Sunday, June 29, 2008

DBC and AGB positions on ASL and CIs

Please click here to see Alexander Graham Bell Association (AGB) and Deaf Bilingual Coalition (DBC)'s position on ASL and cochlear implants... or see below for the full URL:

Karla Gunn said it best- children with CIs can still learn ASL. However I was a little concerned when I read Ella Mae Lentz's remarks about CIs and repeating outdated information that only a small percentage of deaf children benefit from CIs. It seemed as if she was speaking on Deaf Bilingual Coalition's behalf, and making it seem as if its ASL versus CI when it could be ASL and CI.


Amy said...

Amen! That is what I am concerned about. It is not about CI vs. ASL.

That is the 'framing' I did not want to see, it just drives many parents away.

CI are here to stay, and we need to make ASL as an attractive option to the bilingual model for the deaf child.

Adding ASL comes with tremendous benefits, and it does not impede English (spoken, reading and written), it makes a deaf child to develop a very strong auditory and visual pathways, and become bi-modal and bilingual!

Hearing babies are encouraged to learn sign language (baby signs) early and they truly benefit from that supported by research.

It is ironic that increasing number of babies getting implanted and receiving auditory verbal therapy, but not giving an opportunity to be exposed to ASL (sign language), just because of their concerns of 'recruitment' issues. It is not proven by hard research.

Empirical findings from AVT therapists who worked with young deaf babies who had exposed to baby signs, their progress is MUCH faster than other deaf babies who have not been exposed to signs.

What does that tell you?

I believe every deaf babies get the maximum language acquisition using both senses (auditory and visual) and that will enriches their awareness in their environment.

Amy Cohen Efron

Anonymous said...

No, no. You are placing your own interpretation of Ella's words that she (Ella) herself did not intend.

The second quote from Ella is not talking about CI's. It's talking about focusing on speech.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Lentz's comments are laced with words like audism, racism, and with the erroneous perception that "only a small percentage of deaf people are successful at [speech]" based on rather outdated research. Those negative comments are going to be misread or misinterpreted by anxious hearing parents trying to sort thru information on deafness and the different communication modes for their deaf child.

Lentz failed to mention the positive aspects of bilingualism, which is central to DBC's mission. Someone missed the boat on public relations for DBC. Even though the organization is just shy of a year old, DBC's public image needs a major overhaul by weaning out the negative, politicizing rhetoric. Its focus should be on educating the public about the advantages of the bilingual option for deaf youngsters' language acquisition and education, regardless of CI/ hearing aids or not.

Comments like audism being equated with racism, for example, are more suitable to other organizations such as NAD which have more political/ legal agendas.


Anonymous said...

The newspaper writers cannot be controlled. They can pick and choose quotes from a long interview.

There's nothing wrong with what Ella did and nobody missed any boats. There already is a strong emphasis on bilingualism. Check on the June 6 press release.

Anonymous said...

public relations is what it is... public...and relations with the public.

ella (and possibly other DBC members) obviously need public relations training -

regardless of how long an interview is, it should never include negative rhetoric, period.

it's time for DBC to come clean on their position when it comes to cochlear implants.

AL said...

Speaking of DBC's position on CIs, I checked the DBC website and found one reference to CIs in the testimonials webpage- and it was a negative one, from a hearing parent who opted not to "drill a hole" in her deaf child's head. If there is anything else about CIs on the DBC website, please let us know.

Anonymous said...

YES! It should not be CI vs ASL. That is so ridiculous!!!!
A kid with a CI could either go purely oral, go TC, or ASL.

A CI is for the profoundly deaf as a hearing aid is for the hard of hearing and those with functional residual hearing. It is just that t he prfoundly deaf can enjoy sound as a hardof hearing child whether at a residential school for the Deaf or in the mainstream.

Now about Ella. I know her personally. On a very personal level. I choose to stay anonymous because of the fact that we know each other and both of our families know each other. She is her own person with a strong personality. I like her as a person a lot. I do not like some of her views. Most of them pertainng to CI are just myth. Pure myth. I do knw why she's saying things like CI does not help most of deaf children. You know why too.

Ella is Ella. She is like Louis Farrakhan. He is loved by many and hated by many. He is a militant and anti-white. Ella is militant and anti-hearing. She sees through the eyes of a cultural Deaf, in other words, she sees Deafness as a race (her own words). That is okay! This is America, we re entitled to our own opinions.

It is just too bad DBC is becoming an entity other than it claims to say it is. Oh well, One day I look forward to an organization that advocates the marriage between sign languages (ASL, FSL, LSM, SEE, Cued, SimCom, etc) and CI.

ALCI, you are progressive, you do not bash AGB. You have earned my respect!

Readers, just do not worry about Ella and her gang. They are Louis Farakhan and his followers. Just let them be.

AL said...

Actually I do disagree with AGB's stance on ASL. As an organization, they have done a lot to damage ASL's credibility in the hearing community. I support DBC's mission to have all deaf babies learn ASL, but I am concerned about their stance on CIs.

Native ASL/CI parent and child said...


AGB is just an organization where parents seek for oral education support. If they want to seek for sign language plus CI/AVT support, they could probably turn to Hands and Voices for further referaal. AGB would give them the signlang referral, no problem!

What we really need is a Deaf bilingual organization that advocates ASL with or without CI. I was totally on my own researchig what would be the best program for my CI child as there were NO organization that advocated BOTH ASL and CI with AVT support. There is still NO organization YET !!!

AL said...

Quotes from an online newspaper about the AGB convention:

--Murphy stressed that the convention had provided sign language interpreters and had exhibition booths devoted to American Sign Language.

"A.G. Bell's position is that we're not against sign language," she said. "We're for choices."--

I'm glad to see that AGB is reaching out to ASL users, and I hope that DBC will do the same.

Native ASL/CI parent and child said...


You are right on target. AGB Convention also attracts deaf adults. I attended one some time ago. People were friendly and respectful that I needed an interpreter. There, I learned so much what my child needed.

DBC, I honestly doubt they'll be flexible considering the fact that the core members are anti-CI. I can understand their experience as an oppressed minority.

For DBC to gain credibility and support, they must stop all the negative publicity about cochlear implants.

Deb Ann said...

Amy says it very well :)

K.L. said...

This is such an important topic. On the surface, I fully embrace what DBC stands for, but scratch the surface, and it seems to be anti CI at every turn. It is sad to see their actions not match their words.

I also would like to see AGBell try to reach out to the people who feel damaged by them in the past. The healing would go a long way.

This isn't a war, and it should not be treated as one.

Native ASL/CI parent and child said...


Oh wow, yes, love ur idea of AGB reaching over to the deaf masses with an apology for their past wrongdoings.

The US Government did that for the Native Americans and African Americans.

IamMine said...

Native ASL/CI parent and child -

Ah, when pigs fly... ;)

But I do agree that they need to do that...

Just ain't going to happen.

raychelle said...

Agreed and excellent analogy there with the Native Americans.

Here's my two cents... there are extremists within an organization,

for instance, 24/7 AVT proponents, and members vying for a total ban of ASL

and members who are against tools such as CI's, iPods, hearing aids and would encourage people not to use them and/or to remove these because of their "audist" message.

To send a consistent and a clear message, it's important for an organization to make available to their own members and the masses a position paper.

I know NAD has a position paper on cochlear implants, although, outdated since it was last approved in 2000.

On the AGB website, under "communication options" you'll see:

"Fortunately, there are several communication options and success stories tied to each one. Parents typically choose from the following communication options:

Auditory/Oral Method
Auditory-Verbal Method
Cued Speech Method
American Sign Language (Bilingual/Bicultural)
Total Communication Method

The auditory/oral, Auditory-Verbal and cued speech methods all make up a larger spoken language approach to communicating. For information about educational programming for children pursuing forms of manual communication, (i.e., Bilingual-Bicultural or Total Communication), contact the National Association of the Deaf or the American Society for Deaf Children."

And when you click on ASL, the AGBell website says:

"American Sign Language is a manual communication method taught as a child's primary language, with English taught as a second language. American Sign Language is recognized as a true language in its own right and does not follow the grammatical structure of English. This method is used extensively within the Deaf community, a group that views itself as having a separate culture and identity from mainstream hearing society."

I look forward to DBC's position paper on cochlear implants, as well as AGBell's position paper on ASL and bilingualism.

Does anyone know if they have position papers about these topics available online?

Anonymous said...

On the AGB website, under "communication options" you'll see:

American Sign Language(Bilingual/Bicultural)

Early Intervention Best Practice Model you'll see:

c. Bilingual/Bicultural (ASL/ESL),

starrynight said...

I support DBC's mission that all deaf babies should be exposed to sign language but some of the DBC members seem anti-CI and that may make parents uncomfortable. If they have a positive attitude towards CI, then maybe hearing parents would hear them out and consider ASL for their implanted children in addition to their native language, spoken English.

I am a new member of AGBell for learning about spoken language and CIs for my child but that doesn't mean I have to agree with everything they advocate. I advocate both ASL and spoken English for my child. I'm glad to see that they list other communication options including even ASL on their website! I also agree that they should apologize to those who suffered oral/auditory approach in the past.

I'd like to see NAD update their position paper on CIs, too as I ve participated in NAD a number of times. It'd be wonderful to set up a new organization for ASL/spoken English CI users. Perhaps they could be an affiliate of both NAD and AGBell.

Anonymous said...

Hm. One of the points I tend to make is that you want to have all deaf children, implanted or not, learn sign language in tandem with anything else (except, of course, an exclusively AVT program), BECAUSE implants are not 100% successful. Every hearing person that I know, except for a small handful, thinks that CI is a cure for deafness. They are surprised to learn that CI's are more like HA's -- sometimes they work well and sometimes they just don't.

Now, I've been attacked sometimes for being anti-CI, but all I'm doing is pointing out the reality of CI. It isn't a 100% solution and as such you want to be sure you don't create uneccessary problems for the child by denying them early exposure to ASL.

That kind of pragmatic approach seems to make sense to hearing people, even those determined to drag us all into the hearing world. If this angle results in even a few more CI kids getting ASL when they should, then I'll be happy. I was one of those HA kids denied sign language in this SAME DAMN ARGUMENT 40 years ago.