may not include all of the information in the vlog due to excess amount of time)

Here is a list of vloggers' responses to this question:

Carl Schroeder's vlog

Tar's vlog

Steven Hardy's vlog

Correction: CAEBER stands for Center for ASL/English Bilingual Education and Research.


Oscar Serna said...

Amen! You said it just right as always!

Anonymous said...

Excellent vlog! You sent an inspiring message about the importance of getting involved to spread the message that ASL plays significant part of every Deaf child's life.

More people need to be involved as progressive activists to take care of future Deaf children. DBC rocks!

Anonymous said...

Why deprive Deaf children even with residual hearing from ASL? They don't get everything 100 percent like ASL does! Enough is enough!


Anonymous said...

Good Vlog as usual!

DBC's new website,


todos la vie said...

I agree with you. I have to say that you keep your vLogs contemporary with the times, and that's what the public is really looking for.

I'm seeing a kind of accumulation of the whole history of oppression in an individual's presentation in some vLogs and most of it is irrelevant. It's too heavy and dispels a victim mentality, and most people really don't care about that. I'm just playing devil's advocate.

I posed the question of the brain's ability to acquire languages in whatever form with my hearing science teacher today, and he said that the brain is quite adaptive and can organize itself and the following: "it's really a cultural decision."

That's a whole other story...

OCDAC said...

I got a 15 second version of this vlog in the works that'll knock people's of their socks.

Kelly87 said...

Good vlog! I agree with you 100%! Indeed, ASL must stay alive for more months, years to come!

ASL Risen said...

Fist kiss your vlog! I LOVE YOU! Big hugs, S

Davy said...

Of Course it all depend on US. Sure we can say that ASL NEVER fading away ..... No Way!
How ever the point about the money fund to support on any issue relate Deaf right to stand be STRONG. Deaf world is so small trying collect the fund to support it. Hearing world is so easy to collect it boom! rich to block on deaf world problem . Yeah we have to work very very very hard to battle to fight our right! The Big Key Is Work Together as all Depends On Us. Please do not do NOTHING! It only way to take ACTION TOGETHER like VLOG Message, Write letter, Feedback , ask more for help support that who care to listen .... plus Our Freedom Speech and write to stand our Right and need the best on "easier"
deaf life not the hard way.

Don't worry Deaf people ..... we are NOT ASL fading away ... No!
because God have a Reason make us Deaf and We Use Communicate with our life ASL as simple as that!

Plus L@@K at C@@L Freedom Deaf Cruise Boat ... 3800 Deaf people all over the world use ASL that is BRAVO!!!!!!!


Anonymous said...

Richard Roehem,

What are you saying? You can't take 15 sec out of 8 minutes worth of her vlog to knock people's socks off since you are taking the words out of the context. Just get lost and stop being a troublemaker.

By the way, your grammatical error is evident that you are not able to write it correctly. Actually, the correct version is:

knock people's socks off

NOT knock people's of their socks. tsk..tsk..

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, poor RR..he didn't have ASL literacy when growing up that he couldn't be able to express properly and even couldn't write right. He is a great example of a fucked up Deaf Ed product who is under the hands of a Hearing Supremacist.

Bill said...


I think I may have missed some things - I tried to do some research before I posted - I don't understand the difference between bi-lingual education and total communication. It seems like DB puts ASL first, and TC says whatever works best for the person?

Don't both of them encourage ASL, and the ability to communicate across deaf/hearing divide?

Barb DiGi said...

Hi Bill,

Total Communication is a broad word that includes a range of communication methods (Signed English, PSE, SimCom, etc.) and ASL. The goal of this type of communication is to meet halfway with any communicators on whatever the method is. So far the use of simcom is a popular choice of TC.

Now we know that, thanks to research, simcom and other forms of communication modes (SEE, Signed English, et.) are not considered as true languages. Using this method deficients the value of English and ASL and mixes up the languages, thus it should not be encouraged today.

The DBC advocates bilingual education because Deaf babies/children who use ASL, a natural true language, are able to develop metalinguistic knowledge and understanding making it more effective in bridging to English. It is all about developing strong literacy skills as bilingual education has been favored to make this goal successful. I will vlog about this soon.

Bill said...

(I had to look up more terms)

SEE, PSE, SimCom all seem like "bridges" between ASL and English. PSE/SimCom sounds like what I, as a hearing ASL student, often get mixed up and do - not using correct ASL grammar/sentence structure.

Does that sound about right?

I am learning ASL in a school that uses TC. Our town previous to this only had an Oral Deaf program.
(the first Deaf school in town started in 1899)


Anonymous said...

Amen!! I am deaf, I social with both hearing and deaf (I am more toward with deaf now). It's does have something to do with Teacher not the student and most of all the parent/family, when a deaf person think they can talk clearly really hearing people know it not clearly so they do not want to hurt that person instead a deaf person will never believe what another deaf person or interpreter say to them so it very tough. The best way to get them to realize is when they can social with another hearing that not know them and will tell them what's it like. SAD!! Also I was taugh to believe if you sign you will not get a good job so that was another part of the reason. Got to get up and tell them that it wrong. We can voice ourselves but the problem is deaf does not like to have their face show!!!!!!!!1