"A*dism makes me feel uncomfortable because it seems to suggest we only care about deaf/hh issues and how we are viewed by non-deaf."He's right, too. And he made a point about the use of "ableism" which he prefers to use because it is more inclusive of people with varying disabilities since many deaf and hard of hearing people do have a secondary disability. Using a*dism made him feel uncomfortable because it seems to suggest that culturally deaf peoople only care about deaf/hh issues only and how we are viewed by non-deaf people without disabilities, even by some hearing people with disabilities as well. Dr. Stern goes on to say that hearing people look at our issues through their lens as hearing people who do not have disabilities which can be problematic. The term "ableism" is more broad and includes all kinds of people with disabilities. The problem is about how people without disabilities who do not take our issues seriously enough. And how they look down on us.
At the 1:23:25 time stamp Dr. Stern commented that we must wake up and support the diversity of deaf people and that one size does not fit all.
I agree. Diversity is important whether a deaf or hard of hearing person signs or not, whether a person can speak and listen or not, or whether a person signs using ASL or SEE. This is exactly what ICED said when they issued a global call to "accept and respect all languages and all forms of communication" in the education of deaf and hard of hearing people. This is a simple and straight-forward if not common sense announcement. Although there are no mentions of how its done or whether one method or approach would be satisfactory enough or the combining with other methods for a more rounder, comprehensive approach would be more suitable. No. Nothing like that. Just that people simply need to accept and respect all languages and all forms of communication when it comes to the education of deaf and hard of hearing people. Short, sweet and to the point. I'd rather embrace diversity than to be play a perennial victim.
In fact, Dr. Sterns' emphasis on recognizing and supporting diversity of deaf and hard of hearing people and that one size does not fit all are very similar to what Dr. Jane K. Fernandes have said in her presentation in 2011 at NTID (National Technical Institute for the Deaf) on the topic of inclusive Deaf Studies where she mentioned about ICED and pointing out how they recognized that the Milan resolution was in error and then she proceeded to discuss respecting all languages and forms of communication. The main thrust of her presentation was that the discipline of Deaf Studies ought to be broadened to include a variety of diverse deaf people outside of Deaf culture and ASL. In short, Deaf Studies should not just be about Deaf culture and ASL but to include people who use SEE, cued speech, oral/auditory approaches, use of hearing aids, cochlear implants, implantable hearing aid, use of technology for improved communication access and so on. That's recognizing diversity in a deaf and hard of hearing society.
At 1:23:42 Dr. Stern pointed out that "I love this quote" and said that he is nervous about his presentation and pointed out that " We have met the enemy and he is us." And used examples of pointing fingers at Oberkotter, Options school and says "be careful" because pointing a finger at them will have more fingers pointing back at you. It's better and easier to change from within than to try and get other organizations to change because that has not been successful. He made a point that "ableism" was a much better use of the word than "a*dism." His main point at the 1:24:39 time stamp was that "our goal and message must be clear" and not become our own worst enemy in helping create a negative perception of themselves when you have people on the outside looking in.
This is what I and others have been saying for years in blogs and vlogs especially when new Deaf grassroots organizations as an "organic society" get formed with an agenda in mind to attack deaf and hard of hearing support organizations do they become their own worst enemy. They focus on a closed society concept rather than an open society concept. In fact, Dr. Stern's presentation seems to point in the direction in favor of an open society concept which certainly raised my eyebrows.
At 1;35:00 Dr Stern pleaded, "Please, keep your eye on the prize. IDEA changes. State issue changes. We support, not against, diversity, one size does not fit all. If we support ASL-only, we'll lose. If we support deaf schools only, we'll lose. Support of deaf children is not about saving our deaf schools. It's about having different options. Diversity of deaf children must have options to choose from such as deaf schools, mainstream schools, even oral programs, doesn't matter. Whatever is the best and right match to place that deaf child. It's more than just about saving our deaf schools."
Exactly. One does not fit all. This ought to be the clearest message of them all recognizing each deaf and hard of hearing child functions and responds differently to stimulation and inputs when it comes to language and communication. Hearing loss range from mild to profound and the fact that hearing technology and other assistive technologies continue to play a huge role on helping find the best and right match to place that deaf or hard of hearing child. It may or may not require the use of hearing technologies but all options and approaches must be considered.
Dr. Ron Stern even said that "Child First is not against oral method at all" and clarified that those who advocate for Oral method only is a challenge. True. The same idea can be said for ASL only. Dr. Stern emphasized on getting the "I" back in IDEA which is an individualized plan based on a child first concept on providing access to language and communication. There were several principles Dr. Stern brought up (with thanks to Gina's input):
- Communication and language is a human and educational right.
- Any language deprivation is disabling where sign language or the spoken language does not matter since the brain does not discriminate and craves input.
- There is no such thing as a one size fit all for deaf and hard of hearing children.
- Make it an individualize approach.
- Provide the necessary access in order for interaction to happen.
- Make sure parents have complete information regarding their deaf/hh child to make an informed decision.
- There are multiple pathways to language learning through eyes and/or ears.
- Family involvement is critical.
As for NAD, I've always considered that organization as good on many levels but see them as horrendously skewed to the side of mostly if not exclusively only culturally deaf people. An organization that is run by culturally deaf people with deaf culture ideals while claiming they represent all deaf and hard of hearing people get a bit far fetched sometimes. Whenever I or others bring that up the usual defense I heard is to throw in the fact that NAD defends and support captioning which is great. But that does not dissuade from the fact that NAD organization does not represent a picture of diversity among all deaf and hard of hearing people on their board. Just a picture of mostly culturally deaf people only.