What blew me away was that I spent over 2 hours watching 13 videos of Gallaudet University’s President, Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz, giving a presentation before the Bay Area’s Gallaudet University Alumni Association Chapter on December 2010. That was 8 months ago, but this website with 13 videos was published YESTERDAY (August 18, 2011)! All videos were uploaded on YouTube, with the username of TheJamesSowell yesterday. Does that mean TheJamesSowell created this website, alanhurwitz.wordpress.com? I wasn’t too sure if Dr. Hurwitz, himself had authorized this website? I strongly doubt it. Obviously, Dr. Hurwitz probably gave his rights to have his presentation videotaped and knowingly that his presentation will be publicized? I strongly doubt it. Citizen Journalism, yep!
I learned several important things from these videos and it made me ponder very hard… especially video number 10, which a question about Eugenics been asked to Dr. Hurwitz.
His response was basically by explaining Gallaudet’s role as an educational institution and their responsibility is to educate and prepare students for the working world. He was able to expand Gallaudet’s mission statement and strategic plans. To summarize this, Gallaudet is an entity to educate, but not leading the nation with political action, lobbying or influence to change and/or develop public policy. Gallaudet is a strong University with no bite. There is no department of law or public policy as of now.
Gallaudet was undergoing the major organizational change, with hopes that staff/faculty will be released with their duties to focus more on research. VL2 is one of the examples, including the brand new website that was released recently, www.whysign.com which is THE blockbuster site of research. Research is there, available and ripe for taking. But, no public policy.
Bourne-Firl asked Hurwitz on video 12 about Gallaudet to establish Public Policy Institute or a field of study similar to public policy or law. Go and see what Hurwitz has to say…
It is in process. The need is there. Is it too late? Perhaps. You may want to watch video number 15 about Gallaudet’s Education Department. Dr. Hurwitz was not too happy with current Educational Department. Yikes!
A weak Educational Department means weak rigor of training for future educators, resulting a weak infrastructure in Deaf Education. Gallaudet must hurry up to fix this department IMMEDIATELY! Or perhaps, take a very hard look into this question, what is Deaf Education? Should it be about Dual Language Instruction, Visual Learning, Linguistics, and other disciplines which focuses on the strength of sign languages and visual learning among the Deaf and maybe, hearing children? Or should we maintain the status quo of Deaf Education training since several states does not recognize teachers certified with Deaf Education? Almost every state have their own definition of Highly Qualified Teacher, with a specific training and certification. A professional with Deaf Education certification is considered as a consultant in some states, including Georgia.
Should we use Gallaudet as THE leader for all of the Deaf people around the world, and present their position statements about our human rights, language, employment, discrimination, and influence public policy?
The answer is… NO. Gallaudet can train students about public policy. They cannot do public policy. Simply said.
Alright, looking at other places available. National Association of the Deaf. A non-profit organization under the IRS Code of 501c(3) with a strong mission statement, dependent on membership fees, grants and gifts. They have lawyers and volunteers who can do some ‘think-tanking’ and develop public policy strategies. Lately, NAD did a LOT of work in advocacy, by meeting several key governmental departments (DOJ, DOE, FCC, etc), and there is a restriction for a 501c3 organization for participation in any political campaigns, for example pushing a political party to support NAD. The organization can push for bills to be introduced, like NAD did with 21st Century Telecommunications Act, which requires that captioned programs on TV also be captioned on the Internet.
NAD has a lot of issues to address, and they are making themselves visible among the key players at Nation’s Capital.
Then what is left? Deafhood Foundation, Deaf Bilingual Coalition and Audism Free America. They are newly formed organizations in less than three years. They are building their reputation as activist organization with their own mission and goals. Are they responsible for public policy? Please let me know.
What is missing? A public policy institute? Think Tank? A venture capital? Politicans? Deaf owned Mega-Corporation?
Yikes… then what can we as alumnus of Gallaudet University should do? Waiting for Gallaudet to lead us, or should we take social responsibility to lead ourselves?
What is missing? What should we do?
Amy Cohen Efron