Clarification and Integrity

Greetings all

There has been lots of discussion about a comment I made in this People of the Eye website by Aidan and Ben and others

Here is the controversial comment:
“I have had a great deal of contact with the core members of DBC and I have NEVER seen any of them pronounce radical views. How does one discuss why bilingualism is not accepted in Deaf education today when it was the foundation of Deaf education in 1817 without discussing oralism, audism and CI. This is not to say having oral / aural skills are bad or that having CIs is bad – no one in DBC is saying that. Their opposition is to oral / aural only methods.”

First of all – I want to thank folks for calling me to be a person of integrity. Second I would like to apologize for any confusion or hurt I have caused anyone for this comment and thirdly – I would like to apologize to DBC if I have misrepresented the group.

To clarify my comment:
1. my definition of radical may be very different from others definition of radical.

2. It is my opinion after reading many articles on bilingualism that:
a. bilingualism is always a political hot button and it is impossible to avoid controversy for any push for bilingualism (English / Spanish etc) in the US because we are a predominantly monolinguistic society

b. discussions of bilingualism or the lack there of – within Deaf Education has to examine the legacy of oralism (oral / aural only practices), audism, and CI/AVT programs*.
*AVT/CI discourages the natural acuity for lipreading and using vision to the fullest (by covering the lips and discouraging gesturing and/or signing)

c. When I said “This is not to say having oral / aural skills are bad or that having CIs is bad – no one in DBC is saying that. Their opposition is to oral / aural only methods.”

I should not have spoken for what DBC is saying or isn’t saying so I will share my understanding of the bilingual-biclultural movement within the US for Deaf babies and children – as I understand it:

Bi-Bi opposes a binary approach to the deaf child. They oppose the lack of a choice for visual input to language. They oppose any system that says speaking and listening is paramount (even though it is not fully accessible) and to use sign language is to be isolated and exclusionary. I believe if there were an approach that said ASL only – no English acquisition (in any form written, spoken, heard etc) a bi-bi program would oppose that also but since there is no program, corporation, organization etc that I know of that advocates for ASL without the acquisition of English – it is a moot point and goes without saying. Bi-Bi within Deaf Education faces a unique challenge that is not faced by the bi-bi situations for Latinos or French Canadian or other groups.

One challenge is that for most deaf children the language (ASL) that is being undervalued, under-explored, under-utilized, under-accepted, under-endorsed and under-understood by early intervention and education programs is not the mother tongue of most of the children (it’s not the language used in the home because most deaf kids are born to hearing families. Resulting in a lack of fully accessible language input).

The other challenge is how do we discuss oralism and CI/AVT without making people who are oral or have CIs (or the parents) take it personally. How do we challenge the system without communicating that we oppose the individuals who are oral or have CI (or the parents who have chosen this). I personally do not reject anyone who has CIs or does not sign. You are my brother and my sister PERIOD. At the same time i hope i can still critically examine the unexamined of CI while showing love and acceptance for folks who have CI or decide to implant their children.

So I truly do apologize to anyone if I have disgusted them, confused them, insulted them or misinformed them (by the above comment or anywhere else). I especially apologize to DBC for having shared my view on what I have seen because of course I have not seen nor do I know everything and it seems my statements got interpreted to mean either DBC is too weak, DBC is too strong, DBC is too inconsistent…, and has contributed to the fueling the fire.

It is curious to me that when a good healthy ground swell seems to be forming – when Deaf folks come together to mobilize and become effective that a war of words – “he said, she said” emerges on Deafread and seems to distract us from the main task at hand – examining systematic oppression, why bilingualism is not already an easily accessible option within the US Deaf education system, and how together we can accomplish more.

I really and totally saddened by the mud slinging.

Now re: the challenge to integrity- I did some browsing and reflecting on integrity and these are the quotes that spoke to me.

Buddhist teachings on honesty

Thanissaro Bhikkhu taught:

“Real honesty is being honest about what your possibilities are, what your potentials are. That’s where true honesty lies. It stretches us. It’s not simply admitting where we are – that’s a beginning step, it’s not the end step. So be honest about where you are but also be honest about what your possibilities are. That keeps the challenge of the path always before us.” (From Thanissaro’s “True Honesty.”)

Wikipedia comment re: integrity

Popular discussions of integrity often see the concept as an all-or-nothing affair: one describes an approved person as “having integrity” (as an absolute), but condemns an enemy or a collective enemy organization as “completely lacking in integrity”.

My daughter’s d’var torah on faith, trust and integrity

When God gave us the ability to chose between right or wrong God also gave us the ability to lie. Instead of simply saying, or thinking, “Why doesn’t everyone else tell the truth?” or “Why can’t we all be people of integrity?” we should think, “how can I be more honest?” We could also think of ways that we could be more honest with ourselves and others than we are now.
If we all thought like this and acted upon it, our society might be a much better place.


Patti Durr


28 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ben Vess
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 16:28:57

    Maybe you should check that out?

    I’m so appalled. You guys misled the WHOLE community into thinking that AGBell did not offer resources like ASL and NAD…


  2. Candace A McCullough
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 16:38:10

    “How do we challenge the system without communicating that we oppose the individuals who are oral or have CI (or the parents who have chosen this). I personally do not reject anyone who has CIs or does not sign. You are my brother and my sister PERIOD.”

    Exactly my thoughts!! Thanks!
    Candace A. McCullough

  3. Mishka Zena
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 17:03:10


    I think that may be a difficult task. I spoke with several oral deaf and c.i. user who didn’t take the concept of audism well without feeling defensive. In a way, I can understand that because when AGBell spoke against ASL, I feel offended. I think it’s different with CI users who are fluent in ASL. Two understood what I meant because they witnessed the audism and how many deaf people didn’t do well in exclusively oral environment.

  4. Dennis Bacon
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 17:12:22

    Execellent posting! Yes we are brothers and sisters as deaf unity as we should have from now on. We need to give our hands to help or encourage or educate. I am not professional anything but like to help and love them as each other. I would encourage them getting knowledge about ASL if possible.

  5. pdurr
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 17:12:57

    Ben –
    i dont think i said AG Bell association never talks about ASL.

    however – i have seen this:

    AG Bell Association says:

    (letter to Pepsi)
    “Established in 1890, AG Bell is the only national organization dedicated to supporting children and adults
    who are deaf or hard of hearing who use spoken language and hearing technology to communicate in
    mainstream society.”

    “Your advertisement perpetuates a common myth that all people who are deaf
    can only communicate using sign language and are, therefore, isolated from the rest of society.”

    for the full letter go to:

    AG Bell Academy (certification body of the AG Bell Association ) states:

    Principles of LSLS Auditory-Verbal Therapy

    3. Guide and coach parents¹ to help their child use hearing as the primary sensory modality in developing spoken language without the use of sign language or emphasis on lipreading.

    also the organization is founded by and named in AG Bell’s honor who did not support bilingual bicultural education

    your disgust and anger seem disproportionate to any offense i may have caused

    happy to VP if u so desire



  6. pdurr
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 17:21:21

    Candace – i am glad u have similar thought / values – i have seen ur vlogs very impressive – we can do this YES WE CAN

    Mishka Zena – hard / challenging yes but i believe very possible. I have met some really really really strong oral folks (non-signers or not strong signers) who often understand audism better than i do

    Dennis – some of the smartest people i have ever met are not professional. So glad you are ready to roll up your sleeves and tackle this thorny situation peacefully and lovingly

    Gandhi and MLK Jr were all about love and justice



  7. DT
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 18:06:29

    Well, Ben, I went to the URL you posted above and now it appears that AGBell offers everything so now the way is paved for you to join their ranks, lol; that is, if you think they take to heart their little blurp about ASL as laboriously as they take the rest of their mission on a daily basis. But I think you know better.

    Still and all, I think we can keep trying, diplomatically, that is, to get AGBell and the DBC (or an equivalent) to seriously incorporate that which is the STATED mission of the current DBC.

    And I agreed with your take about what it means to be a leader…the sort of natural checks and balances you referred to.

    And Patty, I’m sorry for all of the energy you had to waste…..hang in there.

  8. Diane
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 21:51:48

    Patty .. just saw your vlog — interviewing with Jay Wyant in I am pretty dumbfounded. If Jay knows some signs .. Why can’t Jay communicate with you without using the interpreter! Being a Deaf Oralist .. smart? NOT! It confuses me a big time. Patty, the funny thing is is I noticed you are stunned at the end after you asked Jay if he knows ASL. I would feel the same! I am aware AGB strongly emphasizes on Auditory-Verbal Training approach — I did looked up the ABG website … it didn’t mention much about the ASL. It is really up to every AGB parents or members who wish to learn ASL .. fine with me.

    I am not against anyone included Deaf Oralists — as long as we are family. I hope DBC will impact them one day. It did impacted me when I came to Gallaudet many years ago.


  9. DE
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 21:54:10

    Excellent clarification, Patti. The continual (and intentional) mudslinging and taking others’ comments way out of context is merely a form of distraction from the Big Picture- that ALL babies sign.

    Take care,


  10. Joseph Pietro Riolo
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 01:52:17

    My personal view is that we should not oppose any approach. We may express our disagreements with different approaches including oralism and bilingualism. But, to actively oppose any of the approaches is not what I would encourage people to do.

    If parents choose oralism for their deaf kids, we should leave them alone or provide support to their choice. If parents choose bilingualism for their deaf kids, we should leave them alone or provide support to their choice. If parents choose total communication for their deaf kids, we should leave them alone or provide support to their choice. If parents choose Cued Speech for their deaf kids, we should leave them alone or provide support to their choice. If parents choose ASL-only approach for their deaf kids, we should leave them alone or provide support to their choice.

    People sometimes confuse passivity (same as “leave them alone”) with opposition. Just because a person does nothing for an approach does not necessarily mean that he or she opposes the approach. I personally like any signing system and would like to focus on the signing systems. I personally do not like oralism but I will not try to prevent parents and deaf adults from using it. I will leave them alone. If it becomes absolutely necessary, I may provide support to them (i.e. do some research and refer them to appropriate professionals).

    It is obvious that Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is passive on different approaches other than oralism. That is their business. But, we should not interpret their passivity on bilingualism as opposition to the approach. Other organizations such as Hands & Voices choose to give equal attention to all approaches. That is their business. Other organizations choose to focus more resources on bilingualism. That is also their business. But, their passivity on other approaches does not mean that they oppose them.

    I based all of the above on the principles of “live and let live”, Golden Rule and pluralism and my strong belief in parents’ freedom of choice in raising their children.

    Joseph Pietro Riolo

    Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this post in the public domain.

  11. Karen Mayes
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 03:50:23

    I agree with Joseph above. As I have said before, all organizations have their own platforms and advocacies. Its target audience happens to be the parents.

    That is why I say leave parents alone once they make the decision, even the decisions that we don’t agree with.

  12. Karen Mayes
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 03:52:32

    I used AGBell resources to learn more about mainstreaming for my son and it has good information. It is NOT all about AVT and CIs. Even my son will be going to AGBell sponsored camp for mainstreamed youths (he went there last summer and he had a great time and he wants to go again.)

  13. Ben Vess
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 06:58:50


    If you think a VP convo would help clear misunderstandings then feel free.. I’m open to that.


    That is an outright lie. Not ALL deaf babies sign. Period.

    No statistics can back you up. In science there is no such thing as 100% with no probability of anything else. You should know that.

    How about starting to listen to your people? you seem to enjoy jumping in situations and throwing your opinion around then leave. Stick around and talk to your people. Ignoring dissenting opinions is wrong, outright wrong, especially from a “leader.”

    we shall no longer be ignored. I have something up my sleeve…


  14. pdurr
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 07:09:06

    posting this comment for jean as wordpress is somehow blocking it – hope it will get fixed soon

    thanks for ur patience jean

    Beautè! Très élégant post, Patti!

    AGBell “had to” insert ASL following the ADA. More and more Deaf parents attend an AGBell Convention; otheriwse, they would sue AGBell for not accomodating any interpretive assistance. AGBell offers ASL as an option, but, in their lectures, they would use a lot of “but, but, but,” to the parents.

  15. pdurr
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 07:46:47

    DT – thanks for ur comments and the wish to hang in there. Im gonna head out of the blogsphere for a while me think as it is toxic in places but truly appreciate all the gold mines instead of the land mines.

    Diane – Ruthie Jordan is the person who interviewed Jay Wyant

    The video is striking because it is a visual representation to me of one of the fall outs of an oral / aural approach – it separates deaf people from each other. It took 2 interpreters to have 2 deaf people talk with each other – that is pretty bonk

    DE – yes I am feeling very sad about the distractions right now

    Joseph – as always I appreciate ur thoroughness and how u walk us through your thinking process. Im not sure if im in full agreement but u have given me good food for thought – thank you. I think our difference may rest in what the term oralism means for me and for you. For me when I use oralism it means a systematic program that denies deaf children access to a natural and accessible language and devalues visual acuity. Most lay people use oralism to mean the ability to speak but most academic publications when discussing oralism mean the exclusive practice and the active engagement in keeping ASL out of the hands of deaf children etc.

    Karen – I understand your point. My experience with parents has been that they want to know they are doing right by child so I do not condemn any parent for whatever choice they make. I have also seen that many parents are still curious, open and want to understand and learn more so by not reaching out to them we may be denying them the full picture.

    Re: your son’s experience with AG Bell camp – I am very glad he enjoys it. I have had a few students who attended and said they felt very badly because their speech and hearing was not equal to most of their peers and often felt left out and looked down upon. I don’t want to see this happen at either end of the spectrum and I know it does happen both ways sadly.

    Ben – pattidurr at so we can set up a vp time – next week would be best for me as swamped right now. U r coming off really strong towards DE s comment. Perhaps u didn’t read it fully? He said the goal is for all kids to sign – that is the vision that is what honesty is about in the Buddhist quote I used to know where u stand and where u hope to go.

    Re: all u r saying about a leader – I ask u to apply your own standard to urself. U r very visible in the blogsphere and I fear u r sowing more bitter apples and what u will reap will not be the best karama. I think u r a good soul and I read about ur bitter experience being denied speech. I do NOT want to see the pendulum swing in either direction – All ASL banishing any speech nor do I want to see it swing in ORAL / AURAL only. Presently statistic wise the pendulum is very much at the ORAL / AURAL only extreme.

    Re: your having something up your sleeve. This is not a loving message and further communicates a vengeful stance.

    There seem to be a small handful of vloggers/bloggers who are out to tell DBC how to do business and are actively involved in a smear campaign. I am sorry for whatever great harm has been done to you that you evidence such great hatred, animosity, and hostility.

    I have met many beautiful survivors of the holocausts who have stared inhumanity in the face and the message they each carry is “hatred is simply a waste of time”

    This is an awaking within the Deaf collective consciousness and it is a marvel to see. It also saddens me deeply to see the small chorus of animosity.

    I find it very striking that u hold so many individuals up to a very rigid standard of what it means to be a leader but have shown no disappointment or outrage at the AG Bell’s association about their letter to the Pepsi co. I have not seen u blog / vlog anywhere holding them accountable and demanding an apology from them for their outlandish statements of equating signing people with being isolated and unsuccessful.

    If u have already done so = pls point me in that direction

    I do wish you well and look forward to meeting u on VP

    Jean – again sorry about the comment submitting problem. Hopefully it will be solved soon.

    peace to u all

    gonna be offline today – need to be in the sunshine


  16. Mishka Zena
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 07:47:45

    There is no mudslinging from me. All I am asking is that DBC embraces integrity and be fully transparent to Deaf Community and the public. I am surprised that they have chosen not to, so far.

  17. pdurr
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 07:50:08

    oh jean i forgot to thank u for ur comment

    yes i do see AG Bell assoc has slided in the ASL stuff as an appeasement

    they tolerate it

    but their pepsi letter and other actions on their part show they dont respect or value it still


  18. Ben Vess
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 07:58:06

    It is not a smear campaign. I’m going to do this in a vlog. I’m beginning to see that my speaking my opinions and perspectives in English is not portraying an accurate picture of what I’m really trying to say.

    You have to understand, I question their integrity, I question their motives, I question thier approach and ambitions. I, a full fledged a full born into this Deaf culture and ASL, have every right to ask that of my leaders when they are out representing the ENTIRE community.

    DBC does not represent the view of the ENTIRE community, I can’t say this enough. Their behavior in Denver is appalling. Their constant bashing AGBell is an insult to the Deaf community. We are not like that! I grew up in this community, I know there are more people accepting of thwe non-ASL way. It works for them!

    You cannot deny them that. AGBell is providing choices. They help the parents decide. What are you DBC people doing? You are forcing the parents. You are saying “No Choice. ASL/Written English is must. ALL babies.

    Yes, ALL.”

    That attitude is the same as Nazis. They said “All Jews. No buts, no ifs, or what. ALL JEWS.” Rein it in, you fools, use your brains, not your hearts. You guys are entering diplomacy like savages. That’s why DBC said “you’re the enemy.”

    In the bible, David killed Goliath. Killed.

    NAD is on AGBell’s information at their website. NAD is not behaving the way DBC members and their ignorant leaders targeting a single group relentlessly.

    This is your behavior. It is exactly how you are thinking and approaching. You say we’re doing smear campaign?

    Maybe you should look at how you are behaving? Uhmm?

    -Ben (frustrated of pseudo-leaders speaking on MY behalf)

  19. Ben Vess
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 08:17:36

    I meant, AGB in saying “you’re the enemy.”

    pardon my typo.


  20. Mishkazena
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 08:21:28


    Had you read my blog, I’ve repeatedly denounced AGBell’s longstanding practice of malingering ASL and Deaf people.

    The failure of an organization to come clean doesn’t make it right for another organization to do the same. The Deaf Community deserves integrity and full transparency from its Deaf leaders. I’ve encouraged that, however, it appears to me that this organization has no intention of becoming transparent. I find that disturbing. I also find it odd that people would label calls for full transparency smear campaigns.

    I’ve repeatedly shown my support to DBC and praising it for its progress. However, if there is a serious flaw, it will do good for the Deaf community to share this with the Deaf leaders and ask for clarifications.

    Repeatedly I am getting the feeling we have no right to suggest anything. This internal oppression isn’t practiced in the hearing society. Concerned citizens speaking out are not condemned by their peers. We see editorials in the newspaper not giving constructive feedback and suggestion, but criticizing an organization or a leader very harshly. We don’t see the organization or the leader crying foul, claiming it to be crab theory. I am seeing a double standards here which I find disturbing. It’s ok for the hearing people to voice their concerns, but if Deaf people do that, they are accused of smear campaigns and their characters maligned by the Deaf leaders and their followers.

  21. Diane
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 08:23:25

    Patty Ooops … Thanks for clarification. 🙂

  22. Ben Vess
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 09:00:59

    Damn, Mishka, I’ve got goosebumps. I’ve been saying the very same thing you’ve said for a while.

    I wish I had your eloquence and intelligence to put it in such a nice package like that.

    Hats off to you!


  23. Karen Mayes
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 11:19:16

    Yeah, I blogged about Deaf’s oppression of CI several months ago and Deaf did not take it very well.

    I guess the statement is true… the oppressed tends to become oppressors. *shrug*

  24. pdurr
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 13:33:24

    mishkha zena – dear friend i was not thinking of u at all when i mentioned the mud slinging



  25. Joseph Pietro Riolo
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 15:57:44

    Hi Ms. Durr,

    I can see how I could have misunderstood your usage of the term “oralism”. I am not aware of the other definition for “oralism”. Now that you made me aware of it, I am correcting my understanding of your view.

    When I used “oralism”, I meant the complete focus on oral methods. By itself, I do not oppose it. But when it (or any other philosophy including bilingualism) is being imposed on parents by outside forces (organizations and people), this is where I am having problem. It only deprives the parents of the choices that they are entitled to exercise. As far as I can see, none of the present organizations are trying to diminish the choices although it is not uncommon to see many of them slanted toward some specific methods.

    Joseph Pietro Riolo

    Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this post in the public domain.

  26. Ben Vess
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 16:07:56


    I made my vlog and hope I was clear enough this time in what I meant when I don’t agree with DBC.


  27. pdurr
    Jul 10, 2008 @ 11:33:16

    thanks for the clarification joseph

    ben glad u vlogged



  28. moi
    Jul 10, 2008 @ 16:50:13

    Patti, I’m deeply saddened by this whole situation as well. It seems like we are unable to bridge this chasm, and I don’t understand why not. 😦 All we can do is keep trying, I guess… Thank you so much for all you’ve done in the past few weeks!!! *hug*

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