More on Not Deaf Enough

Social Work/Social Action points to Deafness and the Riddle of Identity, which discusses Jane K. Fernandes and the “not deaf enough” issue. It isn’t fair to use the fact that Fernandes wasn’t a native signer against her.
Not I’m not going to defend Fernandes, but want to say don’t hold this sort of thing against a person. Remember, when we’re children, our parents and guardians make our communications decisions for us. So some great ASLers may not have learned ASL until later in life.
Granted, Fernades wasn’t fluent in “real” ASL, so I understand that. The point of the message is to not judge someone because ASL wasn’t his or her first language.


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  1. You forget one thing. It was FERNANDES who used the ‘not deaf enough’ card. Blaming others when she brought up the issue herself is exactly what she wanted. Although the subject is a valid one, and a sticky one at that, Fernandes use of this issue was a questionable one at best.

  2. True — but it still comes up in other situations.

    • mishkazena on January 12, 2007 at 11:37 am
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    Fernandes used “Not Deaf Enough” as a red herring to detract the outsiders from learning the real issues fueling the protest. Look at Davila. He was born hearing and didn’t become deaf until the age of 8 and yet he became the Interim President. Don’t forget Jordan who didn’t become deaf until the age of 21.

  3. Thanks for the reminder. You’re right. I don’t agree with Fernades’ tactics, either. This wasn’t a good example I used.

    • Anonymous on January 12, 2007 at 12:32 pm
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    Fernandes was using the “not deaf enough” as code for “not ASL Deaf enough”.
    Looks like she was right.

    • Bison Chaser on January 12, 2007 at 12:36 pm
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    Who first started the sentence, Not deaf enough?
    The protesters, of course. Then they denied it because it was unciviled, for an example, “not black enough”
    So they invented other excuses against Jane as not a good leader.
    How come Gallaudet stood strongly with recent presidents who were not popular in deaf society and even did not know how to sign?

  4. BisonChaser, when the protest started, it has nothing to do with “Not Deaf Enough”. It was administration who started this propaganda to mislead people around the world from real issue. The real issue is Jane’s ineffective leadership in the past.
    “Not Deaf Enough” is really getting old now.

    • Bison Chaser on January 12, 2007 at 1:57 pm
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    I heard a little chao against IKJ when he first became Galluadet president that he did not sign well.
    Fluent in ASL or not won’t glorify Gallaudet but just a good minded president who can raise good funds and knows how to deal with these on the hill.That’s all what is requirement for Gallaudet prez. He does not have to be popular with Deaf people. Deaf culture is outdated. ASL can not bring better employment for the deaf period. ASL only in classrooms can damage deaf children’s ability of learning good grammar. I learned about ASL, for an example, in English, “when I was a little boy I used to love to go downtown to look at many things in stores.” In ASL, “me little fond go town look many things store.”

  5. I’m happy that you brought that up. In case you didn’t know, I grew up as oralist and I have cochlear implant, until I was 16 years old. I learned ASL for first time and fell in love with it as well with deaf culture. Deaf Culture may be outdated to you but it is very unique itself and they can be useful in many ways. Now, you say, you believe it damage deaf children’s ability of learnign good grammar. Not entirely true. First, you need to give your proof of this statements that this is true. I have met a lot of deaf friends at Gallaudet who is strongly fluent in ASL and some of them are very good in grammar and spelling. Of course, there are some who lacked grammar but that doesnt mean ASL can damage ability of learning grammar. I will give you contradiction, supposedly, Spanish language is introduce to USA as second language, will it damage ability of learning English’s grammar? Perhap that is true because both of their language are not the same. ASL has its own structures in language, unlike English. If you think that way, it is your opinion, not fact.
    Also, chaos about IKJ’s ASL skills? Well, you are right, we do have problem with his signing skills because he can look awkward. Do I say it is ASL that he use? No. It is not completely ASL. But you are right for one thing: “but just a good minded president who can raise good funds and knows how to deal with these on the hill”
    But another argument here at Gallaudet, we need a president who truly reflect herself/himself to deaf community. But that’s not real concern.
    One more thing, you claimed “ASL can not bring better employment for the deaf period.” You may be wrong because there are a lot of hearing people starting to aware of deaf people and their deaf culture more than before. If you think about it, if you believe that, that is audistic view. Again, I’m sure you’ll contradict that the majority of the world is hearing therefore the majority of language is spoken language (voiced). True, but that doesnt mean ASL can’t bring employment for the deaf.

    • Janis on January 12, 2007 at 5:55 pm
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    Learning one language that’s differently structured won’t prevent a person from learning another.
    I know many people who speak varieties of Chinese, Korean, Welsh, and a smorgasbrod of other languages, all of whom speak and write excellent English. I myself am proficient in French and Welsh despite being a native English speaker. And I achieved proficiency in Welsh in very little time.
    I also know people who are native English speakers who are fluent in Cantonese, right down to the written form. I also know hearing people who are fluent signers of ASL.
    I cannot fathom the belief that knowing one language prevents a person from learning another. In that view, polyglots do not exist. CODAs clearly can learn both, certainly. If a hearing person can be fluent in multiple languages, I see no reason why deaf people are limited.
    When it comes to languages, there is only one hard and fast rule: the more, the better.

    • Mishkazena on January 14, 2007 at 7:44 am
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    Bison Chaser,
    I was a DPN protester and Jordan was openly embraced when he became the president. We all were glad we finally have a deaf president. I know because I was there the whole time.

    • Gary on October 26, 2007 at 1:12 pm
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    Personally, I’ve had my fill of being said to not be Deaf enough.
    For one thing, I’ve been totally Deaf for 36 of my 46 years and, during that time, I’ve probably learned more about the Deaf culture (and, also, the hearing culture) than the people, in both of these….the very people, who reject me.
    From the day after I set foot on the Georgia School for the Deaf campus, to begin my second year there, I’ve spent much of my time, fighing to the right of the very people, who reject me.
    Back in 1973, it was an oralist principal, who demanded the Deaf must speak and lipread. I spent the year arguing why he is demanding Deaf people become “hearing” people, who cannot hear.
    And, from day one, when I first walked onto the GSD campus (in August, 1972), I’ve been “you hearing.”
    People need to stop their petty little picanny ways and realize that late deafened is still deafened because my audiogram is blank…many of yours has some hearing.

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