ASL Day is recognized every year on April 15th, because this is when the first Deaf School in America was opened. In honor of ASL day, we’re sharing five fun facts about American Sign Language!

1. Though ASL has been used since the early 1800s, it was finally recognized as an independent language in the early 1960s!

2. ASL has its own grammar and syntax! Perhaps Yoda has really been speaking in ASL gloss?!

3. American Sign Language is not universal! There are over 300 signed languages which can be seen all over the world. (See a list here.)

4. ASL has polysemy (the coexistence of many possible meanings for a word or phrase), just like most other languages! To make it even more confusing, many signs look similar but differ only by their handshape, orientation, location, or movement!

5. A large portion of the signer’s meaning is conveyed by the grammar on their face!

 

We hope that you, like this family, take time to think about what ASL means to you!

How are you celebrating ASL day this year?

Will Revision of the Code of Professional Conduct be ADA Friendly

or is the CPC Irrelevant in the Interpreter’s Pursuit of Social Justice?

 

The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf’s Code of Professional Conduct has been revised several times since its conception. The most recent revision occurred in 2005. Each revision has reflected the development of interpreting as a profession and the cultural values of the Deaf community. The Code of Professional Conduct, or CPC, has set sign language interpreters in America apart from other spoken language interpreters. The profession’s ethical guidelines essentially can be summarized in the phrase “Do no harm,” but the actual CPC consists of seven major tenets made up of many subtenants.   These tenets outline the values interpreters should reflect, as well as boundaries that the interpreter should strive to maintain. A breach of these tenets could result in removal from the RID’s registry.

Many members of the interpreting community now agree that it is time to once again revise the CPC. Proponents of this revision feel that some tenets are too vague while others are too confining, leaving either too much room for situational ethics or not enough.   A recent article by Street Leverage suggested that the CPC be revised to make it more compatible with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Another proposed revision, which reflects the changing times, has to do with maintaining client confidentiality in the age of social media. Other members of the interpreting community believe that the interpreting profession has outgrown its need for the CPC and any code that would dictate an interpreter’s behavior is no longer preferred. Members of this camp may say that now that interpreters have departed from the helper model, the battle for social justice and communication equality is restricted by the guidelines set forth in the CPC.

Whether or not you believe a CPC revision is preferred, its revision will substantially influence the future of the interpreting profession. Interpreters have come a long way, but there is still work to be done in the pursuit of social justice and equality in communication access. The profession must continue to evolve, even as language and culture evolve, to meet the needs of today’s d/Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing clients. Whether a revision of the CPC will lead interpreters into a new age of relevance has yet to be seen.

Today marks 27 years since Gallaudet University, the only Deaf liberal arts college in the world, appointed its first Deaf president: I. King Jordan.

 

After the initial appointment of a hearing president (Of particular interest is that the board of trustees picked the sole hearing candidate for president. Yes, the only hearing candidate.) and nearly a week of protests, boycotts, rallies and marches, I. King Jordan was chosen as the first Deaf president. (Read the full story here.) In honor of the man behind this historic date in Deaf history, here are 5 facts you probably didn’t know about Dr. I. King Jordan Jr.:

 

1. Jordan is a native of Glen Riddle, Pennsylvania.

2. Jordan became deaf at the age of 21, after a motorcycle accident.

3. Jordan earned his doctorate in psychology.

4. In 1990 President George Bush appointed Jordan Vice Chair of the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities (PCEPD).

5. In 2010 Jordan was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the Commission on Presidential Scholars.

 

 

Today, an ASL video made by Deaf football players surfaced in the Deaf community and has spread across social media with the hashtag #DeafCoachNow. The football players are from Gallaudet University, a Deaf liberal arts college located in Washington, D.C. and the “world leader in liberal education and career development for Deaf and hard of hearing students.” In the video, student Nyle Dimarco explains the current situation – Gallaudet’s football team is run by three head coaches, all hearing, and five assistant coaches. (Guess what? All hearing.) Dimarco also explains that the number of players from Deaf schools has severely dropped in recent years. In 2007, 38 out of 55 players were from Deaf schools, but only seven years later in 2014, only 16 out of 53 players were from Deaf schools. This lack of Deaf coaches and drop in Deaf players should be shocking for the only Deaf liberal arts college in the world. Clearly, at a Deaf college Deaf teachers and coaches should be preferred.

 

Dimarco makes his argument for more Deaf coaches and players by referencing Deaf President Now, the 1988 protest at Gallaudet University that challenged the hearing leadership of the university and demanded a Deaf president preside over the college in place of the previously appointed hearing president. For days, the university campus was shut down as students made demands, refused to back down, and eventually made history as the first Deaf president of Gallaudet University, I. King Jordan, was appointed president. In addition, students demanded a 51% Deaf majority be established on the Board of Trustees.

 

Nearly three decades ago, students established a precedent that Gallaudet’s leadership must come from Deaf, not hearing individuals. Yet now, in 2015, Gallaudet’s famous Bison football team is led entirely by hearing coaches. We have come a long way as a society with our recognition of the importance of Deaf leaders, but as we see with #DeafCoachNow – the fight for Deaf leaders continues.

 

Watch the ASL video here and share (English captions included): https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10153635290193976

If you participate in any form of social media, you have undoubtedly seen the many pop culture songs which have been translated into sign language, most commonly ASL. One of the most recent videos featured the popular Frozen song, “Let It Go”. The video, published by D-PAN (Deaf Professional Arts Network), features Jason Listman and Amber Zion, two professional Deaf performers. This is just one example of the many videos D-PAN produces which serves “to promote opportunities for Deaf and hard of hearing professionals, as well as make popular music and the surrounding mainstream music culture more accessible to the Deaf and hard of hearing communities.

 

One of D-PAN’s most influential videos featured Deaf and hard of hearing performers from throughout the United States signing an ASL interpretation of John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change”.   This song resonated with many Deaf and hard of hearing individuals, who have long been discriminated against and oppressed by the mainstream hearing culture.   It was through this video that D-PAN realized the potential their unique mission had for making a cultural impact.

 

D-PAN was founded by Sean Forbes, Joel Martin, Scott Guy, and Ronald Dans. These men, both Deaf and hearing, believe that music should not only be enjoyed by all, but can also be used as a tool to promote cultural reconciliation, acceptance, and equal opportunity in the industry. “’In the future we could get into so many different things,” Sean confirms. “My goal is to create opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing performers, directors, cinematographers, graphic design artists…. I see it developing relationships with hearing people, which doesn’t happen that much. Just like me working with Joel and Scott; I would love to have those opportunities for other deaf people.’”

 

Thanks to organizations like D-PAN and individuals like Sean Forbes, beautiful ASL music videos unite hearing and Deaf cultures.