Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Please Wake Up Moms and Dads who support AG Bell!

This is a part two series in a response to those commentators who call themselves "a mom" and "another mom" on Deaf Chipmunk's vlog. Portraying AG Bell in a positive light is like trying to sell an used car that has a history of multiple repairs to a buyer who is unaware of the car's problems.

For this mom to claim that "whatever pent-up anger you hold toward your parents (who I doubt were involved in AG Bell, since they never required anyone to do the things you are claiming)..." shows that she is missing the boat. Well, hello, there are thousands and thousands of oral Deaf people who have been affected by AG Bell. They may not require the parents to join but they get to play God in influencing parents and educational programs when parents are vulnerable and so desperately want their Deaf children to talk. AG Bell did not tell them the whole truth and left out relevant information about ASL. It affected my Deaf parents when their parents were told certain things by the schools who were heavily influenced by AG Bell. My mother told her story in her vlog (titled: "Why didn't my parents sign?") about how AG Bell drove the school to adopt an oral-only philosophy and how my grandparents trusted the misleading advice. My grandparents were the ones who were angry (not just my mother) for being misled by the likes of AG Bell and they wished they were taught how to sign.

These "moms" who are making an assumption that AG Bell is not involved need to listen more to the Deaf people who were brought up under the oral method, and their parents, and stop talking just for once--just long enough to learn something. Go and read "The Telephone Gambit" by Seth Shulman, which is the most powerful book that explains how Bell stole the patent from a rival, Elisha Gray.(see msn webpage). Even in June 2002, The U.S. House of Representatives passed a symbolic bill officially recognizing Meucci for his contributions to the invention of the telephone. Also check out "Chasing Aleck: The Story of a Dorm" by Rebecca Edwards and the the Deaf Heritage book by Jack Gannon.

"A mom" said, "Dr. Bell never recommended or endorsed anything akin to Hitler’s tactics. He was simply a forerunner of today’s genetics research. He was not in contact or friends with Hitler." may not be exactly 100% correct. AG Bell's attitudes may border on Nazism. He was recklessly arrogant to say the very least. Please allow me to introduce this source that says:

"Along with many very prominent thinkers and scientists of the time, Bell was connected with the eugenics movement in the United States. From 1912 until 1918 he was the chairman of the board of scientific advisors to the Eugenics Record Office associated with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, and regularly attended meetings. In 1921 he was the honorary president of the Second International Congress of Eugenics held under the auspices of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Organizations such as these advocated passing laws (with success in some states) that established the compulsory sterilization of people deemed to be, as Bell called them, a 'defective variety of the human race.' By the late 1930s about half the states in the US had eugenics laws, the California laws being used as a model for eugenics laws in Nazi Germany."

Bell called the Deaf a "defective variety of the human race"! So Moms, how could you support an organization that represents this degrading perspective--a view which is intended to apply to your own Deaf child(ren)?

As for "a mom's" statement about how "All the 'up to date' scientists of his time were reading and involved in eugenics, including the founder of today’s Planned Parenthood and many other famous people from that era." Yes, that founder was Margaret Sanger but she advocated for a woman's choice to decide how and when, if ever, she will bear children. She wrote:

"We maintain that a woman possessing an adequate knowledge of her reproductive functions is the best judge of the time and conditions under which her child should be brought into the world. We further maintain that it is her right, regardless of all other considerations, to determine whether she shall bear children or not, and how many children she shall bear if she chooses to become a mother....[18]"

So, Margaret Sanger was a part of Eugenics movement but the main difference between her and AG Bell was that she advocated for women's choice whereas AG Bell wanted to force sterilization upon Deaf people. He was targeting a certain group, or race, as he put at it. Imagine that you are supporting an organization that wishes to ban having your own grandchildren! I know that is all in the past but the name AG Bell still remains as an organization that represents AG Bell and his ideology. Who would want to support this so-called organization that carries such obnoxious history of AG Bell anyway?

Now, "a mom " also said, "Bell, who opposed residential schools and was a very kindly man in so many ways. His ideas that deaf kids and adults could operate fully in society, marry hearing people, and live amongst everyone is not shocking, nor is it evil." Oh golly, you've got it all twisted around! A kindly man? The point is that AG Bell wanted to prohibit marriage between Deaf people! It doesn't make sense for you to put a rosy interpretation on this and claim that he was simply advocating that deaf people marry hearing people. In this document, Bell was concerned that "deaf persons, especially those attending special schools and using sign language, have a strong tendency to marry other deaf persons due to their restricted social circle, he even suggests that some sort of legislation may be needed to prevent such marriages, wished to prohibit deaf teachers from being allowed to teach in schools for the deaf. His goal was to eradicate the language and culture of the deaf so as to force them to integrate into the hearing culture for their own long-term benefit and for the benefit of society at large. " This attitude of his is widely seen as being paternalistic and arrogant!

I happen to be a Deaf teacher and I have seen so often how students benefit greatly from teachers, mostly Deaf, who are fluent ASL signers. I helped many, I mean many, students passed their Regents in Social Studies exam which includes multiple choices and essay portions. Social Studies is always one of the most difficult parts of the Regents test to pass because of difficult reading materials including documents and writing the essays. When I have Deaf students coming in for tutoring, it is mostly guaranteed that I will be able to help them to pass to test. Imagine if your Deaf child wanted to be a teacher? How could you possibly support the AG Bell organization when Alexander Graham Bell proposed to prohibit Deaf people from becoming teachers?

Please wake up, moms and dads of Deaf children who support AG Bell!

See Part One, click here.


Longoman said...

Well said! Only complaint is I just wished doctors would have given sound advice to parents of newborn deaf babies on appropriate communication method to achieve education to the fullest.
As for those moms, can you name several CI or oral students who without any signing skills achieved PhD or even MA degree? I can give you a long list of deaf people with signing skills having PhD or MA.
That pretty much sum up why the system is broken!

Anonymous said...

Very good, Barb, as usual. I don't have much to add except to say that, yes, AGB was a eugenicist in his day, albeit a "soft" eugenicist. Wish I could magically wake him up, drag him around the country to the various deaf programs, have him read books on deafness, deaf education and maybe this "kindly man" would get the shock of his life!

U take care, Barb.....


Sitting on the Fence said...

Barb DiGi:

Fair enough.. I understand your points. However, it is important that you keep in mind that oral education today is vastly different than that of the past. For starters, in the past, the deaf had to rely on their residual hearing which is very difficult. I understand why those who experienced it are very angry with their lot in life.

However, as for cochlear implants, AVT is very easy because the implants recreate the sound completely with clarity thus no visual cues are necessary. I know it may be hard for you to 'understand' this concept, but this is why cochlear implants are very successful nowadays. I can see it in both of my children and I am very glad they have the implants.

Thus I think it is moot for you to keep referring to the bad experiences of the past. Compared with today, they are apples and oranges.

In response to Longoman, can you give me a long list of deaf people with MA/PhDs not related to deaf education, deaf studies, or disability studies?

Longoman said...

To sitting on the fence, I have fairly good hearing to be able to hear music and was raised in oral schools in early years then attended residential schools later on but that is not the issue. The real issue is language/social development as far as communication goes and I only hope your children will achieve that fully.
However I feel you're missing the point of Barb's blog with AG Bell.
Lastly, What is your beef with PhDs and MAs in deaf education, deaf studies or related? They deserved to be successful and promote deaf awareness. If you had understoodd audism, I believe you won't be commenting in the first place!

Dianrez said...

"Oral education today is vastly different today" with CI's.

Those of us who are teachers can tell you of CI kids who are still struggling to learn to understand the sounds they "hear" with this device and who have not progressed in language development as well as children being raised bilingually.

Whether or not these children are in the majority is up to the statisticians to determine. They do exist. The CI is not a cure for deafness nor does it replace special education or ASL as a means of language development. It is just a tool, and a limited one at that.

The influence of AGBell, its founder, and the people who operate that institution need to be checked. Their position against sign language and visual education is not tenable given all the facts.

Barb DiGi said...

Hi Longoman! Yes, doctors also play a role in influencing parents and too often they sided with AG Bell. Yes, I know a long list of Deaf people who use ASL growing up with success. Perhaps that will be in my future blog.

Hi DT, I wonder the same, too, about what would it be like if AG Bell is still alive today. Would he change his perception about sterilization? About using oral approach only? About the whole Deaf community?

Sitting on the Fence: Like I had mentioned in my blog, AG Bell is history, however, it is the organization itself still bearing his name today like giving him a badge of honor that he doesn't deserve.

Hard for me to understand? I am Deaf and you are hearing and who are you to tell me that I don't understand? I live all my life as a Deaf person and I have seen it all. Did you read Part I and know who I am? I identify myself as one of those CI kids (although I don't have one but my hearing level is like one) who received auditory and verbal therapy while I was younger, however, I acquired ASL as a first language. My current post is not about them receiving AVT or CI, it is about justifications why parents should not be a part of AG Bell organization. It is not about history, it is about what the organization represents today that bears his name.

DE said...

WOW- I am floor by your powerful entries (this one and Part 1). You are simply amazing, Barb!


Anonymous said...

This is getting off the point but in response to Longoman about PhD/MA. I believe there are quite a few deaf physicians, dentists, etc. who are CI users. Many started out as oralists. They learned sign language later in their lives and are not considered to be ASL fluent.

I have not met an alumnus from a deaf institution (K-12) who has a MD, DVM or DMD degree. Have you?

David said...

Hi Barb,

I love the way you wrote. Your article is far more than well received. It has a plenty of ammunitions. Where can we buy them? Just be kidding or should I not!

Desperate tends to push rational decision aside. That has harmed millions of deaf people permanently.

AGBell encourages parents to nuture AGBell's idealogies (seeds)to grow. That is one area we are really pissed off at AGBell for taking advantage of many desperate parents who would do anything what AGBell wants in order to get their children to grow as hearing. Of course, many of them have been vastly failed. AGBell did not blame its ideologies for failing but actually blame many hard working parents for failing its ideologies.

That is a very sad and horrible part of our life and for millions of families of deaf children around the world.


Longoman said...

Thanks, dianrez, for getting the facts out. It's a shame that "they" don't get it. Perhaps, a class action lawsuit might be a wake up call for them?
As for anonymous - I know quite a few oralists who graduated with MA or PhD but they all use sign language so it's irrelevant, statistically.
Frankly, I'm tired of AGB or those perceiving us as "dumb" or "broken" so by pushing CI technology, it's like saying sign language is unnecessary as AGB organization wanted.
Hell, I'm proud to be deaf and have accomplished quite alot as a deaf person and I don't need anyone to tell me otherwise!

deafmommy said...

Imagine my former oral preschool teacher rose to the ranks of being the AGBell's president a few years ago. I was shocked as he seemed so nice but then I was only three years old and I have a little memory of him simply because he was the first male teacher I had in school.

Anyway, I remember my mom taking me to the AGBell convention, there was a young man who stood in front of the audience giving a speech of how he was successful because his parents helped him learn how to speak well. A lot of people were cheering him on. I would never forget this moment because after seeing him speak on the stage, I felt incredible pressure knowing that if I wanted to be successful like him, I had to speak well.

This turned me into a very shy individual and it took me many years before I could finally overcome my shyness because I did not feel comfortable in talking in great lengths, knowing that I could be misunderstood by people as I wasn't sure if my speech was good enough.

I also had AVT training under Doreen Pollack, she taught me how to use the phone and to listen for certain sounds. It is old like you said, it is not new. The only thing that has replaced hearing aids is CI, everything else has been the same, oralism, AVT and perfect speech. This puts a lot of undue pressure on deaf children and only very few succeed in this path. And I was also shocked to see some oralists, the way they wrote, they did not have very good command of English and they usually had dull conversations. It seemed as if they had no substance to talk about which is rather unfortunate. You see that a lot in oralists, I'm sorry to say that and many ASL'ers have very intersting conversations. Who do you prefer to be in company with? Of course, I prefer to be in ASL'ers company.

Barb DiGi said...

Hi Dianrez! Yes, that's the problem with the mentality of parents thinking that their children having CI won't resemble those who experienced oralism in the past. Like you said, CI is just a tool. It is not a guarantee that a Deaf child will develop strong language foundation but an accessory. Whether to have CI or not is not my issue as long as they are not being denied to ASL that will reinforce their cognitive, academic, social and emotional development. CI alone is not the answer.

Barb DiGi said...

Hi DE! We floor each other, man! I have heard you have done a splendid job in your Deafhood presentations. You rock!

Anon 5:15, I am sure that there are some CI users in these professions since I happen to know several but they did not have CI when they grew up.

Hi David! Thanks! Yes, you are right, it irks me that when a Deaf child "fails", AG Bell points to the parents to blame and not taking the responsibility. This has to stop right now but how? People like us to continue to expose the ugly truth.

You know, Longoman, AG Bell has taken legal action against those who uses ASL in the classroom. They are affiliated to an organization called Children’s Legal Advocacy Program (CLA Program). Check it out at AGBell's CLA information. It tells me a lot how much they are against ASL. Do you see any organization suing for lack of ASL in the classroom? Something to think about!

Anonymous said...

To sitting on the fence

Oral Schools for the Deaf

Children with hearing aids and cochlear implants must learn to understand the speech sounds that they hear and what the sounds mean. The children need a very structured learning environment, small classroom size and a staff educated and experienced to teach them.

Magnolia Speech School
Jean Weingarten Peninsula Oral School
Oralingua School for the Hearing Impaired
Atlanta Speech School Inc
Child's Voice School
Clarke School for the Deaf
Central Institute for the Deaf
Memphis Oral School
Sunshine Cottage
Omaha Hearing School

These oral schools have not been rated because sufficient test score data is not available.

Barb DiGi said...

Hi deafmommy, thank you for sharing your experience. I see that you had experienced a great deal of pressure trying to acheive and be like this poster person from AG Bell convention. I know, I have been there. It was not because of my parents since they didn't really care about that, it was about my peers and being able to fit in.

When participating in classes full of hearing students as a child, I tended to perspire with a rapid beating heart beat feeling like I was a blindfolded walker on a tightrope not being sure if I was going on a right direction. But when I got to interact with Deaf students later on in my teen years, my confident soared. After that, when I got back to dealing with hearing people who don't use signs, I still have that built-in confidence thanks to my developmental opportunity to interact with Deaf people. This is why I strongly believe that Deaf children should have the early opportunity to experience a total ASL atmosphere where it is 100 percent accessible for them so that they could establish a strong language foundation.

It is just sad how speech alone is being valued over ASL and English when parents forget that social development is the mos important component for a good mental health.

To a recent deleted commentator who is anonymous, your comments were deleted because the comments were copied and pasted without your name. Besides, the topic is not about CI but about AVT without ASL and AG Bell. I would appreciate if you can focus on this topic especially about AG Bell's rigid philosophy. For you to blame on someone having a bad grammar because this person uses ASL is most unlikely because Deaf adults today barely get to experience a bilingual environment and only 10% or less have Deaf parents.

ASL has an oppressed language (both in home and at school) that has never been quite open to Deaf children to acquire at an early age therefore we cannot blame ASL for these Deaf adults who have struggled with their English grammar. This is why it is so important to recognize that ASL will help them to develop and acquire better English skills.

Shelly said...

I am a former oral deaf person and I definitely wish I had been exposed to ASL all of my life. Would have saved me a lot of frustration and misery.

I dont care if this generation is different cuz they have CIs..they still dont have 100% access to information and language like their hearing peers do and that is wrong. Would parents allow their hearing kids be placed in an educational environment where they wont have full access to language and the curriculm? I think not! Yet, it is ok to do that to deaf children.

I missed out so much growing up and it took a huge toll on me. Thank god I discovered ASL and the Deaf community.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous--There have definitely been ALOT of Deaf ASL users that have achieved MDs, dental degrees, and so forth. In fact, the first Deaf doctor (MD) in America graduated from the Idaho School for the Deaf, where he used ASL.


David said...

Hi Barb,

Can you tell me more about CLA. I am quite shocked to learn that CLA has taken legal action against people who use ASL in the classroom. Can you elaborate it? I am not familiar with it. I know I am Canadian and of course I do not know everything in the states even though I have a degree in American and Canadian political sciences.

We need to understand why CLA has done that way. I guess it is more of parents rights (AKA AGBell's rights) rather than children's rights? Just curious


Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11:22 p.m.

Please let the whole world know what the first ASL Deaf doctor's name is. Let's prove the world that Deaf people can do anything.

Karen Mayes said...

Anonymous at 12:10 AM...

Check this link out... hope it gives you an idea.

Anonymous said...

issue : EHDI ( Early Hearing Detection and Intervention : you may read the website

Sheri A Farinha said...

Wow Barb, thank you for doing an outstanding job, backing up alot of what you are saying with factual evidence. Really appreciate it.

What blew me away was the part about AGB's Children’s Legal Advocacy Program. What stuck me so odd about this where they state: " Access to spoken language education is denied as a result of inappropriate placement within public or private schools where the school district refuses to place the child in a program that will enable the child to acquire a spoken language education. For example, a child is placed in a ASL-based program, a Total Communication program or a mainstreamed classroom without needed support services". Which apparently means, in the child's IEP, the teachers recomended (and the parent agreed) placement in an ASL program for the child, instead of mainstreaming with "support services". So, if the child was provided tools with a CI throught AGB's other program, would that not be acceptable? Interesting that "eligibility" is given preference only to those who have been exposed to oral communication, and "AG Bell does not seek to undertake cases that attempt to establish that a certain oral approach is preferable than another".
Shelly above says it right, such kids still don't have access to communication 100%!

In addition to needing information to get to parents, I wonder what you thought of this program "Educating New Parents" happening in Indiana? I dont know what happened to this person either, as it seems there's been no postings for awhile:

I would like to see more "deaf child's advocate" programs, to be able to assist parents when situations like above occur.