Identifying the cracks in the AG Bell Association

Jacob Waring, Op/Features editor, flashing a symbolic tattoo behind his ear.

Malicious, conniving, sociopathic and liars are words commonly used to described Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf.

This is an organization who has damaged generations of Deaf people over their history.

I am telling you, members of the NCC community, about their morally bankrupted behavior because it is vital information for you all to know. What if one day your child is deaf like me? Or a family member? Or anyone you meet along the way in life. No one should be subjected to AG Bell, and some medical professionals’ lies, myths and half-truths.

What spurred all my anger? Meredith Sugar, president of AG Bell who wrote a scathing article in response to a Washington Post article which wrote positively about Nyle Dimarco. Dimarco is the first Deaf winner of “America’s Next Top Model,” and current contestant of Dancing with the Stars.” The Washington Post wrote positively about Dimarco being an ambassador for the Deaf community, being an outstanding advocate for American Sign Language (ASL) and showing that Deaf people can do anything despite lacking an auditory sense.

Sugar decided to deconstruct Dimarco, the Deaf community and polluted the world with the same lies that AG Bell been spreading for decades. You got Dimarco, working hard to be a positive reprehensive of a community and an ambassador of a beautiful language being dismantled by a scoundrel who should not even be leading any organization.

The balderdash that Sugar wrote is a product of a bygone era.

Sugar wrote that, “ASL exists as a communication option for deaf children.”

It is a language; a complicated one with its own sets of grammar rules, cultural aspects and history. It is not hand gestures. It is not a bunch of mumbo jumbo that is is crazily swishes through the air. This language is precise, beautiful and summing it down as only a communication option is just insulting.

Sugar also wrote that, “Children who solely utilize listening and spoken language, rather than a combination of this with ASL, demonstrate better listening and spoken language skills.”

I use a cochlear implant. I usually use my voice when around my hearing peers and use an interpreter when needed in situations I feel requires one. I grew up on oralism, (which just means one who mainly speaks with their voice or believes that’s the one true way to communicate) and I’m basically a wet dream for AG Bell.

Yet, I use ASL. I prefer to use my language whenever the opportunity present itself. Solely utilizing listening and spoken language, did absolutely nothing for me. I was language delayed because everyone focused on my ability to speak rather than to sign my native language. Once I discovered this language, I blossomed, I’ve become more confident and my education improved tremendously.

Anyone who claims my language is a “last choice” option can shove that claim where the sun doesn’t shine because science on my side. As allow me to let you in on a little secret as ASL, and spoken language are processed in the exact same areas of the brain. This is because whether by hands or by tongue, it’s based on the brain abilities to process the patterns upon which all language is build.

Sound has no factor. Repeat after me: Sound. Has. No. Factor.

Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto, who is a very experience and distinguished neuroscientist who done numerous of studies over the last fifty years that paints ASL or any sign language for that matter as a legit language.

Some of the good doctor’s discoveries was that an early exposure to ASL does supports strong English speech skills, better vocabulary and reading skills. Better than compared to hearing peers who only learned English. Exposure to ASL does not harm young deaf children or delay spoken language development.

Dr. Petitto’s findings indeed proved that ASL actually propels the acquisition of spoken English! I could spotlight more studies, elaborate on the benefits of sign language but my goal is to emphasis this: AG Bell is absulutly, unequivocally wrong.

AG Bell, responded to my community’s anger about Sugar’s response. In the organization’s own article, they acted as if this was one big misunderstanding and that they agree with fully accessible, visual language. Yet, they showed their true colors the moment they mentioned “listening and spoken language (LSL).”

The moment they started the LSL crap is a slap to the face to all ASL users. One the “A” in ASL stands for “American” because each country has their own language. Just like every country doesn’t speak English. It comes off as mocking because LSL it not recognized as anything.

Hearing people listen with their ears. Deaf people listen with their eyes. Hearing people speak with their tongues. Deaf people speak with their hands. Just saying a bunch of gibberish doesn’t mean it can be recognized as a language. Likewise, mindlessly waving your hands around.  How you listen, and speak is just a mode of communication and not a language.

AG Bell is predisposed to support their method of communication and approaches. That’s not the problem. It is how they approach things is what gets everyone pissed off. I, and many other Deaf people, do not care what method people use to communicate whether it is speaking English, ASL, Cued Speech or whatever else.

What matters is allowing people to come to that choice. I’ve heard and been told of child services being called onto parents who refused to give their child a cochlear implant or to learn to verbally speak. Researchers who have been denied publishing pro-ASL findings in AG Bell’s own publish journals. How about the fact that AG Bell ignores research by the likes of Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto just to maintain their own biased information!

Do you know why some in the Deaf community have bad grammar? Why they are behind academically and other “failings?” It is because we have been subjected to hours of knowing how to speak properly like a hearing person to where our math, reading, writing and other areas greatly suffer. I know that as I have been through that hell and have tried to reclaim lost ground in order to catch-up and it has come to a great emotional cost.

Thus, I end with a plea to my fellow peers, professors and other members of the NCC community. Please, if you ever have a Deaf child do not fall prey to the likes of AG Bell and medical professionals who use scare tactics to swing you to their way of thinking. Remember that ASL is a legitimate language and an option that will surely lead to that child’s success.

It is my genuine hope that this editorial has opened all of your eyes. Perhaps, one day one of you will have a Deaf child and you remember the words that I have written. As I don’t want any of you to live with the regret my parents feel or have your kid suffer through what I and many others have suffered throughout the years.

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