Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dark Age of Deaf Oralism

In earlier years (late 1800's and early 1900's), Oralist supporters took control of the schools for the deaf, forcing deaf teachers out of the profession, refusing to hire deaf persons, and trying their best to eradicate sign language by outlawing it. In the last 40 years, oralists have failed. However, Oralist supporters often support AGBell that kept them very well-organized and well-funded, have been more powerful and influential than the Deaf community. Over the years, regardless of funding, Deaf advocates with full hearts and passions fought back bravely and preserved American Sign Language. In the past, many Deaf people considered "Oralism" is a form of a child abuse or neglect but today, many of them don't see it that way. There has been a passionate struggle as to what is the best communication method for a deaf child. Many parents of deaf children have the extremely difficult task of deciding what communication method is best. Who is "wrong" and who is "right" really is not the issue. What may be the more important issue is what choice seems to make sense for the child and what seems to be an appropriate choice for the family at the "current moment". Even though I started "late", I am NOT one of those deaf Oralists who refuses to learn sign language because I did and was able to fit into my local Deaf culture. Hearing-loss and Deaf people have their own language, their own social interaction, their own educational identity, and their own political views. Members of the Deaf Community are very unique and differ in many ways, there are some general commonalities. For the Deaf, American Sign Language (ASL) is the preferred mode of communication while Oralists prefer to speak and lip-read but not always the case. Because, there have been many stories and books written by Deaf adults (oralists) who have felt cheated by not being exposed to the Deaf Community or sign language when they were growing up.

We just need to consider the deaf child's future and their identity more carefully, that's all I am saying.


Gallaudet Protest Legal Issues said...

Actually, I believe even AG Bell has abandoned oralism (visual lipreading). That's why they switched to AVT, which technically is not oralism. It's more like "hard-of-hearing-ism."

Jim said...

To me, that is still related to "oralism" because we are in today's technologies. I don't like the term "hard of hearing(ism).

Gallaudet Protest Legal Issues said...

I don't like the term either, but I think that's what AVT is. It's like they want to take beautiful birds who can fly and force them to use wheelchairs.

Jim said...

Now.. I agree with that kind of reasoning and thinking of what AVT is.

David Ennis said...

Please don't forget that AGB and Pure Oralists dont focus only on the removal of ASL and the firings of Deaf teachers but they involved in politics that led to pass the sterialization laws that applies to Deaf children in 30 states.

Secondly, they tried to pass the law that bans both deaf couple to get married but AGB changed his mind to drop it.

Thirdly, Also in the early 1930's, they influenced in some State politics that refused giving car licences to Deaf drivers but Deaf protesters with NAD fought it back and won it.

Whenever, I look at the picture of AGB, my mind of AGB suddenly refers to Adolf Hitler.