Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Comparisons of Colonization between Africans and Deaf Communities


This is an interesting topic that was picked up from the book, "Mask of Benevolence” written by Dr. Harlan Lane. When it was written about the African Community, I was disheartened how much negativity was imposed on them and here you can see what was said... (showing the list)…That was when the Europeans came and studied the Africans then wrote about them how they were uncivilized and that they need to be civilized that fits into their culture. What an ugly list for the Africans, it is a reflection of the Europeans’ desperate need to control them and this is to justify their actions as civilizing an uncivilized people. Like Harlan Lane, I find that striking similar of what hearing experts have so often claimed about Deaf people.

Lane developed a list of the characteristics of deaf people according to the hearing experts in charge of their affairs who give these descriptions in their professional journals and in their textbooks for twenty years. See it for yourself... (showing the list)...

It is a disturbing and appalling list that these descriptions come from studies published in professional journals! Lane said that this is how we portray deaf people to young hearing people who are in training to become their teachers, their doctors, their social workers, and so on. Imagine that!

I am questioning on the reason and the purpose behind this. We already know for a fact that the Europeans colonized the Africans so could it be that it is a reflection of the hearing’s desperate need to impose their will on deaf children by colonizing them?

Here are some examples:

They said: The deaf have poor social awareness.

It really means: I wish my deaf pupils or clients would do what hearing people do in this situation.

They said: The deaf are isolated.

It really means: They can’t understand me or other hearing people and they can’t communicate with us.

They said: These deaf children are disobedient, immature and impulsive.

It really means: I wish they could do what I tell them to do; it’s hard enough teaching them anything without their disobeying.

Africans and Deaf people appear to have one more thing in common:

They are incompetent socially, cognitively, behaviorally, and emotionally.

All traits are unfavorable and negative. The inconsistencies of the trait attributions and their negativity must lead us to suspect that we are dealing in both cases the psychology of the native and the psychology of the deaf not with objective descriptions but with stereotypes.

When developing a philosophy that promotes, whatever that is, for example, banning the use of signs, means that everything will be ok. But in reality, it divided the Deaf Community that caused fighting in between because of this oral philosophy. It is just the same for the Africans facing division because of the interference of the Europeans and for the hearing to promote this kind of philosophy that separates the Deaf. This is based on what the author, Dr. Harlan Lane wrote from his research.

Acting on these stereotypes, hearing administrators of schools for Deaf child have needlessly turned away countless normal Deaf children; psychiatrists acting on these stereotypes have needlessly institutionalized countless Deaf adults in American mental hospitals (how many Deaf people do you know ended up there?); acting on these stereotypes daily set absurdly low goals for Deaf children and approach those goals with inept (lacking in reasoning) means.

Paternalism’s ignorance is self-serving. It is designed to reassure benefactors of the rightness of what they are doing, to protect them from the need for change, and to protect their economic interests. This is what was quoted by Lane who himself is hearing and he knows what he is talking about.

If the profession of Deaf education acknowledged that Deaf children have a language and that manual language is the best way to educate these children, then Deaf adults would once again enter the profession (as they did in the last century) and hearing people would lose their monopoly.

Just like how it happened during the infamous decision from the Milan Conference in 1880 declaring the ban on manual language in schools for the Deaf that eventually banned Deaf teachers to practice in the profession. Oralism was on the rise causing them to lose their jobs that hearing took over. It is all about having their own economic interest. Now what about today? It looks like history is repeating itself. Auditory Verbal Therapy (AVT) bans sign language that they thought they would be better off without using signs. They are the ones taking the profits. Cochlear implant industries benefit from these economic opportunities as well. Could it happen for the Deaf to be out of teaching professions again? No way! We, the Deaf, have the right to be a part of the process. We need to see how the Early Intervention professionals are mostly involved by hearing people. Where are Deaf people involved in this profession? This is an ongoing concern.

Paternalism and money are inseparable!

Now tell me what do you think about certain organizations or industries making money out of Deaf babies, children and adults?

Note: When I mention about "Hearing" people, it is referred to those who don't promote natural signed language, don't respect the Deaf Community, act as oppressors and force the Deaf to use oral method that is against their will.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Guess Who Showed up at the Party? A Sequel to Guess Who Showed Up in My Bedroom


This is like speaking of the devil. Have you ever find yourself talking about someone especially that you haven't seen him or her for a very long time then all of sudden they pop up in your life unexpectedly? I am sure that it is common in the Deaf world to reunite with your old Deaf friends but in my case, the timing is fascinating. You see, I haven't seen this old friend for years and years since college when I talked about her in my vlog, "Guess who showed up in my bedroom?", who was a victim of having a bat entangled in her hair when diving in the pool. Only more than a month later, I got to meet her at a party unexpectedly and unplanned! The question is: Why did I get to meet her at that time? Why not meet her last year or next year or at a different time? This is giving me goosebumps!


Hello! Here I am at a New Year's Eve party and bumped into my old friend from college. Remmy that I explained how I put on my raincoat that covered most of my head? It was because I couldn't forget my friend's story how a bat snuck in her rear neck. Now that she is here, I am going to introduce you and allow you to hear the story from her hands.

Her name is Julie xxxx but I remembered her name as Julie xxxx which was when before she got married. This is a cool (in a funny way) story that I thought you would be interested to hear so here it is 'Bat Story, Part II!"

Julie: Hello! Now you have seen Barb's story explaining about this girl having a bat stuck on her and that was me! When I was a young girl, I went to my uncle's house in West Virginia. He had a swimming pool in the backyard. At nighttime, there were a lot of bats flying in the sky. My siblings who are hearing could hear them but I didn't mind about the bats. That time I had a very long hair. As I dived into the pool, my hair flung downward and the bat went right in the back of my neck. When I went into the water, I felt something jumping around there and I didn't know what it was. I immediately got out of the pool and ran in my uncle's house and cried out,'What is that on my rear neck?" My parents put beach towel around my hair and took me to the hospital. We still didn't know what it was until we got there and found out that it was actually a bat in my hair! So the bat was put to sleep then they cut my hair since it was so tangled.

Barb: This woman was the reason why I wore a hooded raincoat that covered my face and hair! She actually influenced how I think and it did actually happen! Heck, you never know! So Julie, do you mind if I ask you a few questions?

Julie: Sure, go ahead.

Barb: So you mean, when the thing got into your hair, you didn't know what it was?

Julie: That's correct.

Barb: So when you went to the hospital, you finally found out it was a bat?

Julie: Yes.

Barb: So you had received rabies shot? How many?

Julie: Umm, I am not sure I remember, I think I got 2 shots.

Barb: When you said the bat was put to sleep, do you mean it was dead?

Julie: I am not sure, I really don't know what happened to it, yuck!

Barb: When you found out it was a bat, how did you feel?

Julie: I was shocked, I knew that bats don't like water so I understood that this bat might be frightened and hung on into my hair.

Barb: Didn't you feel a bite in your neck?

Julie: I don't recall but I remembered having my hair being pulled by it.

Barb: After that experience, were you more cautious to swim at nights?

Julie: Not really, I overcame my fear.

Barb: Wow, you are surely a brave woman!!

It is funny how fate brought us together within a few months since my encounter with the bat. What a timing!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Reaction by the Deaf Community to those who have Cochlear Implants

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When reading the DeafView section in DeafLife (January 2008) that asks a question to gather opinions of the Deaf community. This question is a deep one. It said, "If a deaf person receives a cochlear implant, should this person be rejected by the Deaf Community?" How many percent said No, they should not be rejected? The survey said 72%. How many said Yes, they should be rejected? 15%. How many percent said not sure? 10%. Interesting to see these results. Combined the Yes and Not sure results, it is like 25% reluctantly accepting CI people and 75% support the idea of not rejecting them. I am going to explain the reasons for these three views.

For those who think that they should be rejected were because they wanted to “be hearing” that they separate themselves from the DEAF thinking that they are better than them. Once they can hear, they are not considered as a DEAF person. They don’t have the pride to be Deaf or cherish it. Also they are like 'robots'. They will not continue to sign. They are inferior." It is a harsh view in my opinion.

For those who think that they should be accepted makes sense and it was because they felt that in their “Deaf World”, they have always accept the others. It (C.I.) is not considered as a big deal. The C.I. wearers will always take the device off at certain times and they are still “DEAF” and that they are still a part of the Deaf community. In spite of wearing C.I., they may be learning it or those who already use it will still continue using ASL.

For those who say unsure, they have mixed feelings that "those who get C.I. made them feel divided and that they value hearing more than deaf. Their definition of cochlear implant represents oral philosophy. It offends DEAF people. There is a difference between those who wear cochlear implant and hearing aids since they can take hearing aids off anytime while for those who have C.I. always have the magnet device in their heads. Also, those who wear hearing aids are considered 'temporary' while those who wear C.I. is considered 'permanent'".

My view? I dismiss the reasons for those who reject cochlear implantees. Why? Today, it is considered a part of technology in the world we live in that I accept the changes, at the same time, when rejecting them, I ask myself, “What good is it? What would it help us as a Deaf community to reject them?” You know, we have been concerned about Deaf babies receiving implants (it is because of not using signs that would be most accessible to them since birth). It doesn’t help when one makes negative facial expression and nasty remarks toward them. What would you think how hearing (and DEAF) parents feel? I would imagine that they would feel more resistant toward those who reject them. They may get to the point of not wanting to learn ASL because of the negative encounter they have experienced. Let’s say one keeps an open mind, set aside their differences and just focus on the positives by stating that ASL is a beautiful language and how it can help a Deaf child to develop better literacy. Also explain how bilingual approach greatly benefit Deaf babies and children who wear C.I. (and increase cognitive thinking). Make ASL activities fun! Expose ASL to parents how it is used in theaters, songs, poetry, etc. that will attract them rather than repelling them by making negative expressions and remarks. Think of ways to approach them by giving them a better picture of ASL and introducing them to links or whatever ways to make them interested. I feel that we should think ourselves as a marketer not as one who criticizes, rejects or bashes them. Negative criticism should be thrown out of the window and "use marketing approach" that promotes ASL in their lives.

Now, Martin Luther King celebration is coming up as we honor him on January 21st. It is important to remember what was his purpose and why his message was shared to the world. Of course, his strong philosophy was to promote unity between the Blacks and the whites that they get to live together in harmony. This philosophy should be applied to the Deaf community that consists a variety of people who are Deaf, ASL users, hearing or capable of hearing by wearing C.I. and hearing aids. Whatever the differences are, we need to learn to accept, work together and respect each other. It is important to remember Martin Luther King’s dream. The question is: Can WE live in that everlasting dream?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

What's Bugging Seth Bugs Me!

Talk about the irony of this DVD titled "What's Bugging Seth" produced by Eli Steele who himself is Deaf hired a hearing actor, Ross Thomas, to play as a Deaf person. What makes it more ironic is that Steele actually hired an actress, Amy Purdy who is a double amputee to play as an amputee person. What's going on? Don't tell me that it is hard to find talented Deaf actor since there are many Deaf people who use hearing aids, cochlear implants and have spoken English skills. What is wrong with them? I just don't get it.

In this film, presumably no signs are used which may explain why it is not a priority for Steele to hire a Deaf actor but he could have at least hired someone who is capable of speech using hearing aids or cochlear implants. Steele admitted that he struggled with his Deaf identity and attempted to put it away. He didn't want to be identified as a Deaf director and just wanted to show the world that a Deaf person can function like a hearing person.

What I find it interesting is that Thomas had to learn how to speak like a "hard-of-hearing" person and wear a fake cochlear implant before the production of the film so that he can develop a taste of character. He reported that he noticed how people treated him differently when he wore a fake implant and pretended his not-so-perfect speech. That's sad really.

One more last irony here about the quote by Steele:

"The ultimate irony that Seth discovers is that it is not until he finally accepts his deafness that he is truly free to be whatever he wants and to love whomever he wants. And it wasn’t until I embraced my deafness as an integral part of myself that I was able to make “What’s Bugging Seth,” and, in the process, establish myself as a filmmaker."

If that is the case, he could have hired a Deaf actor to prove his point. Now that he embraces his deafness, I just hope that he will come to mind to hire a Deaf actor next time when a Deaf character pops in.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

What an amazing 2007 year in the v/blogosphere!

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I actually don't have a specific date to celebrate for my one year anniversary of v/blog since I started in both areas on different dates. My first entry was published on November 5, 2006 on my Deaf Progressivism blog but it was published in the previous month as a DeafRead guest blogger. I had been blogging only until February 1, 2007 when I finally got my first vlog entry published about Deaf Education. Since most of the b/vloggers tend to review their postings this month, I took the liberty to join the bandwagon by including my multiple brief video clips of 2007.

The most focal areas of my vlog are about ASL/Bilingual issues, Deaf Educational issues, Deaf History and Deaf politics. When I said it was an amazing year, it was not because I had talked about a lot of topics but it became a reality. What I meant about reality is that it affects me positively about gaining networking, working together collaboratively, and being actively involved in Deaf politics.

What are the major accomplishments of my vlog posts? Well, I believe these posts that tend to include research facts are what made it accomplishing. My favorite one was when a Deaf mother used my vlog, "No ASL Left Behind: Chapter One" in a mediation hearing that helped her win the case when being challenged to have her Deaf son out of the school for the Deaf. The other one was when playing sleuth to find out about the sign (EAR-MOUTH) was used at first before the sign (EAR-CLOSE) since there was no published truth about this one.

Remember how I targeted Deaf Education Teacher Preparatory program in several of my vlog posts? It had drawn the attention of the University of Southern Mississippi director of the program where we ended up having a dialogue about the importance of bilingual education courses for the Deaf children in our private e-mails. It eventually led me to be asked to give a presentation. I also discovered the so-called unbiased truth (not) about AG Bell in my vlog and became involved in fighting for the rights of Deaf children by providing invaluable research video clips (i.e. The Right of a Deaf Child to Grow Up Bilingual) and being involved in Deaf Bilingual Coalition.

My most emotional vlog was when producing Grandpop's Last Word since after making it, I broke down in tears. My most memorable moment was attending to Deaf Hope event and meeting awesome female vloggers. It was a kick making The Deafy Bunch vlog together!

I also do personal stories to balance my vlog since it can be tiring when discussing about those heavy issues. I considered the most bizarre story was "When the Contractor insisted me to..." and the most scariest (but funny) one was "Guess Who Showed Up in my Bedroom." It was fun producing a family vlog along with my Deaf children when doing a critique on "Though Deaf Eyes" when participating in the DeafRead contest that we won in first place. I realize that there is a lot more that I have done but it will take forever to make a list. I think that viewing the recent vlog post on the review of 2007 will be sufficient for now and feel free to click on the archives on the right in my blogspot column.

I am very grateful to DeafRead human editors for making this possible, the commenters for presenting their points of views, and the wonderful audience for their support. Thank you!!

Is Presidential Candidate, John McCain, disingenuous?

Hello everyone..while I was reviewing my old article about John McCain that was published back in December 2006, I thought it would be appropriate to have this republished with a few revisions to make it more updated about the issues relating to bilingual education and gay marriage.

On the side of the Capitol Hill, Senator McCain was involved as a chair of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in 2003 to sponsor training for real-time captioning writers and continued to serve as a committee member in 2005 that allowed deaf and hard of hearing viewers enjoy the accessibility to television programs. He was also a supporter of ADA so we just should vote for him but not so fast .

So let's take a trip down the memory lane of McCain's background, shall we?

While serving as a Senator of Arizona, the

article, “Bilingual Education: Strike Two, Arizona voters follow California’s lead and mandate English-only programs“ (Winter 2001) has contrasted his advocacy on accessibility in captioning with his support to the Proposition 203.
It stated that: “For children whose English is limited, Proposition 203 prohibits instruction in any language other than English, even in programs designed to teach them a foreign or Native American language. The initiative's sweeping language would appear to include most American Indian students learning tribal languages as well as most deaf students studying in American Sign Language. That's because large percentages of such children are currently assessed as 'limited English proficient.'"

On the contrary, the other source showing the provision of Proposition 203 stated that physically-impaired students shall be completely unaffected. But it actually depends on what it means to be physically-impaired to the eyes of the educators.

Let's say in a case scenario that a mainstreamed deaf student who relies on ASL interpreter has been denied because she has residual hearing that she is assumed to perceive spoken language. That won't be perceived as physically-impaired and never mind to recognize that she is also functionally deaf. Is it possible that this Proposition 203 oppresses linguistic rights for the deaf more than other states who don't have it?

Another source confirms that it restricts "waivers" of the English-only rule, for children under age 10, to those with "physical or psychological handicaps" - i.e., special education students; only for older children would schools be given flexibility to exercise their "informed belief" about what's best for the student.

Jeff MacSwan addressed this question: "What about deaf children in public schools who use American Sign Language? Even if they received a "waiver" of the English-only rule, deaf students would have to endure 30 days of incomprehensible English-only instruction at the start of each school year. Meaning in public schools, the use of ASL is now prohibited in the classroom even as means of instruction to enable the development of English literacy skills." Why the heck is Arizona forcing a wasted tax-paying 30 days of inaccessible instruction without ASL interpreter in order to be waived?

Alejandra Sotomayor, a bilingual teacher and activist in the Tucson-based English Plus More Committee, attributed many of the campaign's weaknesses to its remote and undemocratic leadership. Educators and grassroots organizers were largely shunted aside by politicians pursuing "other agendas that had nothing to do with defeating Proposition 203," she said.

Indeed, the inaction of traditional allies - including, with few exceptions, the state's Latino leadership - became a sore point within the opposition campaign. Republican Governor Jane Dee Hull reportedly convinced many Democrats to unite behind Proposition 301, a sales-tax-for-education initiative, and to keep a low profile on Proposition 203.

"We saw a remarkable political cowardice from all sides," said Jeff MacSwan of the Arizona State University College of Education, "from both parties and especially from former supporters like Senator John McCain, who were completely silent."

For him to support something then being apathetic about it is too flaky. It is like he picks up a stand then drops it. Which is which?

The website explained that “Arizona Proposition 203 to stop bilingual education was passed on November 20, 2000. Proposition 203 requires public schools in Arizona to end traditional bilingual education in favor of placing immigrant children with limited English skills in an intensive one-year English immersion program. Fed up with the failure of bilingual education to prepare immigrant children for success in America, voters on Nov.7 approved the controversial Proposition 203 by a margin of 63% to 37%. The measure repeals current bilingual education laws in Arizona and requires that all classes be taught in English.” This drew fire among stifled linguistic cultural groups such as Spanish, Navajo, Korean, Chinese and Tohon O'Odham crying for social injustice.

“In protest of Proposition 203, a measure to eliminate bilingual education in Arizona, about 25 University of Arizona students went without food or sleep for 24 hours. Other students participated in the fast to show unity and many people showed their support by wearing red and white ribbons. 'I'm doing this in the spirit of the Chicano movement and Cesar Chavez,' said Nicole Trujillo, a psychology junior who fasted and wore the ribbons. 'I'm trying to protect our native languages.' " Holy smokes, doesn’t that sound familiar to you guys? What is strikingly similar to the Gallaudet protest is:

* The media has had not publicize the concerns of Preposition 203 from the side of the minority groups just like when the media covered a perfunctory report about the Gallaudet protest that they did not gather clear information for Fernandes to resign.

* Students of University of Arizona protested by fasting almost like Gallaudet hunger strike (except when fasting lasted for 24 hrs) and wearing red and white ribbons almost just like signs of UFG/tent cities to symbolize the unity for Gallaudet or justice for that matter.

* Oppression in linguistic culture (Spanish, Native American and ASL) in both Universities.

Since Senator McCain is from Arizona and running for president, this certainly does not look good from the perspective of the minority groups.

Finally about the wardrobe of Senator McCain’s position on gay marriage, it is interesting to see how wishy-washy he has been on this topic.

The source mentioned how Romney was less charitable to McCain, who on Sunday (November 21st) told ABC News: “I believe that the issue of gay marriage should be decided by the states.” McCain also said, “I believe that gay marriage should not be legal.” Romney seized on the remarks. “That’s his position, and in my opinion, it’s disingenuous,” he said. “Look, if somebody says they’re in favor of gay marriage, I respect that view. If someone says — like I do — that I oppose same–sex marriage, I respect that view. But those who try and pretend to have it both ways, I find it to be disingenuous."

Now you can see the picture of McCain's style when it comes to dealing with such controversial issues that he does not take a strong, one-sided stand for what he really believes in except when it comes to being a staunch supporter of the war in Iraq. I don't think it is feasible having a president who is pretentious when it comes to bilingual education and gay marriage, don't you?