First published on January 21, 2008 – and I am reviving it again with some edits. This is in response to New York Times’ Op-Ed piece on Deaf Schools, and the timing for the community to take an action. There is the Facebook group led by Sheri Farinha asking for the community input. It is called, “Deaf Community Action: Open Poll for Ideas to Create A Powerful Message.”
The idiom, “time is of the essence”, means it is important to work as quickly as possible!
We NEED to market American Sign Language immediately! We need to market the dual-language approach for deaf babies! No more infighting now! Let’s put our energies to promote and market American Sign Language NOW!
You may wonder what is the point of this blog?
Read carefully about the survey…
AG Bell and StrategyOne conducted a 15-minute telephone survey (in 2006) of 816 expectant and new mothers nationalwide. Half of those surveyed, 400 were expectant mothers, and 415 were mothers with a child age 1 or younger.
This research findings indicate that new and expectant mothers show a severe lack of awareness about the opportunities for children with hearing loss to learn to listen and talk. This is a concern, given that most babies learn language by hearing it long before they can talk. Nearly 70 percent of mothers and expectant mothers in a recent survey said they were not sufficiently informed about spoken language as an option for children with hearing loss. (It may depend on how this survey was created, and I am sure that 70 percent of mothers were not sufficiently informed about ASL too.) Yet 98 percent of the women surveyed said they would be inclined to explore this option if their child were diagnosed with hearing loss. (Of course, parents would want to help their own baby to hear again… that is their natural response.)
AG Bell Association is using this research to spearhead a very aggressive marketing strategy. They launched the “Hear from the Start, Talk for a Lifetime” campaign. They agreed that this campaign will use a community-based approach to engage parents and other stakeholders with AG Bell chapters (2010’s 990 tax form filed by AG Bell said that they don’t have chapters… hmmm.. Check www.guidestar.org for more information.) and supporters making personal connections that are so critical to truly raising awareness. The campaign includes:
* Developing parent and professional education resources
* Driving advocacy efforts at national and grassroots levels
* Broadly disseminating the latest hearing-loss research
* Engaging media through a public service announcement and other efforts
* Offering continuing education programs and training to hearing-health and education professionals
* Developing standards of excellence and certifying hearing-health and education professionals through the AG Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language®. (That means certifying AVT therapists.)
Now, time is of the essence, and we must market American Sign Language right now! AG Bell has a very clear mission, and indeed, their campaign is definitely making waves.
We can do the same, and we are making waves. Bigger waves than AG Bell than you think. Look at ABC Family’s Switched At Birth TV show making young viewers fascinated with ASL. (Thanks to Sean Berdy, our Deaf James Dean!) We need to expand more by making sure ASL is available to deaf infants/babies.
Obviously – we need to do a community-based approach through vlogs/blogs/social media tools to engage hearing parents of deaf babies and other stakeholders, such as state associations of the Deaf, ASL chapters, and ASL supporters making personal connections that are so critical to truly raising awareness.
1. Develop a strong educational resource (via website) for parents and professionals to learn about American Sign Language, as a bona fide language for deaf children whose are visual learners. Kudos to Gallaudet University’s website, Why Sign? Link here.
2. Driving advocacy efforts at national and grassroots levels – start with making more and more ASL-centric vlogs and blogs about dual language learning processes, literacy, storytelling, ASL mentorship, etc… Kudos to several individuals and organizations who made this happen, and we need to build a strong infrastructure by training ASL mentors, and a centralized place where literacy, storytelling and teaching about dual language learning process available for the wider audience. Clerc’s Children is one example. Link here.
3. Broadly disseminating the latest American Sign Language or Sign Language research, especially visual learning and visual language approaches in education. We desperately need the most recent research, preferably ones that are published after 2008. Gallaudet University’s VL2 website is the place to go.
4. Engaging media through a public service announcement and other efforts. We need to raise funds to produce advertisements in Parents/Baby magazines, pamphlets, newspaper advertisement, PSA commercials, more professionally-done videos, pushing positive role models in media. We need to be aggressive with that. DeafRead.com does make a big difference in some hearing parents, and in fact, two bloggers using cochlear implants are seriously considering to learn American Sign Language! WOW! As of 2010, we need to spend our monies and energies for this because of real economic threat to close Deaf Schools.
5. Offering continuing education programs and training to Deaf community to learn more about American Sign Language, and recruit ASL mentors. Establish ASL mentorship program.
6. Develop standards of excellence and certifying ASL mentors through an organization that NEEDS to be established IMMEDIATELY! Should we set up a professional non-profit organization certifying ASL Mentors? We already have RID as an organization giving out certifications for interpreters. ASLTA?
Then, time is of the essence!
Amy Cohen Efron