Sheri Ann Farinha Angry at American Speech and Language Association

ASHA (American Speech and Language Association) released a statement sharing that ASHA does not support LEAD-K legislation that promotes the acquisition of ASL. They have listed several reasons for their opposition but mainly zoomed in on cost as one of their primary reasons.

ASHA has opposed LEAD-K legislation that promotes the acquisition of American Sign Language (ASL) over other forms of language or communication and establishes costly state committees that impose additional prescriptive assessment and data collection requirements that duplicate federal requirements.

Another issue is that they believe that data collection requirements are already required by the federal government and believe that this is duplicating cost and efforts unnecessarily.

ASHA supports a family’s right to choose the appropriate language; communication mode; and education plan for their child and affirms the decision-making authority of the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) and Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Individuals that are heavily involved in the LEAD-K National level such as Sheri Ann Farinha have spoken out against this statement accusing them of stealing the bill from the community.

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In response to this post, many leaders are angry.

AGBell has agreed to the LEAD K bill according to a Lead-K VA leader and to their surprise, the Virginia AGBell Chapter President personally showed up and shot down the bill. Now they are having to wait until 2020 to try again in Virginia for the fourth time. Apparently they are unaware of LEAD-K’s acknowledgement that state AGBell chapters don't have to follow legislation (support what has been written by LEAD-K/AGBell) and National LEAD-K agreed to it. So her complaints have no basis.

"It is recognized that some state chapters may decide not to pursue legislation. This is a state-by-state decision." AGBell FAQ on LEAD-K Agreement. This means that each state can decide whether they want to support the legislation that LEAD-K proposes. Therefore, the president of AGBell-VA was within her rights to do what she did.

“National LEAD-K is calling out National AGBell and VA AGBell about this - meanwhile - another year has to go by. “However she also states that AGBell and LEAD-K are not in bed with each other and so that in its right alone is why LEAD-K National has no basis to call them out.”

Patti Durr, a well known artist, in the community responds saying, “I still think LEAD-K should call on AGBell to set ASHA straight. AG-Bell and LEAD-K made a big deal about this "historic agreement" and when ASHA misrepresents and condemns LEAD-K they are misrepresenting and condemning AG-Bell so since AG-Bell speaks the same language as ASHA - if I was LEAD-K - I would to "ahem ahem AG Bell talk to ASHA." 

Some people responded to Sheri’s post with their interpretations of what the ASHA modification is. One person said that they duplicated the Lead-K Model Bill (and didn’t hide the fact) and twisted to oral only methods. Unfortunately it was responded by one of the Lead K national leaders that it was hysterical. There was no further effort to repair the misinformation.

Taking the time to review the ASHA proposed LEAD-K Model Bill, the first thing noticed is that the same Lead-K VA leader did not read the bill at all because there is no effort in ASHA on removing “ASL or any other signing mode of communication” from their example. National LEAD-K is not correcting them in any way nor is she taking the time to clarify anything when somebody misunderstands. Does this mean she does not understand the bill or is she intentionally misleading people? It is accurate to reflect that they did take out parts like data, language assessments, and advisory councils from the model bill.

The community wants to maintain control over this bill however as fragmented as it is already, how is this going to happen when National LEAD-K does not provide support or maintain control over the bills to ensure quality control. Many leaders involved in LEAD-K have stated that National LEAD-K do not get involved unless they are asked. Ever since the fiasco with AGBell, LEAD-K has been slowly losing their credibility with the community. Is this another effort at shooting themselves in the foot or is it time for Sheri to step down and have new leaders take over in order to save LEAD-K from facing its demise?

LEAD-K had a lot of support from the community until it became clear that they were wording the bill to include all modes of communication not limiting families to American Sign Language.

Now, in opposing view, the ASHA bill is inadequately written. DSTidbit News’ Bill Analyst reviewed both bills and found several issues with the one written by ASHA. The main issue focused on was that “Section A(8) seems like wiggle room to convince the parents their child is different. Enabling one agency to pressure the parents legally.” Another issue that was pointed out is that in section A(2) it emphasizes “one" of the chosen language or mode of communication. Why would parents be forced to choose one or the other?

Another thing about the ASHA bill is: they list 3 point of contacts- Parent resources, department, and lead agency. The lead agency is the state agency tasked with the responsibility. There is no clear indication on who the department belongs to. The department is tasked with providing parent resources. Who manages the parent resources? Who is the department? There are no real answers so therefore ASHA bill’s weak as well.