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.