Monthly Archives: March 2008

News Flash – Deaf people without CI can FUNCTION in a hearing world – gasp!

Response inspired by Jodi’s comment re: her view that hearing aids / CI are essential to function in a hearing world and her view on the word “hopeful”

Just wanna let ya all know that Deaf folks who dont have CIs – even Deaf folks who dont talk can FUNCTION in a hearing world

shocking yes

i know you only catch fleeting glimpses of us on Dancing with the Stars and as sex objects, victims, or crazed men on TV and films but i wanna let u know that we go to the bank, we pump our own gas, we hold jobs, we raise children and we do all of this in WHAT?…

drum roll…. “THE HEARING WORLD”

we not only live in the hearing world, we not only function in the hearing world, we not only make love, give birth, shout, cry, laugh, pray, die, but we actually excel at many of the things we do in the hearing world

and guess what …we can do this with or without hearing aids or cochlear implants

and guess what …even though parents go to all the great length they do to ensure that their deaf child can live and FUNCTION in the hearing world – they will still at times experience discrimination, being left out, prejudice, misunderstanding, identity confusion etc

being able to TALK on the PHONE does not ensure full “functioning abilities” in the hearing world

being able to say – hey, im me. i may be different than the majority but i am NOT inferior, i am NOT helpless, i am NOT pitiful, i am NOT defective, i am NOT deficient, i am NOT an outcast – i am a full fledged member of society whether u like and/or can accept my difference or not – i really dont care what u think cuz i am ME

now the “Hopeful” part – underrepresented folks cling to hope that the Dominant WORLD will some day be able to FUNCTION in their world instead of trying to obliterate it, demean it, destroy it, minimize it, etc

The hopefulness is oriented toward u and what u can be – not towards me

The potential that the US might soon have its first African-American or female president is more a testiment to the US’s legacy of discrimination and a milestone for our society than the individual achievement of Obama or H. Clinton

We shall overcome is not about becoming worthy – its about shattering injustice

if u believe that it is foolish or futile to hope because u r cynical that our society will ever change so instead u invest everything possible in changing ur child to fit society – so be it – i wish u well. at the end of the day though there will be a moment when a cloud passes over your child’s face and it will be one that u have been dreading and one you have been denying and failing to see and it is best that u do not stare into ur child’s face to see what more you can change in his being to cast away that shadow – instead it may be best for u to turn and look over ur shoulder to see what is it that is casting this shadow and turn ur energy to combating the real foe – society’s perception of what is NORMAL, DESIRABLE, ACCEPTABLE and what is FUNCTIONING!

since the time that Spilman (you can google her jodi) was quoted as saying “Deaf people are not ready to FUNCTION in a hearing world”
i have known that the essence of this message really is “Hearing people are not ready to FUNCTION in a Deaf world”

oh yeah – in case u didnt know – u totally insulted me and all my people by saying non-CI non-speaking people can’t function in a hearing world. This is audism plain and simply – “the belief that the ability to hear and speak are superior to being Deaf”

im doing a way lot more than just functioning sweetheart

re: hope – if u desire i have no hope that u will “get it” – that is fine with me

however i will continue to hope that the rest of society will – we have come a long way but it is slow going given the attitude that some hold so dearly



just saw these entries that seem to relate to this topic:
Quote near bottom from Children of a Lesser G-d really relates to what is discussed above
Discusses how to remain principled and passionate


Response to Rachel's "Why Im on DeafRead?"

this entry is in response to:


your blog is a personal blog – u have and continue to share a great deal about your personal life in your blog. just want to make that clear. but i totally agree u should not share more than u want to or are ready to. we must always ask ourselves about the things we choose to share and the things we choose to withhold – sometimes the things unsaid are the most important

when u listed ur identity characteristics u wrote:

I’m an artist, a writer, an editor, Jewish, American, a French speaker, outgoing, happy, motivated, and determined.

It is interesting that you have not listed that you are d/Deaf or a Cochlear Implant user

I think this is the contradiction that is kinda puzzling – how u often seem to be broadcasting about ur CI and its HUGE role in your life but then in the next breath u say – its no big deal having a CI, its not a big deal being deaf etc

this pull and push – to glorify and minimize the CI is confusing to me

u also at times have a very harsh tone towards “those deaf people” in your mainstream school and their “isolated” lives and the poor girl who was left in the rain by the bus driver because SHE could not speak like you can speak and “communicate with the wider population”

u often regulate ASL as a remedial tool for those who dont have CI or dont fully benefit from CI (u have lots of reasons why sometimes CI dont meet with the same succes as yours)

and sometimes you write things like “don’t tell this or that or anything …”

i do believe u when u write u know who u are and u are happy with with who u are. i am happy for u. i believe u when u say u have no need or desire to learn ASL. That is your right and i would rather u dont learn it if u only see it as an AID for the mute and “oral failures.” It is a language that to me is more brighter than the sun. It is a gorgeous, vibrant, rich, undervalued, underdeveloped, underexplored, underappreciated, and constantly under fire language. U r passionate about ur CI. DeafRead is passionate about ASL. It shall not be degraded and devalued in this space/place.

i did not need to learn ASL – i DESIRED to and WANTED to. u don’t – that is fine with me. Just dont trample all over the language in the process of stating ur desire not to learn it cuz ur “too busy”
Just as you have chosen not to practice Judaism – u can hold that position while still respecting those who do.

u seem to appreciate other cultures and languages and people but have formulated a very negative view of ASL and Deaf culture

u shared that u got ur introduction to “those deaf people…” from reading ur mom’s articles and those articles were in REACTION to some misconceptions ur mom felt Deaf ASL folks were saying about CI

u seem to be telling us u were introduced to Deaf culture and ASL as the opposite of what u r and in conflict of what u r – a deaf person with a CI. They were the FOE for you – they tried to make u feel bad about who u r. I am very sorry for this introduction to Deaf culture and ASL.

u also shared the impact of the film Sound and Fury had on you

u wrote:

“It was one of the most emotional films I’ve ever seen, and since I saw that I film, I began to appreciate my parents even more. Plus, I think, from my memories, that’s when I began to form opinions about the deaf community. That’s when I began to really think that the deaf community was full of selfish people.”

“full of selfish people” ?????

Have you watched part 2 of the Sound and Fury – the young girl and her two Deaf brothers have all been implanted since the filming of the first movie and this is covered in the second movie.

You reaction to the first film is very interesting – this film is a powerful work because it can act as a geiger counter almost – u can point it at any audience member and based on their reaction see which end of the spectrum they fall at – a Strong DEAF Center or a Strong HEARING center.

For example – when my mom who is a hearing person saw this film her reaction was “that grandmother is a #$%&*. Would she just butt out already and let that family raise their children as they see fit?”

Now my mom does not sign and when i began to learn ASL at the age of 20 she never tried to stop me from signing. She is way cool about Deaf culture, ASL and Deaf rights. She GETS IT because to her it is a different culture, language and community. Because she knows that in no way shape or form is being an ASL user an “isolating” condition

she also understands prejudice. she also understands the drive to make everyone the same is not the same as making everyone equal.

So when u saw the film – u were upset by the father – when i saw the film i was upset by the grandmother and the grandfather.

While u r upset by folks accusing parents who implant their kids as “child abuse” (i do not support folks saying this) – i was upset when the grandfather told his adult son “you are abusing your kid by not getting her an implant”

The bottom line is that parents make choices for their kids out of love, respect and hope. Just as u dont want ur folks to be judged wrongly by the Deaf community – i hope in turn u will not judge other parents who do not choose to implant their kids

parents who feel the medical risk of the surgery is too great for a non-life threatening “condition,” parents who want to fully accept their child for who they r naturally regardless of whether or not the CI is working that day or whether or not their speech is clear or whether …

CI does not = perfect, normal and automatically happy
ASL does not = perfect, normal and automatically happy

u have been blessed with many many many things. if u choose not to want to learn ASL – i wish it was because u r not drawn to that particular language instead of the fact that u seem to have a strong dislike for the language and its “selfish” people

I have seen comments that u and ur mom have made that very much upset me and frankly they exemplify language bigotry and audism. I know you can justify why you have this mindset

I have seen coments that have been directed to your mom and u that have made me very upset and frankly they exemplify Deafism. I hknow folks can justify their mindset

I can not condone or support either.

I have refrained from responding to many of your blog entries because i did not want to come off the wrong way. Because i did not want to contribute to any of the harm u have already experienced. Because i do not want to exemplify its open season on Rachel and Melissa.

it is not and it should not be. However, i have to ask you to give yourself some time to go back over some of your blog entries and try to read them with a different set of lens – try reading them from a Deaf person’s gaze. Maybe a Deaf person who was implanted at a very young age but did not meet the “success” that you have met and still experiences more treatments and pursuits of the answer by her/his parents. Try reading it from the perspective of someone who loves ASL, Deaf culture, and themselves. Who is incredibly happy that her/his parents gave them the language of ASL and have enabled her/him to reach this day in the full glory of who they are.

You must know that Deaf ASL people are as “successful” if not more than you are. Their success is not tied to a devise implanted in their skull. And with this statement i am not trying to minimize all the incredible work u and ur mother put into all of your successes – i am just trying to help you see that the ability to speak and hear is not EVERYTHING.

One of the most important things my parents have taught me is to be a “good” person

this is more important to them than how many languages i know, how many countries i have visited, how many films i have made, how many websites i have created, how many students i have taught, how many children i have raised, how many articles i have published

they raised each of us to be “good” human beings. I hope in turn i am doing a decent job in passing this on to our children.

In Judaism, Tikkun Olam is a very important principle – one i cherish dearly. It guides my way and i falter often. I am not always a “good” person. I often have to re-read my writings and my actions and my calls for advocacy to make sure – i am contributing to “healing the world” rather than harming it

i do think that ur experiences and ur POV are very important

i do feel u are my sister (though i am twice your age) and i care for you

i do think that you are a beautiful person

i do ask you in the future when u blog to re-read your post before clicking “publish” to see if you are contributing to healing the world
and i promise u i will do the same

lastly – i apologize for this lengthy comment



a belated response to Ella's "elephant in the room" vlog

vlog reflections inspired by Ella’s “AGBell: Elephant in the Deaf Room”

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]


Hi. Do you remember’s Ella’s flashlight vlog about the elephant in the room? That was great – it’sone of my favoities. I’ve been thinking about it a lot and totally agree with her point.

We need to unite to get the elephant OUT of the room. I’ve noticed from my own experience when I involved in a collective goal for Deaf equality and we come together – agreeing on one issue to advocate for and begin to push that strange things start to happen.

One thing is that the elephant starts to become more aggressive and wild. It starts to trample on the babies even more and we definitely didn’t want that. That is a very disturbing occurrence. The second thing I’ve noticed is one of the elephant’s aggressive responses is to label us advocates. I get labeled angry, my comrade is militant, the person next to me is called crazy/fanatic. Names like terrorist, anarchist, and absolutist are thrown down upon us while we are pushing the elephant out of the room. Then we start to become distracted from the task at hand and begin to respond to these labels, “what have you been branded? Oh angry.” And the person steps to the side. “Oh you are a militant. Hmmm, I don’t want to be labeled next due to association.” One by one they step back and away from the cause.

Some succumb to the fear of being labeled. They don’t want to be saddled with this – they have fear for their jobs, loss of friends, their reputations. “Hey, I gotta think about my reputation – keep my name clean – don’t want to burn bridges.” So one by one they quit the cause. That HURTS and the elephant wins. Can we push the elephant out with only a few activists? “Hey, when we started out there was 20 of us arm and arm together? Just because of the name calling – it is really that powerful? Now we spend time trying to remove the labels or pointing the finger at each other over these labels?

Come on, the name calling is unimportant. Look to the goal. EQUALITY. Deaf children’s rights to ASL – this is an unalienable right. Keeping PUSHING. The elephant, the name calling/labeling – disregard it. It is not our business. Our goal is our business i- to get the elephant OUT of the room. Keeping PUSHING.

I noticed Ella commented about the parents in the corners of this room. They have been blinded by the AG Bell Association saying do not sign with your child, that would be bad, it would destine your child to growing up to be isolated and angry. Filling them with myths. The parents have been lead to believe these myths as truth and are thus blind to the facts.

Our job is to outreach to parents. It is not easy in this case as they are blind and they can not “see” what we have to say in ASL. What to do in this situation? Let’s look to our own. “You can talk? Ok fine. Come with me.” One Deaf person signs and the other interprets. The parent at first is confused – you are signing and you are talking? “You are not against me?” “No, of course we are not against you.” “You want to take my child from me. I heard you want my child for your own.” “No, no – your child is YOURS! Your child is always YOUR child. You cherish your child. You love your child. Your child is YOURS. Your child is OUR future. This is why you and I are connected. We work with you because we want to help you invest in your b-o-n-d.” Interpreter translates “invest in your bond.” Parent says – “invest in bond – oh you mean like giving money to AG Bell Association?” “No not bond as in money bond – bond as in connection.” Hearing mother says “whats that?”

“Give me your hands” The Deaf person forms the mother’s hand into an “F handshape” then uses their own hand to join into the mother’s to form the sign connect and then moves it back and forth – creating “BOND.” “We want you to have this bond with your son or daughter. This bond is formed how? Via communication (conversations and chats), acceptance and love. This shows your child “you are my beloved.” If you want to give your child oral skills, hearing aid, various things, that is fine. The ability to CHAT is the heart of a sense of home and acceptance, being able to discuss anything – sex, anything – those conversations create the BOND. How? By signing. That is what we want to give to the two of you a bond that will last a life time.” Mother responds, “oh, you want to help me?” “yes, we want to help.” “Oh, wow.” “Come with us.” “But I can’t see.” “I understand, hold on to me and I will guide your way to the elephant and we will push together.

NOTE: Sorry no time to finish translating so just a summary hence forth:
Parent joins the push group – wall starts to break – light difficult for the previously blind parent to tolerate. Deaf comrades empathizes – lies, myths, and misconceptions we have been raised with are very painful when we see the truth – ASL and English can co-exist.

Some Deaf or Hearing individuals may become impatient and tired by the long struggle to push out the elephant – one such person is tempted to poke the elephant with a sharp object to get it to crash through the wall. A friend says “no, don’t do it. We must not engage in violence – we must be peaceful. If you poke the elephant, he will trample worse on the babies and also hurt our leaders at the front of the line.” The person ignores the agreement of civil disobedience and as s/he gets ready to stab the elephant’s rear, it lifts its tail and lets out a dump ONTO the individual.
Bad karma, @#$% happens. Hearing mother helps the person clean up with diaper wipes. Group keeps on pushing. Oh, we forgot one thing…
Y-O-U. Come push now!