Where are our ASL Defenders?


As of 5:43pm, I was told that NAD is now in communication with HuffPost. NAD was alerted through Twitter/emails about our community’s response to Kia’s comment on The Deaf Edge’s blog.

Just found out that Huffington Post’s Kia Makarechi, who is an entertainment editor left a comment on The Deaf Edge’s blog focusing on the controversy around the music video with ‘ASL’ interpretation, which ended up incomprehensible to all ASL users. Go to Jeannette Johnson’s blog for more information.

This blog was one of the several blogs and vlogs published regarding this issue, and this kind of controversy captured HuffPo’s attention. On April 21, 2012, Kia Makarechi wrote her first comment acknowledging that this video does not adequately present American Sign Language, and will seek for experts for a follow up article.

Kia Makarechi on April 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm said:
Thank you for taking the time to write about the article. We apologize for any misinformation. We’ve added an editor’s note and will be consulting ASL experts and publishing a follow-up piece in the coming week.

Kia Makarechi,
Editor, HuffPost Entertainment

The note has been added here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/no-church-in-the-wild-asl-video_n_1434834.html


We were so delighted that HuffPo heard us, and we are hopeful and wondered how HuffPo will find experts.

I try to remain optimistic since American Sign Language is a bona-fide language, and there are plenty of people and/or organizations who could provide valuable information to HuffPo.

Until today, HuffPo’s Kia returned back to The Deaf Edge blog and wrote:

Kia Makarechi on April 26, 2012 at 2:03 pm said:
Sorry for more delays, but I actually wanted to reach out for some help on this matter. I’ve contacted the National Association of the Deaf, the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and a few prominent schools for the deaf, and no one is willing to speak on the record about this video (though I have had some revelatory discussions off record). If someone can provide me with their email address, I’d like to email you about other prominent experts we can reach out to.

I’ve already interviewed the young man who made the video about his thoughts on the reactions, so we’re really just waiting on an expert from the ASL-speaking community. Thanks again for your patience.


My reaction is…

W. T. F. ?

National Association of the Deaf is not willing to speak on the record? Check their mission statement here.

The mission of the National Association of the Deaf is to preserve, protect and promote the civil, human and linguistic rights of deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States of America.

Preserve and protect linguistic rights – which means our right to ASL. They won’t comment on the record? I thought they should defend our linguistic rights, our cherished language, American Sign Language!

Look at Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf’s mission statement:

“Support the Continued Growth and Development of the Profession”
It is the mission of RID to provide international, national, regional, state and local forums and an organizational structure for the continued growth and development of the profession of interpretation and transliteration of American Sign Language and English.

RID supports interpretation of ASL and English, and they want to continue the growth and development of the profession. This music video was done by ASL students who wants to show their ‘interpretation’ of the song, and RID will not comment on this? WE ARE ASL USERS and they make a living out of OUR LANGUAGE to provide interpretation services for all of people! They won’t comment on the record?

Few prominent schools for the deaf? They cannot comment on the record? They provide ASL instruction to their students and they won’t comment?


I am NAD member.
I use RID certified ASL interpreter.
I work at school for the Deaf.

Whenever I see ASL been attacked.

No one out there to defend American Sign Language?

Then, why am I a member of NAD?
Why am I using RID certified ASL interpreter?
Why am I working at the school promoting ASL?

Who will ever defend American Sign Language. Who can comment on the record that video is NOT American Sign Language? Who can help Huffington Post with their article?

How on the earth NAD, RID and few prominent schools for the deaf miss this valuable opportunity to MARKET American Sign Language?

Oh. My. God.

That leaves us, as individuals to take a stand and *SIGN* loudly that we WILL DEFEND AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE!

Amy Cohen Efron

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21 comments on “Where are our ASL Defenders?

Thank you, Amy, for an excellent post. You have said it right on the nail. I say, “Shame on NAD!” As usual, NAD is ‘telfonin” pressing issues that need their immediate support and attention. Their convention is coming up soon. This is a good PR opportunity for them, but ahem…we’ll do our own NAD’s PR. And, it ain’t gonna be pretty!

heye amy

thanks for covering this follow up info

sorry Kia has been hitting trouble in getting a comment for the record. Audism Free America recently posted its letter to NPR’s Ombudsman re: its faulty article on “redefining what it means to be Deaf.” http://audismfreeamerica.blogspot.com/2012/04/afas-letter-to-npr-re-redefining-deaf.html Should send an email to kia soon with a public statement that the signing and gobbely gook hand babble in that music video was not cool and the performers’ response to the Deaf community’s shout out was even ruder.

I do hope though that he will get a reply from NAD and/or the RID now that you have raised this issue. Kia went to them first for a reason as you noted – they are well established, have a long history, and have advocating for ASL within their mission.

RE: Bilingual Deaf schools – they would be equally qualified as as would ASLTA and various Deaf ASL scholars and curriculum developers and consultants.

Thanks again for covering this and i hope kia will get some usable comments for the record soon.




I suggest you to contact NAD and RID to see if they hheard from Kia Makarechi or not. Did the front desk relay message to the right person? if so, who said no and why they were not willing to talk to her about the video that was posted on You Tube. I think you jumped into conclusion too fast. Get information from NAD and RID and then write a conculsion about it. Hope this helps!

This. Is. Disturbing. I applaud Amy for coming forward to criticize NAD, RID & deaf schools for failing to stand up for the community at large. Shame on NAD, RID & deaf schools.


I watched the video. It’s another country’s sign language, not Amreican’s sign language. It’s a simple misunderstanding, that’s all. I’m so glad Huffpost has included the DEAF WORLD in its’ news media/website. I was born deaf and can hear with hearing aid. I LOVE music! The music sounds good. Good sign language performance in the video, guys!!! Thanks, Huffpost! 🙂

“Where are our ASL defenders” has been a question mark since ADA Laws came into existence to this day. I have learned through trails and errors that it is us, meaning you and me, who are the ASL defenders because we, the DEAF/HOH people of the DEAF WORLD and HEARING WORLD are still pioneers on the frontline of American History.

Maybe it would be a good idea to ask NAD and RID for their side of the story?

Thanks for this, Amy. I totally agree. There is definitely a problem when national organizations like NAD and RID are, for whatever reasons (being too cautious? Afraid of offending somebody?) are hesitant to go on the record in defense of ASL and Deaf culture. If they’re not going to do it, Who is? No wonder we’re in such bad shape.

wandaLgarner: Actually, that video clip is not from another country’s sign language. They were misleading people by claiming that their music video is ASL. Deaf people including myself told Mark Nakhla directly that it is not ASL. He flipped out and caused a ruckus that resulted in a conflict between Deaf Americans and Mark Nakhla. Then HuffPost realized they messed it up.


I have attempted to translate the “ASL” lyrics for the Deaf community.

Prince, help me! I am a gorilla!

At this point I had to stop my attempt because it was too ridiculous.

Joseph: I tried the same thing, and I couldn’t get that far, because there was too much unintelligibility.

Ridor9, thanks for the information. Appreciate it!! 🙂

Sorry I didn’t add “th” to your username. Ridor9th, thanks for the information. Appreciate it! 🙂

LOL — now you’re so disturbed, Joseph!


Amy, did you ask RID, NAD and the specific deaf schools that Kia says she contacted to confirm Kia contacted them and that they’ve indeed refused to speak on the record?
I am also a bit confused at all this anger towards an artistic creation. Granted the inappropriate description of artistic gestures being an approximitation of American Sign Language is shameful but nothing new. Why is Kia determined to find “experts” to speak on the record on behalf of American Sign Language? And why is RID, NAD and the deaf schools refusing to go on the record? What exactly did Kia ask them?
She mentions she had an off-the-record conversation with representatives of RID, NAD and the deaf schools (which one’s I’d like to know).
I think that these questions need to be answered to appropriately gauge what is happening here.
And to answer the question of who is an expert on American Sign Language – well that is a broad question and would depend on the context in which Kia’s article/documentary is geared towards. I ama second language user who prefers to use ASL as my primary communication.
I just think that there need to be questions answered before we become upset. Just saying.

Hi everyone, here’s our follow-up post on this article. We spoke with the CEO of NAD, who told me that they had not heard of my initial inquiry. As soon as we were in touch over email, their responses were thorough and quick.

Thank you for taking the time to read and write about our article. We’ll be sure to take care when covering ASL-related issues in the future to avoid any mischaracterizations.


Kia Makarechi
Editor, HuffPost Entertainment

Huffpost has a article up about the controversy now w/ great quotes from NAD CEO Howard rosenblum

Ya hoo

Defenders arise


Jules, you stated that you are bit confused towards the artistic creation — actually, I think the problem is Mark Nakhla. When we (I was one of first ones who escalated this, FYI) politely told Mark that I could not understand his music clip — many of signs were simply unrecognizable. I stated that I watched his video clip twice and feels that his message was not being delivered mainly it is not ASL. Mark immediately criticized me and others saying that ASL is not OURS to use, it is for EVERYONE ELSE. He quickly deleted many comments by Deaf people incessantly. Needless to say, his approach was the catalyst for us to go after him.



SheenaJune 19, 2012You are right that sometimes it truly dpeneds on the individual and its desires to be a part of a certain community/world. I know many Deaf people who ended up using their voices in the workplace ONLY because it might (its never guaranteed) bring in more opportunities. Even though they speak, they still feel lonely or feel they can show more through their natural language. That is sign language. Of course, we (more of me) cannot expect our co-workers to pick up sign language on the fly. BUT if a Deaf coworker chooses to speak, a compromise from the co-workers would be super appreciated. To speak does not mean they can hear every single thing that goes on not only in a meeting, but a conversation between a small group or an inside joke. This is what makes us move forward, climb a step higher, and gain more connections. We are at a huge disadvantage here regardless of how well or poor we speak. I am not quite sure if it’ll make the company’s life EASIER if they can speak because most hearing people assume if a deaf person CAN speak, they can hear. That itself can generate problems down the road. Or if a Deaf person decides to request a service, the company will be thrown off by that, You know how to speak. Do you really need an interpreter? Different set of problems can surface at one point or another. Regarding your example The gentleman came to America and its number one language is what? English all the way. It is to be expected for him to speak English. On the other hand, Deaf people know plus speak/sign in English. Plus, it’s much harder for them to learn how to pronounce some words without hearing the sounds or only get parts of it if they can hear better. Once again, we are at disadvantage here. Some just don’t purposely sign to a hearing person, but are comfortable when they sign. At the end of the day, it is the individual’s decision to speak or not to speak to sign or not to sign. Of course, when I brought this whole topic up I was referring to my own family more than anything else. Because I invested into my personal relationships and they will always be around. As for the rest, I am still unsure as we all know this. Thanks for sharing your side.

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