Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Reflections on Nyle DiMarco's DWTS Mirror Ball Trophy

Description: White woman, black hair and blue shirt with a necklace showing an eye gem with a tear, standing in front of mirror ball golden trophy with light orange/black background.

Video transcript: Nyle and Peta, congratulations for winning the mirror ball trophy! It is indeed a huge honor and a great deal of accomplishment not because he is Deaf, no. To me, it doesn’t matter that he is Deaf and he won. What it really matters is that Nyle knows his (Deaf) history that he knows where he comes from and fully educated with internal knowledge that he was raised as a whole child.  Now, as he is representing himself for us, the Deaf community, he knows what to talk about and what to say. He has a strong Deaf identity. Indeed, he represents the Deaf community but he actually represents the heart of Deaf culture. That’s who he is.

For a very long time, this kind of information has been kept in the dark and denied or ignored that hearing people have not realize or understand the severe impact of our history. Ever since he started telling the history, people are starting to listen. Looking back, my parents who went to Deaf schools, experienced language deprivation although they were in “Deaf” schools while growing up in an environment where signs were banned and denied. They had to put up with the oral methods in the classroom because of the influence by Milan Conference including AG Bell’s actions. They planted the ugly ideology of oralism causing the turmoil of Deaf education in history (and even today).  It also impacted us in the 80’s and 90’s that signing in schools for Deaf children was not prevalent. It was hard for me as an only Deaf student in a public school that I had suffered with lack of language access.

Now, I am looking forward to what will happen after winning the mirrorball trophy. We must continue to work diligently not just this year but for more years to come such as working on passing the LEAD-K, presenting in educational/medical forums, posting in social media, and all of that. We need to shift our energy to focus on making laws where Deaf children no longer have to face the lack of language access, and have more programs for hearing parents where they have access to ASL support and classes or have it in their homes. Also, in Deaf educational programs, a lot of fixing needs to be done that there should be no longer being alone in the mainstream that all Deaf children should come together as one, plus having qualitative teachers who are Deaf and/or teachers who are fluent signers. We sorely need to have more of that along with stricter language evaluation instead of overlooking or denying the needs. Often when a Deaf child grows up in this Deaf education system, it is common that it was discovered rather a bit too late when their language development is delayed. As a result, they get transferred to a Deaf school where it becomes a dumping ground. This needs to be stopped! Also, we need to include K-12 ASL curriculum, Deaf history, Deaf Studies in their K-12 school years where the students can have this kind of valuable educational learning experience. This is needed for ALL Deaf students so that they would know their identity and build strong confidence. We need to let them know that it is okay to be Deaf. It is what Nyle represents that and we want more (Deaf) children like him where they feel confident. This is what I look forward to change.

Actually, the winning made me really happy when sleeping and dreaming all night feeling inspired.  However, on the next morning, after reading several FB posts and comments, it changed my feelings to being moved with mixed emotions. It is not because of the winning but it has to do with the history of suffering that we had faced, our attempts to fight for Deaf children’s rights, and the ongoing energy and time that many Deaf people have invested in this difficult struggle for a long time.

Now, it is for real that there will be a difference, that there is hope as we feel inspired with affirmation and this will happen as we continue to makes changes. That’s when I started to bawl making an emotional morning for me. Trying to calm myself down and thinking about the reflections, it is really a champ! Again, congratulations Nyle and Peta!

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