LEAD-K Announces Partnership with AG Bell Association On Future Bills
The LEAD-K campaign, which aims to eliminate language deprivation for deaf children under the age of six, is now working with the Alexander Graham Bell Association in future bills- and not many people are happy, it seems.
The signing community has had a long history of a rocky relationship with the AG Bell Association, blaming them for a number of issues. They believe that AG Bell contributes to a decline in deaf children using ASL and even delayed language abilities by forcing them to lipread and speak. Given that the signing community promotes… well… signing… it’s not a shock that they would oppose an organization that promotes oralism (speaking and lipreading) over American Sign Language. Both sides want to be represented more than the other, so now what happens?
As a result LEAD-K bills have been stalled in numerous states, citing a lack of togetherness from within the deaf community over the bills. In California groups have been trying to create a happy medium where both sides are included equally: Doctors would give information on both oral methods and sign language in equal measures and would be required not to promote a single option over the other, leaving it to the parents to decide.
Which one is better? It depends on who you ask. While many argue that oral methods integrate the deaf into modern society, a study of the California School of the Deaf, Fremont showed that developmental milestones were reached faster if the children learned/knew American Sign Language. The LEAD-K campaign hopes that these bills will provide more, better data that can help shape the future of deaf education.
Deaf History Spotlight: Alexander Graham Bell
Since we are on the topic of the AG Bell Association, why not talk about the man who started it all? Alexander Graham Bell was very interested in speech (much like his father) and aimed to improve the speech of deaf children. After emigrating to Canada, and then the U.S. in 1871, Bell began to teach speech to deaf children using “Visible Speech”; a universal alphabet invented by his father. He then began training teachers in the method a year later in Boston, Massachusetts.
He was also a fan of eugenics, a fascination which overlapped with his opinion of deaf culture and deaf individuals. In order to obtain his idea of a “nobler man in America”, he suggested that A) immigration should be eliminated and B) only English should be read and spoken within the United States. This even included sign language, which he saw as “foreign” and even claimed that it was contrary to the “spirit of American Institutions”.
In 1884 he published a paper warning of the sudden movement within the deaf community: They were socializing together, signing together, even marrying each other! The resulting “deaf race” would harm his dream of the perfect American population. He proposed to eliminate deaf teachers, sign language and residential schools in an effort to stop the socialization of the deaf (and, thus, the “deaf race”). An enemy to the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), AG Bell’s Association to this day heavily promotes oralism over sign language for deaf children.
What’s Up With ASLdeafined?
Today ASLdeafined is presenting at the ACTFL Conference in New Orleans! We hope to see everyone there. Please stop by and say hey! We will be presenting workshop on Friday, November 16, 2018 @ 1:00 PM. Are you ready to have fun? Are you ready to learn how ASLdeafined can transform your classroom? See you there!
Handshape of the Week: M!
The M handshape is a closed fist with the thumb between the middle and ring fingers, as shown below in the sign for MATH.
Other signs that use the M-handshape include: