Friday, February 22, 2008

Understanding AG Bell and why Deaf people view them as enemies

Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) is the world's largest membership organization focusing on the use of spoken language by individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. Majority of the members are usually parents of children with hearing loss and professionals (e.g., audiologists, speech-language pathologists, physicians, psychologists, and researchers). It is unclear what percentage (%) of the members are those individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. Two primary focuses of AG Bell are oral-speech and hearing technology (e.g., hearing aids, cochlear implants, and assistive listening devices). I am aware that most audiologists do not know sign language when meeting with deaf individuals. The AG Bell also have "The AG Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language" which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the delivery of comprehensive services to children and adults who are deaf or hard-of-hearing through the certification of professionals who work with these individuals.

So far, according to their past history (i.e. Pepsi commercial), AG Bell have proven that they are against American Sign Language (ASL) and not willing to work with other deaf individuals and organzations who support ASL.

Why?

This goes back to 1883 in Alexander Graham Bell's book "Memoir Upon the Formation of a Deaf Variety of the Human Race" which was submitted to the National Academy of Sciences. Bell argued, with breathtaking hubris, that to avoid this calamity, we must "commence our efforts on behalf of the deaf-mute by changing his social environment" (p. 46). Residential schools, where most Deaf children acquired language, identity, and a life partner, should be closed and Deaf people educated in small day schools. Sign language should be banished; Deaf teachers fired. Bell's Memoir received wide newspaper coverage. Bell's actions led many to believe that there would be, or already were, laws prohibiting Deaf marriage. There was much consternation among Deaf people contemplating marriage. Some hearing parents of Deaf children chose to have their children sterilized. Also in a 1912 report from Bell's eugenics section of the Breeders' Association cites his census of blind and Deaf persons and lists "socially unfit" classes to "be eliminated from the human stock" (American Genetic Association, 1912, p. 3).

Why many deaf people do not want to be a member of AG Bell's organzation? AG Bell’s public relations often using lobbyists and lobbyist groups to promote their causes that are often well-funded. The Alexander Graham Bell Association is using their multi-million-dollar budget to tell parents of deaf children to deny Deaf children the opportunity to learn American Sign Language at a young age when it was important. When I was a deaf child, I wished I knew how to communicate even when I can't hear and speak. At least, I got a start in communication skills in my "mind" regardless how I communicate. I do NOT like AG Bell's ideology that denies children with hearing loss the opportunity to develop their cognitive skills at a young age and getting a late start "socially".

I had a very late start "socially" and by the time I was a teenager, I was still behind time "socially" and didn't like it at all. During my teenage years, I worked hard to over-come that once I understood my main problems. When I was younger, I didn't realized it until I became "aware" of my weaknesses.

At least, I over-came and I am happy. However, I do not want any deaf children to go through that as I did. Parents needs to start working their child's cognitive skills at a very early age whether through signing until or "IF" they have "hearing cability" and "start to learn to listen the engish language". What happens if a child will not be able to hear after surgeries and other avenues? If a deaf child learned sign language before speaking, they will learn faster and will be able to "over-come" their social skills quickly.

Can you tell that I am still mad at AG Bell? LOL

7 comments:

tayler said...

Right on, Jim!

When AGB proposed the "Memoir Upon the Formation of a Deaf Variety of the Human Race", it didn't come without the raging objection of deaf people.

AGB then said "The memoir was addressed to the highest scientific body in the land, and the language used is therefore probably beyond the comprehension of a large proportion of the deaf". (Page 4 of Chasing Aleck: A Story of a Dorm; The Public Historian)

He thought so lowly of deaf people. There you have it, more reason why we hate AGB.

tayler said...

Right on, Jim!

When AGB proposed the "Memoir Upon the Formation of a Deaf Variety of the Human Race", it didn't come without the raging objection of deaf people.

AGB then said "The memoir was addressed to the highest scientific body in the land, and the language used is therefore probably beyond the comprehension of a large proportion of the deaf". (Page 4 of Chasing Aleck: A Story of a Dorm; The Public Historian)

He thought so lowly of deaf people. There you have it, more reason why we hate AGB.

LISA EMRICH said...

I find this topic somewhat fascinating. Remember my student K.? Well yesterday she began telling me a story which was getting kind of long and her mother (to speed her up) both signed and said for her to get to the point. Here is a young girl (with cochlear implant) who does communicate primarily by speech/hearing, but whose parents choose to speak/sign with her. I appears to me that the signing sometimes is used very much in the same way a parent might use their 'stern' voice to get a child's attention. Fascinating indeed - while it's all part of communicating.

DeafRoger said...

BEAUTIFULLY presented!! That is EXACTLY the message that needs to get out.

I did feel the last sentence is actually unnecessary.. I didnt even get the sense that you were "MAD" because you weren't ranting or making nonsensical points..

You were but more of pointing out the shortcomings of AG Bell's belief that the focus needs to be on having Deaf children speak/hear.. and denying them language that is paramount in their success as human beings..

Children with Deaf parents learn sign first and still learn to speak just fine..

And you used the appropriate name AG Bell too! :) (I vlogged about not using the term AGBAD)

Your blog post really brightened up my afternoon.. usually posts like this is such a downer but you expressed yourself so well I cant help but be happy that the message is getting out the RIGHT WAY!

Cheers!
Roger

Ridor said...

Wrong. It did not start in 1883. It started waay before that. In 1880, the Milan Conference in Milan, Italy was the one where AG Bell came to propose to forbid sign language at deaf schools and systemically removing deaf teachers.

It happened way before 1883.

R-

RLM said...

Dr. Fay of National Deaf-Mute College (Gallaudet College/University) did dispute AGB's findings with another publication. I could not remmy the title of Fay's book. Fay was hearing himself.

AGB hid his other findings about the so-called herditary deafness which he don't want anyone to know that the false claims about the high percentages of deaf people having deaf babies.

Robert L. Mason (RLM)
RLMDEAF blog

RLM said...

I looked up the Gallaudet Archives Timeline - http://www.archies.gallaudet.edu/Timeline.htm for Dr. Edward Allan Fay's publication which rebutted against AGB's claims four years later with the metholodgical data collection of 4,471 deaf couples -
"Marriages of the Deaf" (1889).

Fay found the higher percentage of deaf couples had deaf children, but not what AGB espoused the alarming rate of deaf babies produced by deaf people.

RLM