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