(We received a copy of this letter written by Theresa Bulger who runs OptionSchools, an organization, and distributed by Lisa Goldstein who works with the AGBell Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, alerting its Deaf and hard of hearing members to oppose the US Senate’s ratifying the United Nations’ Convention of Rights for Persons with Disabilities. In this letter, we see how biased and extremist their framing is to support the Oralist method aka Listening and Spoken Language at the expense of legally recognizing signed languages and Deaf cultures.)
From: Lisa Goldstein <lisag@steinsquared.com>
Date: July 24, 2012 3:46:34 PM CDT
This was sent to me by Theresa Bulger. We need to act!!!!!
Hi All,
Please take a look at the first two paragraphs below. It is a REAL concern for EVERY family and school. I pulled together the information and a plausible response – we can nip this in the bud if we move fast.
CRPD/Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:
Thursday, July 26th at 9:30 AM at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, G-50 on Capitol Hill
What the CRPD is and how it affects the rights of the signing deaf community and adversely impacts the oral deaf community:
Although CRPD looks at first glance to be innocuous it has serious potential to harm oral deaf options. CRPD makes sign language, ASL, and deaf Culture the “right” of every deaf person. This means that it will put the “rights” of deaf children as the overriding factor in service provision of all services.  That means that as the USA comes into compliance with this convention ? only sign language will be provided (funded) to children. NAD has made a strategic move to pre-empt dialogue re the ADA.
Isn’t this just a foreign policy decision?
No, it will impact domestic policy as well. When the USA ratifies, our nation will have to come in compliance with our “foreign policy”. If you think that is far-fetched then look at history, Ambassador (retired) John MacDonald organized the UN disabilities convention and as Ambassador McDonald has proudly told me, “That is what ADA and IDEA grew out of ADA will have to comply with the language ratified.
Isn’t it just allowing sign language or ensuring it for others?
No, it attempts to establish sign language as the preferred language of the “deaf community”. That means that the “preferred communication modality of the child” will be sign. Parents will have their choice removed. Statements that sign is the natural and preferred language of the deaf will allow states, school districts and others to support only sign. This is a deliberate and strategic move to undermine parental choice and listening and spoken language options for children.
The ADA and other disability laws do not currently include deaf-specific language; the CRPD recognizes sign language and deaf culture as “human rights”, and includes language such as “deaf culture”, “linguistic identity”, and “deaf community”. We do not object to competent sign language rights, but rather to the exclusive use of the terms and the pre-emptive strike against parental rights and family culture.
Please call YOUR Senator today and email or phone Senator Kerry (Committee Chair) and other members of the committee (listed below) and state:
1. The CRPD as written is biased toward the signing deaf community and the oral deaf community has had no representation in this process. NAD is an organization, which has done an excellent job in advancing the agenda of the signing deaf community, but not the large and growing oral deaf community. Provide them with this contact info:
YOUR own name and parent group contacts (i.e. PA Coalition)
You may include mine if you would like Theresa Bulger tdb@privatepublicsolutions.org
2. Request that the legislation either strike all reference to “deaf” or that it provide inclusive language, that CRPD make references to the signing deaf community and the oral deaf community. The term deaf community implies an agreement and authority that simply do not exist.
Suggest that the current language should not imply that the state is literally determining the culture, language and mores of all deaf people based on a faction. You might also mention that NAD has business backings with a guaranteed voting block at their meetings. (The signing deaf industry of relay operations, interpreters and videophone service?s is financially propelling this forward.)
3. Suggest that language would ideally state that we recognize that the deaf community is a rich and varied one, many members of the deaf community choose to use sign language and many members of the deaf community choose to use spoken language. There need to be access, equitable funding, competent educational facilities and expertise in providing options in both modalities. There needs to be reference to the right of a deaf person to have access to the full gamut of communication options including sign language and auditory oral
4. Ask if there has been a review of the financial impact of this legislation?
Sample email:
RE: Concerns with Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
I am writing to you today because I am alarmed that the proposed language for the ratification of the CRPD is biased, antiquated and not inclusive of the swelling numbers of Oral Deaf Children and Adults. As your constituent, I request that you not support the CRPD at the Committee meeting on July 26th, vote against the treaty in Committee, and do not move it forward to a floor vote in the Senate as written.
I encourage you (as your constituent) and as ( a member of the oral deaf community/parent/taxpayer) to include representation from the Oral Deaf Community, rather than advance a non inclusive agenda. Unintended consequences of this ratification may result in a loss of services for children and families who choose a spoken language alternative.
Thank you,
(YOUR name here)
  1. David Brown says:

    Please make Asl top preferred language. Not Deaf community.. But Asl!

  2. ronald delvisco says:

    Hi….I learned about the “lobbying” to Senators several hrs ago and it was past the deadline. I can understand that this may be the last minute…But can we try to improve things in the future by notifying the community in advance? I live in the DC area and wd be more than happy to give each Senator at the Congress a letter!

  3. BethAnn says:

    I don’t understand the problem? I support the bill in general and like this blog, but having read the email I kind of think it makes a point if you think about it! I want ASL to be accessible for all, but I think I see the problem! I think the way it is written might not keep that choice for those who want to have different options, and if that happens, we’re not standing up for EVERYBODY! Like I said, I support Deaf community but I think maybe we shouldn’t get really angry with the email because then we might miss a good point?

  4. This bill is a international treaty focused on those countries that don’t allow the use of sign language at ALL. It supports the use of Sign Language and supports Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. That is why EVERY major disability and Veteran group (Including the Union of the Deaf) around the world and in the USA support it. Check the facts – this letter is mistaken in its conculsions. Bob Dole, George Bush, John McCain support the CRPD!

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