Saturday, October 23, 2010

Raising our Consciousness about Audism

by Sheri Farinha and Marla Hatrak

John Locke (1632-1704) said, “…new opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they aren’t already common…A solution would be a devotion to freedom of ideas and expressions.”

We would like to assert that, in our community, audism is real.

Recent blogs and vlogs by deaf people claim that the term audism is being overused, or cry false when another author uses the term audist. The perceptions of what audism is and what audism is not vary widely. Although the term, audism, is relatively new, the concept is a practice that has been around for hundreds of years. Granted, labeling every negative feeling about a situation can be problematic, but disregarding complaints about audism can be hurtful. Every situation is worth examining. The term audism helps us to identify situations for what they are, and move toward knowledge and even improving our world.

But first, we need to develop a shared understanding of the term. At this time, when the idea of audism is relatively new, there seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding about what audism is or is not. Realize that the issue is an age-old problem, even if the newness of the term audism is being resisted.

Audism, as coined by Tom Humphries in 1975, is defined as:

“The notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or behave in the manner of one who hears.”

According to Dr. Humphries, audism is “an attitude and belief that people who hear and speak, or have good English are superior. This applies whether the person who hears and speaks is Deaf or Hearing.” (

Interestingly, another definition of audism can be found on website:

“What is audism? A simple definition would be that it is a negative or oppressive attitude towards Deaf people by either deaf or hearing people and organizations, and a failure to accommodate them. People who have audist attitudes are considered to be audist. For example, the refusal or failure to use sign language in the presence of a sign language-dependent person is considered audism.” (

Another definition to share comes from AFA (Audism Free America): “Audism is attitudes and practices based on the assumption that behaving in the ways of those who speak and hear is desired and best. It produces a system of privilege, thus resulting in stigma, bias, discrimination, and prejudice—in overt or covert ways—against Deaf culture, American Sign Language, and Deaf people of all walks of life.” ( )

Using these three definitions of audism, we can see how audism aptly describe the experience in our daily lives interacting with hearing people and deaf people. This is only experienced by people who are deaf – not anyone else - never mind how much they can hear or how well they can speak, or how they choose to communicate.

We want to clear up one important thing: a person’s decision to have a cochlear implant does not make the person audist and by itself, it is not audism. There are people who have CIs, interact mainly within the hearing community but who also are respectful towards deaf people in the deaf community. Cool. We also know folks who have CIs but mainly interact with Deaf people. Cool. Where the line gets crossed is when an individual thinks that, by getting a CI, he or she is now better than deaf people who do not have a CI or who do not “hear and use voice.” In other words - -If you use your ability to hear to put down others who can’t, that’s audism. Not cool.

Every Deaf person is affected by audism, resulting in what’s called “dysconscious audism” and some are more seriously affected than others. Many haven’t had an opportunity to honestly explore the various levels of audism around us and within us. This article is one way to begin this self-reflection and analysis.

There are many layers of audism. It’s important to check within ourselves for the attitude displayed, which may indicate audism as defined above, be it conscious or dysconscious.

Whether it has to do with your experiences on the job, or experiences in your social or family life, there remains a great need to raise our consciousness and show respect for all individuals who are Deaf

We don't think many people realize that those of us who were born to hearing parents and who grew up with a lot of interaction with the hearing community--especially if we were mainstreamed--dealt with audism but didn’t know it at the time.

Many of us have lived through thousands of put-downs and insults by members of the hearing community, whether intentional or unconscious; those types of interactions have left their scars on many of us.

Sheri and I dialogued about our life experiences. Here Sheri lists a few:

In 8th grade, we lived in Ohio for a short time. A hearing boy passed his class ring to others to pass to me during class to ask me to go steady. By the time the ring got to me, I was shocked at the mocking laughter by all students in the class, as if they thought I would take it seriously. "Give it to the Deaf girl.”
When I was in high school I applied for a job at one of the Williams Sonoma stores. They interviewed me and then told me they could not hire me because I was Deaf. I was so upset. Went home and told my Mom. To this day, my family and I refuse to shop there.

Shopping at Macys, another customer approached me upon learning I was Deaf, (because I did not hear the cashier call out "next,") and said to me, "you really should get a CI, then you would not need to use sign language, my daughter’s niece has it and loves it." I felt insulted by her approach toward me as her attitude was one of disdain and impatience; it took a great deal of restraint not to offer my middle finger.

Marla adds:
Dysconscious audism:
When I was a high schooler and a college student, I would look down with disdain those who had poor English skills. It made me feel good I was “not one of those Deaf people with poor English skills.” After I decided it was a very wrong attitude, I have since then always offered to edit deaf people’s English when they wanted their papers in English.

There was a woman at my church who taught my Deaf daughter 4th grade-6th grade Sunday school when my daughter was a 4th grader (my daughter had an interpreter). She was her teacher for a few years. Then she had a baby who they discovered was deaf. My church interpreter informed me, and I invited the family to our house to talk. She did not accept my invitation. I understood at that time why she would not want to meet with me and my family. A few years later, I joined a Community Bible Study that met every week. During my second year, I was surprised to see that woman again in my group. I tried to be pleasant, but she would never make eye contact with me. Never talked with me. Once, she was absent a few weeks, and when she returned, she said hi to every one except me (there was probably ten women in our group). I wanted to run out of the bible study, but I didn’t. To this day, it still hurts, no matter how I try to understand the situation.

In each situation it is very hard to forget it. Triggers, every now and then, bring such stories to the surface. For some people, the experiences take a lifetime to heal. With each situation we could ask ourselves, was it really audism or was it prejudice?

Prejudice is the pre-judging of a situation or person without having all of the facts. Prejudice refers to any unreasonable attitude that is unusually resistant to rational influence. All audism is prejudice, but not all prejudice is audism.

We feel we ALL have the moral responsibility to ensure our deaf community is respectful and to be more conscious of things said or done and to ensure that our actions do not cross the line into audism. We'd like to invite you to join us in this discussion to communally list examples of comments or experiences that are clearly acts of audism and some examples that sound like audism but are not. From this, we hope to see a new checklist developed, to refer to when new situations surface.

People should make sure -- every time they use that word, audism -- it isn’t an accusation. People should, for a while, include a short description of why they think a comment, situation, etc., is audism. This would prevent a rush of judgment when we describe the incident and why we think it is a case of audism.

We hope you can also share your experiences here with us to dialogue and learn about audism vs. prejudice. Our goal is to help our community develop a behavior checklist one can utilize as a self-assessment at some point. This is done in other communities for racism.

Please feel free to participate in this open forum. We ask that you follow the 10 ground rules listed in guidelines provided by NAACP posted on Handeyes site:

Thank you for joining us to do your part to raise consciousness about audism!

Our best, Marla and Sheri

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Deaf Education Scores or Deaf Students' Language Scores?

This is in response to Valhallian’s comment left in my blog posting of “A Response to California Academy of Audiologists’ Opposition to AB2072. His comments were:

“You bring up quite legitimate points. What I am wondering though, is there any way that one could compare test scores between the various communication modes? For example, I would imagine one may be able to acquire various state test scores from various deaf schools? Altho I also understand that some states do not even post the test scores of there state schools for the deaf. If it is proven that ASL-based programs show higher test scores, in reading, math, etc., than other communication modes, then it would be very easy to stand by those results and flaunt them in the legislators faces. Until that happens, unfortunately, odds are that the power of lobbying will go a long ways in determining the direction that legislation goes. I look forward to reading more of your blog postings.”

I did not want to offer my opinions as much as I am tempted to. I promised Valhallian I would make some inquiries and get back to him. Here’s what I learned:

There are too many variables to determine “test scores between the communication options.”

To clarify, the term, “communication options,” is really a misnomer. There are only two languages, American Sign Language (ASL) and oral English. Then there are communication methods like Total Communication and Cued Speech. They are actually tools of oral English.

So, we need to ask how many students have enough “language skills” that when they become Kindergarteners, they are “ready” to learn academically.

In the State of California, deaf students’ scores are a part of special education students’ scores. That means that deaf students’ scores are mixed with autistic, or blind, or developmentally-delayed students’ scores. This is one of the reasons why we are unable to answer your question.

Only through a legislative mandate were we able to cull the 2007 scores that were dismal and heartbreaking. To get the 2010 scores of deaf students would require another legislative mandate.

FACT: only 8% of deaf and 15% hard of hearing children are reading at proficient (grade level) or advanced levels (above grade level).

There are 4000 deaf students and 8000 hard-of-hearing students in the State of California. According to the statistics above, only 320 (out of 4000) deaf students and 1200 hard of hearing (out of 8000) students are reading at grade level or above.

Between California Schools for the Deaf, Fremont and Riverside, there is approximately 1000 students. They receive many “transfer” students from mainstreamed or public schools for a variety of reasons. It is “common” to suggest that state schools for the deaf have become “dumping grounds” for failing students.

Many of those transfer students at ages 12 and older have delayed language development. That would unfairly influence their yearly academic scores.

Private oral schools are small schools, and they are not required to post statistics. If their students were so successful, you would think they would volunteer to post scores. In reality, their successful oral deaf students go to mainstreamed public schools, while their oral-language-delayed students stay in oral private schools or eventually transfer to a deaf school. Their “successful students” could also decide to transfer to schools for the deaf. And their failures do not show in their scores.

Many times have I heard oral deaf students would have sign language interpreters in their classes. I’ve always been baffled how a deaf student could be “oral” and have sign language interpreters in their classes. If they didn’t have their sign language interpreters, would they make it academically?

Again, now, you can see why the scores would not reflect this appropriately. An oral student could be successful because of the sign language interpreter, not the oral language choice.

You get the idea why all of the school scores for deaf students do not show their “true colors” of the schools.

That leaves us with 11,000 DHH students whose language choices we do not know. They are not likely to speak American Sign Language. Nevertheless, the statistics above tell us that most definitely those deaf students have impoverished or delayed language that clearly have effects on their reading scores.

Now, there are only a handful of ASL schools in America.

Again, those schools along with most state schools for the deaf probably get most of their students when they are transferred for a variety of reasons such as failing academically or inadequate social opportunities.

It would require experienced statisticians/researchers to take all of California’s 12,000 deaf students’ scores and analyze them accurately and appropriately.

What we will need to do is to ask for another legislative mandate to confirm that many of our personal opinions that could actually be baseless. Each and every one of us has an “opinion,” (I am equally guilty.) and over the process of doing so, some of those “opinions” have become mis-facts.


Louis D. Brandeis said:

“Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done.”

Friday, September 10, 2010

My daughter's anthology project: Part 2

As promised, here's second part of my daughter's anthology project...I learned a few things from her paper....

Investigative Essay
by Tory Sampson

I did not know that while I was sitting on the carpet listening to Aunt Edna telling her story that I was watching an art form, signed beautifully with humor. "Deaf people have five senses - sight, smell, taste, touch, and sense of humor" (Bienvenu 99). This is certainly true, since most of all the stories, poems, A to Z stories, personal experiences, and many more come from experiences with hearing people that happened to be funny.

For example, a good friend of my mother's related a story about his two deaf parents who were on their honeymoon. Staying at a hotel in the Poconos, the couple made love throughout the night. The next morning, they went down to eat breakfast and chatted only to be ridiculed by other hearing people who stayed at the hotel. They were insulted, and asked the manager why the other guests were laughing at them. The manager then replied that the hotel, as a joke, put bells under every bed to make fun of people making love on their honeymoons. Since the couple was deaf, they made love and didn't hear the bells and woke up all of the people. This narrative would have the deaf people slapping their legs, roaring with laughter. The humor comes from the deafness itself (Bauman 31) because if the couple hadn't been deaf, the story would not be funny.

The A to Z story by BYU Fanatic on integrates the concepts of ASL into humor. His signs are smooth and natural. There are no hand shapes that were out of order or strange to the deaf viewer. The story revolves around two people who have a chess match. The narrative focuses on each of the player's reactions to the other player. For example, when the player is stumped by his opponent, he glares at the other player with a menacing 'N' hand shape shaking. When I was watching that part, I laughed out loud all by myself. I laughed out loud because of the signer's facial expressions, which one doesn't really see in oral storytelling, and that's a significant part of deaf humor - the facial expressions and reactions. "A face story is a traditional ASL art form characteristically and expertly fusing mime, narrative, and comedy" (Peters 137). In addition, modern technology has the ability to capture facial expressions, unlike oral storytelling through radio or recorder (Krentz 51). As a result, humor is successfully distributed throughout the Deaf community, through Youtube videos, which are used profusely by the Deaf community and DVDs produced by companies such as Dawn Sign Press.

The unfortunate downfall of the outsider's perspective on deaf humor is that they think our misfortunes are to be made fun of. For example, Roy Holcomb's Hazards of Deafness summarizes, "A deaf person is having a difficult time vacuuming the carpet. He goes over the same spot of dirt repeatedly, to no avail. In a fit of frustration, he turns around and notices that the machine is unplugged" (Bienvenu 100). An outsider often misunderstands Deaf humor as lamenting, while it is really making fun of the conveniences of deafness, about how we gain an advantage over the hearing people in some situations like the joke about a forgetful man honking his car horn to find his motel room in which his Deaf wife is sleeping in. The other rooms' lights turned on, leaving only one room, thus allowing the man to happily walk to his room.

Deaf humor is often passed through generations and among each other in order to maintain remembrance and language maintenance (Christie 2). Obviously, when a story is passed around, it would be remembered for a long time. The joke with King Kong attempting to marry the blonde would forever always reside in my heart. I would compose that joke from heart, with vivid facial expressions and wild hands to my children someday. Also the joke is used for language maintenance to keep signs in circulation. For example, if there is a new sign for 'marry,' it would have fierce competition from the 'marry' sign that exists in the joke. If there could be a joke that associates with the new sign, the old sign would die out. Think of it as a repair, get rid of the old one and put in a new sign to better accommodate the signing community.

If I had known all those information when I was younger, I would have noticed more aspects about her signing and the joke itself that relates back to the Deaf community. But then if I had known those information when I was younger, the joke would not have been as fun!

Works Cited
Bauman, H-Dirksen L., Jennifer L. Nelson, and Heidi M. Rose. Signing the Body Poetic: Essays on American Sign Language Literature. Berkeley: University of California, 2006. Print.

Bienvenu, MJ. Reflections of American Deaf Culture in Deaf Humor. Deaf World. New York: New York UP, 2001. 99-103. Print.

Christie, Karen, and Dorothy M. Wilkins. "A Feast for the Eyes: ASL Literacy and ASL Literature." Oxford Journals (1997). Print.

Fanatic, BYU. "Checkmate! - An ASL 'ABC' Story." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. 10 Dec. 2008. Web. 03 May 2010. .

Peters, Cynthia L. "Rathskellar." Deaf World. New York: New York UP, 2001. 129-46. Print.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My daughter's anthology project: Part 1

For her high school Honors English class, my daughter had to do an Anthology project. I thought that two of her papers were too good not to be published. Here's Part 1 where she had to write why she chose ASL literature for her Anthology project. It's a personal narrative. Part 2 was an investigative report on ASL literature. Here it goes...

Personal Narrative
by Tory Sampson

            My brother and I scampered around our aunt Edna’s feet, giggling and crawling towards the bright yellow room in my grandmother’s Florida condo. It would always be night and the wallpaper seemed to come alive with the exotic flowers that were on it. I sat at the foot of the queen size bed, preparing for a story of a lifetime. My brother excitedly sat next to me; we in our pajamas and chatting animatedly.
            Aunt Edna with her jet black curly hair entered the room, commanding our attention. She was in her pajamas as well, but we did not care, we only wanted the tale that she was going to tell. We did not even know which story it was, we just wanted one. My brother and I rapidly signed over one another, until Edna calmed us down with her skilled hands. I remember looking around the charming yellow room, making sure that it was only us that were there because other adults’ presence ruined the tale. Also I remember I said a small farewell, ready to engage in another world created by my aunt’s hands.
            My aunt started off with an image of a gorilla terrorizing New York. She imitated the strong movements of the gorilla and asked who the gorilla was. My brother and I eagerly replied, “King Kong! King Kong!”
            “Correct!” Aunt Edna replied. She used her powerful hands to vividly paint a picture of people’s terrified faces when they saw the ugly brute attacking New York. My brother and I giggled with every face our aunt made for each person – a man looking up from his coffee and screaming, a woman abandoning her high heels then returning to retrieve them, an old person reading his newspaper for a while before he realizes everyone is gone except King Kong. My aunt then made a shocking announcement, King Kong was deaf! My brother and I gasped and looked at each other, in amazement. Edna slowly nodded her head, emphasizing that he was deaf. The story resumed; King Kong was assaulting New York, he was on a rampage until he spotted a beautiful blonde, unconscious because of all the excitement. King Kong stopped his attack and gently picked up the blonde. Edna showed the gorilla’s affection clearly, she hunched over her shoulders as if she were the gorilla and her hands were softly wrapped around the miniature blonde. Edna was a character herself. We watched in wonder at her characterization. The deaf King Kong was cradling the blonde in his hands when, suddenly, planes and tanks from the military started attacking the big beast. King Kong became enraged and started smashing tanks and grabbing planes out of the air. Edna had an incredible angry face, her teeth bared just like a gorilla would, her eyes afire with anger, and her hands flailing around catching imaginary planes and smashing tanks on the carpet. The attack was too much for King Kong so he spotted a big building nearby, it was more than hundred stories, just enough to get away from the tanks. He proceeded to climb the Empire State Building with the unconscious blonde in hand. Edna wrapped her arms around the building and climbed the building as if it were just a tree. When King Kong got to the top, planes were attacking relentlessly. Fearlessly, King Kong smashed them around, fiery planes hurled towards the ground. Edna used her hands to demonstrate the seriousness of the disaster, explosions and fire everywhere. Our jaws were on the floor. Finally, when the planes were nowhere to be seen, King Kong turned to the blonde and used one finger to wake the blonde up. I giggled at how King Kong used one finger. The blonde woke up and started screaming at the big animal. The King Kong signed, “No, no, I won’t hurt you!”
            The blonde replied, “Yes you will!”
            “No I won’t. I love you!” Edna was into her character, she was staring at her hand. There was nothing there but a miniature blonde freaking out.
            “No! You don’t!” The blonde breathlessly responded.
            “Marry me!” With a smack of her hands together, it was the end for the blonde that resided on the gorilla’s hand. The sign for ‘marry’ is hands in a ‘C’ shape and clapping them together. Guess where the blonde was on King Kong? My brother and I erupted into laughter. The blonde had no idea what was coming. Edna got out of her character and started laughing along with us.           
            ASL literature has been such a big part of my life. It first started when I watched my aunt, an informal but extremely gifted storyteller. She proficiently uses her hands to visualize and paint images. Now that I am older, I have a greater appreciation of ASL literature, and I want to learn more about it, and that’s why I picked this subject for my anthology project.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Response to California Academy of Audiologists' Opposition to AB2072

This is a response to people who are seeking the other side of the story since there are always two sides. A debate is taking place in the blogosphere about the California Academy of Audiologists’ (CAA) opposition to AB2072.

A response to the California Academy of Audiologists’ (CAA) Letter to Assembly Member Mendoza:

1. The CAA maintains: “The Academy is concerned that our inability to come to agreeable language regarding the role of the audiologist in the educational process of a parent’s newly-identified hard-of-hearing newborns, is getting in the way of passage of a well meaning bill.”

FACT: from day one on March 4, when we first learned AB2072 was read for the first time on February 18, we communicated our concerns regarding preserving the ability of audiologists to make appropriate educational recommendations and without any conflict of interest. Supporters of Assembly Member Mendoza’s AB2072 are:
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
California Academy of Audiology (the very CAA you all are reading about)
California Association of Private Special Education Schools
California Hospital Association
California Speech-Language Hearing Association Center
Echo Horizon School
Jean Weingarten Peninsula Oral School
John Tracy Clinic
Auditory Oral School of San Francisco

They were who discounted our experience and knowledge as they kept pushing this legislation hard over our protests. We requested to sit down with all concerned parties to develop amendments that all could agree with. NOTE: We were not invited to share input in the drafting of the original AB2072.

Our efforts to communicate our concerns and desire to participate in amending AB2072 were often disregarded as evidenced by documents posted on The latest amendment was offered on August 20, 2010, and CCA wrote their letter of opposition on August 23. We were as surprised by the favorable change of events as they were.

2. Is the CAA not concerned about deaf babies?

Not explaining ASL in further detail is a great disservice to the families of both Deaf and hard of hearing babies. “Information is power.” Why not share ASL with ALL families? Why wouldn’t audiologists want to empower parents with ALL information?  It is an ethical and moral obligation of the profession to share all information about ASL and spoken English.

3. The CAA maintains that: “Audiologists are highly skilled health care professionals who are trained to counsel parents regarding appropriate educational and treatment options for their hard of hearing children.”

FACT: only 8% of deaf and 15% hard of hearing children are reading at proficient (grade level) or advanced levels (above grade level).
(Source:  These results are 2007 numbers and are included here because they are the easiest to access without  data mining. Sadly, 2010 numbers are not meaningfully different.)

FACT: in math, only 10% of our deaf students and 18% of our hard of hearing students score at proficient (grade level) or advanced levels (above grade level).
(Source:  These results are 2007 numbers and are included here because they are the easiest to access without  data mining. Sadly, 2010 numbers are not meaningfully different.)

FACT: with over 200 university audiology programs in America, only one requires classes in ASL. 20 of those 200 programs offer ASL as an elective.

FACT: at San Diego State University (SDSU), the Communication Disorders Department has cut out their ASL program entirely.

Notice that this assertion only mentions “hard of hearing” children being the recipients of their “educational” counseling?   Was this a subconscious admission that they are beyond their scope of training for deaf children? Why the exclusion? 

It is important to understand that CDNIAS’ position is that audiologists are trained to test and diagnose hearing loss but are not trained or qualified to consult about language development and educational abilities.

4. The CAA maintains that: “An audiologist forced to review and counsel all available communication options…would be tantamount to a cardiologist discussing with parents of a heart transplant for a child found to have a heart murmur…”

FACT: in general, consulting parents about language development and academic abilities is not within the scope of training for their audiology profession.

FACT: ask the parents who did not get any consultation on ASL.

FACT: on behalf of CCA, lobbyist Barry Brokaw testified during the June 23 Senate Health Committee hearing that “…we [audiologists] think they [parents] should be informed of all the options.”

The glaring contradiction between the above two quoted assertions is a good indication that audiologists do not normally share ASL with families. Within the context of the letter, it is also disturbing that the analogy’s implication of being informed about ASL could be comparable to “heart transplant.”  Sadly, it is also a clear indication of their perspective and training – that they consider ASL an option of last resort. We have always maintained that “deafness” is a language and educational issue, far different from a “medical” issue.

5. The CAA maintains that: “The CAA does not believe AB2072…is in the best interests of the children and families that audiologists serve…and they are our primary concern.”

FACT: only 8% of deaf and 15% hard of hearing children are reading at proficient (grade level) or advanced levels (above grade level).
(Source:  these results are 2007 numbers and are included here because they are the easiest to access without  data mining. Sadly, 2010 numbers are not meaningfully different)
FACT: in math, only10% of our deaf students and 18% of our hard of hearing students score at proficient (grade level) or advanced levels (above grade level).
(Source:  these results are 2007 numbers and are included here because they are the easiest to access without  data mining. Sadly, 2010 numbers are not meaningfully different)

Their primary concern? Really? Seriously? We have a lot of soul searching to do if they actually believe their consultation has been foundational in serving the academic abilities of our deaf students.  Our students lack language skills, and the tragic results of that are reflected in their dismal reading and math scores.

6. The CAA maintains that: “Further, we must preserve the ability of the audiologist to make appropriate, family-centered recommendations regarding habilitation of their patients.”

Family-centered? Why not child-centered? Who is the “patient”? Deaf babies need to be seen beyond the framework of a “medical patient” perspective.  We need to move away from the medical point of view to a language and educational approach for true “habilitation” of deaf and hard of hearing babies.]

7.   The CAA maintains: “As audiologists we are trained in spoken speech and language development as well as different sign languages, including ASL.”

FACT: with over 200 university audiology programs in America, only one requires classes in ASL. 20 of those programs offer ASL as an elective.

Beyond the statistically low numbers of programs’ inclusion of ASL classes, if the audiology programs really wanted to have its students to become trained in American Sign Language, then they would require their students to also need to take other beneficial classes such as Deaf Studies, Deaf History, and ASL literature.

While audiologist may be “aware” of the language and communication options, sadly they are NOT TRAINED.  Their scope of work, which is what constitutes their license, does not include ANY knowledge or training in ASL for the vast majority of audiologists.

8. Yes, the the CAA's audiologists are being asked to give the brochure to ALL parents whose baby passes the screening as having some form of hearing loss. We want this! The CAA apparently does not.

FACT: Children’s expressive ability in sign language reinforces spoken language development. (Yoshinaga-Itano, 2006; Volterra, Iverson, & Castrataro, 2006)

FACT: Babies can express themselves through sign earlier than through spoken language. (Goodwyn, et al., 2000; Schick, 2003)

FACT: Deaf children perform higher level in both ASL and English due to early and consistent visual access to language. (Israelite & Ewoldt, 1992)

FACT: Fluent ASL speakers are superior in academic achievement, reading and writing, and social development. (Singleton, Supalla, Litchfield, & Schley, 1998; Snodden, 2008; Strong & Prinz, 1997; 2000)

We should be asking why they would not want to share information about ASL. It is a moral and ethical obligation of the audiologists to share all information about ASL. We also know “information is power.” So, why would audiologists not want to empower parents with ALL information?

9. They (the CAA) are correct on one point: due to some last-minute political maneuvering behind scenes, the restriction placed on the audiologists was tighter with the 8/20 amendment. The CAA says they do not object to discussing all communication options, but this statement conflicts with their letter to Mendoza where they clearly say they cannot counsel on all communication options!

10. The CAA maintains: “…However August 20th amendments that you requested be inserted into AB2072 requiring audiologists to review and counsel all parents regarding all treatment options are, in our view, professionally inappropriate, and frankly would result in additional parental confusion.”

FACT: The bill as amended, actually says:
This bill would require the audiologist to note in the newborn's or infant's record that the parent has received the informational pamphlet and, during the course of evaluation and treatment, to inform and counsel the parent of all available communication options.” 

Informed decisions require being informed. So, why would not audiologists want to empower parents with ALL information?

11. The CAA maintains that: “One of the biggest problems we feel the bill does not address is our families who use total communication as their option.”

FACT: Only American Sign Language and English can be considered languages.

While total communication does not have any formal protocols for its structure or use, it is, at best, a visual supplement to spoken English.  Auditory/oral English (and correspondingly, its visual supplements) are represented.

12.  The CAA maintains: “We believe the panel and the costs incurred but (sic) the State is not necessary as there are brochures out there that are non biased and include all options, including ASL and SEE sign. We also believe at this point the bill is so far from its original intent that we cannot support, nor do we think given the polarizing options on the panel that the process will be arduous.”

COMMENTARY: Actually, the brochures originally promoted by the sponsors of the bill were heavily biased toward the auditory/oral approach.  That is why a panel is necessary so that all misinformation will be corrected. Auditory/oral English (and correspondingly, its visual supplements) is represented on the panel.

13. The CAA maintains: “Because we too felt this bill was getting into a political battle rather than about communication and educational choices we asked to be removed as the primary pamphlet distributors and asked that the educators hand out the pamphlet but we would be happy to answer questions regarding anything in the pamphlet or direct the parent to the appropriate agency or reference material. This was rejected by the author. Hope this clears up some of the misconceptions….”

Political? All along, it had always been a political battle.

Audiologists have been manipulating AB2072 all along. They have never objected once; they even insisted on being on the advisory panel. Doesn't this conflict with the content of the CAA letter? Guess they did not anticipate that the restriction would go through, and now they are not happy about being supervised to do their job the RIGHT way.

No more saying, "ASL should be used as a last resort!"

We FINALLY have ASL EQUAL to their oral approach.

We have a long way to go toward working together to benefit the DEAF and HARD of HEARING CHILDREN and their families.