LEAD-K Open Letter to Karl White

Dear Karl White, NCHAM,

I am in receipt of your correspondence denying our request for reconsideration for our workshop to be recognized as part of 2018 EHDI conference. We are extremely dismayed and surprised by the Reviewers comments:

· Abstract is not sufficient enough to inform me what the overall intended impact will be. Is this driven by evidences in the field? Literature review? Not clear how this is directly tied with language acquisition.

· I feel like this is the same presentation that was presented last year in which the authors chastised the audience for not being more open to working with the Deaf community.

I checked in with the other presenters, and people who were present at the workshop last year. None of us recall any such discussion that “chastised the audience” for not being more open to working with the Deaf community. We believe they are not only unfair statements, but unprofessional as well, with obviously a hidden bias making statements that are fabricated.

In fact, the heart of our presentation was how two groups (who were presenting) who were on opposite sides of Deaf Education spectrum, was able to put aside our differences and work together toward the common goal of language acquisition of Deaf children ages 0-5 yrs. old. The message we clearly conveyed was to encourage all to find common ground to work together. Because, that is what we truly believe in. However, how can we possibly get there if you are acting as a barrier to inclusion and common actions. There will always be differences of opinions, but there should never be barriers blocking people from coming together to support a common purpose – language acquisition and development for all deaf and hard of hearing children.

As deaf leaders involved in a field, EHDI, until the last few years we were never welcomed at this conference – oddly enough, a conference that was about Deaf individuals but discouraged Deaf individuals from attending. Because of this, I am sure that our presence naturally may have made some folks people feel uncomfortable, being that we are Deaf and we use ASL.

However, it certainly does not give you nor the reviewers the right to mislead and twist information that was stated at the workshop. We have evidence supporting how our workshop was conveyed. I am seriously disappointed that the reviewers have taken it upon themselves to perpetuate the bias against Deaf involvement or Deaf leadership that has existed so many years and continue to plague the field. You are allowing this bias to take place.

We request the names of the reviewers be disclosed for public purposes to ensure the integrity of the workshop selection process. The EHDI Conference, under your leadership should be promoting the full spectrum of perspectives with your selection of workshops including those that support Deaf leadership.

Furthermore, it has been LEAD-K attending past EHDI conferences, who were instrumental to the awareness campaign about the language deprivation epidemic and the need to focus on Language Acquisition and Development which is now one of the key strands slated for this upcoming EHDI. And this is why we should have been approved to come back.

NACHAM promoted in an e-blast, that the Conference will include:

“Language Acquisition & Development (e.g., helping early intervention specialists, parents, and others understand the language development process, understand the impact of early language development on achieving school-readiness and social/emotional well being; research on evaluation and intervention driven by language assessment; giving families tools and strategies to evaluate and maximize language acquisition/development on an ongoing basis).

Everything listed in that description above, is exactly what LEAD-K legislation purports, promotes, and supports and yet, you and your reviewers rejected us. In essence, you have intentionally eliminated LEAD-K from being at the table. This is not acceptable.

I am taking this one step further and bringing this complaint to the attention of CDC, along with key members of Congress and others. It is obvious you and the reviewers think that now that the reauthorization of EHDI is over, you can go back to discriminating against Deaf individuals, our legislation, and showing up at hearings to show your support for only AGB, who by the way has multiple workshops at EHDI.

The BIAS against LEAD-K and all Grassroots Deaf Leaders and Stakeholders who are Parents who use ASL and English, both or one of these languages, is clear and evidenced.

No one, not even you, are above the laws that protect us.

Sheri Farinha, Campaign Director