Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Happy 5th Anniversary AFA!

Happy Anniversary!!!  Happy Anniversary!!! Happy Anniversary!!!
Happy Anniversary!!!  Happy Anniversary!!!

Audism Free America (AFA) celebrates 5 years.  AFA is a grassroots Deaf activist network in the US, which advocates for Deaf American rights, cultural resurgence, and seeks primarily to challenge the ideological foundations of audism in America.

5 Year Review:  YEAR ONE 2009
            January                 AFA was founded

            March                   AFA’s mission statement in ASL and English released

April                     AFA’s historic meeting with the CEO of the AG Bell Association in the Volta Bureau, Alexander Graham and 4 other representatives of AG Bell Assoc.

AFA’s 3 Demands to AG Bell and current status

AFA Demand 1:
1. the AG Bell Association and Academy cease and desist from denying Deaf infants, children, and their families the right to a natural and fully accessible language.

Good News 1:
AG Bell removed Principle #3 from its Auditory-Verbal Therapy (AVT ie LSL) guidelines
Principle #3. Guide and coach parents¹ to help their child use hearing as the primary sensory modality in developing spoken language without the use of sign language or emphasis on lipreading.

Bad News 1:
many practioners of AVT / LSL still urge parents not to sign with their Deaf children and AG Bell has not clearly stated that it accepts the use of ASL and English as important parts of a Deaf child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development.

AFA Demand 2:
2. the AG Bell Association cease and desist from misinforming the public and the media about ASL Deaf people. The AG Bell Association has not retracted its letter to Pepsi objecting to the commercial featuring ASL in a positive light and continually paints ASL Deaf people as unsuccessful and dependent.

Good news 2:
To our knowledge, since 2009 AG Bell Association has not sent out anything to the public or media misrepresenting ASL.

Bad news 2:
AG Bell still has not retracted and apologized for its highly offensive and unjust letter to Pepsi yet.   Times a wasting:   AG Bell – do the right thing and make amends. 

AFA Demand 3:
the AG Bell Association cease and desist its incestuous relationship with cochlear implant manufacturers and join AFA in calling for an independent and impartial study of the physical, psychological, and social impact of cochlear implants on infants, children and adolescents.

Good news 3:
AG Bell removed Advanced Bionics and Cochlear Americas from their Circle Alliance Founding Partners.  Advanced Bionics and Cochlear Americas are cochlear implant corporations that have had numerous lawsuits, fines, and recalls.  It has also removed any ad banners from its website for Advanced Bionics or House Ear Institute.

Bad news 3:
AG Bell continues to have Advanced Bionics and Cochlear Americas sponsor their conferences and continues to promote their products for them.  AG Bell’s Volta Review continues to propagate “studies” that are financed by cochlear implant corporations with small Ns (numbers of participants) and selective information.

At the 2009 historic meeting to discuss our demands with AG Bell Association CEO and other representatives, we had a sit-in at the end of the meeting to gain assurance we would get a response.

During this weekend in April 2009, we also had a Blue Ribbon Ceremony at Gallaudet University and a rally and demonstration at the Volta Bureau:  The AG Bell Association Headquarters.
Thank you to all the volunteers, participants, support from afar and more who all made this possible.

AFA Blue Ribbon Ceremony at Gallaudet University 2009

AFA Rally in front of AG Bell Volta Bureau 2009

AFA’s Blue light Vigil at AG Bell’s Volta Bureau 2009

In addition to our April 2009 direct action work,  there were other notable AFA activities in 2009:

AFA videotaped testimonies of Deaf people and Hearing parents’ experiences with audism and lobbied for a clear understanding of the term “audism” and the harms that discrimination against Deaf people causes to our world.

Good news:  Audism – the term became better understood and utilized
Thank you to everyone in the community who has labored hard and long to get the term audism into the dictionary and recognized and understood.
Bad news:  Audism continues to be a pervasive experience of Deaf people.

AFA Advocated for the International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED) to rescind the ICED 1880 Milan Congress resolutions, which ushered in the dark ages of Oralism (oral / aural only – ban on natural sign language in schools and homes across the globe).

Good news:  ICED 2010 Vancouver formally recognized the harms of the Milan 1880 Oral only mandate, expressing remorse and issuing a New Era Accord for the Future.
Thank you to the British Columbia Deaf community and the members of ICED as well as all the other advocates who have worked throughout time to get the ICED Milan 1880 overturned.
Bad news:  Much of the New Era Accord, especially related to Deaf representation and education in all Nations remains to be put into practice.

AFA advocated that if Wisconsin Bill 27/16 passed demanding that insurance companies automatically cover cochlear implants ,then they should add to the bill that ASL development and materials be automatically covered by insurance companies.  We also demanded an apology from Senator Cullen for his offensive remarks.
Mixed news: the bill passed to require insurance companies to automatically require coverage for digital hearing aids and cochlear implants but parents reported problems with the system later.  Senator Cullen did apologize for his statement.
Thanks to all who wrote letters and engaged in efforts to challenge the system.

AFA releases its petition calling for an independent and impartial investigation into pediatric cochlear implantation.  See http://www.petitiononline.com/AFA62509/petition.html

Good news: during a time when it was taboo to discuss cochlear implants within our community as their was a campaign to sanitize, whitewash, and minimize any problems or concerns with cochlear implants, AFA began to investigate the numerous recalls and fines cochlear implant corporations have had and seen a clear pattern to deceive the public.   Since taken a stand to seek the truth and facts about the impact of cochlear implants on the whole child, the Deaf community has moved out from under the false claim that cochlear implants are just fancy hearing aids and that cochlear implants are no longer controversial. They are.  WE ARE still demanding answers.
Bad news:   In addition to needing to continue to push this investigation, the naïve public is continually exposed only to those “miraculous moments” when implants are first activated.

AFA participated in rallies against the selection of an unqualified Hearing director for Deaf Adult Services (DAS) in Buffalo, NY.

Good News: Later the director stepped down and a Deaf director was hired.
Thanks to all those brave Buffalo folks who stood tall with their demands.
Bad news:  Unqualified Hearing individuals continue to apply for and be hired in positions where suitable Deaf candidates are turned away.


·      AFA promoted and participated in International Day of Sign Language rally and march.

·      AFA wrote a letter to Gallaudet Board of Trustees and PSAC on their 2009 search for a new president of Gallaudet University.  See http://audismfreeamerica.blogspot.com/2009/09/afas-letter-to-gallaudet-boft-and-psac.html

·      AFA boycotts Deafread and DVTV due to their refusal to recognize Deaf people as a cultural and linguistic group in their guidelines. 

·      Announces the launch of the Deaf Studies Digital Journal http://dsdj.gallaudet.edu/ which includes scholarly papers in ASL in addition to videos, visual art, and commentaries about the Deaf experience. 

A Summary of  AFA’s Year Two (2010) will follow in the next post.