Audism Free America Stands with ROAR in Letter to AGBell CEO

Audism Free America (AFA) released a “Open ASL Video Letter” and included a written letter by Reframing Our ASL Rights (ROAR) to the CEO of AGBell, Emilio and to the larger AG Bell community. AFA’s commitment to Veditz’s mission to end Adusim and Linguisticism is the driving force behind their sharing the letter and requesting a meeting to clarify further demands in this letter. In this open letter, a couple things are brought out in the open.

Audism Free America has clearly stated that they stand with ROAR. In their letter AFA highlighted their focus on American Sign Language (ASL) and removing Audism. We (AFA) urge you to acknowledge R.O.A.R (Reframing Our ASL Rights) Open Letter and we demand your answer “AG Bell, how can you support and invest in ASL?” (AFA Letter) It has also been pointed out that AGBell has formed an alliance “which has divided the community” (AFA) with LEAD-K which is a nation-wide movement to get children ages 0-5 ready for Kindergarten. AFA states perception of audism as a reason for division. In result of the alliance, AFA stated that the AGBell organization will have allowed 140 years of Audism and Linguisticism to continue. It is unclear on whether this is a statement that the LEAD-K Bill is a form of audism or if the AGBell organization needs to step back to allow the community decide how they want to address language deprivation of children from 0-5.

In Sacramento, CA on October 30, 2018 it was announced that ten representatives (five from each organization, AGBell and LEAD-K) had a “historic meeting to discuss shared goals related to language acquisition and literacy.” in this meeting both organizations recognized and decided to work together to benefit children from age 0-5 regardless of language choice, ASL, English, or both. This led to the agreement that the LEAD-K model bill would be amended. This is the partnership/allyship that ROAR and AFA are addressing in this letter. They also stated that there would be no reparations made, nor accountability from what AGBell has done to Deaf people for centuries if this agreement were to continue. They want the AGBell CEO to acknowledge all of the damages that AGBell has done for they have maintained an organization wide stance on things that are perceived as audist by AFA.

Another issue they had was the way that AGBell highlights a contradictory statement in their beliefs in the LEAD-K bill. “Whether Deaf children need technical assistance is a matter of debate and it is unlikely that the AG Bell Association can provide “balanced” information about this when they have been heavily invested in cochlear implant companies.” (AFA Open Letter)

The letter includes the three missions that ROAR has
1) End Agreement with AG Bell 
2) Remove other options (other communication modes) 
3) Open and Transparent Communication with Deaf Community

About Trisha:

Trisha Withem is the co-founder of The Deaf Report where she works to bring news to the community. She graduated with her BS and MS from Rochester Institute of Technology and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Follow her on Twitter: @TrishaTDR