Deaf and Philosophy

May 14, 2007

Sign Up Fund – (Interpreting fund) – Advocacy Inc.

Filed under: Uncategorized — deafphilosophy @ 10:31 am

News Release    CONTACT:
FOR RELEASE
Contact’s Name: Lucy Wood
Phone: (512) 538-8728; (512) 454- 4816 x 322 (x 327 assistant Jesse
Treadaway)
Fax: (512) 302- 4936
E-mail:  lwood@advocacyinc.org; lucylou_w@hotmail.com       

Press Conference To Be Held Monday, May 14, at 1 p.m. at Advocacy,
Inc., 7800 Shoal Creek Boulevard, Austin, Texas 78757.                                  

TEXAS LAWYERS REACH OUT TO THE DEAF COMMUNITY

Fund Will Help Lawyers to Pay for Interpreters to Assist Deaf Clients

Austin, Texas  — Advocacy, Inc., a non-profit disability law
organization serving people with disabilities in Texas, announced today the
creation of the Sign Up Fund – a sign language interpreter fund that will
assist Texas lawyers in understanding and accommodating the legal needs
of the deaf.  The Disability Issues Committee of the State Bar of
Texas, which will administer the fund, is to receive twenty thousand dollars
in a start-up grant from the Texas Bar Foundation, which awards grants
twice annually in an effort to improve legal services to under-served
populations in Texas.  The Sign Up Fund will help lawyers in Texas pay
for sign language interpreters in order to assist deaf clients and
ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).   

The ADA, which covers places of public accommodations including law
offices, requires a lawyer to accept clients regardless of disability and
provide the requisite “auxiliary aids,” including sign language
interpreter services, necessary to ensure effective communication where
doing so would not create an “undue burden” on the law office.  Deaf
clients often need sign language interpreters to understand their lawyers: 
thirty percent of the deaf population leaves school functionally
illiterate – i.e., they read at a third grade level or below – making
written communication difficult or ineffective.  And, contrary to the
widespread myth about the utility of speech-reading for the deaf, no more
than twenty to thirty percent of spoken English is visible on the lips,
and even the most talented deaf speech-readers routinely experience
miscommunication.  “A common complaint in the deaf community is the
inability to find an attorney who not only understands the requirements of
the ADA, but is also willing to comply with it,” says Faye Kuo, the Deaf
Rights Specialist at Advocacy, Inc.  “This fund will help lawyers
understand the language needs of the deaf client and help the deaf client
get needed legal assistance.”

Similar efforts in several midwestern states and in one New York
community have attempted to address these issues with encouraging results. 
However, the State Bar of Texas is the first state bar to tackle the
problem systemically by setting up a fund for interpreter dollars. “We
are pleased that the Texas Bar Foundation has prioritized these access
issues in Texas and has supported a means to share the financial
burden,” said Mitchell Katine, Chair of the Disability Issues Committee. 
“We hope that our work on this fund will be expanded to meet the needs
of all deaf clients in Texas and create a template for use in other
states.” 

Under the terms of the grant, lawyers at Advocacy, Inc., a  non-profit
legal services organization with experience representing deaf clients,
will provide state-wide training to bar associations about the Sign Up
Fund and about ADA compliance.  “We are very excited to have this
opportunity to educate Texas lawyers about both ADA compliance and about
the needs of the deaf community in Texas,” said Lucy Wood, a lawyer
with Advocacy, Inc. who focuses on representing deaf individuals in ADA
actions.  “This money will provide many deaf people, many of whom have
had no prior access to legal services or who have not understood their
lawyers in the past, with the opportunity to access needed legal
services.”  

The State Bar of Texas created the Texas Bar Foundation as the
charitable arm of the lawyers of Texas in 1965. The Foundation is the largest
bar foundation of its kind in the nation, and it is renowned for its
ongoing effort to aid the public through its charitable grant making to
justice-related causes.   To date, more than $9 million in grants have
been given by the Foundation to benefit the people of Texas.  These
grants have been awarded for projects and programs that provide legal
services for the needy, education to the public, and improvements within the
legal profession and the administration of justice.

The Texas Bar Foundation is comprised of more than 7,000 Fellows
representing the top one-third of one percent of the State Bar of Texas
membership. Election as a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation is a mark of
distinction recognizing excellence in service to the legal profession. 

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May 12, 2007

Ideas for constitutional issues for Deafs??

Filed under: Uncategorized — deafphilosophy @ 3:04 am

I’m a college student. In the fall, I am taking 3 “constitution” related classes in preparation for law school, which I hope to enroll in a tier 1 program. I’m attending a summer prelaw program next month and it’s a very competitive program so that will be a wonderful experience for me.

I’m taking a class on American race policies which will deal with the constitution, but I will be expected to read a book not about African Americans, so I’d like to talk about Deaf struggle to the class. From what I understand, we will give an oral book report in class. I’m taking a constitutional interpretation class but I doubt I will do research in that class as it is not a writing course. We are expected to know the material we read extremely well as the socratic method will be employed by the professor. The 3rd related class will be constitutional issues (history class) and I will be expected to write a 40-55 page paper. Obviously I want this to be about Deafs and get it published somewhere. In order to move up in academics, you should publish several things. What’s ironic is that people don’t care if the work is shoddy, as long as it is published so I want to make sure this is a well written piece that will be of use to lawyers and for Deaf advocates.

I’m curious which cases or issues would you most want to read about? I have 3 1/2 months until the fall semester starts but I am excited about this opportunity because my professor won the Pulitzer prize, so the class should benefit greatly. You know, there are many major cases in our past such as Brown vs Board of education which ended segregation, but what case is similar for Deaf people, does anyone know? I do have access to several lawyers who are Deaf or work with Deaf people but wanted to get a non-lawyer’s perspective. (Ok fine, if you are a lawyer and happen to read this, feel free to throw in your 2 cents worth) Perhaps we all still have constitutional issues to face and it has not been resolved? That is possible and would certainly need to make sure I have 40-55 pages of material to write!

Some of the ideas I had was to incorporate concepts from my philosophy of law class in terms of discrimination such as justified/unjustified discrimination. (Not all discrimination is automatically bad) Affirmative action is another tricky concept but is justified when past wrongs have been committed against Deaf people, in order to correct the wrong. That’s a whole another topic to blog about hmm…

Feel free to throw out ideas and who knows, one of these days you will read about it! I’ll have to make sure credit is given where it is due too!!! Just wish me luck well in advance I can pursue constitutional issues for Deaf people. Maybe I’ll ask my professor now if I can pursue this topic and I’ve already been in touch with him, he will give me a reading list for the class by mid summer so i can get a head start. Students do often contact their professors to see what they can read well before classes start.

FYI, there are over 125-175 Deaf/HoH people who are lawyers, in law school or teaching law. Before I sign off, if anyone wants to go to law school, there is no perfect degree in getting into law school. People with all kinds of degrees get into law school but it is my biased opinion that people should take as many philosophy classes as they can prior to entering law school. Critical thinking, logic, and ethics are a few of the must-take classes. These classes will help develop your reasoning skills needed to take the LSAT and improve reading comprehension skills. (Philosophy majors tend to score the highest on the LSAT, so it is not a surprise why)

Does Teri recommend this kind of “burning of blogs” and did Der Sankt do this too ($2,500 confession)

Filed under: Uncategorized — deafphilosophy @ 1:35 am

Click on the link below to judge if this is how Teri would “burn” a blog, or if this was a method Der Sankt could have used? No rules are necessary and creativity is encouraged, I suppose!

This is crazy!

I couldn’t resist with the various blogs talking about “fire” and “burning” within the deaf b/vlogsphere. Now, please do not try anything even close to this!

May 10, 2007

How many Bloggers/Vloggers are going to NAD-New Orleans?

Filed under: Uncategorized — deafphilosophy @ 6:19 pm

I was wondering what percentage of the people in the blogosphere have decided that they are going to NAD? I remember many of the bloggers went last year in Palm Springs and probably will go to New Orleans.

Should someone host a Blog/Vlog only gathering at NAD which will be only the people who contribute to the blogosphere, not family members, spouses or pets. My wife has a blog/vlog here. My cousin-in-law also has a blog/vlog site and he has been around forever blog-wise here. Ironically, Patty and Grant worked together to create Deafnetwork.com while I babysat Grant’s daughter.

I would love to see NAD find a sponsor to have many computers set up (50?) so people can check emails, create blogs/vlogs, and read them especially during NAD. Deafread.com should have their own booth and should go to WFD this summer to promote the website internationally.

I know there’s a wild mix of personalities and beliefs but this would be an excellent place to announce the deafread awards and promote the internet savvy folks to come to the NAD convention, come a day early or something.

Is there anyone in Texas willing to do a similar thing for the TAD conference in June, have a gathering of vloggers/bloggers? TAD conference info

Deafread rule #8 clarification

Filed under: Uncategorized — deafphilosophy @ 1:21 pm

Deafread.com has a set of rules….. I will copy and paste #8

8) Name Calling and Discrimination

DeafRead is enjoyed by all kinds of people worldwide ranging from children to senior citizens. It is also safe to assume that people from all races enjoy DeafRead. We will not post anything that is an attack on a specific race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orienation, age or religion. This offense is serious and the offending blog will be promptly considered for removal from DeafRead’s subscription.

 I sent a comment with a question to all of the human editors a while ago and none of them responded. Do you think Deafread.com should be allowed to approve posts that attack Deaf people in general? Granted, these rules on Deafread.com is very paternalistic as it implies they know what is best for you. What’s the justification for having a different set of standards for hearing people posting about deaf topics? “Posts by hearing authors are welcome but face a more stringent standard. ”

 So, perhaps this post will get the attention of Deafread editors. Can we attack Deaf people in general? There are varying opinions if Deaf is a race.

According to wikipedia.com “The term race describes populations or groups of people distinguished by different sets of characteristics, and beliefs about common ancestry. The most widely used human racial categories are based on visible traits (especially skin color, facial features and hair texture), and self-identification.”

There has been many attacks on deaf people yet they get approved. For example, Ridor talks about the importance of deaf people having a trusted hearing person with them. This itself is extremely offensive and sets back Deaf people so far back. Since this is the most powerful analogy I can make, I must use it even it is offensive and wrong for me to do so, but would anyone say a black person should have a white person next to them when they call the cops?  A gay person have a heterosexual person?

 Even Deaf people can attack us with such statements, and this is probably the most damaging of all attacks on us. I could care less if an ignorant or uninformed person stereotypes deaf people in general, but if they are in a position of power then I will educate that person. 

 On Jared’s post “How do you decide which VLOGS to watch” someone named Observer posted this “Most of you deaf people always whine! Every issue! All you do is complaining, crying, protesting, disagreeing and clawing down deaf vloggers. ”

So a Humanread editor is not really aware of rule #8. I’ve seen all of these stereotypes in comments, but the author has the power to delete them. If Deafread is going to stamp out attacks on specific race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orienation, age or religion, then they better start with attacks and stereotypes on Deaf people and educate everyone, including us Deafs.

Deafread.com will have the power to remove the blog from their list, so people will be educated. This is one good that comes out of paternalism. Paternalism is not a word that is automatically negative and it can serve some good.  (I know paternalism is usually associated with gender lines, but that is not how I use the word) Parents are paternalistic and do so with good intent, so Deafread.com can do the same.

Lastly, I think Deafread.com should respond to every comment posted to them otherwise, what is the point of having a comment box, to filter things out that are interesting and doesn’t waste their time? A simple reply would suffice. I tried to get one blog banned from Deafread.com because of the stereotypes perpetuated. Why should children have to read blogs that perpetuates stereotypes?

 If Deafread.com needs help in educating people about stereotypes on deaf people, I would be more than glad to assist by pointing them out within our own deaf blogsphere, which includes comments left in their blog made by other people. If you need help responding to comments, I would be more than glad to help, if they are not directed to a specific person. I do hope that Deafread will not drop the paternalism approach and say it’s a free for all approach reinforcing the 2nd paragraph of the publisher’s guidelines:

 “Blogs are based on the concept that people can write openly and freely about their thoughts and opinions. A DeafRead visitor should be able to see the varying perspectives Deaf and Hard of Hearing people have on deaf-related issues, highlighting each individual’s uniqueness. ”

 Lastly, this brings up an interesting question, should audism be allowed by Deafread? I notice there are more stereotypes on deaf people in general than audistic comments. Are we at the point where we can say, “hey since we all are deaf, we can insult each other about being deaf?”

How do *I* decide which vlog to watch?

Filed under: Uncategorized — deafphilosophy @ 12:30 pm

I noticed the irony in all of this. It wasn’t about how anyone read vlogs, it was how you (JD/Jared) decide which VLOG to read, and then everyone attacked you for it, instead of contributing their criteria.

For me, Bob’s vlog…it has text so I just skip the vlog and read the text which takes me a minute. I get annoyed with people’s signing style but in no way would I encourage people to change their style or personality, not everyone can be an elaborate B.S’er who are usually the best storytellers, especially in ASL.  B.S-ing is not a bad thing, there is nothing wrong with adding color to stories, but people do get annoyed. As for me, I just take the story at face value.  People over-exaggerate as well as “under”-exaggerate stories all the time, and they do this with their thoughts too. I think everyone should have patience and keep comments to themselves. Why is it of any importance that your time was wasted? The person took the time to create a b/vlog post and you chose to look at it, so why complain about your time being wasted? Since you are a human editor, is your time is wasted on all posts you have to look over?

Since everyone is obsessed with saving time…..

1. I suggest people write a brief outline of what they want to say and keep it short…if it’s too long, make it shorter. Do several practice runs. Watch yourself after you pick the best draft. Improve it. Jared, you kept looking at your notes repeatedly at a conference, which was a major no-no. Several practice runs would have enabled a smooth presentation. I’ve given presentations in class and I know people want it flowing. This also applies to hearing people and they are not supposed to stop and pause that often. See, I’m attacking your presentation style when perhaps you were not familiar with the rules of “speech” (in the sense of giving presentations).

2. Try to be passionate about what you are talking about. This unfortunately means the use of facial expression because it is an important part of ASL. Many hearing folks have this problem as they will talk in a monotone voice, I don’t even know if that is acceptable but people complain about it, fortunately, I just ask my interpreters to color their signs a bit to make it easier for me to follow. I suppose you can be too passionate about your VLOG, which makes it more annoying.

3. Try to improve your ASL skills. No one is perfect at ASL, so we all can keep on improving, and I don’t mean just at conversational ASL but as presenters to an audience. It’s a very different style of communication when you talk with a few friends and stand up to an audience of thousands. (VLOGS get that many hits) Just because you never learned formal ASL grammar and rules, doesn’t mean you can just sign however you want. I consider writing blogs a way to improve your English, so why can’t we do the same with ASL. For some people, it is a taboo to give constructive feedback on ASL, but that’s how I learned in the first place. Improving ASL does not mean just being a “spelling” cop in the sense that a sign was used incorrectly, but in the formation of structuring your thoughts.

4. Regardless of what Jared says, you do not have to spice up your VLOG; even this can be a waste of time and just “fillers” to extend the time of VLOGS.  In college, JD collected some quotes and posted it on his closet but the kind of society we are in, we cannot just sum up everything in 2 sentences or less.

  I probably could throw out a quote for every occasion but what is the point of that? No thoughts are conveyed that way.  I want some serious context so that I can reflex on things, and do not need all these little details that some of the vloggers tend to give not really relevant to what they are talking about.I’d rather VLOGs be filled with thought provoking stuff but that is me, and that means getting in detail about stuff. I think MOST of what is posted within the deaf blogosphere are just social commentaries. Social commentaries are vastly different from philosophy, but unfortunately, most people don’t know what philosophy really means. Social commentaries can be interesting but is it really thought provoking? Facts can be interesting but thought provoking? We wouldn’t all want to be scientists and live a life based on facts and statistics.Instead of stating your own criteria, you can say that a VLOG is successful by the number of comments posted wither it is negative or positive. I probably could write a very insulting post and a hundred people will comment. It works too well in this society because we all are geared towards in getting a reaction out of people. Which post do you think would get the most comment say if IKJ accidentally knocked down a child compared to a post announcing that a deaf person has created a nonprofit organization?

5. You can have the mentality that you want to challenge people. It doesn’t have to be negative at all. Jd’s post was a challenge issued to vloggers to help improve the quality of vlogsXXXXX “communication style/mannerisms.” How would you feel if there was a vlog out there that said we all must unite and rally? I wouldn’t give this kind of cheerleading any thoughts at all. If someone plays the devil’s advocate and challenges me on something, I am likely to do something about it and comment on it.

February 20, 2007

Vlog irony?

Filed under: Uncategorized — deafphilosophy @ 10:43 am

Vlogs are great but I wish someone would come up with a “vlog” only website meaning main entries are done in VLOG, and all comments are done in video as well.

It seems ironic that we do VLOGS but all the comments are done in english. Yes, I know it may be a quick and easy way to leave comments. The reality is, it cannot be done as far as I know. Many people have videophones now, so it would be great if we could make a vp call to a website and leave a comment! This is something the telecommunication industry should think about. I am just swinging for the fences here, but if we could use VRS companies to voice/caption our ASL, we could use the VRS interpreters as well. I’d love this wide open access to information for all signers and automatically have voice and caption added when we make a video for the internet. It’s probably wishful thinking, but what is the deal with doing VLOGS then limited to only using english to leave comments?

This would benefit hearing people as well because they can do a vlog without signing and people can pick up the non-verbal communication, then readers can respond with a video of their own in response. In both situations, a hearing person will be able to pick up all the non-verbal communication.

Hopefully someone out there will read this and have an idea of how to enable comments where people can leave a video as a response!

February 19, 2007

To Gallaudet students..

Filed under: Uncategorized — deafphilosophy @ 12:42 pm

If you are unable to understand your teacher’s sign language, you should consider going to the ADA coordinator and say that you have no access to education in the classroom because you are not able to understand the teacher. If a professor does not sign fluently, then you should ask for an interpreter, especially if he/she uses his voice while signing. With an interpreter, you will understand the lectures better and not have to put up with basic sign skills.

Has any student filed an ADA grievance that they are not getting access to the classroom? This would be tricky IF the teacher was deaf and does not use voice, but…suppose the teacher uses SEE, why can’t the student request an ASL interpreter or a CDI? I realize it will be difficult for an interpreter to watch signs all the time, then sign in ASL, since the interpreter is used to just hearing and processing the information in his/her head and keep signing.

If I had a professor who did not sign well, I would demand accomodation especially if I want to participate in the classroom. Would the professor be able to understand what I am signing? Why should Gallaudet be any different in terms of students asking for accomodation in the classroom. If the students prefer a qualified interpreter over the teacher’s anemic signing skills, then they should be allowed to do so. If a student wants CART instead of an interpreter, let them.

I’m writing about this because I’ve noticed many former students complaning about their teachers not signing well, so instead of complaining about their signing abilities, a request for interpreter should be made and hopefully this will put more “pressure” on all Gallaudet professors/instructors. NOT all college teachers can be called a professor, being a professor is a much higher honor than being called a Dr. There is a long process in college that a person has to go through in order to be called a professor, however tenure-track professors could potentially circumvent this ASL fluency requirement as it is practically impossible to fire tenure track professors, so I hear.

DO not call all college teachers “professor” and ask them first if they are one. Not ALL college teachers have a Ph.D so don’t automatically call them “Dr.” Anyways, has anyone had an experience with this before? I would most certainly ask for accomodation if someone’s signing skills was not up to par. Thoughts?

Gallaudet students, this is your chance to demand the best out of each of your classes, starting with access to the lecturer communication-wise.

February 15, 2007

Deafs in the military? issues of benefits.

Filed under: Uncategorized — deafphilosophy @ 12:41 pm

http://www.deafdc.com/blog/shane-feldman/2007-02-15/deaf-soldiers/

 Shane wrote this blog. I was going to address a similar issue and thought this was the perfect time to mention it. Deaf people cannot enlist in the military because we cannot hear. What most people do not realize is, just how good the benefits are in the long run. There’s the G.I. bill in which you get I believe $40,000 to use toward college. You also get military discounts of all kinds from low interest rates in buying houses, cars or motorcycle for life. The military also has extensive online classes that you can take to learn about anything. I checked to see if ASL was included as one of the foreign language requirements and it wasn’t listed. I worked for the Army as a civilian for a short time so I learned what the benefits were.

If Deaf people cannot enlist in the military, shouldn’t the government grant these opportunities to all Deaf people then? Yes, we can get SSI/SSDI and vocation rehab assistant but if i was 18 years old, I would rather get the military benefits than get ssi/ssdi and go through all the bureaucracy with vocational rehab. I would absolutely love the low interest rates when buying houses or cars. The $40,000 G.I. bill is nice because it means that I would have the freedom of going to any college I want and not be restricted by vocational rehab. Every state is different, some states can’t afford to fully help out the deaf student or limits their choice of college.

I do not see a problem with Deaf people going through basic training just like everyone else. It’s not a program that teaches people how to kill, but rather a program that teaches people how to be mature and responsible adults. If education failed many deaf people and they do not want to go to college, why can’t they enlist in the military and learn so many skills on the job. After basic training, the choice to decide what to learn is up to them. Believe it or not, many veterans have gotten great job at microelectronic companies because of their electronics training during active duty.

 If the government prevents Deaf people from enlisting in the military, then what alternatives do we have in joining other than to be a civilian employee? If we are prevented with supposedly a good reason, why should we be denied benefits that veterans get?

Lastly, what is all this obsession within the deaf community about being the 1st deaf to do so and so? To me, that is extremely counter-productive and reinforces the notion that it is really tough to do all the things hearing people do. I am never impressed when anyone says I am the first deaf to do so and so, because I already have it in my mind that Deaf people can absolutely do anything. Yes, a deaf person can be a mayor, president of the USA and any other country, scale mount everest, sail around the world, get 10 Ph.D degrees, be the greatest basketball player ever, anything you think of, a deaf person can do it. We shouldn’t be working toward goals of being the 1st deaf to do this or that because that reinforces our belief we are inferior. I tell people all the time that there are over 100 lawyers in the USA who are deaf or HoH and they act shocked.  What does the ability to hear have to do with putting out fires? What difference does it make if you are the 1st deaf (insert label) to get a Ph.D from (insert college)? This needs to stop. We need to recognize and compliment people for their achievements, not because simply they were the 1st, and to reinforce the notion of that 1st deaf person’s superiority over others. I see an ongoing debate within the bowling community who the 1st deaf bowler to make it to the PBA was, and I could care less, anyone who makes it deserves the praise because it takes hard work to get there as a bowler, not because you are deaf and a bowler.

 I know people say being deaf is harder, but many people do not think that. I don’t think it is harder at anything because i am Deaf. I know my path is much different because I am deaf, and things become difficult for me because of old existing rules about deaf people such as enlisting in the military. If the military allowed deaf people to enlist, why do we care who the 1st deaf person to make through it is, as long as any deaf people can do it.

And no, I am not the 1st deaf person to point out this cultural phenomena about deafs wanting to be the 1st to do so and so. 🙂

February 6, 2007

Thank an educator lately? (and how oralism can be bad)

Filed under: Uncategorized — deafphilosophy @ 11:41 pm

I hope I am not the only one, but I cannot think of whom to thank for my education from K-12, except my parents.  I grew up oral and never learned sign language until I went to college. I am classified as someone with a profound hearing loss, yet I was prodded to wear auditory aids the entire time, as if I can really hear and understand what people say, when a microphone is attached to the person. In reality, I got by because of lipreading, and if it were too tiring to lipread during the entire day, I would simply look down and teach myself from the book. Perhaps the teachers thought I could hear well enough that I can take my eyes off them and read the book. It is because of my fear of failure that I made sure I knew what was going on, try to decipher what I was supposed to learn from the writing on the blackboard to the reading in the book.  How can I give credit to any teacher growing up? I don’t remember making a connection with any teacher and I was too proud to ask for help in class. At times, it seemed like the only reason I was in school was just to learn how to speak better, as if my entire career depended on it. 

When I went to college, I learned sign and had sign language interpreters from the beginning even though I wasn’t skilled enough for that kind of access. So, here I go again in not getting full access to education in the classroom. However, I got more access than I ever dreamed of from K-12 and thus was able to learn a lot more from professors. I admit, my mind was blown away to the point of being overwhelmed when I could understand most of the lecture. I no longer had to struggle to lipread and my eyes didn’t get tired. My brain was not used to so much information in a short time span.

The best professors I ever had was Nabil Kaylani (History) and Jamie Campbell (Philosophy). It’s been about 14 years, I think, since I took their classes at RIT. While at RIT, I was still not a good signer at all, if you could call it signing. I was still unable to “communicate” with people because I was too self-conscious to use my voice and too self-conscious to sign, I felt inadequate either way in communicating. I didn’t have the opportunity in personally interacting with Prof. Kaylani or Prof. Campbell, but I have sent them a letter of thanks for being one of the best professors I had and updated them with my life and what I have done since then. Both were extremely honored to receive such a letter and from the sound of things, most teachers and even professors don’t get these kinds of letters from former students. 

Prof. Kaylani was the hardest teacher I ever had, and it was in history, a class I usually get all A’s in. If I remember right, I might have gotten a B or a C in the class but I worked so hard for the grade I got. It was multiple-choice questions only! He was the best because magically, I was pushed beyond what I thought I was capable of. I knew I could call myself an “intellectual” when the quarter was over with. It has to be a tremendous honor for any teacher to get that kind of feeling in students. Yes, some teachers can be hard and you don’t get much out of it. When you get a teacher that is hard and demands the best out of you, you benefit greatly. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to have a teacher that was as demanding as he was.

Prof. Campbell was the best because he taught students how to be altruistic human beings. I think he could have taught calculus and still teach students how to be better human beings! I took moral philosophy and I think that is the one single class that changed my life. I’m not talking about academics only; I refer to everything. I understood how people thought morally, why people do the things they do and most of all, how to be compassionate.

I probably don’t write to both of these people as much as I should, but these 2 people know I am thankful for them. Maybe, you are like me; don’t have many teachers you can really thank for changing your life, but it is those few that don’t know how you feel about them. It may be no wonder that I have a philosophy degree because of Jaime Campbell and will soon have a history degree because of Nabil Kaylani. Yes, it took a long time but the important thing is, I got it done. I will pursue higher education and more degrees. 

Now, I am more fluent in sign language, I have been able to connect with more professors and interact with them more often, I know I missed out on a lot and will have a few more teachers to thank in the future, but perhaps I don’t have to because I keep in touch often. That’s not true; the teachers still need to hear it from time to time.  I hope you will be inspired to write a letter of thanks or even compose a video thanking your teacher! 

Lastly, some years ago, I wrote a long letter of thanks to my parents, about 8 or 9 pages. My mother expresses a lot of regrets and doubts about how she raised me as an oral child and wished I learned sign language earlier. I wrote to my parents thanking them for everything and knew they did the best they could do and thought they did what was best, and not to worry about it anymore. There is no sense in dwelling on what ifs and my parents said they cried when they read my letter. I certainly hope their regrets and doubts are put to rest, I am thankful for who I am, how I grew up and that I can thank people for making an impact on my life, but….I would not wish it on another Deaf person. Life is too frail to grow up being Deaf without an identity.  I didn’t have an identity and had no Deaf role models growing up.  The only issue I have is that no child should grow up thinking they are the only one in the world, and that was because I thought I was just a regular kid like every other kid in the world, but deep down, I knew I was deaf and different.

Now, I am proud to be different and Deaf, I stick out in classes of 200 or 300 students, and I will try to participate in every lecture. Well, when a class is that big, I actually don’t want people to participate, it’s too big for a discussion but in smaller classes, I have my hand up every class, it is my rule to be involved in every class and has been a long time coming. Growing up, I did not even want to be visible or known at all, I cannot remember if I ever answered or asked anything in class. My first try with college, I was a little better but not in large classes. This time around, I don’t have a care in the world. I will attend philosophy lectures and ask questions. (through an interpreter yes) It’s been a long journey in simply being me. I started with feelings of frustration or nervousness about what happens, what people will think and so forth to not having a care as I sign. (Yes, I do have to worry about how my interpreters are saying things!)Start with thanking your educators and let them know what you have been up to and why they made a huge impact on your life, remember parents can be your educators too!

I hope you are inspired by this, and remember, it is never too late for anything, even finding your identity from whatever system you grew up in or even wanting to break out of your shell. I would never dream of facing the entire class and ask for volunteer notetakers, now I email the entire class and introduce myself and throw in a couple of ice breakers and jokes and usually get 3-4 notetakers before the first class start. I’m connected with the college, and do not just show up on campus to go to class then go back home. Yes, I’m looking for the next educator to thank, and will always look for educators to make an impact on my life.

February 1, 2007

Jane’s obsession in destroying Deaf culture.

Filed under: Uncategorized — deafphilosophy @ 11:33 pm

MishaZena was kind enough to post Jane’s interview with ASHA.  (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) ASHA’s mission statement is:

 “The mission of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is to promote the interests of and provide the highest quality services for professionals in audiology, speech-language pathology, and speech and hearing science, and to advocate for people with communication disabilities.”

That should give you a clear idea of where Jane’s thinking is. If you do not use speech, language and hearing, you therefore have a communication disability. Science is another cheap social construction, so Jane is under that doctrine.

 What is extremely disturbing is that Jane is still after “culturally deaf people” who value ASL and don’t value voice. She also claims there is less sense of a place for these culturally deaf people, compared to 20 years ago.

This should raise alarms all over the place. Jane is still worried about these culturally deaf people, and when she says culturally deaf people, she means ALL culturally deaf people because I haven’t seen a criteria that excludes these culturally deaf people from the so called absolutionist. I know many culturally deaf people that value ASL and voice. I’ve not met a culturally deaf person who is against voice, they just made a personal decision not to use it, even if they speak well.

When Jane repeats the same old song and dance of wanting Gallaudet to be “a place where everyone is included, valued and respected,” she is trying to destroy Deaf culture. Think about this, suppose you have your own culture of being a college football fan. The people in the group are die hard college football fans and they know everything there is to know about college football. They may reject people who are not fan enough of college football, but there is nothing wrong with that. When a university president is after this culture, there is something wrong here.  Correct me if I am wrong, but who is the highest ranking culturally deaf person at Gallaudet? Anyone on the BOT? IJK, JKF? That’s a lot of high ranking positions to have without “culturally deaf” person in charge. Who is then responsible for legally keeping Gallaudet “included, respected and valued?” Jane and Jordan had their time and they failed by their own criteria. Was Jordan after all of these people during his presidency?

There is tremendous cause for concern if a person is so single-mindedly bent on destroying this culturally Deaf culture. You do not attack a culture in general, you address specific problems, but don’t stereotype all of the culturally deaf people. Because Jane said these culturally deaf people don’t value voice, she is imposing her value of voice on a culture that emphasizes ease of communication instead of submitting to what works best for hearing people. (and we would still have a problem with lipreading or “hearing” what is being said)

Jane is in essence saying that these culturally deaf people are a threat to whatever doctrine she believes in. Jane does not decide what constitutes as a culture, nor does she decide how and when a culture should change. It is extremely arrogant to tell a culture to open up and include all people, because in the process it destroys the culture. How would you feel if a foreign nation came in the USA, and repeatedly told everyone to open up, to include everyone and respect all and in the process values are shifting so far away from what we valued before?  Why should the culture of college football fans have to open up and include ping pong fans of the olympics? Both cultures can operate on their own and go by their own values.

As for Gallaudet not being inclusive, am I supposed to complain everytime I cannot bond with any group of people on campus? If it happens that I don’t feel belonged with the fraternity and sororities, should I complain and say I am not included and respected? If I don’t fit in with the physics society, do I have a right to target that group and say they need to respect and include everyone. I have been on honor societies where a 3.5 gpa or higher is required, is that a good thing for colleges, because apparently that does not repect and include all students.  There are many universities where a high percentage of the student’s parents earn well over $100,000 and that might only represent 10% of the population, yet these rich students represent over 50% of the college population. How can one battle against this culture of rich people? You cannot generalize these rich people and have to address incidents individually. Does it mean that all these rich students are bad for the university?

I still don’t understand why Jane cannot view these culturally deaf people with pride, because you want people to be proud human beings, proud of their identities and whatever background they came from. Gallaudet has instilled pride in many people, most of whom came from mainstreamed schools and grew into fine adults during their college days. What sense does it make to focus on the people who left Gallaudet because they felt like they didn’t fit in. Would Harvard spend all of their time worrying about all of the drop outs and wonder why the students felt like they didn’t fit in and blast the majority of the students, who presumedly are from old money?

Jane must remember that a lot of problem Gallaudet faces are not because of culture, but how people grew up prior to going to Gallaudet. Gallaudet is a microcosm of american society, yes we have all these problems we will find anywhere in America, but it is the culturally deaf white people that are to be blamed, and by going after these culturally white deaf people, all of Gallaudet’s problems will be solved. Jane simply wants to impose her values on ALL deaf and hard of hearing people and destroy all culturally deaf people who use ASL but don’t value voice. What’s wrong with including these culturally deaf people who use ASL and all other deaf and HoH folks in one place? There will always be a clash of cultures and opionon on any college campus, you have the democrats and republican groups at all colleges, so how is this any different? If the culturally deaf people are more proud of their heritage, then let the mainstreamed “un-culturally” deaf be equally proud of their heritage too. A college campus is not about making everyone sit down and be friends, there will always be clash of ideology, which makes it an even better culture for intellectuals.

Jane has every right to disagree with certain groups, but to systematically  target one group is going too far as an administrator, and thankfully she no longer is one. Without experiencing firsthand of her management style, it is easy to believe that she prefers management by intimidation. An administrator would have more tact in addressing issues that plaque the university, it takes an entire community to address the issue, not the vendetta of one person.

January 31, 2007

What are your plans on July 7-11, 2008???

Filed under: Uncategorized — deafphilosophy @ 10:43 pm

Make arrangments, save up your money, and go to New Orleans for the NAD convention! NAD needs more diversity! Make an impact at NAD, and NAD will make an impact on you! NAD is for all!

I will see you all there; it is never too early to get started on it so start planning now!  

http://www.deafpeopleofcolor.org/ sounds like a great conference and I hope all who attend the Deaf People of Color conference will go to New Orleans too.

Does radio present problems of democratic legitimacy for Deafs?

Filed under: Deaf communication — deafphilosophy @ 10:07 pm

One of the big concepts of a democracy is participation by the people. Democracies are judged by whether they are legitimate or not. For example, the limits on presidental term (22nd amendment) violates the legitimacy of democracy, because it limits the people’s choices. If the people want the same president repeatedly, the people should be allowed to do so. However, this doesn’t seem to be a big issue these days, but legitimacy is always a topic discussed. Well, maybe it is not a topic that legal positivists talk about, but they will always be plagued with discussion on whether laws are legitimate as opposed to merely worrying about separating laws and morality.

Let’s consider this; people in wheelchair could not access many buildings in the pre-ADA days. Now, it should be easier for people in wheelchairs to have access to buildings starting with parking, entering the buildings, and the availability of more elevators.

What has the ADA law primarily done for Deaf people on an almost universal level? Job access? Public housing? Education? It seems to me that the ADA law did not benefit all deaf people, in terms of access. Yes, we are protected further. Call me ignorant, but did we gain more access? I know radio has been a sore spot for many deaf people. I remember one lawsuit that was valid, a deaf person wanted access somehow to “hear” his favorite NFL team on radio, but that lawsuit was thrown out.

Ever since I heard about that, the idea of radio has bothered me to a degree. Hearing people have been kind enough over the years to let me know what they hear on radio, which I would never read in the newspapers or on the internet. In what I have heard, the National Press Radio (NPR) seems to be the radio for intellectuals. The only radio station/program that I am familiar with is NPR. I am Deaf, how can I be knowledgeable about radio anyways? If you go to the NPR site, apparently you can purchase a transcript for a couple bucks.

In tying legitimacy and democratic theory with Deaf people’s access to radio, I must conclude something troubling exists. Radio is a major part, if not the biggest part, of elections. Each day during elections, a few newspaper articles are written, usually with bias, liberal bias if you read the New York Times or a conservative bias if you read the Wall Street Journal. Printed articles are few when you consider how many watered down versions or same version you get in print on the internet.

Radio is a major outlet for people to continually tell their opinions in person. Deaf people are missing this HUGE media outlet, and thus do not participate as fully as people who have access to radio. Yes, it is true there is less independent owned radio nowadays, and huge media conglomerates control most, but still the people can make their voices heard and shared with all. Blogs could remedy this, but you won’t get so many varying opinions in a short time with a live moderator, if there is one.

So, if Deaf people are not fully participating during the electoral process, do we have a problem of legitimacy? I will even say when people in wheelchairs cannot access voting booths; we have a problem of legitimacy, because voting is the most fundamental of all rights. Yes, Deaf people can vote, but there is more to the democratic theory of participation than just voting. We must get all the information we can get, because if the people want information, then the people shall get it. Radio, the internet, and television are great sources of information. Deaf people cannot be denied access to radio, simply because we cannot hear it. If this argument is sound, then why should people in wheelchair have access to voting booths when they physically cannot access it? We have to make democracy accessible to ALL, in order to be a legitimate form of government.  

I will concur there is ample access to the presidential elections, plenty being talked about, but do know there is more discussed on radio from all perspectives. However, if we, Deafs, read about candidates at the local level, I cannot remember a newspaper article on all candidates and platforms. That is troubling. I do not know if local elections are done mostly through radio, but I will assert that there are legitimacy issues when we are denied access to such a critical component of media. It is not up to me to propose just how we get access to this media outlet, but we should get access one way or another. I must admit, gaining access to radio is much easier than gaining access to TV. You have to buy a television and get a good antenna, while with radio; the cheapest receivers are probably a couple bucks and can be taken anywhere. Radio can be helpful in assisting Deaf people in preparing for emergencies, which is another issue unrelated to the legitimacy of a government but nonetheless a very important safety feature.

January 28, 2007

Free education in Texas!

Filed under: Education — deafphilosophy @ 10:42 pm

http://www.dars.state.tx.us/dhhs/forms/cod.shtml

This is a straightforward application for tuition exemption for any public college in Texas. I guess once you establish residency in Texas, you can go to school ASAP. I believe most colleges require 1 year of residency to be considered in state.  You can apply for any degree/certificate offered by the school you attend. If you want a PhD, go for it! If you want to learn more and improve, go for it.

There is a great starting place at Austin  Community College.  

Check out:

http://www3.austincc.edu/schedule/s208s/printweb/ENSL-closed.htm 

http://www.austincc.edu/cataloghtml/registration.php 

I don’t know if Gallaudet offers this kind of program, I am guessing they don’t. This is an ASL to English program, taught in ASL. Yes, ACC calls ASL a primary mode of communication, but it’s a controversial topic. (Notice they didn’t say SEE, PSE and whatever)  This is a place that recognizes that ASL and English is separate and will make comparisons If you decided to start with an associate degree, you can go on and get a bachelor’s degree then go for a master’s or skip to a doctorate degree and get tuition exemption the entire time.  You will have to follow the guidelines of having a GPA above whatever the school requires (usually 2.0 – C average) and most graduate school requires 3.0 or above (B average or higher).If you feel like you missed out on education, there is still hope. Gallaudet and NTID are great places as well, but you will have to pay for it yourself or go through Voc Rehab to get approval. In  Texas, after filing out the form, you are set for school! When you get tuition exemption, you do not have to report to anyone. You will have to pay for your own books. You’ll have to pay for where you live as well, such as housing, food, and bills. I’m told VR will pay for all or some, depending on the state you live in.

There are many international students that attend american colleges, and I suppose many colleges have ESL (english as second language) programs that help improve english skills. I wonder if any deaf people  took advantage of these programs and if so, what was it like? Did they emphasize on speaking too much? Do the instructors know the same language as the student?

How many people do you know that….

Filed under: Deaf communication — deafphilosophy @ 12:21 pm

– grew up oral, then learned sign language?

– grew up learning english (writing and reading) and rejected it?

– grew up learning ASL and rejected it?

– grew up learning one mode of sign language and rejected it for another kind?

– are outraged that ASL is the dominant (if not the only) sign language being taught in American schools? (because their mode of communication is different from ASL, that is)

– are trying to advocate for (insert Non-ASL) interpreters with the video relay companies? (SEE interpreters? Oral interpreters? but luckily, mexican sign language interpreters have been expanded now but I refer modes, not countries)

– said their lives were better because they finally learned sign language?

– really understand the structure and grammar of ASL, as people do with the english language? (in a way that they say “oh, that was an incorrect use of classifiers, improper/unclear body shifting, lexicon, facial expression especially the eyebrows when asking a question)

– took as many ASL classes growing up as they did in english classes. (For example, 4 years of spanish in high school along with 4 years of english)

I would guess that no one knows anyone who rejected ASL, even after getting Cochlear implants. I am sure many people know someone who grew up oral but no longer prefer that method. Many have rejected their mode of communication for ASL. I’ve yet to meet someone who took an equal amount of ASL class as they did in English class. Being at a school for the deaf where classes are taught in ASL does not count, unless there was 1 hour devoted to ASL, while 1 hour was devoted to math, science, reading, social studies etc.

We seem to be missing out on making ASL a more rigid language in the sense that we can help many people know and understand ASL as a language the same way people give feedback on other people’s English. I do not mean that there should be people out there trying to criticize and point out every mistake just to make themselves feel better. I’ve always appreciated when people care enough to improve my signing skills as well as my writing skills. I would hope that the quality of feedback I get back is equal from an English teacher and an ASL teacher, but I find that is not so. I’ve corresponded with many non-native English writers (that are hearing) and I can see how they don’t have a handle on the English language, it’s more than just putting a few words together. ASL is much more than putting a few signs together from an ASL dictionary, but so many people have not mastered the language but they end up being ASL instructors. If I can throw out a guess, maybe 75% of ASL teachers do not master the language the same level an English teacher would master the English language.

One thing people should keep in mind is that ASL has been a serious academic study fairly recently, within the last 30 years I am told. The English language has been around and studied intensively for what, 500 years? (Yeah, there’s Old English, Middle English then Modern English, which was formed around 1500.) The future looks bright with so many ASL classes popping up and I am guessing there is a major increase of interpreters, who can be said to be proficient signers, depending on your perspective. Video relay companies have been a benefit to interpreters because it has dramatically helped interpreters improve their receptive skills. I now pretty much can identify an interpreter who has worked for a video relay company based on how they voice for me, or understand me.

So with all of this being said, what is the deal with all these other modes of communication? Are they intended to divide the deaf community, and try to make them fit with the hearing world? If that was the case, why are there vastly more hearing people that know ASL than other modes of communication, which makes for an awkward pairing. How can we justify and defend other modes of communication, when financially it would not be feasible for a relay company to have all these different kinds of interpreters in one place for all different kinds of communication modes. Sure, they can type but even it gets tiring to have to type all day long.

To summarize, I find it odd that parents or school systems endorse a specific mode of communication because, perhaps I am speculating here, that it will help the child communicate with the real world and be viewed as one of the regular in the classroom. This is the “I want my child to be normal” value that takes place here, but it seems odd to me that ASL is the dominant mode of communication in the USA. Because many hearing people are learning it, ASL can be classified as a normal language in the sense that it is one of the most popular “foreign” languages used in schools. It’s easy to find interpreters in ASL, so why doesn’t the school system or parents see that?  They then can say, “Ok I want my child to learn sign language because with sign language, the child can communicate with many people who already know it.” I suppose a parent can say they want their child in a deaf institution to keep its SEE skills and request a SEE interpreter, so that would be strange to find an SEE interpreter to watch the teacher in ASL, then convey the information in SEE to the child. Let’s stop the insanity!

Sound Philosophy? Is this philosophy of sounds sound?

Filed under: Deaf communication — deafphilosophy @ 12:46 am

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sounds

There are many online dictionaries/reference sites for philosophy. A lot of them will deal with senses, but I was curious about “sounds.”

www.webster.com lists 35 entries for sound and another 5 for sound.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology – Take notice of the part how knowledge is acquired. Are deaf people limited in acquiring knowledge because we don’t have the ability to hear clearly?

I may have to take exception to the famous phrase “Deaf people can do anything except hear.” What sense does it make to say “hard of hearing?” Unless a person has absolutely no hearing function, they can still hear. Sounds are classified as waves, so I can feel an airplane with my feet or body. Yes, I’ve heard about shattered eardrums, but what happens to windows when the sonic boom shatters it? Did a window hear too much of the sonic boom, thus shattering? Apparently, there is a range that is acceptable, if something is said but in too low of a voice, it is not understood and also, if a word is too loud, it is not understood either. Does it mean all those amplification devices for individuals with a profound hearing loss is not doing any good? It’s just a useful tool for the individual to know there are sounds somewhere.

“Blind people can do anything, except see.” “Blind-deaf people can do anything except see and hear.” I’d rather prefer that we don’t be limited at all, because on a philosophic level, it gives people justification that we cannot do something that involves hearing then they attach all those “excellent verbal communication skills required” to job descriptions. I can hear, just not as good as other people yet it’s a dramatically different experience for me as a result. Why does it not count that when I have a good interpreter, I have excellent verbal communication skills? I can still hear, through an interpreter and maybe even actually hear when I stand in front of a huge speaker. I can do anything, but can I? Can I make the logically impossible happen? Can hearing people do anything? Should we say, “hearing people can do anything, except hear things they cannot hear?” We should be concerned with hearing people because they do not hear as well as other animals, insects, or fish. Is it ethical to give hearing people cochlear implants so they can hear well beyond what they are capable of?

Let’s consider the use of breast implants, normally used to enhance body appearance, which could be an issue of self-esteem as well as a financial benefit. That’s a physical enhancement, let’s consider the use of glasses and lasik surgery, both enhance sight. There’s a “perfect vision” defined by doctors as 20/20, but some people have the natural ability to see better. I don’t know if glasses and lasik surgery are issues of self-esteem, but they enhance your sense of sight. Blind people in many cases seem to want to dull their sight of sense by using dark glasses because their eyes are sensitive, I am clueless about blind people but I don’t know if lasik surgery that slightly increases their sight helps them any, as more light could get in and irritate them further. For people with hearing losses, I do not even know what is considered perfect hearing and do not know if cochlear implants and hearing aids boost a person’s self esteem. There may be some benefits to it, namely financial? Breast implants can reap financial rewards depending on the line of work you are in. Being able to hear and see better beyond what human beings are capable of might be detrimental. Human beings will always experience sensory overload when there is too much being experienced. Therefore, obtaining too much sight and hearing would not be something regular folks desire. I had hearing aids for most of my childhood but now; I don’t use any auditory aid of any kind, yet everything seems extremely noisy. Was it the constant exposure to “hear” anything that lead to all the ringing sound in my head? Is it ethical to constantly bombard blind children with a kaleidoscope of lights, just so they can operate like visual people? Later on, these kids grow up and they make the choice not to use “visual aids,” will they have the same flashing images in their head the same way deaf people have ringing in their heads?

Lastly, self-esteem is a powerful thing. It has nothing to do with what you have, but everything to do with what you value. Most of the time, the things you value are based on what you perceive in society/external forces. I don’t think I merely value education because I simply want to learn. I think my value on education rests on the value in society that an education leads to a good job, which supposedly leads to a good life. People value religion for the most part because of external forces, namely that they want to avoid the consequences of non-believers and bad people. (That’s a whole another topic, people have beliefs not because they want to do good, but because they want the eternal reward, so they are conditioned to avoid the worse case scenario and point that out to non-believers.) Do I value sound at all? Probably not. Would it bother me if my vocal chords were taken out? No. My eyeballs? Probably at first, but in the end I will be more likely to be thankful and be able to comprehend things with much more clarity. Having an empirical view is not necessarily the best way to acquire knowledge; hearing people still cannot explain sounds to other hearing people. I still cannot describe fully a picture of something to another person who can see. Where does the value of sound and sight come from? Should I add blasting music and strobe lights to this blog while you read this, just to reinforce the value of sound and sight? Maybe it will help you acquire more knowledge. We’ll have to revisit how the ability to have the senses became hegemony over those who don’t, or have lesser senses.

January 27, 2007

Values

Filed under: Deaf communication — deafphilosophy @ 12:45 am

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=Ak.r1q7H3yptDYS77IVsUyMjzKIX?qid=20060911215215AAsQswV

 I decided to look at yahoo questions posted concerning Deaf people to talk about my first topic. This question starts with opinions about two deaf parents, then narrows specifically to the issue of a hearing child’s ability to speak. Whether the child speaks or not, should be of no concern because suppose the child speaks a foreign language fluently, but not the local language? This sort of value is misguided because we should place an emphasis on the ability to communicate.

The parents are Deaf, and we have to assume the parents are fluent in sign language. The only concern should be if the parents communicate with the child. If the parents have a profound hearing loss and do not know sign language, and has no communication with the child, who speaks perfectly, would not that be short of abandonment? The issue should never be about a child’s ability to speak but ability to communicate.

Stephen Hawkins, perhaps one of the most brilliant minds in the last 50 years, does not speak at all. He uses a computer to have the ability to talk, but it is arduous for him to get a sentence out, and he blinks in Morse code if I remember correctly. If a child can communicate in Morse code, then what is wrong with that as long as there is communication? Why do people confuse the ability to speak with language development? Communication is not just about making sounds, nor is it about the ability to hear sounds.

Values need to be examined, but the worst value of all is the value of normalcy. “Oh, my baby is normal.” What does it mean to be normal, did you have an image of what a normal baby looks like? Was it a white baby, a black baby, a/n (insert color) baby? Was it hearing, deaf, mute, blind, had all of its appendages? Do we say “Oh no, the baby weighs 1 pound more than the normal weight?” We will have the problem of determining what exactly the normal weight is anyways.

To battle all the “–isms” that face the Deaf world; we have to think about what the dominant majority puts a value on and the reason behind it. What is so special about having the ability to speak is it because it goes well with the ability to hear coherently? The bigger picture is the ability to communicate, not specific modes of communication that is prevalent to the rest of the world, don’t emphasize one mode over another mode just because the rest of the world uses it and assume it works for all people.

Where are the deaf militants/absolutionist??

Filed under: Uncategorized — deafphilosophy @ 12:44 am

 After following closely the Gallaudet crisis from afar, through blogs and vlogs, I have noticed many strange things about how people deal with things. More specifically, I refer to how Jane F. took offense to the “not deaf enough” issue and IJK’s op-ed on “Deaf absolutists.” 

First, I will talk about Jane. If she were so comfortable being a Deaf individual working at the leading Liberal Arts University for the Deaf, Why would she feel the need to defend herself that she is Deaf enough? If for whatever reason, someone said I was not Deaf enough, I would laugh it off and not even bother to answer it. On resume, my involvement with the Deaf community may be a lot shorter than Jane’s resume. I am simply comfortable with deaf people in any setting; I do not feel the need to justify myself at all nor do I need the feel to address it. There is a major responsibility to represent the best of the University as an employee, especially the position of the provost or the president-select.  Painting the worst picture of the Deaf community to the mass media is deplorable, and caused many people to believe that “Deaf militants” were on the rise or always existed. 

Let us fast-forward to IJK’s editorial; he said we must not give in to the absolutists. IJK goes as far as to say the absolutists are a small but vocal group. Why is IJK going after these so-called absolutists? It seems ironic that a college president would narrow his scope to one small group, as if they have all the power. I find it puzzling IKJ talks about the deaf community, but not a group on campus. Is IKJ giving credit to the deaf community in the sense that they have tremendous power and influence on a college campus? He claims to be a positive spokesperson, so why didn’t his 18 years of being a positive spokesperson do him any good?  

If Jane and IJK were individuals secure in the deaf world, they would never worry about being deaf enough or about deaf militants, if there were any. If Gallaudet was not inclusive enough, which seems to be the sound bite for both Jane and IJK, so what has IJK been doing about it for 18 years?   

The president of the U.S does not waste any time talking to extremists on the political spectrum, especially when they are such a small minority. Suppose Bush writes, “If we give in to the absolutists, the future will not look good.” Everyone will be puzzled and wonder why this small group is even being mentioned at all. Perhaps, we have delved into the psyche of Jane and IKJ. No person of any ethnic group would be intimidated if one person had a longer ethnic lineage than they had, or was more involved in the culture. People who are intimidated by Deaf people with a strong deaf or ASL background are creating a myth that is harmful to the Deaf community. Personally, I do not even know who qualifies as an absolutist or deaf militant, but I would have the power to make others think that I am one to my advantage. This happens in sports all the time, there is a perceived black superiority in basketball, football, and track. There is no biological fact that blacks are better athletes. Consider this argument; if white people captured all the slow black people in Africa, then shouldn’t all the fastest black people still be in Africa because they managed to escape from white people? The strong cultural emphasis on sports, especially prevalent in basketball and football, drives many inner-city kids to excel. Because football and basketball are the highest profile sports, many inner city kids dream of a way out and know they can make millions if they practiced hard. The best ping-pong players may be from because of their strong cultural emphasis on the sport. Lately, in world basketball championship, white dominated teams have won the gold medal. Therefore, many white people in America do not want to play basketball because they are intimidated and feel inferior to black athletes. This is the same for many deaf people, and seemingly prevalent in Jane and IKJ. They are intimidated and feel inferior to individuals who seemingly possess the “mythical” deaf power, thus feel threatened. If I went to and stereotyped everyone as a fanatic, I have already given them power over me and will have given up an even negotiating field with Iraqis. My mindset will be of defensiveness and hostility in dealing with Iraqis. I suspect the same happened with IJK and Jane, and they simply lost touch with the rest of the university.  

It is the few misguided individuals, even if they are deaf, in higher positions that do the most damage. Because of their counterproductive attitudes about their own selves and the pseudo-threats, they feel from people with a strong cultural background. Why does people with strong cultural ties have to be viewed as a threat is beyond my comprehension. Sadly, to the rest of the world, Jane and IJK are misinforming people that deaf people are absolutists. I have not heard one positive categorization about the deaf community from either one of them in a long time, and it remains to be seen if they will continue the good fight for the deaf world, and face these mythological deaf absolutists, wherever they are, repeatedly without being subservient in intimidation. Perhaps this is why Ryan Commerson was quickly arrested when Jane was announced as the next president, and that means IKJ gave Ryan too much power because of his own fears. 

I will end this with a thought provoking statement and question. So many deaf people mythologize Hard of Hearing folks, thinking they have more power and thus they end up resenting them for whatever reason. The reverse occurs, but we cannot afford individuals, deaf or not, in high positions jump in and lead people when they do not truly understand and accept people from within. Does this mean that DPN failed; surely, we cannot be content in just getting any person with a hearing loss as president who in the end seemed to crash and burn within the deaf community.

January 26, 2007

Humble beginnings

Filed under: Personal — deafphilosophy @ 10:56 pm

January 26, 2007This is my first blog posting. I am somewhat of a lurker, and never had the need to share my ideas to the world. After all, everyone has ideas, so why should my ideas be any different?  Ideas change the world. That is a loaded statement, but people’s definition of how the world changes vary. Some may say to change the world; you have to influence every single person. On the other hand, some may say to change to world; you only have to influence one person. My intent is simple; I want to make you think.  Everyone is a philosopher in their own right; everyone has their own ideas. Everyone ought to think about everything.  This blog should focus on philosophical issues in the Deaf world, which means anything Deaf related is discussed. Healthy intellectual dialogue should exist here, but even I will have to be intolerant of intolerance.

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