Join the deaf community by waving in celebration of CODA’s Oscar win – and more
Kansas Reflector welcomes opinion pieces from writers who share our goal of expanding the conversation about how public policy affects the daily lives of people across our state. Chris Haulmark is a deaf board member of the Kansas Association of the Deaf and chair of its social justice committee, where he advocates for deaf people in Kansans.
The Deaf just got their next big due when Troy Kotsur won Best Supporting Actor in the movie.”CODA” at the 2022 Oscars.
Centuries ago, deaf people envisioned continuing to prosper alongside non-deaf people. Prior to the 18th century, many Deaf people worked as lawyers, politicians, dentists, physicians, authors, teachers, and many other people fluent in popular visual and written languages.
They were seen as truly equal to everyone in global society.
These same Deaf people had not anticipated the apocalyptic turn of events that would occur hundreds of years later.
It was in 1853 that the need arose to treat the deaf as people with a disease. Powerful anti-deaf movements and organizations emerged in the following decades to spread this destructive new philosophy throughout the world. It continued throughout the first half of the 20th century. Those who weren’t deaf were told to forget deaf people, and that’s still the case today.
Beginning in 1880, sign languages were banned in many educational institutions around the world for several decades. Deaf teachers were forbidden to teach deaf children. This caused a massive crisis of language deprivation, which still affects every deaf person.
As moonlight streamed through the dormitory windows of deaf institutions across the country from the 1910s until about the 1960s, students secretly used sign language in the dorms at night. This violated the rules of their schools, which prohibited sign language in its entirety.
It wasn’t until 1964 that American Sign Language was officially recognized as a thriving and complex language, thanks to Dorothy Casterline, Carl Croneberg, and William Stokoe. Unfortunately, anti-deaf movements and organizations continue to backtrack.
During the 1982 Kansas legislature, the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing was created as a state agency. Through this organization, state agencies and organizations are able to ensure that services for deaf and hard of hearing citizens, as well as communication access and resources, are available.
“CODA” Co-star Marlee Matlin won both the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama and the Academy Award for Best Actress at the 1987 Academy Awards.Children of a Lesser God” gave the world a glimpse of the intriguing deaf community.
When a non-deaf candidate was chosen for president at Gallaudet University, the only higher education institution with education for the deaf, students barricaded the campus in 1988 in protest.
In 2001, the first independent museum of its type in the country opened its doors to promote the deaf community. After the board became 100% Deaf members in 2016, this museum was renamed Museum of Deaf History, Arts and Culture. In this country, it remains the only museum that receives no public funding, relying entirely on donations for its continued operation.
In the 2022 Kansas legislative session, two significant bills were passed to strengthen the deaf community. One replaces inappropriate terminology with appropriate terminology, and another clarifies and reinforces the role of the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
During Super Bowl XLII 2008, Pepsi broke a historic first by using American Sign Language in one of its advertisements. As the ad went silent for 60 seconds, America’s largest anti-deaf organization took a stand, continuing the colonization of the deaf community and deterring the display of sign language.
The Kansas Legislature expanded support for the Deaf community in 2016 by passing its version of Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids (LEAD-K), making our state the second in the nation to do so.
Nyle DiMarco, winner of America’s Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars in 2015 and 2016, brought the power of being deaf to the world. As LEAD-K’s newest spokesperson, he brought the world’s attention to the horrific epidemic of language deprivation that afflicts millions of deaf children.
In the 2022 Kansas legislative session, two significant bills were passed to strengthen the deaf community. One replaces inappropriate terminology with appropriate terminology, and another clarifies and reinforces the role of the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. These bills are expected to be signed by Governor Laura Kelly on the same ceremonial walnut desk that was gifted by the Kansas School for the Deaf to former Governor Alfred Landon in 1935, after the desk was made by the deaf students. .
Due to milestones such as those listed above highlighting Deaf culture and linguistics, the arc begins to fold back to its original shape. That was at least a century ago. Several decades will pass before the regressive aspects of the deaf community can no longer hinder the progressive aspects.
Diverse members of the deaf community include deaf women, black deaf, aboriginal deaf, deaf people of color, deafblind, deaf with disabilities, deafplus, late deaf, deaf LGBTQ, and others marginalized members.
It is imperative that Deaf communities look inward to eliminate their own biases and bigotry. This is done while embracing and encouraging the diversity of their membership to achieve a more equitable future.
Due to the various ways the deaf community accesses and utilizes any living, breathing visual language with the world, each member has a unique yet similar journey. Some people learn sign language, some don’t. There are members who cannot hear, and there are others who hear but identify as deaf or hard of hearing. Those who go through life with such diverse identities and experiences converge on our community. Collective culture is intuitively understood as the heart and soul of the Deaf community and is directly linked to the well-being and health of its members.
Ultimately, we must effectively counter anti-deaf movements and organizations with current and future allies. Matlin, for example, had threatened to quit the “CODA” project if more Deaf people were not recruited.
With Kotsur and Matlin, Daniel Durant presented a speculative portrayal of the community by portraying the main character’s authentic deaf brother. the The success of “CODA” exemplifies global society’s resounding acceptance of Deaf people as a culturally and linguistically diverse group.
Join the deaf community by waving in celebration.
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