Who is Gallaudet? by Elena Ruiz describes the current state of affairs at Gallaudet:
Yes, you DID just walk by a throng of hearing students who either barely pick up their hands to communicate their words in a pathetic, half-assed way, using the ever-glorified term of “simultaneous communication” as a reliable fallback defense, or did not bother to make any attempt at making their words at all accommodating to the deaf majority here on campus.
Yes, you DID just enter a classroom where your “highly-educated” professor ekes out barely understandable manual signs to the deaf students s/he already constrains OR uses interpreters of usually questionable quality to educate you while your student loan net amount increases as you go through receiving a dubious level of education.
Yes, you DID just friggin’ walk by a desperate, inappropriate poster for the “Walk4Hearing” fundraiser. Yes, you did. In the same academic space that represents the heart of Gallaudet—the ASL/Deaf Studies department. Why? Why is this happening? Why are we allowing this to happen?When are we going to wake up and take action?
You know, this is extremely dispiriting. It’s one thing for me to live in the hearing world and see constant evidence of hearing people’s actions — ranging from clueless and thoughtless, to malicious, to deadly — all around me. It’s quite another to realize that it is the same at a university for the deaf. The premier university for the deaf. Most descriptions of Gallaudet (including Gallaudet University) seem to imply that it is entirely deaf-centered even though it is not.
Ruiz goes on to note, quite sensibly, what needs to happen:
This is my proposal. Gallaudet is a bilingual university. Gallaudet is the one deaf space we can have in this country. As members of an oppressed cultural-linguistic group, we deserve a space that is based on our right to express our language and for our true allies to fully participate in that expression without any whining about their own language that is a direct representation of the system that constantly ruins so many of our deaf lives through cultural and linguistic denial.
Thus, a language policy must be accepted. ASL at all times. Language immersion at all times. Cultural representation at all times. No more wasting time coddling the hearing students or the Deaf students victimized by the hearing system who are not yet fluent users of ASL. It is time to rise up and unite, to recreate Gallaudet as a deaf embodiment.
What I find so amazing about this is that I thought this was what Gallaudet was. As it indeed, should be. I applaud and support all the students at Gallaudet who work to bring this about.