Thursday, July 10, 2008

DBC's Position on Cochlear Implants... Still Waiting.

In April, ASL-CI Community wrote an email to the founders of Deaf Bilingual Coalition (DBC) asking them if they had a position on cochlear implants. We support ASL/English bilingualism, and we were wondering how DBC planned to address the issue of deaf children and cochlear implants in a bilingual classroom.
Although our original email was addressed to DBC founder John Egbert, we got a response saying that our email was forwarded to DBC Nation Core Team, which John Egbert is also a member of.

It has been more than 2 months and we are still waiting for them to let us know their stance on bilingual education for children with cochlear implants.

Email to the DBC Founders and committee on April 24, 2008:

To: John Egbert (founder/Minnesota),
Jill Lestina (Indiana chapter),
Kristen Weiner (California chapter)

Good morning,
We hope we have reached the right people involved in DBC. Please feel free to forward this to the appropriate people within DBC. We represent the ASL-Cochlear Implant community blog. To put a long story short, we would love to put DBC on our blogroll and advocate for all deaf children to learn ASL-English from birth. But we are unsure about the position of DBC on cochlear implants.

For instance, DBC Indiana's vlog by Jill Lestina, we thought was absolutely wonderful. Being Pro-ASL from birth is our position as well. However, some DBC members mentioned that, in the "search" for Deafhood, one needs to let go of hearing aids, cochlear implant processors, iPods for example. We do not fully support that, because we support each individual's personal decision to use or not use a cochlear implant, and we hold the same position for parents in deciding to implant their child or not. Our message remains the same - regardless of the tool you have on your head, learn, embrace, and use ASL :)

So, we would like for you to share your position when it comes to cochlear implants. Thanks!

ASL-CI Users and Parents of ASL-CI Users
Response from DBC dated April 24, 2008:

Thank you, ASLCI Community, very much for getting in touch with us. We truly appreciate your effort to communicate with us.

I have forwarded your kind message to the DBC Nation Core Team, which John Egbert is also a part of for he is the amazing founder of DBC.

Yours for Bilingualism,
DBC CA/Nation


Adam said...

One point to make and then one question:

The point:

You mention that some DBC members said that Deafhood requires letting go of auditory devices and stuff like that. Those statements appear to be from DBC members, not DBC itself, so maybe they weren't speaking for DBC. Also, DBC isn't Deafhood at all. Yes, many of the Deafhood facilitators are also involved in DBC but they really are not the same thing.

And then the question:

Why does DBC need a position on CIs? They're focused on promoting ASL-English bilingualism. Auditory devices don't have anything to do with bilingualism--all Deaf children, whether they use a CI, hearing aid, iPod, or nothing at all, should learn ASL and English. In this case, having a position on CI is moot because it doesn't affect their mission at all. I think their hope is to transcend the "should children be implanted or not?" issue and focus on language, which does not discriminate among those who use CIs and those who does not.

Having said this, you're right, a real response from then would have been polite.

Anonymous said...

Four of the DBC leaders are agianst c.i.. Two have neutral about c.i.

They won't tell true fact. Ask old DBC people

Paul said...

::scratching head::

Why should ASL/CI ask that question? Can't they read between the lines?

It is obvious what DBC is all about. I do not think it has anything to do with CI.

Anyhow, the premium issue is accepting ASL itself!

Everyone from deaf schools to individuals with variety of uses (CI, speech, etc) continue to use ASL.

I can tell you my position on CI - CI is like snake oil to some people. It may work for some, but not for everyone.

After 24 years, it is same story. Everyone uses ASL regardless.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting. Sounded like the DBC I knew. They are very unorganized simply because they are not a legal organization. Watch my vlog or blog at

I am also puzzled about it because I was part of DBC core group when you sent them a letter but for some reason I never saw it or heard about it. It made me wonder what else was going on over there without my consent. This is what happens when you do not have by-laws and recorded minutes.

For your information, I know that DBC's core members are the same group members of Deafhood Foundation. I have seen them talk about CI issues. They are totally against it but yet they knew it would be unpopular if they said it outloud. That is what I know. I now feel ashamed to be part of DBC after what happened in Milwaukee.

Believe me, ASL-Cochlear Implant Community have much more support from people than DBC does. If I were you I would not lend any credibility to DBC by asking them the question. At the same time I am glad you wrote them a letter and waited 2 months. It showed exactly who they are. Ignorant people with no ethics and due process. Enough said.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, Dr. Hocokan.

It's very bad ethnic.

Problem: No voting Powers.
No By-laws.
No Tax Citizens.

I tried to enter DBC Facts, Dr. Hocokan, I do not have a blog account. You did well in DBC Facts.

White Ghost

Anonymous said...


ASL-English bilingualism includes spoken English, and one way to access spoken English is via cochlear implants. How can DBC NOT have a position on cochlear implants?

I think the question here is not making DBC take a position on whether children should be implanted.

The question here is DBC's definition of bilingualism. How do children with cochlear implants fit in a ASL/English bilingual approach at home, school and life in general?

If DBC is all for ASL and English monomodal bilingualism (written form only), then one can assume this means DBC does not endorse the use of spoken English, therefore deaf children with cochlear implants do not fit in this picture.

If DBC is for ASL and English bimodal bilingualism, that means ASL along with spoken English and written English, and deaf children with cochlear implants fit in this picture.

But we all know that organizations that sidestep or set aside relevant issues are actually siding with the oppressor. In this case, the oppressors are anti-CI/AVT/speech/spoken English folks.

Valerie said...

I really appreciate what the ASL-Cochlear implant community is doing. In my 39 years of deafness, I have found 3 facts:
1. There will always be others who believe their way is the right way.
2. There will always be others who have no idea what is going on.
and finally
3. There will always be groups who want to bridge the gaps between the two.

I have learned that it does not matter what the DBC, NAD, or AgBell believe. Neither of these groups will full support the issue of cochlear implants to each individual's choice. Instead of trying to have the group change there views, I believe in not supporting the group. I don't believe in a false blanket comment to tell me they approve my choice. This organization has a history of support to deafhood and with that it will not support cochlear implants. So instead of getting frustrated with them, move on and know you are doing the best for your child.

JD said...


You have good senses. You are right in saying, "In this case, having a position on CI is moot because it doesn't affect their mission at all." The MISSION is ASL for all Deaf children, CI or not.

It is apparent to me that for some reasons some Deaf people who thought they were "rejected" by DBC decided they have to attack DBC to protect their egos. Imaginary rejection is powerful and can make people go crazy.


Anonymous said...

We definitely need to hear from DBC core members on this, and even then, they probably will just spin to please the masses.

Good leaders will come out and clear up any myth pronto. Even if DBC members are saying something that others will view as not being the message that DBC core members are saying, DBC core members are not coming out to clear things up. They are staying in the background and keeping mum about it all.

That action speaks louder than words and only serves to disintegrate the integrity of that movement and reveals a lot more than what the members are saying.

We are constantly seeing DBC supporters coming out and defending DBC when it should be the other way around, i.e. leaders coming out with answers.


K.L. said...

If DBC supports ASL for all deaf babies, then to be practical, then absolutely NEED to address the CI questions. Here is why;
Your primary audience are hearing parents. You tell them that they need to add ASL to whatever methodology they are currently using. Their first question will be "How do we do that?" If you cannot SHOW them how to combine ASL with the oral options, they won't take it any farther.

In order to get the message across, the message needs to be accompanied by practical advice, and nonjudgemental understanding of the oral methods available.

Native ASL/CI parent and child said...


The core members do NOT have an inkling of how to answer the letter from the ASLCI comnity. Why? No one have cochlear implants and all of them are anti CI and anti oralism. Period!

What they need if they want their organizaton to be geared towards parents like you and me, they need to have an audiologis and or/slp on their team to give them guidance.

For my CI child, he has roughly 70 percent spoken language and 30 percent ASL in the classroom. 100% spoken language during AVT/speech therapy time. works WELL for him.

Advice for all parents, deaf or hearing, of CI children... Hands and Voices is the organization for you to go to to get an unbiased, accurate, professional advice and support on how to integrate AVT and ASL for your child.

DBC is NOT the organization if you want ASL and speech/AVT for your CI baby or child!

DBC is definitely the organization if you want to learn about ASL and written English blilngualism. Certainly there are some people who are trained in that and this approach does wonders for a deaf child without CI or if CI and the auditory aspect is not working for him.

Anonymous said...

How can it be possibly fair to expect DBC to respond if there is no name from the ASL/CI organization? The letter is not professional to begin with so I don't blame DBC for not following up since there is no name to represent ASL/CI community. It will be like talking to a ghostwriter so where is the credibility in this letter of request? I would recommend you to try again and this time with a name.

Anonymous said...

Did the ASL-Chochlear Implant Community write a letter to AGB and ask for its position on ASL rights of deaf babies?

Did you ask for the funds from AGB to be spent to advocate ASL Rights for deaf babies? it s not totally fair for you to keep on attacking on DBC if you dont attack on AGB related to ASL rights.
Is it safe for you to attack ur own community rather than hearing people?

Anonymous said...

Now you will know:

Li-Li's Mom said...

Hey ASL/CI: you posed a great question, one I really want an answer to, as well. Up to this point I've been a supporter of DBC, with great hopes that they would in turn develop into a strong supporter of our bilingual approach. But recent events have me concerned that instead of an organization focused on making ASL accessible to our family and part of our educational opportunities, DBC is really just an anti-AGBell protest group, with a strong underlying anti-CI message.

And that's something I can't get behind.

Someone asked if this question had been asked of AGBell. But they do have a stated position on ASL (one I've seen in practice, as well) and do provide resources and legislation. I had previously been discouraged that AGBell didn't promote ASL + spoken English as actively as it does AVT. But AGBell today -- regardless of what educational methods they've supported, promoted, or opposed in the past that may have swayed parents in their educational choices -- provides options for and respects a wide variety of communication methods (, including the ASL + English route my family is using.

So what exactly is DBC protesting when they go up against AGBell rather than working with AGBell to complement the resources available? Is it the history and name, or the support of multiple communication options? Neither seems like a good use of effort.

I'm beginning to see that in comparison with organizations such as DBC and even NAD, AGBell actually provides real support and resources -- not just rhetoric and powerpoint slides stating that a particular methodology is necessary. It's powerful enough to make a legislative and educational impact, not just to convene people on sidewalks holding up signs. It's developed relationships with major corporations, governmental agencies, academic institutions, and grassroots parents' groups enabling them to provide research and a far-reaching impact, not just a form email response that a committee of 1 is looking into our concerns.

DBC could be putting those sidewalk-standing, sign-card-holding, political-intrigue-building energies to work in the direction I thought they were heading when they started promoting Amy Cohen Efron's wonderful work, pointing out the benefits of ASL AND spoken English for our CI kids. DBC could develop early intervention programs that give parents guidance on bringing ASL into a hearing family and set up models for child care situations for infants and toddlers that incorporate ASL immersion not available in the typical hearing home or in more traditional day care environments. They could work with brilliant educators like TLC's Nancy Vincent who have pioneered successful parent-infant programs in which deaf, aided (HAs, CIs, BAHAs) deaf, SODAs (and their parents) thrive and learn. Instead of focusing on adults who are grieving over their lost educational opportunities ( a valid need, but not one that synchs with a mission to educate children ), they could be working with public broadcasting channels to develop more childrens' programming integrating sign, work with writers and illustrators to create more books with signing characters, work with audiology programs to develop curricula that includes ASL as well as AVT for those who will be working with our children. And pre-K is just the start, there's so much more to be done in early education. Kendall is sending advisors into great programs like PSD and TLC: work with the bilingual-bicultural schools to develop brilliant models that can then be brought into traditionally TC or oral schools.

That's what I'm looking for in an organization, a way to make an ASL + spoken English education an opportunity for my profoundly deaf, CI-wearing 2YO who both signs and speaks. And please add my name to that email of yours, if just having a name is the only hold-up in getting a response.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I am so sorry to learn of the chain of events that has occurred before, during, and after DBC. I just saw Barry Sewell's DBC Facts and the vlogs he made along with the scanned conversations between the core members.

Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am a Deaf mother to a Deaf girl. She has a CI and signs fluently. Bilingualism played a big role in my upbringing. I had two college educated Deaf parents who advocated for true bilingualism and were open to speech therapy, hearing aids, and mainstreaming for me and my siblings. I am doing the same for my daughter.

This blog by the ASL-CI community validated my feelings about some of the people in the core group. Last spring I witnessed one of them say they will absolutely not allow CI or auditory training in bilingual deaf education that is being proposed for the state of California. I responded by saying how would the majority of the deaf children be appropriately served if this is to happen? Just close the doors in their faces? This has never left my mind ever since.

Barry Sewell has eloquently explained in his vlogs abut what bilingual education should look like and has proven to us that he is a true Deaf bilingual advocate. He has my respect!

I am genuinely disappointed in some of my own cherished Deaf people. Lets hope for an oganization DBC or not arise from the ashes with a banner that says bilingualism for all Deaf babies (with no mention that AGB is a horrible organization or any mockery about drilling holes in Deaf babies' skulls).

Venting done.

Anonymous said...

Don't hold your breath. DBC won't answer because they are dead against CIs. DBC/Deafhood has turned militant.

starrynight said...

I like that letter. It s too bad that DBC hasn't answered. I didn't realize that most of DBC core members were anti-CI. It is probably not worth our time and energy trying to collaborate with DBC. We have to move on and do our best for our children.

Anonymous said...

I note that someone mentioned that four of the DBC leaders are against the CI while two are neutral. In ANY event of leadership, you are to remain neutral regardless of your own personal opinion to keep the organization UN-biased. Because this organization is biased with CI's this makes it "letting go of CI's and hearing aids" completely legitimate. Is that the reason this organize was put up? The purpose was to focus on ASL and Bilingualism. How did CI's and hearing aids get in the picture if the person is already focused on the same issues?

It sounds as if, if a person is using a CI/hearing aid, they aren't allowed or shouldn't promote ASL and Bilingualism. Both ASL-CI Community and DBC are advocating the same things so why is DBC supposed to be so supercilious to everything?

This is like some weird "cult" or something being taken over by those who want to voice and follow their own opinions. Like DPPH was original ONLY for Deaf Professional (meaning graduated students with careers) Happy Hour but now it's ruined. Most of the past members that I know, no longer attend because now you have freshman and people doing stupid things and crashing the party. The intent was t met professionals working and stay in touch, not for freshmen to come mingle with the big boys.

Someone needs to clear up what DBC was intended for before a member passes along the wrong information. So far the information I have is basically saying that since I myself have a cochlear implant, I would not be accept by DBC because they are against it.

John Mans said...


Why not, do you try to ask AGBell's positon on ASL? It would be prefect for you. AGBell has very strong positon on " hear and talk" and could have add new positon on ASL too. It would apply to Deaf child, who have CI.

Anonymous said...

@ John Mans:

Currently, AGBell promotes ASL among 5 successful communication options available to deaf children: See . On their site, there are scores of results when searching for American Sign Language, including support for those fighting for the right to use manual languages, fighting for ASL-using employees rights, guides for including ASL in a child's IEP and information about obtaining interpreter support for ASL users, as well as a link to NAD, in deference to their role as the primary support service for ASL users.

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