First, let us thank you for assuming this important job as delegates, making important decisions for NAD and the community. As you prepare for the NAD Conference, we request you to consider these. Dr. Paddy Ladd, the author of Understanding Deaf Culture: in search of Deafhood (2003) urges us all within 10 years to build a mountain big enough to ensure survival of Deaf culture and its products: arts, literature, history, ideologies based in the Deafhood framework. (link)
Have we built enough? Indeed, we have built a lot but it is not enough. The next few years will be crucial. NAD is now at the crossroads with two options on hand:
- Maintain the status quo, hanging on to the existing laws that view Deaf as people with a disability rather than as a cultural and linguistic minority, or
- Take a compassionate, bold and truthful approach to encourage and challenge Deaf people from all kinds of backgrounds to celebrate being Deaf and to stand up against audism and other oppressive -isms.
Next year, 2013, will be the 100 year anniversary of the precious & prophetic film, The Preservation of Sign Language, created by a NAD President, George Veditz. 100 years that film had journeyed through dark moments as result of the 1880 Milan ICED Conference and witnessed the amazing gains achieved since the early 1970’s such as
- recognition of American Sign langauge as a true language
- the explosion of general public’s interest in learning ASL
- job opportunities in teaching ASL and interpreter education programs
- the huge increase of Deaf people obtaining advanced degrees
- the videophone and video relay services industry as well as other options in telecommunications and electronic access.
However, it has become bizarre and uncanny to witness a repeat of assaults upon ASL-English bilingual education and Deaf leaders in several American Deaf schools, assaults in name of Auditory Verbal Therapy (or Listening & Speaking Language) that disregard the benefits of ASL and positive Deaf identity and promote inhumane, unjust, and audist thinking and practices upon Deaf babies, children and their families, and ultimately the whole Deaf community.
It’s also become a time of increased frustrations of many Deaf Americans in finding gainful employment among other struggles just because they are Deaf and use American Sign Language.
You, delegates, have the power to change things with quicker and bolder action — to create a new team to work with the NAD CEO to speed up the building of the mountain.
We urge you to consider each candidate (as well as each proposal) with courage, conviction, and vision. It will be critical this year. It may make or break NAD.
That said, the Deafhood Foundation has requested our delegate to vote for Sheri Ann Farinha to be NAD President. We believe she has the best qualities and experience to do this job. For the other members of board and the proposals, we ask you to vote for those that have the most potential for this urgent mountain building task. Please vote for board members with best potential to appreciate and utilize social media in order to quickly inform and mobilize the Deaf community and our allies. Vote for those that we can most trust to be watch dogs against this new Oralist onslaught as well as to push for legislation that is centered in culturally positive view of Deaf people and American Sign Language.
For Unity in Deafhood,
Board of Directors