the wisdom of Veditz, NAD & Filmmaking

I’m a big fan of George Veditz
see People of the Eye entries:
George Veditz, 1861-1937
Veditz hits the WWW
Veditz’s letters to Bell

the more i learn the more im in awe

i have been thinking about the power of media and representation alot lately and have been thinking about George Veditz’s 1910 President’s Message at the 9th NAD Convention and the 3rd World’s Congress of the Deaf:

“We possess and jealously guard a language different and apart from any other in common use-a language which nevertheless is precisely what all-wise Mother Nature designed for the people of the eye, a language with no fixed form or literature in the past, but which we are now striving to fix and give a distinct literature of its own by means of the moving picture film.”

i have long long long lamented about how the NAD dropped the ball on this vision – this answer – this avenue – this call.

A few years ago i asked an NAD board member, i suggested there be a film competition or screening as part of the NAD conferences – something to inspire folks to make films about the Deaf experience in honor of Veditz’s vision and cuz media is power and FILM is the perfect medium for ASL

[Still from Gallaudet: The Film]

the reply i got was “oh, you see NAD is an advocacy group. the conference is for networking, advocacy, leadership – its not about entertainment”

i was like (well, girl that aint the kinda filmmaking im talking but instead i said) “What do you call the “MIss”contest? – that’s advocacy and leadership?????”

(someone at the table laughed and signed to me “bingo on the nose” and true true)

and the Board member (who may have been a former “Miss” something for all i know) said, “Well, the “MIss NAD” contest is very important because it empowers young Deaf women to learn leadership etc…

I was like – come on we r in the 21st century now – no one believes that crap and the only way u can prove that these antiquated contests are not about beauty, looks, and shape would be if u had a “Miss” contest that encouraged contestants not to shave their armpits and legs or wear a bra
(yes some feminists actually believe that girls shouldnt have to do what boys dont have to)

then only then could u prove to me that the Miss NAD contest ain’t about looks and beauty but rather was about the “content of ones character”

If the Miss NAD contest was about “taking ur daughter to work to kick some butt and show GGGRRRRR Girl power” i might be like cool beans but since it aint i shant

instead ill keep doing me shout out for a FILM COMPETITION in the spirit of George Veditz (George and RJ Stewart were able to raise $5,000 ~100 years ago – come on NAD – u can do it, yes u can)
[still image from Gallaudet: The film]

NAD ya could save a mighty bunch of pennies if u stopped that sexist practice and crowned a community instead of an individual

many of us XY and XX folks are not just concerned about the representation of Deaf folks we are also concerned about the representation of Deaf Women, Deaf people of Color, Deaf-blind folks, Deaf people with other abilities, etc

come on NAD – instead of:
“Here she comes Miss NAD ….” lets see ya do a shout out for “Lights, Camera, Action”

pick up that ball and run would ya. Touch down! The crowd roars
ill be one of the first to get busy cheering, sending in a check and making a few films

thanks ridor for mentioning the sexism behind the “Miss” contest

to the winner and any past winner and/or contestant – i do not judge ya or disrespect ya. I understand why you did it but we gotta think bigger and brighter and equality of condition and that is not to be found by being awarded for wearing a shimmery dress

George Veditz concluded his lengthy 1910 President’s Message with an effort to not only “remember the ladies” but also to include and empower them:


In conclusion I beg leave to present one subject that I have been agitating, when occasion offered, during the past three years – a Ladies’ Auxiliary of the N.A.D. It is true women are admitted to equal membership and privileges in our Association, but an examination of our records will show that their active participation in our affairs has been almost nil. I believe if, without withdrawing from the Association, they were to form one great committee to include every woman member, as an auxiliary organization, electing their own officers and meeting somewhat in the same manner as the Gallaudet Alumni, their interest in the Association would greatly increase, more of them would join, they would find no dearth of subjects to engage their activities, and our conventions would consequently be augmented in numbers and influence.
Attention is called to the reports of the several committees and officers which will be duly submitted. They are of great value and merit your careful study.

George was not advocating for a beauty contest but actually advocating for a level playing field for the women of his time – he was thinking out of the box on how to ensure advocacy, networking, and leadership emerged for all of NAD’s members.

jump at da sun folks and make the invisible visible




1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Carol Harter
    Jul 19, 2010 @ 03:22:46

    patti durr: If possible, please send me a message using Facebook profile.


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