Tuesday, April 2, 2013

AFA Letter to ABC News: Media Misrepresentation AGAIN


31 March 2013

Dear ABC News Executive Producer Michael Corn, Diane Sawyer, and Dan Harris,

Your reporting over the past few years has demonstrated a serious engagement in misrepresentation of Deaf people.  A recent example has been the March 26th, 2013 broadcast story, “Child who needs corrective surgery gets wish” which once again perpetuates a mythical “miraculous” and one-sided view of cochlear implants. While this particular story focused on insurance coverage of such surgeries, there were many statements and assumptions made rooted in audism—a discriminatory attitude toward Deaf people and those who use sign language (see below). Deaf people and children do not have damaged intellectual capabilities, are not disengaged from the world, and navigate the world safely.  

At the end of the story’s broadcast, the newscaster mentioned your plan to follow up with filming the moment when Carson’s cochlear implant is activated.  These type of scenes are becoming an incessant bit of medical propaganda where the media is complicit in promoting cochlear implants as a “cure.” Where is your follow up years later? Where are the cases of disappointed individuals and families that have suffered educationally, emotionally and economically due to the fact this ‘miracle’ did not happen in the long run?  Where is your examination of the children who have had complications from this surgery?  Where is your examination of the cruelty done on animals in the name of cochlear implant progress?

We encourage you, as journalists, to offer more balanced reporting by showing families who choose to sign with children like Carson as well as looking at cochlear implant recalls and children who experience multiple cochlear implant surgeries.  We believe in the power of media to promote truth and justice

Thus, we appeal to your journalistic integrity to provide viewers with a more complete and less prejudicial portrayal of signing Deaf people.  We believe in the power of media---and in the intention of ABC news-- to promote truth and justice.

Let Freedom Roll,
Patti Durr, Ruthie Jordan and Karen Christie for 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.