Deaf Bilingual Coalition's Blog

May 12, 2010

Strong Letter to California Senators – Health Committee

Filed under: Uncategorized — dbcusa @ 10:33 pm

The AB2072 bill was created by biased supporters of oral-only programs which are backed by big buck $$$$$, including the Oberkotter Foundation, which only supports so-called “speaking and listening” programs, despite protestations to the contrary.

DBC urges California Senators of the Health Committee to oppose AB2072

Deaf Bilingual Coalition

May 11, 2010

Senators of the Health Committee,
The Deaf Bilingual Coalition urges you to OPPOSE AB2072 for these reasons:

  • AB2072 seeks to provide what the author of the bill calls “all communication options” to parents of deaf children directly via audiologists and “other professionals” (Why are these “other professionals” purposely not defined in the bill? This is a huge cause for concern.) Secondly, audiologists are NOT trained to provide information on pedagogy and are NOT trained in linguistics. They are trained to provide medical services and provide auditory technology.
  • The bill was created by biased supporters of oral-only programs which are backed by big buck $$$$$, including the Oberkotter Foundation, which only supports so-called “speaking and listening” programs, despite protestations to the contrary.
  • The author of the bill and the supporter’s programs profit directly from children who receive cochlear implants who are thereby steered into Auditory Verbal Therapy and other oral-only programs. They do NOT include American Sign Language in their programs and they inappropriately recommend/cajole/deceive parents into not allowing their children to use American Sign Language. The irony of this is that hearing babies are being taught ASL, but oral-only proponents are attempting to deny Deaf babies their human right to visual language, i.e., American Sign Language.
  • The authors of the bill seek to control the information that parents receive without any effective oversight or accountability, using their own funds. AB2072 provisions would bypass the already existing Early Start program which follows the guidelines of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention national program. EHDI programs and early intervention programs have standards of delivery of information to parents that include trained professionals who hold no extra-pedagogical biases.
  • AB2072 seeks to create, print, and disburse this information to parents without defining WHO will create the materials, WHAT exactly will be in the materials (except for inaccurately invoking the deceptive “options” terminology, which serves as a cover for the attempt to impose one “option”) and WHO will pay for these materials. And there is NO real stakeholder collaboration called for in the bill.
  • AB2072 will inappropriately allow one proportionately small sector of vested interests (who purport to be educators) to create and disburse material to be distributed to parents under the auspices of a state program WITHOUT the Early Start oversight, without accountability, and without following standards of avoiding non-research-based bias.
  • This bill was created WITHOUT the real participation of American Sign Language/English Bilingual Stakeholders. American Sign Language is the dominant language of the Deaf Community in America. ASL is a LANGUAGE. It is not a “menu option,” nor is it a philosophy. It is a visual language that is fully accessible and naturally acquired by Deaf children. Many deaf people who were raised orally were not introduced to ASL as young children. This actually caused their language acquisition to be delayed and this practice causes other cognitive, academic, social and emotional development problems. The right to fluency in a natural language is a human right. No one has the right to deny any child, deaf or hearing, access to natural language, especially people who are acting on behalf of corporate front organizations which are trying to control parental choice through the manipulation of the information provided. Please see for more information.

May 6, 2010

Urgent: Your Help is Needed!

Deaf Bilingual Coalition

DBC Newsblast – Urgent: Your Help is Needed!

Urgent: Your Help is Needed!

To help fight to kill the AB 2072 bill, please join our efforts by donating to California Association of the Deaf (CAD) to help cover lobbying funds. Every dollar will make a difference in helping to promote the best interest for the future of families of Deaf babies to have more access to bilingual information.

If you are interested in making a donation to oppose the bill, you can make a payment on CAD’s website at:

Click on “Donate to CAD” to donate.

To learn more about AB2072, go to:


©2010 Deaf Bilingual Coalition, all rights reserved.

April 7, 2010

New Website About California Dangerous AB 2072 Bill

Filed under: Uncategorized — dbcusa @ 2:57 pm

New Website, launched yesterday by a Deaf owned business, Brilliant Echo.  This website explains all about the Dangerous AB 2072 Bill and why it must not be passed.

Please tell and forward to all friends, organizations, schools.

Thank you

John Egbert, Deaf Bilingual Coalition

April 6, 2010

DBC OPPOSE Dangerous California AB 2072 Bill

Why is California AB 2072 Bill is Dangerous to Deaf babies and children in school?

Read below from parents and Educators:

Fatal Flaw #1 The Bill’s over emphasis on communication options which implies that parents should pick only one option. Parents should not be forced to say no to any opportunity. Picking one option over another would only rob the child of the ability and opportunity for full language acquisition. Remember that In order for a child to learn to communicate, he or she must have a developed language foundation. That development comes from access to and consistent exposure to language. Metaphorically, when a parent is offered “soup or salad” they need to know that they can just say “YES”.

Fatal Flaw # 2
: Audiologists are legislatively being put into a situation where they become the de facto first contact early intervention. Audiologists are trained to focus on the hearing, and a “fix it” approach. They can not see, what parents need to see, that the result of a hearing test is not the result of an intelligence test. The vast majority of audiologists do not know the importance of a child becoming bilingual in English & ASL and the positive impact that can have future academic results. The vast majority of audiologists do not have early intervention training. The vast majority do not have a parents’ experience of raising a deaf or hard or hearing child. The vast majority have not accessed the experiences of Deaf adults which are, so to speak, the living end result of our system.

Fatal Flaw # 3: Eliminating the restriction on only consumer based organizations for support. Without this important restriction, early intervention is opened up to the forces of the business and specifically to those organizations that are associated with their products or services. This is a tragic mistake. Deaf and hard of hearing children should not be treated as a market to be exploited. They and their parents need to be serviced by those consumer based organizations whose concern is about the success and happiness of their children.

We are currently struggling with a problem of tragic portions, as California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell pointed out in his 2007 State of Education Address, “Closing the Achievement Gap for the Deaf”

In English-language arts, (2-12 grade)
•    92% of our deaf students are not at Grade Level
•    85% of our hard-of-hearing students are not at Grade Level
•    As measured on the California Standards Test

In Mathematics, (2-12 grade)
•    90% of our deaf students are not at Grade Level
•    82% of our hard-of-hearing students are not at Grade Level
•    As measured on the California Standards Test.AB 2072 is fatally flawed 3 ways:

From Tony Ronco, President of


VLOG from Ella Lentz – Hey Californians, OPPOSE AB2072!!!!!!!


Another letter from an Educator:

March 29, 2010

The Honorable Assemblymember Mendoza,

On behalf of the entire Deaf community, I am writing in opposition to AB 2072, yet another money-grabbing effort by capitalists hell-bent on short-term profits and deferring long-term problems for our government to inevitably bail out. The days of corporate welfare are now nearing its end, but you wouldn’t know this with the so-called “California Coalition”. This “coalition” purports to represent the best interests of the Deaf child, but if you look closely, you will see that there is not one Deaf organization or leader in this “coalition”.

This is simple, really. There are two views of Deaf children; one as human beings with every right to grow into good citizens, the other as money-making appartuses. In order for people like this “coalition” to glean profits off Deaf children, they urgently need society AND governments to perceive Deaf children as disabled, and that the “fix” is to “just” pour money and efforts into the “ear”- be it amplification, implantation, or enlargement. They need parents of Deaf children to constantly grieve, and to seek help in the form of audiologists; of which a runaway percentage are in private practice and regularly work with this “coalition”. The audiologists steer them away from actual BEST PRACTICES in education and child-rearing, and into an endless cycle of follow-up appointments, surgeries, shuttling between private anti-education programs, and so on until parents reach the point of frustration (which is usually after around 7-10 years of not signing with their child, and seeing their child fall further and further behind in school.)

We all know what happens to our citizens when they don’t receive education. Off to the welfare rolls they go to. Oh, while we are at it, let’s continue throwing good money after bad. Here’s a real good story; this “coalition” has been actively seeking ways to funnel PUBLIC money into PRIVATE money-making schemes. See the Alexander Graham Bell Association’s Children’s Legal Advocacy Program (“CLA”) where they successfully sued a southern California public school district into paying a family’s PRIVATE anti-education program for their Deaf child. This is only the beginning. This “coalition” will not stop until they have stripped California dry and have all Deaf children in private programs and bill it all to the good and hard-working tax-payers of California. Don’t let them do to us what Enron did to California.

So, I can imagine that our honorable Assemblypeople and Senators would want to look at ACTUAL success stories where Deaf children receive actual education, their families are happy, and everybody turns into a tax-paying and contributing citizen of California. There are indeed PROVEN results out there. But first, let’s look at the problem before jumping to solutions. 69% of families of Deaf children do not regularly sign with them. Our State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O’Connell, in his 2007 State of Education address,, explained, “Historically, deaf and hard-of-hearing children have struggled to acquire literacy and other academic skills. This is not because they cannot hear. If hearing loss, in and itself caused academic failure, then all students with hearing loss would be failing, and they are not.” and, “It is a well-established fact in the field of deaf education that the deaf students who are most likely to succeed academically are those children…[who] have access to the visual language of their families (American Sign Language), and they acquire that language at the same rate that hearing children of hearing parents acquire spoken language… [consequently], they enter school with age-appropriate language skills, and they are well prepared to develop literacy skills.”

There are approximately 12,000 to 16,000 school-aged Deaf children in California, and 90% of them do not attend real educational programs where they are taught Advanced Placement English, Calculus, International Studies, Desktop Publishing, Web Design, and so forth (like the 1,000 students who attend the California Schools for the Deaf). 76% of these students in California are the only Deaf child in their areas. Now, Superintendent O’Connell informs us that… “only 8 percent of our Deaf students and 15 percent of our hard-of-hearing students score proficient or advanced on the California Standards Test for English-language arts.”

If 90% of our Deaf children are in programs all over California where they are not taught using American Sign Language and English, then it’s no wonder why only 8%-15% score proficient! (By the way, 55% of the most recent graduating class at the California School for the Deaf, Fremont, had passed the California High School Exit Examination. They had either signing parents since birth or attended actual educational programs since their formative years.) So, you see the correlation here. Something is terribly wrong, and this “coalition” is riding on that wrongness to enrich their wallets, starting with their agents, the audiologists.

Deaf children as normal and future tax-paying citizens…what a terrifying thought to this “coalition”! If society and our governments perceive Deaf children as normal to begin with, we all will be able to see through this latest scheme from the “coalition” clearly.

The California Deaf community is organizing, and becoming more attentive to the political stunts spurred by this “coalition”. For far too long we have been shut out of the political process, and the most innocent victims, our Deaf children, have paid the highest price. Deaf children is everybody’s business in California, and shouldn’t serve as money-making schemes which California will eventually and inevitably have to step in and bail out.

Standing up for the Deaf child could become a banner cause for you, with the entire Deaf community and our hearing parents and allies rallying around you. We are far bigger than this “coalition”, and the actual experts.

Thank you,

David Eberwein
Deaf Activist


And another letter from an Educator:

April 5, 2010

Assemblymember Audra Strickland
Assembly Health Committee

Dear Assemblymember Strickland,

I would like to go on record in opposition to AB 2072. It is my hope that any further movement in addressing the very critical issues related to language acquisition in deaf/hard-of-hearing infants will not be undertaken without meaningful consultation. This particular bill has moved forward without consultation with the extremely knowledgeable, articulate and highly motivated community of both deaf and hearing professionals and parents that recognize, both through research and personal experience, American Sign Language as a natural language that is effortlessly acquired by deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals that engage visually with their world.

I am a Professor and Coordinator of the Deaf Education Teacher Training and Masters Programs at the California State University, Northridge. I have been immersed in the literature and in the implementation of best practices in language acquisition and promoting language skills in deaf and hearing children for the past 30 years. Most regrettably, our field has been plagued with the implementation of one practice or procedure after another, with the hopes of “fixing” the language and literacy problems of deaf children. All have been unsuccessful! The language of “all communication options” has been presented to parents for many many years as if there were a set of equally viable choices, any one of which would result in successful outcomes for children. This simply has not been shown to be the case!

There is a large, and growing, community of professionals and parents invested in promoting the ensured success of deaf and hard of hearing children. The reports of low language proficiency have historically been perceived to be directly the result of a child’s deafness. However, research indicates that it is the delay in access to language that accounts in large part for these persistent gaps and deficits.

We are opposed to the notion of “options” as a meaningful way of approaching early intervention! Why must parents choose? If children are meaningfully presented with an easily accessible visual language – American Sign Language, and are also presented with whatever support is available to promote listening and speaking skills, the children will gravitate toward the modalities that best suit their needs! Let them have it ALL! There is absolutely no research to support the idea that the development of ASL skills inhibits a child’s ability to develop spoken English skills. Quite the contrary! Many many children, all over the world, grow up with more than one language as bilinguals or trilinguals, and do it quite proficiently! Why should we force the mentality of making a “choice”?

I strongly encourage you to oppose AB 2072 and encourage you to seek out consultation on the ramifications of perpetuating the myth of “a range of communication options” as the best approach in ensuring the successful outcomes for deaf/hard-of-hearing children.

Thank you,

Ellen Schneiderman, Ph.D.
Coordinator, Teacher Training and Masters Programs in Deaf Education

March 18, 2010

THE DBC MAINTAINS: It is Time to Change the EHDI System

Filed under: Uncategorized — dbcusa @ 11:10 pm


The Deaf Bilingual Coalition spearheaded an effort at the Chicago EHDI conference to change how EHDI runs its program for Deaf babies. The DBC repeatedly requested a meeting with the EHDI leadership and they finally agreed to have a meeting on Tuesday morning at 6:30 a.m.
This is the CART transcript showing how the meeting progressed. We had over 30 to 40 people in the meeting with concerns about how EHDI operates without any Deaf Professionals in the EHDI administration.

Please read carefully how EHDI officials communicate with the Deaf professionals and hearing allies during this meeting.


MARCH 2, 2010







PO BOX 278

LOMBARD, IL  60148
*  *  *  *  *
This transcript is being provided in a rough-draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings
*  *  *  *  *
Refinement of original rough draft  has included full identification of speakers (first & last names) and their respective organization,  explanations of acronyms, correction of spelling and transcription grammar errors.
* * * *
>> KARL WHITE (National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management, NCHAM,  EDHI Co-Sponsor -Leader):  Okay.  So welcome.  We’ll turn the time to John or David to start.

>> JOHN EGBERT (DBC Founder):  I thank all of you here as we start the day.  We have some rules.  Anyone who would like to speak, please raise your hand, and you must say your name first.  Identify yourself first, and it will be recorded on CART.

Give your name and what your role is.  My name is John Egbert, and I am the facilitator of this meeting.  So instead of having a lot of interruptions, I will try to facilitate and identify who is talking.  We’re going to start the meeting now.

David, if you would start?

>> DAVID O. REYNOLDS (DBC Board  Member at Large):  Thank you.  Thank you, John.  If you don’t mind, could someone close the door, please?  It’s a distraction for me.

I have already told people that the meeting will start at 6:30.  Good morning!  Good morning!  Congratulations to all of you people who got up so early this morning.  I know that we had to get up at 5:30, 5:45 and get ready and shower to look nice to be here this morning, so good morning and thank you.

I’d like to thank you all for coming to this meeting, and thank you, EHDI, for working so hard.  I know that EHDI is really making steps to have everything be successful, and I appreciate your effort.  We want to acknowledge that.

I want to thank you for your efforts to make this program better.  I would like to give you a little bit of history about why we decided to ask for this meeting today.

And I feel that’s important to share.  Last year we had a meeting Tuesday afternoon after the conference and that was last year.  With EHDI, all of the EHDI leaders.  We sat and we talked and proposed what we would like to see happen to improve the program, to have more Deaf people involved for this conference that serves Deaf children and babies.  So we talked and we made efforts and talked through the year, and we talked about areas that we feel need improvement, and that’s our history.  So letters back and forth, our dialogue was setup mostly with Karl White, and Karl if you could identify yourself.(Karl raises hand and nods)  So Karl White and I had a lot of dialogue back and forth, and he represents his group, and I represent our group.  So as we dialogued we had a very interesting good conversation.

We had a lot of discussions.  A lot of agreements and decisions to find the time for this meeting an opportunity where we could all have an open dialogue to talk about goals to make improvements.  That’s where we’re going to start today.

So is a good time to do that.  I am going to turn it over to Tami.  Our time is very limited.  I already told some of you we have 45 minutes.  The goal is to accomplish something, and I know that a lot of people who came here came for support and for solidarity and I appreciate that.  Thank you for that.  A lot of people wanted to come and watch just to support us.  Thank you for coming.  We appreciate that.  Your presence mean as lot.  So, Tami?

>> TAMI HOSSLER (DBC Board of Directors Member):  I am going to sit down and use the interpreter.  Everybody can see me?  We’re okay?  All right.  Good.  I am Tami, and I am a mother, older mother, my daughter is 25 now.  So I am one of the people in the 90%. — one of those mothers in the 90% hearing parents that have Deaf children.  And when Erica was born, I never had a Deaf person brought to me through early intervention.  Back 25 years ago there still wasn’t early intervention at the time.  So I never had a Deaf person brought to me.  It was up to me having to search out Deaf people to find them.  And so I started to wonder why that was.  And I started to look into early intervention and that sort of thing.  And what we have found is that the Deaf professionals are really missing at all levels in early intervention and detection, and I am talking about a critical mass of Deaf professionals at every level.
So we’re talking about national directors, state directors, state agency directors, service providers, Deaf mentors.  We really have such a small, small amount of Deaf people in the system.  So it’s interesting because recently this case study was sent to me by Barbara Raimondo [NAD Advocate Lawyer], and it was a case study just done and it’s talking about the interagency coordination of federal newborn hearing screening programs.  And it was written by ASTHO, which means the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.  And really it talks about how early detection and intervention and all of the departments and so forth, and all of the stakeholders are working together collaboratively, and how well the system is working.  And it really does show that the EHDI program is very successful in collaborating with organizations and inter-agencies.
But as we look at this, there were recommendations in here.  And one of those recommendations was that — well, here, first of all, one of those recommendations was to include members of the Deaf community as equal stakeholders as opposed to token participants requiring 50/50 split between Deaf and hearing committee members.  So that was one area that they identified as one of the greatest challenges.  And there are three they identified all together.  That was one.  The other is engaging in the Department of Education Part “C” services, and the other was sharing data among stakeholders.  So as we also look at this study, it showed — and I thought that this was really great — it shows all of the different stakeholders.  Basically, they’re all stakeholders.
But as I was looking through this, I really didn’t see any Deaf professional, ASL bilingual stakeholders in this group as a group themselves, as a stakeholder group themselves.  And so that’s basically — this sort of basically said everything that all of us have been thinking for a long time, is that we really need Deaf ASL professionals included into this stakeholder group, ASL users as well.  Not just Deaf, but hearing partnerships with Deaf professionals and this group that could become as these stakeholders are, advisory committees to EHDI so that we feel as though we are apart of EHDI as well.
So our recommendation today is that this group of stakeholders sets up an advisory committee or whatever it is that you call that, and work collaboratively with all of you at the national level so that we feel that we can share with you can you share with us and we feel included in the process so that when you need resources from Deaf professionals, or we need resources from you, we have an immediate connection to you versus not knowing where to go.  And so our recommendation is that we setup a stakeholders group.

>> BETH BENEDICT (ASDC President, (2010 Maxon Award winner for EDHI excellence), Gallaudet Professor):  I think maybe I would like them to respond. to that  I think that’s fair if you Karl, would like to respond first.  I’m sorry, my name is Beth Benedict, and I think that it’s a good time for a response because there are similar issues that have already been brought up.  Before we get going, first, I would like to thank you for a wonderful conference.  I have only been here for a few hours, but there are big changes, and I think that the bottom line here is, to summarize, is we need more involvement from the Deaf community.  The EHDI conference is improving, and we appreciate that.  At this level it’s improving.  But other programs that come from your funding, we would like to know how that would be handled.

>> KARL WHITE:  My name is Karl White, and I am one of the co-sponsors.  As you know   (Cell phone ringing interrupts — owner turns it off)  — there are four co-sponsors of this meeting.  The Centers for Disease Control  and Prevention [CDC] with John Eichwald being the team lead.  The American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP] with Michelle [Esquivel], and the Health Resource and Services Administration [HRSA] with Irene [Forsman] usually referred to as MCHB [Maternal and Child Health Bureau].
If you look in your conference program, it states that the goal of this conference is to improve EHDI programs, all aspects of the EHDI programs from screening, diagnosis, early intervention, medical home, family support programs, data and tracking, quality assurance, so there are many different aspects of EHDI.  And this conference is designed to respond to all of those aspects, and because of that it has many, many different stakeholders.  And we welcome advice and input from all of those stakeholders.  And we have received quite a bit, and there is not a federal advisory committee setup for this, and John can respond to what the requirements for having a scheduled advisory committee are which are quite complicated and extensive.
But we do receive input from many people, and welcome that at all times.  So if the Deaf Bilingual Coalition, or the National Association of the Deaf, or the American Society of Deaf children, or anyone of 100 other groups, and I am not exaggerating at all, not just Deaf, but speech-language pathologists, early interventionists, parent groups, medical associations want to give us input, they are not only welcomed but encouraged to do that, and we will receive good ideas from anybody at any time.  And we’ll probably receive some bad ideas from some of those groups also.  And we will sort through those and do the best that we can.  You mentioned the lack of Deaf professionals.  There are mechanisms to address that.  I would encourage you to look at the OSEP [Office of Special Education Programs] personnel preparation grants, to look at the MCHB communicative disorders training grants.
If there are not enough Deaf professionals in the field, the co-sponsors of EHDI are not going to solve that, but we would certainly welcome and if we could provide you with insight and support we would be happy to do that as you apply to those existing programs to increase the presence of Deaf individuals in the profession.
We do not have a quota system for any representatives.  We put together a planning committee at the beginning of each year.  This year that planning committee contrary to some of the information that was circulated had four Deaf people out of 13 appointees.  It had three additional parents of Deaf children.  I know some of you didn’t feel like we had the right Deaf people, but I think that is a great indication of how heterogeneous the Deaf community is.  And we will certainly continue to strive to have representation in that planning committee from all of the stakeholders, not just from Deaf people, but Deaf people are an important part of that group, as are physicians, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, parents, et cetera.
I would hope that none of the Deaf people or parents of Deaf people or anyone else on that committee this year felt like they were tokens.  It certainly didn’t appear to me that they felt like they were tokens, and there were a lot of suggestions made not only by Deaf people but by others as to what we ought to do with this conference.  And we took some risks in trying some of those.  So far what I’ve seen the things that we hadn’t done before that were a little risky, it worked out very well.  But we will continue to try and do new and somewhat innovative things with the conference.  Some of them will work, some of them won’t.  And we welcome your input at all times.

>> JOHN EGBERT:  Thank you, Karl.

>> TAMI HOSSLER:  John [Eichwald], I have a question for you.  You said that there is no national advisory committee or council setup.  Would that be something that would be beneficial to what we’re discussing?

>> JOHN EICHWALD (CDC ,  EDHI co-sponsor and EDHI team leader) :  I hate to sound like a bureaucrat, but I guess I am.  I am from the CDC.  As I said, I hate to sound like a bureaucrat, but that’s the hat that I wear oftentimes.
There are federal guidelines in terms of establishing a federal advisory group.  And I am not going to read you all the pages of the Federal Advisory Committee Act which is called FACA, — all federal advisory boards have to follow this congressional law, this federal statute — Just reading from one of the paragraphs in terms of establishing a committee.  “No advisory committee shall be established unless such establishment is, one, specifically authorized by statute or by the President.  Or, two, it’s a matter of formal record by the head of the agency involved after consultation with the administrator.”  The administrator in this case refers to the administrator of General Services Administration, GSA.
Let’s see,  “…consult with the administrator with timely notice published in the Federal Register to be in the public interest in connection with the performance of duties imposed on that agency by law.”
The authorization for EHDI for both HRSA and CDC does not contain any specific language at this point in time that establishes the authority to — that gives us the authority to establish a federal advisory committee.
We could push it forward, but admittedly, the Federal Government is trying to where all possible combine federal advisory committees that were already existing.  It’s a long process.

>> GLORIA KRAHN (CDC division director):  I am Gloria, and I work at the CDC.  Thank you.  I would support what John has said, that establishing a formal advisory committee which would allow us to pay for travel, that kind of thing, is limited.  What we do sometimes is establish a “workgroup” which is not formally recognized through which we have more difficulty paying for travel to come together, but that is one way that we have tried to incorporate methods for bringing other perspective into work that we do to help us think how we work.
I would like — could I take a little diversion.  I wanted to find out how many people were at the closing session last night on Middle East peace through hearing health?
I know it was fast.  The speech was very fast to stay current with, but I found that very inspiring, and it had me thinking that this group has bigger goals than only this conference.  This conference is important, but only to get to some place, and — it had me thinking that there are bigger goals to really put out on the table and say, “Is it that families feel supported immediately?  Is it that adults have community as they mature?”
Are those the things really to be finding common ground on, and then think through how to do that.  I have openly been at the CDC for one and half years.  I am so blessed to work with people that are so committed, and are so committed to what happens in the communities and not to what happens at the CDC.
So I think that that provides great opportunity to try to find those places.  The goals will not be completely overlapping, but there is, I am sure, enough that is common that will feel like we could make much bigger progress than only struggling over how many people are on an advisory or workgroup, because it can’t be advisory, for this conference.  I think that there is so much that can and needs to be done for this group to put its energy to.

>> TAMI HOSSLER:  That’s basically what we’re discussing is being included, feeling a part of, finding the place where we can work as a group for you all to understand, and I am speaking as a hearing person.  This is really odd situation for me speaking for Deaf people because this shouldn’t be.  And speaking for my daughter, too, because she has come for the last three years.  I believe that youth should be here because everything starts with early intervention.  Everything starts with detection.  Everything parents follow is because of what they’ve been given, and so many parents will follow that through.  And I started that way and made adjustments.  So this group of people are people who live the experience everyday, and have so much to offer to EHDI.  They have so much to offer to early detection and audiologists and doctors, and all of these stakeholders that are on this list here (indicating) and that’s what we’re asking for today is just to be included as a respected stakeholder, and a valued stakeholder.
That’s all we’re really asking.

>> JOHN EGBERT:  We have 20 minutes, so I would like to remind all of you how much time we have.  I will let you know every five minutes.


>> KARL WHITE:  Just a very short question.  Beth, you have served on the advisory committee.  Did you feel respected?

>> BETH BENEDICT:  Which advisory committee are you speaking of?

>> KARL WHITE:  I shouldn’t have said advisory, planning committee.  My mistake.  Planning committee.

>> BETH BENEDICT:  Okay.  Oh, yes.

>> KARL WHITE:  Susan?  You served on the planning committee, where is Susan?  She was here.

>> SUSAN ELLIOT (Deaf HS teacher from Colorado, National Board Certified Teachers, NBCT,   Hands and Voices Board of Directors member): Here I am. I felt respected, Yes.

>> KARL WHITE:  So, I mean, we have tried to do that.  I didn’t want the impression to be left that that goal hadn’t already been addressed.  It doesn’t mean that we can’t do it better or continue to do it, but it’s been done.

>> TAMI HOSSLER:  I think that you are speaking specifically to the conference, and we’re talking in general.  We’re not talking just to the conference.  But we’re talking in general.  And it’s a little hard as one person representing ASL Deaf people on the conference committee, if you are only one, or if you are only two, and it’s very difficult.  You may feel respected, but do you feel included?  There’s a lot of dynamics to this than is where I think that we have to somewhere get to the same table and have some discussions because it’s not going to happen in 45 minutes.  Certainly not.  And it may not happen in a year because it’s all about, you know, we come from a diverse cultures and communities, and so we have to respect and get to know reach other before we can really feel as if we’re working together.
And that’s all we’re asking, is that this group be one of these people here (indicating).

>> DAVID REYNOLDS:  I’m sorry, I didn’t introduce myself at the beginning, but I think that most of you do know me already, but formally I am David Reynolds, and I am also a parent, an activist, I have many different hats, many different roles.  So I would like to formally propose — and I am very happy to hear from Karl, and as the case study shows, we really need ASL users, Deaf professionals, people and friends and allies of the Deaf community to strongly get together and setup a group, and if it’s an advisory committee or working group, but a more formal setup.  That’s my strong recommendation.  I would like a plan of action because we get together and leave I don’t want things to be not clear.  I’d like that to be setup.

>> JOHN EGBERT:  Any comments?

>> TAMI HOSSLER:  So do – (Woman seated close to Tami raises hand)

>> JOHN EGBERT:  Say your name, please.

>> JENNIFER JONES (Deaf Family Literacy Academy in Florida): Jennifer:  I am Jennifer Jones, and I am with the Deaf Family Literacy Academy.  Those groups on that circle [indicating to a graph of stakeholders from the ASHTO case study], I would just like to know how they got there, for lack of a better question, in terms of having contact with EHDI.

>> KARL WHITE:  That’s not a study that we had anything to do with.  It was actually funded by a different department of CDC.  We saw it.  We saw the final report the same time you saw the final report, so I don’t know how they selected those groups.

>> JENNIFER JONES:  Are you saying that those group do not have contact with EHDI, that the study is not valid?

>> KARL WHITE:  They do not have formal — there is no formal mechanism for them to have input other than what everybody else has.  You have — well, see, there is a problem with saying “you” because that suggests that this group here is some sort of cohesive, unified group.  It is not.  You know, you all come to this some of you represent the Deaf Bilingual Coalition, some of you represent the group that you just mentioned.  That is not one I am familiar with there is the National Association of the Deaf, there are, I don’t know, 50 Deaf groups or more.  All of those groups have the same kind of input to this conference, but I think that the point Gloria made, and that some here re-emphasized, is that this is a larger issue.  And so you have input to lots of different places.  And as I said before, think that this group has demonstrated, “this group” meaning NCHAM, EHDI as a planning committee to take ideas from wherever they come from you give us good ideas, we’ll do our best to sort through them and implement them.
We can’t implement every idea that we get, but I think that that self-congratulatory perhaps, but I think that we’ve done pretty well in implementing a lot of different ideas.  And we will continue to do so.

>> TAMI HOSSLER:  And so what you said here —

>> JOHN EGBERT:  Tami?  (Indicating that she can have her turn)

>> TAMI HOSSLER :  I’m sorry.

The point that you made is there really is not a formal process.  Maybe that’s something that while you could start think being really good formal process in which we could all work together so that we are communicating and networking and we all are on the same — you know, we all have the same information so that we’re sharing that.  That’s what this group wants to be.  They want to be part of this sharing of what’s going on.  So we don’t have — in 45 minutes we can’t decide who will be on the stakeholders group, or how — we can’t do any of the who’s or how’s right now today.  But what we’re basically doing is saying, “Hey, we’re here, and we care about Deaf children.” Look here.  We have Deaf adults.  My child grew up to be a Deaf adult.  And all of these young parents that are here this week, children grow up to be adults.
And wouldn’t it be cool if EHDI at this whole EHDI conference was at least half or more Deaf professionals in this whole field.  Now, wouldn’t that be something that our own children would be involved and included in this whole thing?  I mean, wouldn’t that be the goal?
I know that we need doctors and that’s not to say Deaf people can’t be doctors.  We need everybody.  But we do need Deaf adults in the system.  We need Deaf people represented — representing themselves as ASL users.  And we have worked really hard in the past three years to get more Deaf people here.  I know that you’ve seen it.  I mean, I know you’ve seen it and it’s good.  It’s good.  Because Deaf people are not invisible anymore, at least at the EHDI conference.  But what we hope is that Deaf people won’t be invisible at all levels of EHDI.  So that as parents like me don’t have to search two or three years to find the Deaf people myself, find someone that’s an actual real, live Deaf person coming to me to give me the information that I need.  And that’s what all of these people care about.
And you are so right.  This all works together into the bigger picture.  And we’re here because we see the picture.  We see the end results.  We see what happens in Vocational Rehab at the end.  We see that children are not graduating from high school with a standard diploma, the grade is very low, even today.  And 90% of the kids are mainstreamed so we can’t blame it on Deaf schools.  Where is the problem?  So that’s why we’re all here because we care so deeply about these kids because these kids grow up to be Deaf adults.  And we want them to be all of these Deaf adults, because people in this room are all Deaf adults.  I will stop on that one.

>> JOHN EGBERT:  We have 15 minutes left.  We have one lady back here who put her hand up.  Please stay your name.

>> PATTI MARTIN (Director, Audiology and Speech Pathology Arkansas Children’s Hospital):  I am Patty Martin, and I am an audiologist.  I just wanted to make a couple of quick responses from that point of view because I have been involved in EHDI since we first screened the first hundred babies in the country.  So I have been doing it for a while.
One of the things that I see from the outside looking in is the benefit that I have had as a professional whose life is surrounded by providing access to hearing for families, okay?  Is that I see what I’ve learned from the Deaf community, and I see how they have changed my practice in that what I’ve really learned is that I am about family choice, and I am about honoring what families choose, and I am about doing my part as an audiologist to make sure that families have exposure to that.  And so my experience as an audiologist in my state has been that I want families to be able to meet Deaf adults, and I want them to see the range of experiences and opportunities that are available to their children, and then I want them to feel like that is a decision that has been driven by the knowledge that they’ve gained across the board, and it’s not a decision that they make once and stick to, but something that’s evolving to them over time.
So think that when you come to a national meeting like this, you sometimes don’t see the impact that your efforts have made over time because they are very grassroots level efforts.  And the things that we’ve seen as most influential in my over 10 years with EHDI have been those grassroots efforts have, been those individual Deaf adults who have stepped up in communities around the country and volunteered to be on boards, advisory boards, et cetera, not those that have come in really at this level because we need that to be a groundswell upwards.  I think that’s what we’ve seen with families who wanted spoken language and couldn’t get it, that it started at the bottom and built its way up.  I think that’s what we’ve seen from different groups.
And so while I value that we need different sorts of involvements and more, I would just continue to remind you that it’s that groundswell that up seems to have had such great impact on how we do this over time.

>> JOHN EGBERT:  Thank you.  We have 12 minutes left.  Tony?

>> TONY RONCO (IMPACT President):  I‘ll hurry.  I am Tony Ronco.  And I am a father — I am engineer / manager–and a father of two children, one Deaf, a 10-year-old.  I appreciate  wanting to get to the big picture, and I appreciate being open-minded and taking suggestions.  That’s wonderful.  Being an engineer manager I want to get to the next step.  So I think Gloria — you provided a next step,. the workgroup.  If we could get together, because I think maybe — Karl used a word in the past, a “clearinghouse” for ideas.  — So working with a workgroup to give the cream of the crop of the ideas to you and the cosponsors,  That way you don’t have a lot of filtering, and filter through a lot of information and suggestions.  So the workgroup will work together refining those ideas and advice.  That’s a way of staying connected and really  is “the” next step — for connecting and making sure that not only within this grassroots organization – being an organization for you which can gather up all those ideas and be a clearinghouse for you.  That was quick.

>> JOHN EGBERT:  Thank you.  10 minutes left.  Thank you.  Anyone else have a comment?

>> GINA OLIVIA (Gallaudet University):  My name is Gina Olivia, and I work at Gallaudet University in different capacities.  Can you interpret for me, please?  It’s easier for me to use my voice.  I am a little bit nervous about saying what I want to say, but this is a place where we can put things out.  And if we think about the black community, the Native American communities, it’s hard for people who are hearing to see that we see ourselves as a cultural group rather than as a “disability, medical orientation,” and it’s hard for us to — it’s hard for a lot of people to see parallels between the Deaf community and the ethnic minorities, Black, Native Americans, think about the Native Americans right now and the plight that they have, and how they are still pushed down, they’re living on reservations. Where are the Native Americans up at the top?  Working for the bringing up of the Native Americans.  (Cell phone ringing interrupts)  It’s still not happening.
But the black community, it has happened, and we have an African-American President.  So what we’re really asking for here, if I would dare to say it, is the Deaf professionals are a little more important than the speech-pathologists, the audiologists, just a little bit only to bring the balance up.  So anyway, I just wanted to put that out there.

>> JOHN EGBERT:  Karl?

>> KARL WHITE:  No, that’s okay.

>> JOHN EGBERT:  8 minutes left.

>> DAVID REYNOLDS:  Can I go back?  Can I go back to —

>> JOHN EGBERT:  You need to say your name.

>> DAVID REYNOLDS:  My name is David Reynolds.  Can I go back to — thank you for this discussion.  I think that we all feel in agreement and to have some type of advisory committee or workgroup.  So we need that group.  We need to start in that group, and right now we need to decide who will be involved.  So Beth and I have already proposed that we would be happy to be the contact, the point of contact for people to contact us to start discussing how to bring people together who will be chosen to be in that group.  So that’s what needs to happen right now, and that’s my suggestion.  Beth and I have already talked about being the point of contact, rolling up our sleeves, and helping the group.
As Gloria mentioned, we need Deaf professionals here.

>> JOHN EGBERT:  Karl?

>> KARL WHITE:  I need to clarify.  We have not agreed to setup a workgroup.  I think that we can commit as co-sponsors that we will think about developing a more formal process for input from people.  Is that fair?
But the devil is in the details.  We’ll think about your input.  We will treat it respectfully and carefully, but we have not agreed to setup a workgroup with Beth or David as the formal liaisons.  We will certainly continue to answer e-mails and phone calls from anybody, okay, so that’s a form of input that you have.
If whatever input there is going to work, it’s going to have to be more respectful and accurate than the last set of e-mails.  And so I am speaking only for myself, but I did not enjoy the process the last three weeks, and if there is going to be a workgroup, then it will need to be representative of lots of different inputs from the Deaf community, as well as other communities.  And so we as co-sponsors of this meeting will certainly think about and would welcome your continuing input on how that might be setup.

>> JOHN EGBERT:  Five minutes left. Beth?

>> BETH BENEDICT: I am Beth.  Now, I agree that we have to look at the process.  I understand that, yes.  Everything has toe follow the rules.  I understand that and agree with that.  I think that the bottom line is that all of us agree that something has to be done to get equal involvement, equal partnership from the different stakeholders.  That we do understand.
And I think that it might and good time for us to think about EHDI and, I mean, intervention, the “I” standing for intervention, and “I” also means involvement.  That’s my motto.  And why I want to look at the national level is that we’re all are a model for the other 50 states.  So we have to start somewhere.  I think that this is a beautiful place to start that kind of collaboration and dialogue.  And you know my platform.  I am not going to repeat that.  But communication is key.

>> JOHN EGBERT:  Tami.

>> TAMI HOSSLER:  I notice that you have not agreed to a working group, but I hope that you will highly consider a working group because this is really a top priority.  I think that a formal process — two things:  A working group and a formal process.  That would be great collaboration, and that would improve EHDI even better than it already is.

Go ahead. (John Eichwald is indicating he wants to comment)

>> JOHN EICHWALD:  I have two parts I want to make sure that we all understand.  And, first of all, I know how important face-to-face is, particularly in this group.  That can be expensive, and I certainly don’t want to see services reduced to children.  So that’s the concern on my part that this doesn’t get too big and unmanageable and cost the public so much that it’s impacting those services.

>> TAMI HOSSLER:  Do you know how many of us paid our own way here?

>> JOHN EICHWALD: The second part of it is reiterates what Karl said is we’re going To have to do this in a balanced way and listen to everybody.  That’s the requirement that we have to do with the Federal Government.  So it’s going to be a very difficult balance for us to maintain and to move forward.  But, I mean, we certainly want to listen.  I mean, the reason that I am in EHDI is because of the passion of everyone here.  That’s what keeps me coming to work everyday.  And that’s why my heart’s still here.  I have been doing this 30 years, and I don’t know if I will be doing it for another 30 years, but it’s the passion that’s moving us forward 18 welcome that because I share that passion.

>> JOHN EGBERT:  Three minutes left.

>> TONY RONCO:  I’ll hurry.  Just a recommendation for the three advantages of a work group.  One is the whole filtering process is going on within the workgroup.  So first  within a workgroup they go through the storming process, so by the time they forward ideas to you, you don’t have to see, experience any of storming.  It’s filtered out.  You just get the finished product.  The second thing is the cost within a workgroup it can be localized, there are other things it can do other than traveling to a national conference to meet once a year.  And a lot of us here did pay our own way.  I want to emphasize that –(interrupted by CART transcriber that speaker needs to be louder) –  I think I just ran out of time for my third point — so I’ll stop.

>> JOHN EGBERT.  Three minutes left.

>> KARL WHITE:  An alternative for you to consider is for you to setup a working group to accomplish exactly what Tony talked about.  Rather than for CDC, MCHB, NCHAM to setup a workgroup, to sort through, filter, and then feedback constructive suggestions and ideas that is balanced among all of the Deaf community.  Think about that.

>> TONY RONCO:  I need to add my third point.  Sorry.  Real quick:.  The third one was the importance of a person like Gloria, if we have her within a work group then a proposal doesn’t have to work all the way up the process to find out something is wrong, such as the “advisory committee” designation and then have to work all the way back down.  So with your participation, we get all of that corrections up front before a proposal starts moving up.  That’s my third point.  I am sorry if I cut that off.  But that was the point.

>> JOHN EGBERT:  Two minutes left.

:  I just want to wrap up with what Tony is saying.  What we’re basically asking is that we have point of contact at EHDI that we can bring up.  Here is our group, here is the information that we need from all of you, how do we work with you?  I mean, there are a lot of questions involved in this whole process because it’s all new to us.  So is there a point of contact that we could have from all of you here?

>> KARL WHITE:  There are four.  John, Irene, Karl, Michelle.

[John Eichwald, CDC: Irene Forsman, HRSA/MCHB;  Karl White NCHAM:  Michelle Esquivel, AAP]

>> TAMI HOSSLER:  Shall we keep it to you four now?  We don’t want to bombard you.  Because they’re going to be the point of contact, and nobody else will be.  And they’ll collaborate with the different organizations to find representation, and it will, and the process.

>> JOHN EGBERT:  One minute left.  Have we been progressive today?  Have we been productive today?  Any last comments?

>> [Person Unidentified in Transcription]; Just to wrap up.  What are we leaving with?  What’s the wrap up?

>> DAVID REYNOLDS:  I know time has run out.  I want to thank you all for coming, and I hope that you will take this seriously, this meeting, that we really want to start an open dialogue and have a point of contact.  That would be the four of you, and the two of us, and now we can start dialoguing and have Deaf professionals and Deaf stakeholders be there in the planning process.  That’s our goal, and we are passionate about this.  And we have a passion about Deaf children and Deaf babies.  And I think that it’s very important that really we start some work and setup a working group.
When you talk about contact through e-mails, I am not really that interested in that.  We’ve already had that back and forth dialogue.  I prefer an open-face dialogue because that’s where true communication and our visual language happens.  So it’s important that we can have more open dialogue, more open discussions.  E-mail for contacts to setup schedules, yes, and keep that avenue open, but that’s how we can keep improving this.  And we can use the videophone through video relay service, over videophones.  We can use that also, or iChat.  We all have Macs, and we can use iChat.  There are a lot of different routes to have face-to-face dialogue.

>> JOHN EGBERT:  Thank you, thank you.  We’ve run out of time.  I want to thank Karl.  I want to thank John.  And all of you here.  This has been a very good meeting this morning.  Thank you.


(End of meeting)

*  *  *  *  *

This transcript is being provided in a rough-draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings

*  *  *  *  *

Refinement of original rough draft  has included full identification of speakers (first & last names) and their respective organization,  explanations of acronyms, correction of spelling and transcription grammar errors.

February 26, 2010

Advocating for Deaf Babies’ Language Rights

Filed under: Uncategorized — dbcusa @ 1:29 am

The Deaf Bilingual Coalition represents stakeholders from all over the U.S. and internationally who believe that Deaf babies and children deserve the basic human right to cognitive, social and emotional development, and have an inherent right to visual languages (in the US and Canada that being American Sign Language, ASL).

American Sign Language is a highly sophisticated visual language that is made up of all the components required in a natural language. ASL is acquired by Deaf people in the same way that spoken languages are acquired by hearing people, naturally and with ease. Through a solid foundation in American Sign Language, Deaf children can successfully acquire English (written and spoken), be independent and thrive in life.

ASL is the third widely studied and used language in the US. It is taught in high schools and colleges across the nation to hearing students. It is also taught to hearing babies, yet the irony is that an alarming number of Deaf babies today are not being allowed to learn and grow through the one language that is most accessible to them, ASL. Currently, 90% of Deaf babies are born to hearing parents. This is typically a new experience for hearing parents and most know very little about visual languages, the importance of ASL or even how Deaf babies acquire language. Most parents’ first contacts are medical professionals who may have little or no training in bilingualism through ASL and English. Today, many parents are lead towards speech and listening without ASL. Many have not been fully informed by first contacts about the benefits of ASL, a naturally acquired language.

The DBC’s goal is to help spread awareness to medical professionals, audiologists, speech language pathologists, early intervention national and state providers, parents, and the general public of the importance of bilingualism: ASL and English and how critical this language is to a Deaf children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. This awareness building begins in early detection and intervention.

The 2010 Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Conference is being held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Chicago, Illinois on March 1st and 2nd. EHDI is a federally funded program under the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that supports states in setting up their own early detection and intervention services.

National organizations and bilingual (ASL and English) leaders have worked hard the past three years increasing awareness of EHDI and the importance of EHDI to include Deaf representation in all levels of programming including employment in national and state directorships, as agency directors, as service providers, and as language specialists and Deaf mentors.

February 27: 5:00 to 9:00 pm: DBC will hold a Workshop entitled: “Raising Awareness of Early Intervention Programs: How to Make a Difference for Deaf Babies”, Irish Heritage Center, 4606 North Knox Ave., Chicago, IL Hosted by the Chicago Club for the Deaf (Media Welcome)

March 2: 6:30 to 7:15 am: DBC along with other national organizations representing Deaf citizens will have a meeting at the Intercontinental Hotel O’Hare Chicago during the EHDI Conference with top EHDI directors and conference planners to ask for the establishment of an Advisory Committee to EHDI that is made up of Deaf professionals and make recommendations that Deaf professionals be included and employed in all levels of EHDI programming.

Deaf professionals are a big missing component of early detection and intervention. Many hearing parents unfortunately do not met a Deaf adult or Deaf professional until long after their baby is born. This reduces their opportunities to learn about bilingualism through ASL and English. Research also shows:

  • Families who have regular contact with deaf adults obtain significant benefits including Social Support, Improved Communication, Acceptance and Understanding (Meadow-Orlans, Mertens & Sass-Lehrer, 2003; Hintermair, 2000)
  • English language performance is better with experiences with Deaf Mentors (Watkins, Pittman, Walden, 1998)
  • Social-emotional development is supported by opportunities for interactions with Deaf adults/children (Calderon & Greenberg, 2003)

February 22, 2010

DBC Secured a Meeting with EHDI – Chicago – March 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — dbcusa @ 2:42 am

Great news! The DBC has secured a meeting with top Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) directors and EHDI conference planners. The meeting will be held during the EHDI conference on March 2, 2010. Representatives from other organizations will be joining with the DBC to advocate to ensure that parents of Deaf babies are getting full and accurate information regarding bilingualism so that their children can be given opportunities to develop language through both ASL and English, on par with their hearing peers. Everything begins with language. This is only a first step. The goal is to educate those whose activities have an impact on the lives of Deaf infants and children, find common ground, and begin partnerships that include bilingualism: American Sign Language and English.


February 15, 2010

DBC to give Workshop at Chicago About EHDI – Feb 27th

Filed under: Uncategorized — dbcusa @ 1:17 am

The Deaf Bilingual Coalition ( is holding a workshop in Chicago on Feb 27, 2010, just before EHDI conference on March 1st and 2nd. The workshop will be held at the Irish Heritage Center, 4606 North Knox Ave, Chicago, Illinois, from 5:00 to 9:00 pm.

Food and space are being provided by the Chicago Club for the Deaf.

The workshop begins at 6:00 pm: “Raising Awareness of Early Intervention Programs: How to Make A Difference for Deaf Babies”

The goals of this DBC workshop are to inform and educate the audience on these important items that affect Deaf babies’ access to ASL and English:

1.  The value of bilingualism:  ASL and English, for Deaf babies and their families.  ASL research included.

2.  The structure of how families get their information when they find their child to be Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

•   Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI):  how it is set up, how it is structured and how it operates.

3.  What is missing in EHDI and other early detection and intervention programs?

•   Professional training on bilingualism: ASL and English

•   Standard and ethical protocols for first contacts (for medical personnel and audiologists)

•   Few if any Deaf professionals working in top, key director positions, or as service providers, or as paid mentors.

•   Information for parents on language options (English and ASL) versus EHDI’s list of options (that attempts to equate the value of a natural language such as ASL with artificial signing codes based on English.)

4.  How these items are affecting families and children today.

5.  What we can do locally, statewide, and nationally.


John Egbert will give a presentation at the EHDI conference on March 1, 2010 at 10:55 am.  Here is an abstract of John’s presentation:

“Needed:  Accessible Programs for Language Development”

The ultimate goal of early intervention is to provide to parents techniques and guidance so that they can, in turn, provide their Deaf or Hard of Hearing child access to a naturally occurring language so that cognitive, social and emotional development are not delayed. In the past two decades, the number of children getting cochlear implants has increased dramatically.  One therapy that is promoted after implantation is Auditory Verbal Therapy, AVT, which focuses on enhancing listening and speech without visual clues and without lipreading or sign language.   The effectiveness of this therapy varies depending on a variety of factors.

A number of children with cochlear implants will not benefit or will have limited benefits from their implant or from the auditory-verbal therapy.  A number of children are not candidates for cochlear implants, or parents choose not to opt for the technology based on a variety of reasons.  Many parents do not receive adequate information regarding visual language through first contacts and providers.  This presentation will discuss the need for accessible programming in early intervention that focuses on Visual Communication Therapies (VCT) utilizing American Sign Language and English through trained providers of VCT and how such programming can be implemented at national and state levels.

Learner Outcomes:

Participants will be able to identify and define AVT and VCT.

Participants will identify factors that impact the effectiveness of auditory therapies and visual therapies.

Participants will be gain an understanding of the need for increasing provider training programs and the importance of networking to provide parents access to quality language programs.


The DBC has submitted two presentation proposals for the NAD convention in Philadelphia on July 7 – 11, 2010, and we will post the two abstracts on the next DBC blog post.

Consider donating to DBC by going to   For more information on the NAD go to

February 10, 2010

Canada’s “Demand Apology” Letters to I.C.E.D.

Filed under: Uncategorized — dbcusa @ 5:12 pm

Here are six letters from different organizations in Canada, including universities, demanding an apology from the International Congress on Education for the Deaf (I.C.E.D.) as it pertains to the resolutions of the 1880 Milan Convention which promoted Oralism and discouraged the use of sign language in deaf education.

Click on each of the links below to read each letter.

Thank you,







February 8, 2010

DBC: EHDI Reform Needed Now

Filed under: Uncategorized — dbcusa @ 6:19 pm

The Deaf Bilingual Coalition represents stakeholders from all over the US and internationally who believe that Deaf babies and children deserve the basic human right to cognitive, social and emotional development, and have an inherent right to visual languages (in the US and Canada, those languages being American Sign Language, ASL.)

ASL is the third widely studied and used language in the US. It is taught in high schools and colleges across the nation.

Yet currently, 90% of Deaf babies are born to hearing parents who know very little about visual languages, or the importance of ASL, or even how Deaf babies acquire language.

The DBC’s goal is to help spread awareness that Deaf babies have a right to be bilingual in ASL and English (written and or spoken).

An Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) conference is being held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Chicago, Illinois on March 1st and 2nd of this year. EHDI is a federally funded program under the Center for Disease Control (CDC) which administers grants to states to set up their own early detection and intervention services.

National organizations and bilingual (ASL and English) leaders have worked hard the past three years increasing awareness of EHDI issues.

The main issue at present is that the EHDI national directors and EHDI conference committee planners have failed to equally include Deaf professional participation and have kept Deaf people’s access to being presenters and keynote speakers to a minimum. The irony of this is that those overseeing the EHDI system are attempting to implement a system which is ostensibly for the benefit of Deaf babies, yet one WITHOUT the meaningful participation of Deaf adults.

Last year, the DBC, other organizations and Deaf leaders met with EHDI directors and conference planners to voice concerns about the imbalance and bias present that favors pathological approaches, not only in the yearly EHDI conferences but also in all parts of the EHDI system, national and statewide. Our goal was to start a productive dialogue in order to work together to resolve the problematic issues.

WHAT OCCURRED: The EHDI directors and conference planners ignored the recommendations given to them last year and have proceeded to plan another conference devoid of a proper and necessary balance that includes Deaf representatives as keynote speakers, presenters, and conference planning representatives. EHDI directors and planners rejected 60+% of the presentation proposals (abstracts) that were submitted by Deaf professionals.

Those who had abstracts rejected were from the National Association of the Deaf, the American Society for Deaf Children, the Laurent Clerc Center in Washington, DC, along with superintendents of Deaf schools and other very well-known and respected Deaf presenters. For the upcoming conference, no Deaf presenters have been chosen to be keynote speakers. Also, there are only two Deaf representatives on the EHDI conference planning committee. In addition, 70% of the presentations will be given by audiologists, with the biggest sponsors of the conference being cochlear implant corporations.

Unethical practices in early detection and intervention programs (including discriminating against Deaf professional participation in all levels of EHDI) have unfortunately lead parents on a path toward adopting a strict “ear-based” pathological view, rather than focusing on beginning language development from birth using a visual language that is 100% accessible to Deaf babies (i.e., ASL). Thus, Deaf babies will grow into adults with every part of their lives being negatively impacted due to language deprivation caused by the strict oral/aural-only approaches that are demanded by the errant Auditory Verbal Therapy philosophies which are usually associated with cochlear implantation. Over the years, there have been millions of Deaf adults who have been negatively impacted by the misinformation their parents received from so-called “professionals” who devalued ASL and propagated myths about speaking and listening.

The DBC is seeking an end to the EHDI system’s unethical practices. We demand that Deaf professionals be equally employed and represented at all levels in the conferences, and programs of EHDI.

Thank you,

John Egbert,

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