Wednesday, April 13, 2016

ASL Cultural Movement and The Media

The ASL Cultural Movement and The Media

Description: A woman with black hair and a purple shirt with black thin sweater jacket and purple necklace.

Whoo hoo! You, the Deaf Community, inspire me! You’ve been sending countless letters to AG Bell stating accurate information and pointing out the wrongs of what the recent AG Bell letter has stated. That was great! Now, asking to negotiate or to arrange for a meeting is pointless. As you may know, history that we have seen since the Veditz days already mentioned that. If you had seen “Chasing Alek: The Story of the Dorm” (see link: by R.A.R. Edwards. (showing link on video) You can download to a pdf file and take a moment to read and become more familiar with this outstanding article.

History shows that:

Veditz even wrote a letter to invite AG Bell to attend a great national convention and with other leading advocates of his tenets to meet an equal number of leading deaf in a discussion of his method.  He (AG Bell himself) declined. He was invited to contribute to the Endowment Fund of the National Association of the Deaf.  He declined. He was invited to contribute to the Moving Picture Fund of this [NAD].  He declined.

- (George Vedtiz  reprinted from Clerc Scar, 17 February 2010, first appeared in The Jewish Deaf, October 1922.]

So what makes us think they will change? That they will say, “Oh, let’s collaborate with the Deaf community and help support them?” This is not going to happen. No, it won’t. Especially based on a recent evidence and before that when there were frequent requests by different organizations such as Deaf Bilingual Coalition (showing a logo), Audism Free America (logo), etc. to meet with AG Bell. There are many others who have done it, too. Now, the Student Body Government from Gallaudet, as much I do admire them for taking the stand and making an attempt to invite AG Bell to talk, we’ve seen this as a most recent test to see if they had responded and they didn’t. So that’s fine as we know for sure that they had actually decline the invite so we just move on. Now what we should do? I’ve been analyzing the social media comments and we’ve done marvelous job with this part. (Annotation: Thanks to Julie Rems Smario for her post explaining about her friend who is a journalist that prompted me to do further research.  (Link available in my blog). 

Now, let’s look at the next level of the media such as TV, newspaper, online media, and all of the well-known media outlets that we desire to get our messages across to them. We have tons of research facts and we’ve been good sharing these as well. However, the question is how can we get to the next level?

When reading articles, it is found that the relationship between social movement and the media is a complicated one. It is not quite simple. How can we move up to that level ourselves? How can we continue to move forward? I have some ideas that I will share, and your great ideas that you’ve been sharing, too!  Please feel free to consider and analyze what we should do in this movement.

Now, based on my analysis, it is unfortunate that the media prefers episodic events that focuses on recurring events that involves confrontation, conflict, and sadly, violence. I do not condone violence but that’s how it works. Media will show up quickly under these circumstances as opposed to thematic that involves sharing our concerns, what we advocate for, the changes we want to see, and our needs that the media would ignore. These events are not considered “news” for them. Oh well…

If you had recalled during the DBC days when protesting against AG Bell in Virginia (a picture of protest in VA with my daughter and me standing across from the hotel manager who scratched my daughter’s hand) dated July 27, 2008. When my daughter’s hand was scratched, no, it wasn’t serious or anything like that, regardless she was harmed and afraid. Unfortunately, that information did not get across to the media until much later on that appeared online news, The Examiner, (showing a snapshot of the headline that said, “Some say new W.H. housekeeper has dirty laundry of her own”, dated October 17, 2007.) published about that woman who had scratched my daughter becoming a White House head housekeeper.  We had expressed our concerns about this woman not having the ability to demonstrate diplomatic behavior when confronting such issues. Hence, it got published in the media since harm was involved. I am not encouraging an act of violent as there are other ways to protest using peaceful demonstrations like sit-ins, chaining to the rail, fence, or gates, etc. Recently in Sweden about a week ago, the students formed a protest against the school for not hiring an assistant principal who is Deaf. Some of the protesters chained to themselves (a snapshot from Special Report: Audism in Sweden by thedailymoth, April 7, 2016 showing four women chained to the rail on the steps) and the media had published this news. So in order to achieve consistent access to media outlets, they had staged drastic, dramatic events. This needs to happen  to capture media attention.

In addition to capturing media attention, a large number of people attending the protest is the key. If there is a few participants, the media is least likely to show up. The other thing that I had learned from reading is that having local Deaf organizations such as State Associations of the Deaf must get involved. Why? They had been around for a long time and are considered as old organizations that are well established for years and years.  As a result, the media would be more receptive to these kinds of organizations rather than new organizations. I am not here to criticize these organizations such as Deaf Grassroots Movement, AFA, DBC, etc. as we know that these organizations are new and have not established 5013 C status. In that case, it is least likely that the media will pay attention to them. We also need celebrities who are well-known in the acting world that will attract the media. Take Nyle DiMarco, his actions have helped to attract the media. So these are the factors that will draw the media attention.

Moreover, the frequency of our protests is the key. Take Black Lives Matter, it has been prevalent across the country that appears in the news because of confrontation involved. These are episodic events. So it means that we need to be more visible. Yes, it takes a lot of energy and time. I know that it is challenging when many Deaf people live far apart and it costs money to go to such protest. We need allies who are hearing, interpreters, CODAs, etc. joining into a large group that will make a big turnout and it has to be well-planned.

Presently, I would like to suggest ten actions. (these are suggestive ideas, not necessarily limited to or ranking in order.) Please feel free to add.

The 10 Suggestive Actions:

1. Develop a good letter explaining Nyle DiMarco’s foundation and the bilingual/culture approach and share it with the local/national media on the same day to “blitz” our messages. The more volume, the better. Let’s develop a template and pick the date. Large volume is the key.

2. Donate $5 to (or every Monday as Nyle appears on Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) or any amount for anytime. You can contribute more and even when Nyle is no longer involved in DWTS. Credit goes to Dawn Schriver.

3. Continue writing blogs/vlogs about the positive benefits of ASL.  Create strong visuals using Deaf art, slides, pictures, etc. Provide transcript for your vlog (recommend than captioning since it gets picked up in the media due to search engine and faster based on my experience). It is crucial to share, retweet, forward, etc. any blogs/vlogs; make it go viral to capture media attention.

4. Write protest letters/petitions to retract awards and plagues honoring AGB. AG Bell received honorary degree in 1880 from Gallaudet (snapshot shown Alexander Graham Bell (1847 – 1922) (thanks to Paula Hill-Blackburn for letting me know as I just learned about it. Always something new everyday!) and we should request Gallaudet to retract this degree since AG Bell has committed fraud and a destruction to the Deaf community.  Congrats to NTID Orange Brown Coalition for successfully removing the plague (showing a flyer to attend the bell dorm and plaque controversy on March 20, 2008) . See We should continue to identify the sponsors of AGB and develop a letter campaign to the institutions/organizations NOT to sponsor. and NTID and Gallaudet are gold sponsors and I know it may be their intention to encourage enrollment by sending their students, however, we already know that their focus on education has been shifted to certification on speech and listening (showing YouTube titled, AG Bell Evolving? By Amy Efron Cohen who explains about it). So what are we doing donating money to their conferences? Did they really contribute their part to our Deaf community? Based on historical documents, it has been evident that they had not. Why are we doing this? We need to reassess and revisit the purpose of sponsoring and have this resolved as quickly as possible.

5. Continue to attend rallies at Deaf Pride/AGB conferences to give a message that bilingualism has benefits by using picket signs and hand-outs and to speak up our rights. DGM and AFA have been involved and we need to get more involved.  Remember, if we have small group, the media will not respond. Media likes conflict or encounter; they will rush to report if it is confrontational. Media will likely to respond to local old organizations (State Associations of the Deaf) rather than national or unfounded organization. That is what research says…

Gamson and Wolfsfeld (1993:121) argue that ‘‘the greater the resources, organization, professionalism, coordination, and strategic planning of a movement, the greater its media standing and the more prominent its preferred frame will be in media coverage of relevant events and issues.’’ We thus expect older organizations with greater staff, formal committees, networks, and members to gain a larger share of media attention.

So more of these type of organizations involved who are well prepared on talking points and the benefits of bilingualism will make our messages heard. Unfortunately, it takes a harmful incident or chaining protest for the media to show up. So if we chain, if we do sit-ins, if there is a large number of participants, especially who are locals as media would be more responsive to local organizations rather than national organization. 

Some scholars argue that outsider tactics provide drama, conflict, and novelty that heighten newsworthiness (Gitlin 1981). Alternatively, other scholars contend that news routines and the preference for authoritative sources favor organizations that use insider tactics (Oliver and Myers 1999; Vliegenthart et al. 2005). Schudson (2002:255) claims that news is primarily ‘‘on a day-today basis . . . the story of the interaction of reporters and government officials, both politicians and bureaucrats.’’ He argues that ‘‘resource-poor organizations,’’ like those that compose most social movements, ‘‘must adjust to modes of organizational interaction more like those of established organizations’’ to secure media attention (p. 257).

We should thus expect groups that work closely with government officials to gain more media attention. Similarly, movement organizations that strategically target the media have greater success at gaining media attention (Ryan et al. 2005).

6. Set up “Unity for ASL” coalition where representatives of local state associations, American Society of Deaf Children, We the Deaf People, DGM, AFA, etc. unify to develop further strategies and media plan. It is crucial for all of us to be on the same page that we know what to say and assign consistent spokespersons rather than having contrasting remarks that the media can pick up wrong messages. Once someone says this phrase and it has been picked up by the media, it stays stuck in their head derailing the actual subject. Our intentions, our messages, and all will be diminished.

7. Establish a grievance fund for AGB survivors who have suffered under the influence of AGB agents and hire a law firm to file a lawsuit. Attorneys should be gathering testimonies and documents that indicate abuse. AGB imposed inflicted harm that many Deaf people have suffered in the past because of AG Bell’s ideology that had influenced parents to follow their method. As a result, language deprivation took place that they are not having the ability to read and write well, not having intelligible speech, not having native like signing skills plus physical abuse. Gather all of the facts, fun and hire attorneys to work on building a case.

8. Continue to present at EHDI conferences, nationally and state-wide. All Deaf schools must invest in their staff to present. Not just these big Deaf schools participate but smaller Deaf schools need to attend as well. The more presenters, the higher impact for increased enrollment in Deaf schools.

9. Develop effective media kit. Click on the links in my blog below to give you tips to see how to attract media to your event article that can be useful when hosting rallies, protests, and conferences such as NAD conference, CAID conference, ASDC conference, etc.

We really need to do more of our homework to better understand how to develop a media kit. Here are the websites below:

Also, See How to Attract Media to Your Event article that can be for NAD conference, CAID conference, ASDC conference, etc. 

This needs to be discussed in “Unity for ASL” group that they need to gather and assess the media kit. We need to do that.

10. Develop ASL Literature genres such as ASL poetry, ASL plays, ASL songs, Deaf Art, etc. and testimonies in documentary films to stress the importance of natural sign language and how it impacts Deaf people’s lives as opposed to listening and speaking only. Some of you have done wonderful job with your art. There are indeed different ways to reach the performing world. 

You’ve done a great job hashtaging such as #whyIsign, #IamDeaf, etc. so keep that up. Optimize all social content with appropriate hashtags, keywords and links to reap the full benefits. Include hashtags such as:

#‎TeamNyleDiMarco #‎TeamASL #‎ShutdownAGBell #‎AGBellLies #‎LiesAGBellToldMyParents #‎Shareable #‎PublicPost #‎whyIsign #‎NyleDiMarco #‎AmericanSignLanguage #‎stopAudism #‎bisontv #‎ASLmatters  #‎deafhood #ASL #Deaf #deafed #‎AGBELLSUCKS #‎IAMDEAF #‎ENOUGHISENOUGH #‎Audism #‎TEAMASL#‎SHUTDOWNAGBELL #socialmovement

Continue to think about this and maintain the discourse. There are more ways to contribute to changes so add your ideas and comments for us to see that may help us to move forward rather than sending letters to AG Bell thinking you have done your duty. No, no! We must continue to do these actions.
Ten years ago, you people (including me) who were involved was in a small group that we had worked so hard and it was difficult to continue because of exhaustion. Our energy level dropped because of the negativity and lack of support from the Deaf community. We felt overwhelmed and burned out. Now, people who are involved to challenge AG Bell, it is crucial to demonstrate our support. It is best not to criticize and not to squabble over it making the community more divisive. No good! We must remain vigilant and be proactive. I’m looking forward to see more actions from you in the future! (fades out)

Thank you all who are dedicated to your blog/vlog posts, shares and retweets.

Thank you all for submitting LEAD-K bills.

Thank you all for establishing foundations for the benefit of Deaf babies and children!

Thank you all for attending rallies/protests!

Thank you for being there!

(end of video transcript)

Not included in the video clip:

Here is the link that gathers all of the info on AGBell: thanks to Leala Holcomb.

"This website provides space to further examine the effects of Alexander Graham Bell on our society from multiple angles and multiple perspectives through first-source data. This means families with Deaf and Hard of Hearing children and Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals are the central source of information. The goal is to shed light and provide voice to those with lived experiences and facilitate greater understanding of their past and current realities and truths."