Bobbi’s Brilliant Beacon for Bilingualism

Wow Gallaudet is really rockin’ the truth campaign.

In addition to the Buff and Blue editor’s letter to AG Bell President Sugar
and an invitation from the Student Body Government for AG Bell Pres and co to come to Gallaudet to chat
Gallaudet University’s new President Bobbi Cordano truly asserts the truth that being bilingual is better than being semi-lingual and a Deaf mind is a horrible thing to WASTE.

She dispels the myths about ASL acquisition because after all it is 2016. And too many lives have been harmed and lost.
Seriously i am OVERJOYED by her statement testifying to the horrors of language deprivation and benefits of bilingualism.  In taking this brave, just and firm stand, President Cordano spreads the light of truth, hope, and love that warms me all the way over in snowy Rochester.  As I read her statement, the image of David Call’s linocut “Beacon of Hope,” that was commissioned by Gally alumni, keeps coming to mind.  Please take the time to read the description and symbolism of this gorgeous piece.  David was so perceptive and prophetic in his design and creation. President Cordano’s statement is at bottom in case people have problems with the links. Let there be Light!

Beacon of Hope by David Call
Beacon of Hope by David Call

The Beacon of Hope (2016)

Medium: Linocut

Artist: David Call, Gallaudet Alma Mater ‘86

Commissioned by San Francisco Bay Area Gallaudet Club

Bobbi Cordano recently broke through the glass ceiling to become the first Deaf female president of Gallaudet University.  She has been widely accepted by Deaf communities all over the country.  In the long history of Gallaudet, many female candidates were passed over for promotion to the presidency, and the one who were appointed did not serve long.

As depicted by the linocut, Bobbi Cordano climbs a ladder to success breaking through the glass ceiling of the Gallaudet Seal.  Fingerspelled around the Seal is an Aramaic word, Ephphatha, meaning “Be Opened.”  It refers to a biblical story in which Jesus cures a Deaf Mute man by putting one hand on the Deaf Mute man’s ear and the other on his tongue uttering, “Ephphatha.”   In the old days of paternalism there were many tales of miraculous cures serving as inspiration porn. Designed by hearing people who pitied Deaf people, the Gallaudet Seal reflected these ideas.  Bobbi Cordano dispels this old school of thought by breaking through the Seal.

Climbing up and off the ladder, she sees an ancient Roman inscription; PER MANVS SCIENTIAM carved in stone on the wall.  This is a Latin phrase for “Knowledge Through Hands.”  It refers to American Sign Language (ASL), the primary language and only mode of communication at Gallaudet. ASL has been successfully and continuously in use at Gallaudet since 1864.  Bobbi is a bilingual visionary whose philosophy fits this Latin inscription as we continue to study ASL and English which has Latin roots.

In the corner, a statue of the two-headed Roman goddess Janus greets her. She represents the goddess of beginnings and transitions.  Janus has two faces: one to look into the past and the other to the future.  The bust of Janus communicates the value of preserving Gallaudet University’s unique historical traditions as it moves into the future. Bobbi is a twenty-first century visionary who will bring a better and brighter future to Gallaudet University.

In the center of the picture, Bobbi holds a birdhouse offering it to everyone who has come to Gallaudet needing a safe place to thrive. The birdhouse symbolizes collectivism, sanctuary, and safe haven.

She wears a butterfly-patterned blazer of black and white representing her value of diversity.   Butterflies are Deaf and represent endurance, change, hope, life, and liberation.  Their graceful flying is like the graceful signing of Deaf people.

The Tower Clock is transformed into a lighthouse that emits beacons of hope.  Every Deaf community across the globe looks to this beacon of hope as Gallaudet begins a new progressive era led by a Deaf female president.

The border of oak leaves and acorns represent strength, perseverance, and stability.  Oak trees grow huge and majestic providing a life-giving canopy sanctuary. From the deep roots of these trees, acorns sprout holding the seedlings of thousands of new oak trees. Even if lightning splits an oak tree, it will survive and continue to thrive.  That is what Gallaudet University is all about.  These particular oak leaves come from the Valley Oak tree, the largest in North America.  Found only in California, the Valley Oak tree symbolizes the support of Deaf communities across the state for the new era of Gallaudet under president Bobbi Cordano.


From Gallaudet website – retrieved April 5, 2016

Gallaudet’s President Cordano Dispels the Myths of Language Acquisition

Through his tremendous success on the runway and participation in Dancing With the Stars, Nyle DiMarco follows in the footsteps of numerous Gallaudet University alumni who have shown that deaf people can achieve any dream. Admirably, he has seized this moment to advocate for full and equal early access to language for deaf and hard of hearing children through bilingual exposure to American Sign Language (ASL) and English. I wholly endorse his commitment to guaranteeing full access to language.

To parents and professionals, I want to share with you my position on this issue, which is a profoundly important one for Gallaudet and the nation. Research shows too many deaf and hard of hearing children are entering pre-kindergarten with delays as a result of language deprivation. We must focus on research-based approaches that do not create an either-or dichotomy between learning speech and learning language.


A small but vocal number of organizations and individuals persistently perpetuate the myth that ASL is not an essential component of language learning for deaf and hard of hearing children. They grossly misrepresent ASL as a “last-choice” option reserved for children who do not develop spoken English. This contributes to creating environments in which language deprivation persists. Research clearly shows this is preventable when we immerse the deaf infant in a language-rich environment that combines the strengths and benefits of both ASL and English.

Research over the past few decades, especially the past 10 years, confirms the importance of language acquisition through visual language and auditory means. Prominent neuroscientists who study early infant brain development have identified deaf children who lack adequate early language exposure as at great risk for later cognitive, learning, language, and reading challenges.

Technology often is promoted as the solution, but decades of research show it is only one small part. The myth persists that cochlear implants and hearing aids make a deaf child “hearing.” These devices are not ears, but tools to facilitate sound perception and speech discrimination. They require months and years of intervention, intensive drilling and training, often  at the expense of learning actual language. This lengthy road can also contribute to the child missing opportunities for full, normal exposure to the patterns of language and to achieve milestones vital for healthy language and reading success.


There is now a critical mass of basic science discoveries about the biological foundations of human language, reading, and bilingualism. Gallaudet University’s world-class National Science Foundation Science of Learning Center, Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2), which contains the Brain and Language Laboratory for Neuroimaging, both under the direction of distinguished neuroscientist Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto, comprises a large national and international network of cognitive neuroscience and behavioral science researchers. Dr. Petitto and this network have produced an extensive body of scientific research on the benefits of early exposure to visual language.

These discoveries include:

  • Speech is not privileged in the human brain, but is biologically equivalent to sign language. ASL is processed in the same areas of the brain as spoken English; these key brain areas are not specialized exclusively for sound, but are specialized in processing the patterns on which language is built.
  • Early exposure to visual language confers significant visual processing advantages and maintains the infant brain’s sensitivity to the language patterns it must experience within the required developmental timeframes.
  • This exposure does not harm young deaf children or delay spoken language development, but keeps their brains’ language tissue and systems ‘alive’ and propels the acquisition of spoken English.
  • Early exposure to ASL supports strong English speech skills and better vocabulary and reading skills compared to hearing peers learning only English.
  • These deaf children have the identical benefits found in children who are bilingual in other languages, including more robust use of the language areas of the brain, enhanced social and interpersonal understanding, and stronger language analysis, reading, and reasoning skills.
  • Parents of young deaf children who are learning sign language do not need to achieve immediate and full fluency during this timeframe for their children to benefit from early exposure to ASL.

One of the most damaging misconceptions is that the timing of developmental milestones in spoken and signed languages is different, so it is acceptable to delay the child’s opportunity to learn language (ASL). In hundreds of studies over the past 50 years, Dr. Petitto and other researchers have conclusively refuted this myth. Studies show young deaf children exposed to signed languages achieve every milestone on the exact same timetable as young hearing children exposed to spoken languages. The signed and spoken language timing “windows” are identical.

A wealth of science discoveries show that early exposure to both ASL and English is beneficial for all children. For the young brain, early sign language exposure is as biologically imperative as early spoken language exposure. Language must be made accessible to a deaf child to avoid lifelong consequences for brain development, learning, and higher cognition. The more we engage the deaf child in language-rich ASL/English experiences, the stronger the child’s brain and language skills become.

It is unethical to perpetuate the myth that the critical period, or “window,” for ASL language acquisition is different from that for spoken English. It is also not scientifically sound to advocate for an exclusionary bias toward speech or that spoken language is the only key to future success.


These misconceptions are incredibly damaging to families who seek accurate information about their options. They also contribute to a system in which families do not have equal access to services that support both ASL and English language acquisition.  Information about the benefits of visual learning and bilingualism is frequently withheld from families of children identified through early hearing loss detection and intervention programs. Medical professionals often immediately advise families not to use sign language but to focus only on learning how to talk at the expense of learning language.

This must change. In order for parents to have true options, they must have equal access to ASL and English language services. Antiquated views persist in the healthcare industry, which has justified cochlear implant treatment strategies around the belief that spoken English alone is the key to future success for deaf children. In light of research showing that bilingual learning confers significant language, reading, learning, social, and cognitive benefits, medical professionals and health insurers must require and support ASL and English intervention as part of cochlear implant treatment.


We are at a new juncture in history, in which the critical mass of scientific discoveries allows us to state conclusively that there is no need to choose between languages – it is better to choose both languages. We now know that the need for ASL has not decreased, but is greater and more urgent than ever in order for deaf children to gain all possible biological, cognitive, and language advantages. Offering a deaf child both ASL and English, spoken and written, is the greatest gift anyone can give to that child, to the child’s family, and to our world.

I look forward to more opportunities to educate the public about language acquisition in all children, particularly deaf and hard of hearing children, using proven, peer-reviewed and published scientific research and data. I am fully committed to Gallaudet’s bilingual approach and its benefits for the numerous students and families we welcome who don’t sign, or are new signers. They thrive through our programs tailored to provide immersive ASL experiences. We see the products of language-rich environments before us in numerous successful Gallaudet alumni, including Nyle DiMarco, a brilliant, beautiful, and articulate young man. I am so proud of how he is representing his alma mater, Gallaudet University, and supporting a vision for the best future for all children in this country.



16 thoughts on “Bobbi’s Brilliant Beacon for Bilingualism

  1. FINALLY a Gally prez speaks out…. Not since EMG have we seen one come to the defense of Deaf people and signing. This is what a Gally prez SHOULD be doing — after all, if Gally won’t defend us, who will?

  2. EMG encouraged Combined System therefore he didn’t speak out loud enough. Bobbi is a first – “Gally” always defended us but in the fashion EMG and all past presidents did – couch behind nicer words – not rocking the boat. Gallaudet University and AGBAD had a long relationship together over a hundred of years. I can go on and on with examples. That relationship will change forever and CONTINUES. Bobbi with her scientific faculty and her intelligent multi-modal deaf students will work on that relationship. AGBAD still have not responded in any matter yet . . . Exciting!

  3. Big hello Katz!

    Very interesting history about
    2, and Gallaudet Univeraity + AGBAD have long relationship. Exciting drama?

    I think I like the BEST part of Bobbi’s “Implementing Best Practices” becuz it about health insurance industry on her public announcement.

    But maybe I’m wrong about it?

    Does she really mean that the goal plans to have all health care insurance requires to have ASL and English coverages for all Deaf babies, children and adults from age 0 to up over 100 yrs old with hearing aids and cochlear implants?

    Will that be helping us to stop fraud health care insurance if provide only one option for only oral with no ASL provide?

    Pls help us to understand deeply what she means about “Implementing (tool) Best Practices”?

    Thank you and V, S

  4. Actually I wish the president of Gally, Bobbi should vlog about “Dispels the Myths of Language Acquisition” to make us understand what is really the plan

    to respect many of us who have still living in the dark ages under agbell’s ideology and abusive Oralism world:

    Hard to letting go from hearing family problems

    Suks that we have to pay health care industry who believe AGB’s ideology to destroy mentally destruction

    I’ll explain to you why on personal email.

    Thanks, p for allowing me to express from my thoughts

    V, shawn

  5. Yeah

    Plus I’m so glad that someone did made vlog and protect the truth and remind us to respect each other

    Check out this video on YouTube:

  6. Shawn I’m really sorry the vlog upset and hurt your heart. I’m glad u made art. I’d rather we not call the person names like idiot. I understand u r e pressing how he made u feel and his words adversely impacting u. Your art is really powerful because it shows how his condemnation of direct action / peaceful activism is erasing your experience of harmful Oralism and your right to resist oppression and express the truth. It is bad enough to that ag bell erases the victims and survivors of their unholy method – we certainly don’t need our own doing such

    My guess is that Conrad s statement comes from a privilege place (white male given bilingualism at birth educated DeAf family etc)

    Not justifying not excusing the behavior just naming it

    Methink many of our own are utterly uncomfortable with taki g a firm just right and good stand against oralism. They do t have the courage so they think it’s best to just sing the praise of ASL and nyle s and not confront the horrid beast of Oralism and and language bigotry and language deprivation

    We can not oblige his wishes because we know the truth
    Many have died and more will so we stand for the truth and nothing but it
    So we stand for justice
    For bilingualism
    For Deaf cultures
    For Deaf living
    For the victims who are not more
    For the survivors
    For the truth
    Keep standing Shawn

    We are making REAL progress and that is what ag bell and others are afraid of

    Truths being told

    U are real and I love ya

    What has happened to u and ur family is wrong and unjust and being repeated all over the us today

    While nyle is making ASL sexy – systems all over the us are requiring infants and children to be crucified on the cross of a single method

    Thank u again Shawn

    U is me hero

    Peace p

  7. And thank u for the link to Amy s vlog and thank Amy for making it

    Yep I always say – I understand some folks are not comfortable w confronting the oppressor. I ain’t asking them to do that if they ant or won’t I am asking them though – to get out of our way so we can do the hard and necessary food work

    Truth force soul force WORK

    There is no doubt and we will never know how well it works until we dedicate ourselves to it

    Too many false measures and half hearted attempts and lots and lots of talk about what others “should do” while they nadda and the oppressor rolls on

  8. Alright I already removed “idiot”

    And then put “clueless”


    maybe that Deaf vlogger do not know or not see himself is more luckier than some other Deaf who are victims of language deprivation?

    Some of us the victims of language deprivation do not feel welcome to support ASL community becuz we do feel that they look down on us while we try to work hard to capture to understand language

    So in my heart I can see my English is not doing so well like other who have been excellent in writing and read

    So I embarrassed the Deaf community with no good English?

    Should I be sorry that I went wrong education with my excellent speech but no good in both read and write for many years?

    Should I ask my hearing parents’ healthcare insurance to force Oralism and doctors to give money back?

    Sick of my parents saying “you waste my money for sending you to “name of deaf oral” school sometimes when I was in high school

  9. Shawn – great art

    and it should be the perpetrators of Oralism and the obstructionists to progress who should be sorry. not you

    keep creating

    much peace p

  10. I will try keep creating but need little break from artwork this week becuz of this ASL excerpt from Made to Hear by Laura Mauldin
    Check out this video on YouTube:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s