it might just be cuz ive been in the woods the past 2 days and the snow was melting like crazy and i kept picturing Aslan bounding over the hills bringing spring and conquering the White Witch but i have been thinking of ASL being on the Rise. Today was all misty in the forest with water droplets hanging off the branches – really pretty but it got me thinking on this first day of the new year – where we been and where we are going
(and yes i do know that winter aint over in Rochester – not by a long shot – snow and cold and blustery breezes will be back with a vengeance to make up for lost time and me will marvel at the moods of mother nature and wonder about “climate change”)
but the melting and Aslan got me thinking about ASL and how it is Arising BIG time and i thought about:
– George Veditz’s Preservation of Sign Language presentation from the NAD Motion Picture Project has been selected for the Library of Congress 2010 National Film Registry – out of 2,112 nominated films – George made it into the top 25 cut – ya hoo and amen! this is a CHAMP speech so i hope u all will watch it in its entirety – thank u NAD and Gallaudet Video Library for putting it up on line (note u can read his typed up version of his speech – which is not verbatim but cool to see the differences in selected word choices like NOBLEST in the film versus GREATEST on the page – scroll down for page 1 page 2 page 3)
On behalf of the NAD, Veditz made this film specifically to record sign language for posterity at a time when oralists (those who promoted lip reading and speech in lieu of sign language) were gaining momentum in the education of the hearing-impaired. The film conveys one of the ways that deaf Americans debated the issues of their language and public understanding during the era of World War I.
– ASL is on its way to be the 3rd most popular language studied in the US
– Signing is used by babies across the land – (yep me Hearing baby nephew signed “milk” and “yes” – best holiday present i got this year)
– an explosion of ASL literature and video chats now available with the medium at our fingertips to publish and discourse in ASL at a distance (videophones, vlogs, chatrooms, ichat, google chat, skype, facetime….)
– now a days when out and about and u r signing with a pal – folks don’t gawk or stare – there is no shame or signing under the tables – instead u r likely to encounter folks who actually can read what u r chatting about (“dang, thought this was private” smile)
– Natural sign languages are cool now, its hip, its groovy – we have Signmark and many others
– Deaf cinema experimenting and employing the already built in / automatic / organic cinematic tendencies of ASL storytelling is now being meshed with actual cinematography for an exploration of what the Deaf lens has to offer to the field of movie making (see Vital Signs for the best example to date)
– Deaf folks are being judged less by the dB of their ears and more by the content of their character and this is largely due to it becoming more and more cool and OK to be Deaf and to use a Natural Sign Language
– ICED 2010 Vancouver New Era Resolutions – made some awesome proclamations and commitments righting past wrongs where natural sign languages were banished from programs
– Sign Language was used in outerspace by an astronaut
– A Deaf ASL-English scholar, Dr. Carol Padden, was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Genius award for her research on the structure and evolution of natural sign languages.
– More and more literary and artistic works of the Deaf experience that emphasize the importance of ASL are being created, valued, and shared.
There are more tangible and visible manifestations of progress and acceptance – of ASL Arising. Normally, when underrepresented groups hit the mainstream i.e. “break through” then sincere social change and progress are not far behind.
Of course amidst ASL arising we also see a bit of a backlash and the onslaught of the oral / aural only push
The good news is that the more and more that ASL becomes accepted, embraced, celebrated, employed, respected, valued, enjoyed in the wider public the harder and harder it will be for folks to diss it by saying it is bad English or not a language or to perpetuate myths and falsehoods about it.
More and more folks will start to question the logic and the humaneness of denying Deaf babies and children the right to a fully natural and accessible language alongside English.
No child should have to work for their words and once they see how beautiful ASL is a arising – there will be no denying that we must “cherish and defend the sign language as the noblest gift God gave to the Deaf.” (Veditz, 1913)
Not just Aslan is on the rise. American Sign Language and other natural sign languages are too.
So ASL and company – stand up and take a bow! Big hand ways and can’t wait to see how you shine in 2011.
Winter, Summer, Spring or Fall all ya gotta do is call and a Natural Sign Language will be there… yes it will…. You’ve got a friend ….
so after 100 Years since the NAD Motion Picture Project began (1910) we can say – George ya done good – ASL is still alive and well and flourishing and indeed we will heed ur call – of “cherish and defend”
added 1/3/2010 after sending someone this quote today:
As Veditz stated in his 1910 President’s Message “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.”
Happy New Year ASL et al.