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Dec 11 / admin

Deafhood 101 Testimonial from Kristeena Thaten

Deafhood 101 Kristeena Testimonial from The Deafhood Foundation on Vimeo.

Dec 11 / admin

A message from Eberwein Zornoza Family.

Eberwein Zornoza Kids from The Deafhood Foundation on Vimeo.

Sep 29 / admin

Deaf Women of Color Will Receive $5,000 from Deafhood Foundation for 2014

Announcing 2014 Deafhood Foundation Grant from The Deafhood Foundation on Vimeo.


With much pride and joy, the Deafhood Foundation is announcing that its grant of  $5,000 will be presented to Dr. Laurene Simms of Deaf Women of Color. She will spend a year developing and directing a documentary titled “Eyes of Color”.  The film will show how Deaf People are being redefined through a multicultural lens.

The intent is to explore and promote a new multicultural and social justice framework in pedagogy for Deaf learners.  This is critical and it will require a transformational change in teaching.  As teachers become more aware, students will become better learners.

A $3,000 grant from Walk for ASL will be given in 2015 after a new set of applications is received.  The grant will be for projects with ASL-related studies/activities.  If anyone is interested in applying for this, please look for the announcement on the Deafhood Foundation website in 2015.

The Deafhood Foundation was incorporated in 2009.  Dedicated to achieving economic and social justice for all Deaf people, it has the goal of providing annual grants to increase the understanding of Deafhood by both individuals and organizations.  The Foundation’s first grant was to a youth leadership camp in Washington in 2012.  And it 2013 it gave a grant to an organization of performing arts and another to a creative reading program.
As part of our outreach, the foundation presented The Deafhood Monologues in California and in Washington.  More performances will be offered in other states.  Deafhood 101 classes offerings have expanded.

Along with providing grants, the foundation also engages in consulting, outreach, and networking.  The website is available to anyone who wishes to know more about the foundation.  Deafhood Discussions have been added to the website this year and is drawing audiences daily.

Sep 29 / admin

Ella’s Thumbs October 2014

2014-09 EllaThumbs1 from The Deafhood Foundation on Vimeo.


translation / summary of Ella’s Thumbs #1 October 2014

Ella’s Thumbs will be a part of the Deafhood Foundation e-newsletter. For each e-newsletter, I will discuss one THUMBS-UP and one THUMBS-down topic that affect Deaf people and Sign Language. Reasons and explanations will be given for each selected topic. The intention of this part is not to degrade or to promote, but to share information, raise awareness and/or encourage reflective dialogues among members of the community.

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this segment are entirely mine and not the Deafhood Foundation’s. The Foundation is providing me space in this e-newsletter as it always supports Deaf-centered discourses.

The topics:

THUMBS-UP: the ASL 1-10 Number Stories – the recent rage on Facebook

THUMBS-DOWN: The business of Signing Songs – not all of them get “thumbs down” from me, though. Those that do are videos and actions by people like Tina and Paul. To cap this example, Tina is an interpreter in a mainstreamed setting. Paul, her finance, doesn’t know sign but is learning some from her. They videotaped themselves practicing a signed song, they plan to do for their upcoming wedding, while driving. This video went viral and as a result, they set up fundraising to make more videos of signed songs as well as teaching some signs.

THUMBS-UP: The ASL 1-10 Number Stories

This has been considered a genre of ASL literature for a long time. It works by taking the handshapes of the cardinal numbers in ASL, in this instance between 1 and 10, and by matching signs with the handshapes to create a flowing story that is sensible with a plot within those constraints. For Number 1 a sign that matches the handshape must be found, and then the same for Number 2 and so on. The story must have continuity from Numbers 1 through 10. The hardest parts are usually the signs with handshapes for numbers 6 and 7 as there is quite limited number of signs with those hand shapes. Signs can be slightly modified but can’t go too far where it looks strange or doesn’t make sense. Yes, it can be challenging! it’s also fun. It is great entertainment. Some of the stories popping in Facebook have been really awesome. For me, seeing all those stories on Facebook has been an immensely enriching experience.

One great bonus with these ASL 1-10 stories is due to its constraints, it is a good way for the narrator to focus on telling the story without any undue influence from English. This will be a challenge that helps us all to appreciate ASL more. This challenge going viral on Facebook has been true delight!

You can see collections of the stories from Facebook in these two places: 1) the Facebook page called “ASL 1-10 Stories” and 2) the YouTube account for

THUMBS-DOWN: The idea of signing songs

The idea of “music” among Deaf people is rather murky. It may be assumed that it’s because of “lack of hearing” that makes Deaf people at a disadvantage when it comes to hearing music. No it’s not that. It’s beyond that. It’s related to the idea of culture. Paddy Ladd has mentioned somewhere, maybe in his book, that music is often a good way for people from different cultures to reach out to each other and to appreciate each other. That’s one positive aspect. Yet, there can be some dangers. For example, if members of a majority or dominant culture are drawn or fascinated with music from a minority or sub culture, appropriation can happen where the dominant cultures takes the other culture’s music and takes over the marketing and production and reap profits off it. It would be better and more appropriate if the sub or minority culture create and control the marketing and production of their music to others. This should gain respect from the majority as well.

Now, among Deaf people, many of us may think it pretty weird that because we don’t hear, we would want to dabble in production and marketing of our music, that is if we do have any. Some of us may claim that “silence is golden” and that we really don’t need music to exist. That may be how some of our dialogues may appear.

However, let’s take a look at what “music” actually is. Does it require “good hearing”? Apparently not. And apparently it’s not a requirement to “hear” music.

Last May, I had the opportunity to go to Rochester, NY, to join a small group of people (Deaf artists) in a filming and discussion project hosted by the Deaf Cultural Centre of Toronto, Canada, as part of a grant they received related to the idea of “Sign Music.” It was a wonderful gathering and we had some good discussions. We realized more and more that music is not related to hearing, but it’s more of a matter of rhythm, that comes from deep inside us, that inspires and moves us. Some express the inspiration through the ears and mouth. Some express with “beats” with the body, such as dancing. There are other ways as well.

Also, apparently different cultures have different measurements and expectations of music. For example, a culture may have three strings on a guitar-like instrument, with an established set of pitches. Other culture(s) may use four strings and a different set of pitches, while yet others use five strings and so forth. There is also the different preferences and tendencies for “beats” for rhythm. Some may go 1-2-3, 1-2, 1-2-3. Others go 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, all evenly emphasized. Sometimes they go 1-2 with strong emphasis, then 3-4 with softer emphasis. It may also go 1 with stronger emphasis, but 2-3-4 softer. Those are cultural and passed down throughout generations. This means it applies to Deaf culture as well. And of course we do have those examples in some of our artistic endeavors and folklore. Yes, there are a lot of potential for more, especially if we recognize the oppression we experience and become more free to create new ideas and possibilities.

We explored with some of that in Rochester. It was an exciting time.

The problem currently as we notice in a lot of our social media, such as Tina and Paul, and some done by Deaf people as well, is that songs/music from the “hearing” culture is the focus as attempts of translations into ASL are done on the songs. The background instrumental music is “hearing”. The lyrics of the song is from the “hearing” culture. In short, everything is “hearing” but superimposed with ASL signs. There is practically nothing cultural or relevant for Deaf people.

Also, what is the purpose of doing this “song signing”? Is it to satisfy Deaf people’s access or curiosity about the contents of the songs? Or is it to show how “beautiful” ASL can be when done simultaneously with the songs?
The latter is dangerous. How will the ASL be evaluated? Who says if the ASL is acceptable, makes sense, is an appropriate equivalent to the lyrics in the song? Is the mood, nuance, affect of the signing comparable to those in the song? So often, examples of these signed songs are hands waving in the air with some signs not stringed together in a sensible way, along with different facial expressions with unclear meaning or grammatical use. Naive non-signers watch them and the rhythm of the hand moving and facial expressions appear to match the one in the song and claim it is awesome and beautiful. What qualifications do those people have to evaluate the performance? Even those who can hear and know some ASL are biased and drawn to the heard part and have no idea of what it truly appears to one who totally watches the show without hearing or knowing the words. Most of not all of the time, those performances do not make sense nor is culturally appropriate for those people. Yet, if we protest or criticize them, we are criticized instead, and are called haters, jealous, practicing rejection, are narrow minded, etc. This is not right.

And what’s more, if these performers get paid for the presentation, where does the money go? Typically, to themselves, for more production of same senseless, culturally irrelevant stuff while many of us struggle to get our language and cultural acknowledged and respected. Our Deaf children are mostly denied ASL in their education and our language and culture are not valued as a part of the education process. These kinds of performance do not really help solve this deeply serious problem affecting our Deaf babies and children and their families.

That’s why I am giving this kind of ASL use THUMBS-DOWN.

However, I am totally for Deaf-cultural centered creative ways of expressing music – Sign Music. Yes, I am for it.

Look forward to continuing this kind of discussion and exploration and creating.

Thank you for watching. Until the next time!

Ella Mae Lentz

Sep 29 / admin

Bethany Gehman on Deafhood 101

Bethany Gehman’s Testimonial on Deafhood 101 Class from The Deafhood Foundation on Vimeo.

Bethany Gehman
Human Sexuality Presenter

Sep 29 / admin

Brian Leffler on Deafhood 101

Brian Leffler Testimony from The Deafhood Foundation on Vimeo.

Brian Leffler
ASL Professor
University of Georgia

Sep 22 / admin

Mark Drolsbaugh to Present on “Madness in the Mainstream” via Livestream at Brown University

Madness in the Mainstream
By Mark Drolsbaugh

Wednesday, Sept. 24th, 7 pm – 9 pm

The event will be live streamed with ASL interpreters and captions here: No registration is required. Just click on the link just before the event starts and access the live streaming.

Brown University
Friedman Auditorium
Metcalf Research Building
Room 101
190 Thayer Street
Providence, RI 02912

FREE & Refreshments will be served

ASL interpreters and captioning will be provided. The Friedman Auditorium is ADA accessible.

Deaf students are often placed in mainstreamed educational settings in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Many of these students succeed in what’s considered the Least Restrictive Environment of the mainstream.

Or do they?

Madness in the Mainstream is a rare account of what goes on behind the scenes. Deaf author Mark Drolsbaugh pulls no punches as he reveals the consequences of life in the mainstream for Deaf students.

Dig into this book and discover:
· The biggest myths in Deaf education
· What Deaf students aren’t telling their teachers
· The long-term effects of mainstreaming and how to address them
· The impact on students with cochlear implants
· Survival skills of the Deaf
· Social bluffing vs. self-advocacy
· Eye-opening, real-life stories

With his blend of humor and a tell-it-like-it-is approach—and surprisingly candid input from his Deaf son—Drolsbaugh takes you on a wild ride through the hidden reality of mainstream education.

About the Author:
Mark Drolsbaugh graduated from Gallaudet University with a B.A. in Psychology (1992) and an M.A. in School Counseling and Guidance (1994). He currently works as a school counselor at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. An avid writer, Mark has had numerous articles published in national Deaf publications such as DeafNation, Silent News, and SIGNews. He wrote his first book, Deaf Again, in 1997 (four editions have been published, the most recent in 2008). In 2004 Mark published Anything But Silent, an anthology of his work as a newspaper columnist. He then collaborated with a team of other writers to publish On the Fence: The Hidden World of the Hard of Hearing in 2007. His fourth book, Madness in the Mainstream, was completed in 2013. Mark currently lives in North Wales, PA, with his wife Melanie and their three children.

For more information contact:
Pamela Zellner

Sponsored by:
Hamilton Relay
Brown University, Center for Language Studies
Rhode Island Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (RICDHH)

Jun 5 / admin

Deafhood Foundation’s Letter to CEASD on Oral Option Schools

Download: Letter to CEASD [PDF]

May 30, 2014

P.O. Box 1778
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-1776

Dear CEASD Board and Members,

The Deafhood Foundation believes the proposed partnership between CEASD and OPTION Schools (oral/aural) is ill-advised, an extreme move counter to CEASD’s mission, will harm Deaf children and it will perpetuate the cycle of denying economic and social justice for Deaf people. We believe that a partnership with OPTION Schools contradicts CEASD’s goals and detracts from CEASD’s vision of shaping educational policy and practice to ensure that all Deaf students achieve successful outcomes and are valued and fully participating members of society, including the global Deaf communities.

The Deafhood Foundation requests CEASD and its members to reconsider this partnership idea. Based on research and first hand experience, the Deafhood Foundation believes successful outcomes for all Deaf children must include the following:

  • High family involvement to learn and use ASL in the home immediately after the child is identified as Deaf so the child can produce higher language outcomes and healthy family relationships.
  • Bilingualism and bi-literacy, in at least ASL and English (reading and writing) and American Deaf culture and other cultures surrounding Deaf people, so Deaf children can achieve linguistic and educational benefits of learning both (and other) languages and learning about their cultures.
  • Recognize and raise awareness that being Deaf is not a medical event and that the optimal resolution is for society to respect and involve Deaf people as a diverse part of humanity.
  • Recognize the importance of Deaf-space audism-free, empowered classrooms that includes Bilingual (ASL/English literacy), Deaf Culture, Deaf role models, Deaf studies, Deaf history and arts, and use the reframing approach of Deaf-gain instead of hearing loss. This type of educational system strengthens and nurtures the Deaf children and parents.

It is important for the community to be aware that the Oberkotter Foundation has supported over 50 oral/aural schools for more than 20 years. However, Oberkotter Foundation altered their funding priorities to include birth-to-three years old early intervention programs by educating babies early in oral/aural methods. When the child becomes three years old, the OPTION Schools then present the parents with choices and parents usually prefer their child to remain “hearing-like/oral,” in spite of the research that indicates that the oral method is not a successful method of Deaf children learning.

This change is where OPTION Schools face new challenges. Public schools are now hiring their own Deaf/HH preschool teachers who use oral/aural method, theory, and philosophy. This has an affect on OPTION Schools’ enrollments and funding. To counter this problem, the OPTION Schools are now turning to Deaf schools, which are usually funded by the government, to become their partners.

In government funded Deaf schools, three-year-old preschool students enroll in Bilingual (ASL/English literacy) programs; however, some parents and OPTION Schools’ people are pushing these schools to provide auditory-oral methods. OPTION Schools claim that the Bilingual (ASL/English literacy) approach in the Deaf government schools cannot successfully teach Deaf children because these schools do not have Listening and Spoken Language/Auditory Verbal Therapy (LSL/AVT) licenses or that they cannot speak English clearly. Therefore, the Bilingual (ASL/English literacy) schools are strongly being encouraged to hire LSL/AVT licensed teachers and eventually eliminate Deaf teachers and Deaf staff and their bi-lingual programs. The moral metaphor is that OPTION Schools have been firing blanks at ASL and with the agreement in place; CEASD is giving them the bullets to finally kill ASL and successful Deaf students.

It is no longer justifiable and a grave injustice to continue advocating for auditory-oral approaches because history and research have identified tragic byproducts of language and cultural delays in too many Deaf children as the result of exclusionary clinical practices of programs or organizations with the mentality of OPTION Schools. CEASD partnering with OPTION Schools is a serious contradiction of what research has shown as an effective educational approach and CEASD’s mission. This partnership will likely repeat the infamous Milan incident of 1880 that divided Deaf education, the history and the lives of Deaf people.

Therefore, we believe that CEASD’s partnership with OPTION Schools is morally and ethically wrong.

We strongly urge CEASD to not partner with OPTION Schools, and instead request that OPTION Schools apologize for the harm that they have caused, discontinue their practice of using auditory- oral approaches, and adopt an ASL-English bilingual-bicultural philosophy for the welfare of all Deaf children.

Through a partnership with OPTION Schools, does CEASD want the responsibility of the second wave of the Milan Conference?

Marilyn Jean Smith, Organizing Chair

CC: Paddy Ladd, Ella Mae Lentz, Ritchie R. Bryant, Melvin Patterson, Terri Waddell-Motter, Kevin Clark,  Timothy B. Riker, Raja Rajeshwari, Judy Gough, Mel Carter, Butch Zein, Marvin Miller and the Deaf community


May 10 / admin

Deafhood Foundation 2013 Annual Report in ASL & English

We have also made English version of the 2013 Annual Report available to download in PDF format. In the print version, the financial report is also included.

2013 Annual Report Picture





Download: Deafhood Foundation Annual Report 2013

Apr 7 / admin

Presentation on Language Deprivation Risks Now Available Online!



Hosted by the American Sign Language Studies program at the Center for Language Studies and the Program for Liberal Medical Education.

The single greatest risk faced by Deaf people is inadequate exposure to a usable first language. Dr. Gulati will review recent research which validates the anatomical basis and time course of the critical period for first language acquisition, and which shows the risks to the development of empathic abilities among children who are language-deprived.

About the Lecture:
Sanjay Gulati, M.D. is a Deaf child and adolescent psychiatrist who works at the Deaf & Hard of Hearing Service at Cambridge Hospital and the Deaf & Hard of Hearing Program at Children’s Hospital, Boston. He consults to a variety of Deaf-related programs. His primary area of research interest is the effects of language deprivation. He is co-editor of “Mental Health Care for Deaf People” (Erlbaum, 2003) and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

The lecture will be ASL interpreted and CART services will be provided. Friedman Auditorium is ADA accessible.

Contact: For more information, contact