JKF Petition – Response to Dr. Davila's Email

Greetings: NOTE this post has been updated with a copy of Dr. Davila’s response to the petition which he intends to serve as a response to all the signatories of the petition

you may recall a petition objecting to Dr. Jane Fernandes teaching in the Dept of ASL and Deaf Studies at Gallaudet University this spring was circulated. She will teach 2 sections of Intro to Deaf Studies which may be a required course for some majors.

The petition was mailed via certified mail to President Davila and Cathy Sweet-Windham (who is in charge of distributing it to the Board of Trustees).

I emailed Dr. Davila and Ms. Sweet-Windham to ensure they received the coverletter and petition – i received a response from Dr. Davila
Ms. Sweet-Windham replied that she did receive the materials and sent them to the board members electronically and the matter was discussed by the BoT.

Here is Dr. Davila’s response to my email asking if he had received the petition – I was given word that it is fine for me to post and it is intended to be a response to all the signatories of the petition

Date: Nov 29, 2007 12:47 PM

Dear Patti:

Thank you for your email. I did receive your letter and petition just before Thanksgiving. I have been giving a lot of thought to this matter during the Thanksgiving break. Please allow me this opportunity to share with you my thoughts about the concerns expressed by you and some members of our community.

While I understand the feelings you have shared about the return to campus of certain individuals, I must fulfill my responsibility to this university and ensure that Gallaudet University complies with the expectations of our accreditors and the higher education community. Every university in America, including Gallaudet University, is expected to be a place of tolerance where everyone is free to express their ideas and opinions. America, and its universities, is respected around the world for

embracing the diversity of people and the diversity of ideas.

As you may know, Gallaudet University has adopted a new mission statement that acknowledges that Gallaudet is a bilingual university and committed to promoting both ASL and English. We are currently working very hard as a community to better understand and define what it means to be a bilingual university.

Gallaudet University must demonstrate to itself and to its accreditors as well as to the diverse deaf community, in fact to the entire world, that everyone at the University is free to express opinions and ideas. For this reason, Gallaudet University must always be a place that welcomes all faculty, staff and students regardless of their opinions about the protest or any other issues.

I ask that you join me and Team Gallaudet in setting aside our past differences and working hard to ensure that our sons and daughters have the same opportunity to learn that you and I have experienced.


Robert R. Davila


This is my response to Dr. Davila’s email above re: the petition.

Friday November 30, 2007

Greetings Dr. Davila:

Thank you for taking the time to consider the petition so carefully especially during your break.

Will you be sending a collective response to each of the signatories on the petition? If not, could I have your permission to post your response below on the blog site which had the petition up?

I commend you for your stewardship of Gallaudet U. during a very perilous time. We are all incredibly happy that Gallaudet’s probationary status has been lifted and the new mission statement is clear and academically sound.

While I understand all of your points regarding a professor’s right to free thought and speech, it is in congruent to have a professor at a university professing statements to the public via the media that are not academically sound or valid. If a professor in the field of Latino Studies, African-American Studies, Gender Studies, and/or Holocaust Studies made similar statements about Latinos, African-Americans, Gays/Lesbians/Bi/Transgender, and/or Jewish people as Dr. Fernandes has been saying about Deaf people, ASL, and Deaf culture, the University would be negligent in allowing that professor to remain teaching in that field.

The petition is objecting to Dr. Fernandes teaching in the dept of ASL and Deaf Studies due to the inaccurate and damaging statements she has made regarding Deaf culture, ASL, Bilingualism and Deaf Studies to the press. All of us desire to move forward as much as you do – we want to be moving forward in a positive and effective way and to ensure no more damage is done to Gallaudet, Deaf culture, ASL, Bilingualism and the field of Deaf Studies. Dr. Fernandes’ quotes in the Chronicles of Higher Education undermining Gallaudet’s new mission and its bold and effective efforts to secure its accreditation prompted this petition. Had Dr. Fernandes not made such erroneous statements last month, the petition would not have been warranted.

Lastly, I would ask that you would make the same request of Dr. Fernandes that you have made of me (and I assume you are asking of all the other individuals who signed the petition) – to set aside past differences in the best interest of our future students. Furthermore, please note the irony in which you hail and protect Dr. Fernandes’ right to say and do as she pleases as exemplifying the University’s tolerance and embracing of diverse ideas but you simultaneously try to silence the petition signers own rights to express our diverse idea and show a lack of tolerance for our advocacy in this area.

Please know that I cherish you, your leadership, Dr. Fernandes, Deaf studies, ASL, Deaf culture, Gallaudet University and most especially our students. Thank you again for your response to my email. Please do let me know if it is alright to post your email to me and also if the signatories of the petition can expect a letter from you on this matter.


Patti Durr


To Be Or Not To Be – Part I

To Be Or Not To Be – a discussion on eugenics and social Darwinism in the 21st Century

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/8oWZwvc5SJM" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]


sorry folks no time to put up a transcript – basically the vlog is discussing the concept of eugenics
Eugencis = a science that deals with the “improvement” of hereditary qualities of the human race by selective breeding
mentions – UK bill before parliament
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in Clause 14, section 4, number 9 (Lines 23-30, Page 10)
Persons or embryos that are known to have a gene, chromosome or mitochondrion abnormality involving a significant risk that a person with the abnormality will have or develop—
(a) a serious physical or mental disability,
(b) a serious illness, or
(c) any other serious medical condition,
must not be preferred to those that are not known to have such an abnormality.

Passage has significant implication on the reproductive rights of Deaf people

go to:

British Deaf Association has generated a letter responding to the bill http://tinyurl.com/3xfnfd

Rest of vlog covers the origins of eugenics with Social Darwinism and survival of the fittest / natural selection application to human race. Discussion of AG Bell’s “preventive means” to stop Deaf from marrying and potentially creating more Deaf people

U.S. genetic selection discussion in Mishka Zena http://blog.deafread.com/mishkazena/2007/11/26/ivf-deaf-babies-not-welcome-in-america/

Videos After Black Friday Oct 13, 2006

Part I

Part II

Hi all

found a tape with some protest footage from after Black Friday October 13, 2006 so edited together these two shorts.

re: the footage – this is not documentary quality – its guerilla filmmaking for sure – no tripod and quick and messy editing but if i dont get it up and out the tape will go missing again. Please be forgiving when the camera is bouncy – it happened when folks bumped into me – it was crowded.

4 of my favorite moments in the videos:
1 student signing – “We shall over come”
and another saying “Gallaudet is to Deaf people as Israel is for Jewish People”
Donalda signing “this is a PEOPLE’s PROTEST”
and the hearing students from George Washington U.
– how impassioned they are and how positively the crowd responds to them

When the protest began in May – I emailed the filmmakers for “Through Deaf Eyes” in case they hadnt finished filming and would want to include some footage of the protest. They responded that coincidently they had been on campus showing a rough cut of the film to some folks at Gallaudet for their input and inquired about the protest – they were told it was insignificant and not documentary worthy so they didnt bother taping any of it.

Don’t know if Gallaudet media dept covered the protest at all. I do hope someone some days makes a high quality documentary on the subject. I very much would like to see things from Dr. Jordan and Fernandes point of view also. There was a Deaf U.S. filmmaker who now lives in Europe (Sweden me think) who was getting a ton of footage – really hope u make the documentary – its important

Rays of Raychelle has a very powerful testimony of her experience being arrested on Black Friday http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gz1ftjhBGUs

Short clips of folks sharing their arrest experiences the day after Black Friday http://signcasts.com/node/68

Some short student-made documentaries on the protest that you might want to check out:
Tara’s Story by Melissa Malzkuhn 13 minutes (Follows the protest through the eyes of one of the student leaders)
Unity for Who? by Roxanne Dummett and Andrew Jones 10 minutes (Examines race and privilege within the context of the protest)
ASL Artistry of the 2006 protest by Samuel-Scott H. Reekers 10 ½ minutes (Explores ASL poetry, ABC stories, and performances generated in response to the protest)
A Journey of Gallaudet Protest and Rally by Ruthie Jordan 24 minutes (Documents the protest, the march on the capital, and the rally when the news came in of Fernandes termination as president by the board)



ps: thanks Amy CE for catching the wrong year in Part I – i had realized my boo boo while i was editing Part II (also caught error in part II before i put it up – i have a BIG problem with numbers)

Paddy Ladd Presentation at NTID – Parts I – III

In 2004, Dr. Paddy Ladd presented at NTID/RIT in Rochester, NY on his new book entitled: “Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood” See part I of Dr. Ladd’s presentation


[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/Jmn4pt81B4k" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]PART II – focuses on examining Deaf discourse in the context of France before the spread of oralism – see 7 tenets from p. 111
Internationalism / Universalism of Sign Languages / Commonalities / Deaf Collectivism
Note: Deaf Frenchman who set up the Deaf-mute banquets in Paris, France – Ferdinand Berthier – this chap is worthy of a google and a full book about him – a marvelous ancestor to study, honor, and value

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/E8yxNqPPpNs" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]Part III (labeled at beginning of video Part IV by mistake) – Looking Forward as we Discover Our Past – Role of Deaf Studies in Advancing Deafhood and vice versa
Discussion of book jacket cover by Alexander Martianov

Apologies – we dont have footage of the Power Point that Dr. Ladd was referring to so i have added subtitles here and there where the missing text is important to understand what he is explaining.

the clips r short – too short to piece together with effective transitions so my apologies if its a bit jarring to watch.

The video has voice interpretation but i am sure that the voicing was not in synch with the timing of Dr. Ladd’s signing so im sure i have sliced off some of the lagged voicing when i cut the video.

order the book at: http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Deaf-Culture-Search-Deafhood/dp/1853595454

As always – big thanks to Dr. Ladd for allowing these excerpts to go up – sorry it has taken me so long to get around to it




Another Deaf Ancestor / Hero – Dr. John Hotchkiss

hi all

i put up a few postings re: George Veditz (see Oct archives-each word link to separate post) and wanted to signout praise for Dr. John Hotchkiss – another amazing Deaf educator, leader, and ancestor. Ill let him speak for himself with these excerpts as this is one of my all-time favorites of the NAD motion picture collection

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/vk_OnxIdd_w" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Below is my rough English translation for the above excerpt of Hotchkiss’ storytelling re: Clerc if u have any trouble following him at first.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/8p4U3JqL5zs" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

I hope it will not be a long, long time before you study Hotchkiss – while i adore Veditz, his Preservation of Sign Language speech, and all he did for the Deaf community, I also cherish Hotchkiss as the oldest recorded descendent of Laurent Clerc and our great-great-great …. grandfather 😉

u can see him signing his full Memories of Old Hartford in the old NAD motion picture project by going to Gallaudet’s Video Library – this should be a direct link thanks to Brian Riley for sending it my way –

Pls go to http://www.signmedia.com and order a copy of the complete version – makes a great Deafhood BIRTHDAY or holiday gift

In my previous post re: … And let there be light – i have another excerpt of Hotchkiss re: bi-bi method by Clerc at ASD inserted in my Vlog and a rough translation

——— Rough translation of the video excerpt at top—————

Another time Clerc called a boy who had passed by his house asking, “Please tell the (name sign of bent L handshape going downward from top of lips to bottom of chin indicating a beard) S-T-E-W-A-R-D (director of the school) to please have wood delivered to me.” “My pleasure,” the boy replied and went on his way. But this boy completely forgot about this message as his mind was set on playing. Thus, it completely slipped his mind to inform Steward of Clerc’s message of his need for wood and Clerc never received any.

A few days passed and again Clerc approached this boy, tapping him with his walking stick and holding him by the shoulders. “I told YOU to PLEASE tell Steward to bring me wood and you said, ‘Ah huh, Yes, Yes, Yes’ but instead you went off and completely forgot. Darn you for forgetting.” (signs something on mouth I cant catch???) and he went off in a huff. As days went by, Clerc would continue to bump into this boy and would always say “Darn, you’re the boy who forgot” (hand at mouth??) and stomp off.

The boy was embarrassed and became weary of Clerc’s insults so he decided to go to him and ask his forgiveness for having forgotten to deliver the message to which Clerc let out a joyful laugh and said “alright, you are forgiven, you are forgiven, be on your way.” And with that they parted.

Merrie Davidson & Patricia Clark have translated the full Memories of Old Hartford by Hotchkiss to English. It will be published in the forthcoming book by Dr. Ted Supalla and Patricia Clark along with translations of other signed speeches in the old NAD motion picture project collection. I believe Davidson and Clark’s Hotchkiss translation is superior to my rough draft of these excerpts but until it is published and permitted to be reproduced – mine will have to suffice.

Corrections to either translation i have posted are most WELCOME.

There are many more priceless moments in the full “Memories of Old Hartford” video – i hope you will watch it in full

Brian Riley sent me this neat quote from In a different voice: Sign language preservation and America’s deaf community
Bilingual Research Journal, Fall 2000 by Burch, Susan http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3722/is_200010/ai_n8905300/pg_11

Indeed, few people who viewed “Memories of Old Hartford,” in which Hotchkiss described the founding of the first school for the Deaf and the role of Deaf pioneer Laurent Clerc, left with dry eyes. Hotchkiss’ detailed description of his mentor had cultural and historical significance. Hotchkiss leaned toward his audience when he created a window into the personal past of a Deaf hero, parsing his sentences with his signature shrugs and nods. He frequently emphasized how well Clerc communicated, his striking figure-cane in hand, top hat and neat clothing-as well as Clerc’s unlimited devotion to educating students and teaching academic subjects as well as manners. This personal memory passed along Clerc’s tradition of articulate Sign Language, his attention to the next generation of Deaf people, and his gentle aristocratic approach to life. It also linked the generations by conveying in vivid detail one of the most revered figures in Deaf culture (Hotchkiss, 1997) (referencing SMI re-release of the old NAD motion pictures)

"…And there was light" – artwork from Mythology Images Exhibit Inspired by Hotchkiss’ "Eat to Live"

transcript below




"... And There Was Light" by Patti Durr (c) 2006

Note: if you reproduce this work, include: "... And There Was Light" by Patti Durr (c) 2006.


Translation of the video:

You see the artwork entitled “…And there was light” which comes from the story in Gensis of how G-d made the world. I had been invited to have some artworks featured in a show called NTID Mythology Images. So that got me thinking about making art that reflects mythology. I started investigate and reading different theories and many mythologies of around the world have CREATION MYTHS. Native Americans, different tribes, countries, and people have stories of their origins. I was wondering about how the Deaf-world (for the U.S.) was created and the answer was with the first permanent Deaf school. Creation of a Deaf school lead to the creation of a Deaf community. I know other Deaf communities existed in the U.S. prior (Martha’s Vineyard and amongst large Deaf families) but in terms of a LARGE and ESTABLISHED Deaf-world that continues today – the origins are tracked back to American School for the Deaf (ASD).

I took my inspiration for the artwork from an old NAD film featuring a man sharing his memories at ASD. He had entered the school after Laurent Clerc was retired but had seen Clerc as he lived in a house nearby the school and would come to campus to visit from time to time. The man who told the stories is John Hotchkiss = H from chin to chest. If i have the wrong name-sign for Hotchkiss, please write me a post alerting me to the correction. I have seen H – chin to chest and H – chin to K – chest. So I’m not certain which is right. I’ll show you a clip of his story now.

Once I remember Clerc coming to our school and telling us Deaf children about the importance of learning. He told us of the significance of literacy, grammar, and word order. He selected two sentences to demonstrate this. The first, which he fingerspelled completely was, “We live to eat” and the other was “We eat to live.” And with his very elegant and grandiose signing (and some what lengthy) delivery he explained the difference with great preciseness and clarity. We children could clearly see how different the meaning was based on a simple verb change by switching the terms live and eat.

(Imitating Clerc’s signing style) “I, you and you and you, we do not live solely to feast upon food and eat and eat. No, not at all. We live for better things than that. But it is true that each of us must eat in order to give us fortitude and good health to enable us to live and do good.”

Hotchkiss’s story shows that Clerc clearly taught in the bi-bi method. He used written English, fingerspelled English, and signing to illustrate how the change of word placement can significantly change the meaning of a sentence. In doing so he taught the children the importance of grammar, words, and learning. He did this with ASL and English. Impressive. This is our beginning. This is how we received the light – through education, through Deaf schools and through ASL. So I wanted to record this mythology – our creation for the Deaf-world within the U.S.

I found some old windows that were being tossed out into the garbage when folks were replacing them with new ones. I liked the color and shape of these windows and took them. The top panels I painted black and etched out letters from behind – i had to write backward so when the words were viewed from the front they were readable. I wrote “We eat to live” and “We live to eat” from Hotchkiss’s words of his story on Clerc’s teaching method.

There is significance in these words beyond how Clerc taught. Clerc explained that we don’t just live with F-O-O-D on our brains. No we eat to be healthy so we can do good. This is the message Clerc was instilling in the Deaf children. You eat, feed your minds, you learn, you improve to enable you to grow. Now you can go forward and do good. Like Clerc himself had done by leaving France to come to the U.S. to help give birth to a Deaf community to send them forth to do good.

I love that film and I love the message so I decided to make the artwork. I etched out the words to preserve them and for the light to shine through. I used black to signify the blackboards of the schoolroom.

For old NAD films:
click catalog / Deaf culture then scroll down to the c of the Preservation of Sign Language – The Complete Historical Collection

Or view at Gallaudet on-line library http://videolibrary.gallaudet.edu/scripts/WebObjects.dll/tsweb (click public login)

If interested in mythology – Charles Katz has an epic myth on Deaf history

Part II coming soon

Apathy – what's up with that?

Apathy is a state of indifference — where an individual has an absence of interest or concern to certain aspects of emotional, social, or physical life.

Apathy can be object-specific — toward a person, activity or environment. It is a common reaction to stress where it manifests as “learned helplessness” and is commonly associated with depression. It can also reflect a non-pathological lack of interest in things one does not consider important.

william james called indifferencethe trait in human character most likely to make the angels weep.”

I have seen a ton of apathy within the Deaf community – seems when folks r not busy attacking each other (u too Big D, u too small d, Deafhood stinks, Gallaudet protest foolish, “not Deaf enough” rules, etc etc etc), folks are pleading neutrality or indifference.

This saddens me greatly because i dont think Deaf folks really are indifferent – on a whole they r a very passionate group – have plenty to sign out about on very important issues HOWEVER many / most are very reluctant to commit it to writing or to have it publicly recorded – the FEAR factor champs

Gandhi said “Whatever you do may seem insignificant, it is most significant you DO IT.”

This is our rally cry – peaceful, positive, and proactive activism. Let us not make the angels weep.



PS: i promise ill do a vlog soon – just requires a bit more time to compose and generate than a quick post

PSS: someone recently reminded me of a comment i had posted in the Deaf pagan website which the blogger had asked to lift and post as a blog entry – in re-reading my post, I see it may have relevance to the above and might be of interest to others who may not have seen it yet:


thanks Ocean for having posted it

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