ASD T. Gallaudet & L. Clerc Tributes

t gallaudet and clerc monumentsJohn Hotchkiss, alumnus of the Connecticut Asylum for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons (American School for the Deaf) and professor at the National Deafmute College (Gallaudet University), told many great stories about Laurent Clerc in the important 1913 NAD film “Memories of Old Hartford.” There are no films of Laurent Clerc, since moving pictures were invented after his death, making Hotchkiss’ visual testimony of what Clerc looked-like, walked-like, taught-like, and thought-like priceless.

This clip from Hotchkiss’ “Memories of Old Hartford” explain how an elderly Clerc was admiring the plinth monument that was erected at ASD in Thomas Gallaudet’s memory and Clerc’s response when asked if a monument should be established in his memory. Clerc replied that he really didn’t know about that but that if such a monument was to be made he would like it to be erected near the one honoring T. Gallaudet for as in life they worked together so after death may they be remembered together.  Years later the Deaf community raised funds ($3,000 – note how Hotchkiss signs the word for $ as a coin in the palm of the hand) to have a bronze bust of Clerc made and placed it where he had specified. (Note the monument honoring Thomas Gallaudet no longer exists but the bas-relief of Thomas Gallaudet teaching (designed by Deaf artist – John Carlin and sculpted by Mr. Argenti in 1854 for the south panel of the original Gallaudet monument) was salvaged. (see below the video box). The monument itself was designed by Deaf artist Albert Newsam, a teacher of Carlin’s. (see below the video box for info on Newsam and Carlin’s work on the Thomas Gallaudet’s monument and a detail of Newsam in an artwork by Nancy Rourke. The bronze bust monument honoring Laurent Clerc remains at ASD)

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Excerpt from Made in America: Printmaking, 1760-1860: An Exhibition of Original Prints

addition info at bottom

newsam rourke

From Honor Thy Deaf History                      by Nancy Rourke


Info on John Carlin and some of his paintings –

gallaudet monument post card

clerc bust at asd photo blog 

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from Educational biography. Memoirs of teachers, educators, and promoters and benefactors of education, literature, and science, reprinted from the American journal of education. Part I. Teachers and educators. Volume 1. United States. Edited by H. Barnard

ASL – takes a licking but keeps on ticking

LSF-MVSL Boat Rock Art Bob Rourke

LSF-MVSL Boat Rock Art by Bob Rourke

Happy Anniversary American Sign Language

10 score years ago – ASL reached the shores of North America – via LSF – langue des signes française (French Sign Language) a la Laurent Clerc. Laurent, a French Deafmute teacher at the Institution Nationale des Sourds-Muets, learned it from his peers and teachers like Massieu before becoming a teacher himself. Despite the folklore told of how the Hearing Abbe de l’Epee invented LSF for Deaf students – the French Deaf community already had a language before l’Epee formed the first permanent school in the world to use sign language.  

“…once Épée had conceived the noble project of devoting himself to the education of the deaf, he wisely observed that they possessed a natural language for communication to each other. As this language was none other than sign language, he realized that if he managed to understand it, the triumph of his undertaking would be assured. This insight has been justified by success. So the abbé de l’Épée was not the inventor or creator of this language; quite the contrary, he learned it from the deaf.” Pierre Desloges (1779)

So too we see that the folklore of Clerc bringing LSF became ASL- ignores that there were already vibrant natural sign languages existing in North America prior to Clerc’s arrival.  Plains Indian Sign Language and Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language as well as home signs played a significant role in the birth of ASL.  It was the combining and intermingling of these languages that brought about “the” sign language of the U.S.

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Chart from the HeART of Deaf Culture: Literary and Artistic Expressions of Deafhood (K. Christie & P. Durr)

200 years later – ASL still has a strong kinship with LSF. Plains Indians Sign Language is on the decline but similarities can be detected in old footage and books. Martha’s Vineyard sign language is no longer alive, having died off when the last Deaf islander passed on, so its hard to do a comparison with MVS.

Despite a relentless campaign against American Sign Language and Deaf culture (see Baynton’s Forbidden Signs: American Culture and the Campaign Against Sign Language, When the Mind Hears: A History of the Deaf and Mask of Benevolence: Disability the Deaf Community by Lane and many others), ASL has continued to grow, rise, and now SOAR.

Yes, ASL is soaring – it takes a licking and keeps on ticking.  Despite the first wave of


Heart Bleed by Nancy Rourke

Milan that began in full speed after the ICED Milan Congress of 1880 where Oral methods of teachers were ruled to be superior to sign language, despite the second wave of Oralism with the mass implanting of Deaf children and the aggressive oral / aural only (AVT) regime being resurrected, despite the AG Bell Association freaking out any time a wee bit of ASL was shown on TV or accepted in popular culture, despite the EHDI’s strong bias for anything auditory and oral and against anything visual and natural, despite the FDA approving CI in toddlers and stem cell experimentation on newborns, despite parents being bamboozled, mislead, and disinformed, despite oodles and noodles of things – ASL still SOARS – 10 score years later.

(amongst all these years of persecution – which are still going on today in the US of A – know that wee children have been put into dark closest, dunk in scalding hot water, hit with rulers, punished emotionally, physically, verbally, and endlessly – simply for… signing and still ASL keeps on ticking)


Lifeblood by P. Durr


  • ASL is the 3rd most studied language in the US of A
  • ASL and English languages used at Gallaudet University and NTID/RIT (YES NTID/RIT too). I’m so happy.  Thank you to each and all the NTID/RIT students who stood long and hard for language equality and equality of condition and affective education.  u shine.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics says that Deaf babies, children and youth should be given ASL as does the UN CRPD, WHO, WFD, and ICED 2010

there is more – there is lots more but the point is… VIVA American Sign Language.  You take a licking but keep on ticking as is evident in Tick Tock by Ian Sanborn.  His eye popping, show stopping, heart racing is an amazing tribute to ASL, Deaf culture, and ARTivists who have worked hard and long to keep ASL alive.  Resistance is the secret to possessing joy – as Alice Walker wrote.

So ya hoo and thank u to each and all who stand and stand again and boo to all of you who hurt, persecute, and deprive.

Can u imagine how beautiful it all would be had we not have to repeat this vicious cycle again and again and again.  showing the orally raised that it is OK to be Deaf and ASL folks are not inferior – and u aint better than them and they aint better than u and…

welcome home.  tick tock.  keep leaving the speech pathologist speechless folks!

See below the video box for a poem from a Deaf man in a maximum security prison – who every time we visited for our monthly De’VIA workshops – he would create works or poems celebrating and affirming A S L.

added below the poem is a viral video of a Deaf grandma teaching her Deaf 9-week old grand child the sign for “grandma” its a precious and priceless visual representation of how ASL keeps ticking and soars


Poem and artwork by A – April 2017

I use my hands like a mouth to speak

I use ASL every day of the week

I am proud to be deaf A ASL do not enter

For me ASL is the best

It’s a language all its own

I can even use it with a video phone

Many people try to put me down

Yet they don’t know that ASL is all around

I keep my head high

And show everyone my Deaf Pride

What am I?

I’ll give you one guess.

That’s right: I’m Proud to be Deaf

link to viral video of a Deaf grandma teaching her 9 week old grandchild ASL

Ourstories – the 4 Ps

click underlined text below

ourstories pp

as it is a link to a Powerpoint presentation i gave at the US Deaf History conference (2017 Minn.) via video conferencing

Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 4.07.51 PMthere is not alot of text – as i only use PP really to give visual references to what I will be discussing but almost every slide has a live link to a website that has US related Deaf history content so i am sharing it here.  During the presentation i click the links and toured a wee bit of each site – mostly using specific examples that gave content while also showing how the website is set up and the type of information it provides

the 4 Ps for creating such digital spaces for OURSTORIES are:
Persist – sometimes it is very difficult to find or acquire certain materials (articles, films, images, primary sources, documents, etc)

Preserve – once we have found these materials – if they are original we need to get them into secure places – donating materials to an archive is very important (see Gallaudet, RIT/NTID Deaf Studies Archives, CSUN, etc – anyplace that u know is safe and follows proper archival processes – temperature controlled etc)

Protect – make sure the materials are well cared for and well utilized and not misused.

Promulgate – share and share and share.  get the good stuff out to the public.  So much of Deaf history has been lost, forgotten, swept under the carpet, minimized, misunderstood, erased, etc.  Keep searching and sharing and you will see how truly hard, long, and well Deaf folks have stood and fought for justice and equality 

ourstories pp

NTID Faculty Alumni Solidarity

Just a shout out of solidarity for NTID/RIT students protesting for justice

If you would like to make an ASL video or English text message – drop the link or note in the comment box below

(to see other postings on the NTID situation go to:
DPAN DeafTV program
People of the HandEye post

Click CC button for captions on video
(transcript is below)

[black screen with white text We Stand With You, NTID Students]

[KC- white woman in black hoodie]
Hello, NTID community!
It just recently happened that students took an impressively strong stand to inform us all of their experiences, to share their heart about discrimination and oppression.
Its so saddening and awful – these experiences.
They are RIGHT! Enough is Enough. PERIOD.
I used to be a faculty member and part of the system.
Today I am hoping many faculty and staff will join in solidarity and

[PD – White woman with short red hair with a colorful shirt]
What am I going to do?
I stand with you, NTID Students.
Yes, we want justice via Language, Communication & Diversity
We CARE and we are collective
in this important work.
So #Facultystandwithyou
Keep on keepin’ on
Don’t give up.
And take care, you all.

[artwork by Nancy Rouke –
colors – red, yellow, blue, black & white]
[Artwork of Two faces with two hands intertwined]

[NR – White woman with glasses and purple sweatshirt with artwork in the background]

See that artwork sketch? I haven’t yet painted it.
It shows students – Standing side by side.
This means they are NOT giving up.
They are still fighting for what needs to be done.
NTID needs to heed their grievances.
That artwork shows my support.
Their hands show how the students are interconnected and interlocked.

[screen shows close up of two sets of hands intertwined as image pans downward]
Red means power.
[Close up of artwork showing the
back of one hand as red]
The blue represents audism.
Enough is Enough.


DPAN DTV News Covers Convocation Controversy & more

Deaf TV News covers the convocation controversy, administration  and ongoing activism at NTID



A Mural-a-making

My definition of art has always been the same. It is about freedom of expression, a new way of communication. It is never about exhibiting in museums or about hanging it on the wall. Art should live in the heart of the people. Ordinary people should have the same ability to understand art as anybody else. I don’t think art is elite or mysterious. I don’t think anybody can separate art from politics. The intention to separate art from politics is itself a very political intention. ~ Ai Weiwei (Chinese artist and activist)

hand-stencilsPublic art is an important part of place making.  Murals as an art form have a very long and rich history.  Perhaps the first language ever recorded was the rock and cave art of prehistoric times – these hand prints, hand stencils, animal and hunter figures and petroglyphs were often part of a larger body of work forming collective murals that are still alive and well today.  Visual markers of a people from the past and a promise for the future. Many cultures throughout time have relied on mural-a-making to communicate ideas, values, identity, messages, politics, aesthetics and more to the public at large.  Murals are ideal transmitters of information and positions since they do not require literacy of written words and are not specific to any one language.

Dabook worms csd.jpgvid Call, a teaching artist at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont, CA and one of the leading De’VIA Surdists, has along with the students of CSD been transforming the campus via creating unique and masterfully done Deaf-centered murals.  Go to and scroll down for PP on Mural Making at CSD


When the Rochester Deaf Awareness Week (RDAW) 2016 decided it would like to have De’VIA Surdist Nancy Rourke come to town to give a presentation at NTID and some painting workshops for Rochester School for the Deaf and community members, we discussed the possibility of Nancy doing a public mural at RRCD using her trademark three primary colors (red, yellow,and blue) with black and white in her Rourkeism style..  Fortunately RRCD agreed and Nancy was up for the challenge.  She researched the history of RRCD and drafted some sketches and revised with feedback from RRCD President Teddy and Rob.She then went to a top paint store for advise on primer and type of paint and color matching.  As soon as Nancy landed in Rochester, NY she went straight to the RRCD to see the wall and project the sketch onto the wall for outlining.  She realized the dimensions for the door hadnt been given in advance and she had to decide what she would do for the door.She mused on that for a few ideas – asking folks their thoughts as she went along.


ASL Roc by Nancy Rourke

Everyday for one week (except when Nancy had other commitments like giving a Rourkeism workshop at to maximum security prison with Deaf prisoners and giving a workshop with RSD middle school and high school students or presenting at NTID), Nancy was hard at work on the mural – rising by 5 am and ending her day by 11 pm. Other volunteers worked very hard committing long hours and sore backs and knees for this community mural (thank you each and all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)


See the video (2nd from the bottom – to see Nancy explain each section of mural and see the bottom video for some specs and more pix)


Photo by Laurie R. Monahan

The RRCD Mural was unveiled to the public on the last day of RDAW (October 2, 2016) and the crowd was in awe of the design, colors, message and hardwork.  The unplanned for door design ended up being a happy accident as Nancy quickly decided to have the ASL Roc artwork be a central part of the door and then added three other De’VIA motifs: a tree stump to represent a foundation and long life to show that the RRCD has had a long life, a heart to show that the RRCD is one of the pillars of the Deaf Community and thus the HEART of ASL Deaf people of Rochester, and blood flow to illustrate that the life blood of Rochester’s Deaf community is ASL which flourishes and grows and spreads at the Deaf Club – RRCD.









Below: Video of Rob Tawney introducing the Rochester Recreation Club of the Deaf (RRCD) mural during Rochester Deaf Awareness Week (RDAW) – designed by Nancy Rourke and painted by Nancy Rourke and community members.

Below: Video of Photos of the RRCD mural-a-making process during Rochester Deaf Awareness Week (RDAW).

We Stand w/ YOU NTID/RIT students


Latinx child’s hand signing “STAND” on a tree trunk

So the students of NTID/RIT have been schooling the administration, faculty and staff on a lot of important concepts and realities like social justice, intersectionalities, language access, safe space, White fragility, microaggression and more.

as an alumni of NTID – #istandwithyou
#NTIDAlumniKnow #AlumniStandWithNTID
niCare #NTIDAlumniGotYourBack #EnoughIsEnoughNTID #WakeUpNTID #NTIDconvocation #NTIDConvocation2016 #DeafEd

as a faculty member of NTID – #istandwithyou
#NTIDfacultyknow   #facultyStandWithNTID   #NTIDfacultyCare #NTIDFacultyGotYourBack #EnoughIsEnoughNTID #WakeUpNTID #NTIDconvocation #NTIDConvocation2016 #DeafEd


detail of Nancy Rourke painting – hands signing “STAND” and other hand with bent ring finger for Nepali sign for “Deaf”

thank u for teaching us and for not giving up.  Keep standing

See the results of a survey students conducted at the NTID Convocation on November 19, 2016:
(go to the Stripeticle Newsletter and scroll down for the full story and video and picture of students taking to the stage in a peaceful protest)

Survey Conducted at NTID Convocation

Question: Do you feel CONFIDENT that the administrators fully listen to your concerns and is doing their best to solve these concerns in the community’s best interest?


YES= 94

Both/unsure= 6

NO= 77



YES= 8

NO = 72



YES = 7

NO = 5


Adm (administrators)

YES = 8

Blank = 1

This is a significantly high vote of no confidence –
90% of the students at the convocation voted NO CONFIDENCE in the administration
43% of the staff/faculty voted NO CONFIDENCE

this is a H U G E red flag to the administration that changes need to be MADE – not just talked about.

What are the issues:
lack of faculty of color
lack of knowledge of intersectionality and privilege by the faculty and administration
communication access
fully understanding, recognizing and utilizing ASL as a language of instruction
and more
i aint in facebook but i assume Ebony Club, Communication Access Now (CAN), NTID Student Congress (NSC), Deaf International Student Association and Deafblind students letters are shared some where out there in FB. Students have been lobbying hard and justly on these issues since 2015 – many of these issues have been around for a long long long time.
methinks we ought not to repeat bad history and instead heed the wisdom Jesse Jackson shared in his letter to another group of protesting Deaf students
to see the full letter go to:

the students are asking that we truly understand them. methinks it is understandable why they think that we do not since so many of us dont even know as much as the students currently do.  They have progressed ahead of many of us in the quest for equality for all.  would that we heed their hearts and words and work WITH them for equality of condition and affective education.

see the video below for an awesome collection of amazing NTID/RIT alumni supporting the students – it made me weepy as i know so many of these good folks.  See, the current students and graduates (recent and from many moons ago) have much to teach us. Would that we learn.

Stand on NTID – #istandwithyouNTID

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