Another grand letter to AG Bell’s CEO and Director of Communications And Marketing
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Thanks Dianez for taking this Grand STAND on behalf of the truth and justice.
August 4, 2011
Dear Mr. Graham, Ms. Boswell;
I am a retired Deaf professional and mother of a grown Deaf son. In my growing up, my parents were profoundly imprinted with the AGBell philosophy. However, it later was not what I chose to raise my Deaf son, preferring a comprehensive approach instead. In the meantime, I observed less than honorable tactics by AGBADHH and now wish to speak up.
Since your recent marketing strategy became publicized by teachers of the deaf receiving them, I have spent considerable time in thought. On one hand, it seems a creative way to gather names and addresses to fill your rosters and increase revenue similar to strategies of direct marketing agencies. It also increases the value of your address lists for secondary marketing to businesses.
All in the name of a charitable organization, right? One that provides services to parents and deaf children, often for free, right?
On the other hand, it was an unwanted invasion into the mails of professional teachers of the deaf. Since your agency membership are largely medical or business people, it made sense to try to add more teachers to the rosters. However, many teachers working with deaf children do not buy into the “listening and speaking” philosophy excluding ASL. Aware of the pitfalls of that approach, they studiously avoid association with it.
Also, many are deaf themselves. They have experienced the pure oral philosophy or have seen products of that environment. They have fought their way through limitations of oralism and obtained university degrees via other approaches to become educators. On the way, they have observed that oralism damages more than it helps, and that the social and emotional costs are greater than the few successes.
To impose your “temporary” membership upon these professionals and their colleagues was offensive because of an approach that they know is iffy at best. To call them “HEARING specialists” further compounded the insult because it dismisses their realities, struggles and strengths of growing up deaf as well as being far removed from their orientation–addressing the deaf child on his own terms, not as a subject to be habilitated into an approximation of hearing.
This is only one of many offensive actions your agency has taken in the past. With each one, your credibility within the Deaf community and professionals working with the d/Deaf drops even further.
I am personally disappointed and thoroughly disgusted with the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and feel that a series of apologies is long overdue.
That, and a greater sensitivity to the overall influence that your agency exerts on the climate we all live in and try to work in the community. For more information, please feel free to contact me or any of the other Deaf professionals working in the real world.