We The Deaf People

Who We Are

Sometime around July 2012, an online group discussion under the leadership of Matthew S. Moore, involving several Deaf Community advocates, including Laurene Simms, Michele Westfall, David O. Reynolds, Tami Hossler, Helen Young, and a few others. (We will be adding their names as they approve our including them.)

On March 29, 2013, a group of seven local Deaf persons (Ritchie Fisher, Pamela Conley, Jonathan Dollhopf, Dean DeRusso, David D. Long, and Cindy A. Sanders, with Moore hosting the meeting), and J. David McCloskey, interpreter, participating, met in Rochester and agreed to go forward with plans to establish We the Deaf People.

We come from a variety of backgrounds—schools for the deaf and mainstream public schools—but we have much in common and share commitment to the causes of safeguarding ASL (Deaf people’s civil and language rights), promoting literacy, empowerment, better employment opportunities for Deaf people, and improving public attitudes towards the Deaf community.

We will continue to add more people to our core team as we grow. This organization has been established to serve all Deaf people.

Mission


  1. As members of the Deaf community, we want to be recognized as a linguistic minority, to be accorded the same kind of recognition and respect given to other ethnic groups.
  2. We want to preserve American Sign Language, which is the primary language for many of us. The right to have access to, learn, and use ASL, is not a privilege or frill, but a basic human right for all deaf people—children and adults.
  3. As U.S. citizens, we insist on fair and equal treatment. We want our language and Constitutional rights respected.
  4. We want Deaf people to be portrayed in a positive light in mainstream media, showing that we are healthy, intelligent, successful persons, instead of being described in negative terms with expressions such as hearing loss, hearing-impaired, and hearing-challenged, and with adjectives such as silent and isolated.
  5. We the Deaf People is planned as a humanitarian organization, a watchdog, and a Deaf-rights advocacy group.

We have five basic goals:


  1. Safeguarding the language rights of Deaf people. Recognition of ASL as a full-fledged language would help to obviate some of the problems we’ve been grappling with for the past century. This is our major humanitarian mission.
  2. Fair representation—schools for the deaf, businesses, organizations, agencies serving a Deaf population, Federal agencies overseeing testing and intervention with deaf children, should have Deaf people on their boards of directors. Schools for the deaf should have a Deaf majority on their boards.
  3. Educating the public and government about Deaf concerns, language rights, etc., while encouraging Deaf people to register, vote, and become politically involved.
  4. Acting as a watchdog and advocate on behalf of the Deaf community, monitoring activities of the auditory/oral and cochlear-implant industries, and protesting negative images of ASL, Deaf people, and the Deaf community in the media.
  5. Working with current Deaf and other civil-rights organizations to better serve the Deaf community, we plan to develop cooperation and coordination between our organizations.

Position Statements

1. AGBell

We stand in opposition to the philosophy and practices of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

2. Deaf Organizations

We stand in solidarity with Deaf Community organizations that serve our community and have Deaf majorities in their leadership.

3. Cochlear Implants

We have profound misgivings about involuntary CIs,  but we do not summarily reject CI families, adults, or children; we welcome them to join the Deaf community.

4. Mainstreaming

Mainstreaming deaf children into public schools has had a generally disastrous impact on our community. They deserve effective teachers and support services.

5. Schools for the Deaf

Schools for the deaf are a crucial part of the educational continuum. Bilingual ASL/English schools offer an inclusive environment and academic excellence.

6. ASL/English Bilingualism

We endorse the Bilingual ASL/English (Bi-Bi) approach as providing the best cognitive, academic, social, and linguistic outcomes for deaf children.

7. Gays, Lesbians, Transgenders

We support Deaf LGBTQ people—gays, lesbians, gender-nonconformist, non-binary, transgender people, and affirm their rights to be accepted as they are.

8. Deaf People of Color

The Deaf community is racially and ethnically diverse. We want all Deaf people of color to be first-class citizens, valued and esteemed.

9. Hatred on Social Media

Defamatory gossip, bullying, and hate speech, whether through social media, E-mail, or any medium, is toxic and unacceptable. Our policy: zero tolerance.

10. Employment

We continue to combat inequalities and injustices in the workplace. We affirm that Deaf people should be judged on their talents and performance.

11. Cinematic Captioning

We support cinematic open-captioning, and want cinemas to offer Deaf moviegoers real choices, not merely closed-captioning that requires electronic decoding devices.

12. ASL as Our Language

We recognize ASL as the primary and full language of the Deaf community in the U.S.A. and parts of Canada. It deserves official respect.

13. “Hearing-Impaired,” etc.

Negative euphemisms such as “hearing-impaired” should be removed from circulation. “Deaf” is a nonjudgmental, accurate term, always correct.

14. Parental Choice

We are concerned about whether parents to commit to a single approach for their deaf children are making truly and fully informed choices.

15. Linguistic Minority

We reject the medical view that Deaf people are broken hearing organisms and endorse the cultural view of seeing ourselves as a linguistic minority.

16. Deaf-Plus

Some Deaf people have additional disabilities, such as Usher Syndrome. We seek to establish a positive connection with the Disability Rights Movement.

17. Self-Determination

Deaf people have the right to participate in any decision affecting deaf children or adults. We insist on fair representation, participation,  and leadership.

18. Language Deprivation

Although the auditory-oral industry denies it, language deprivation is part of our reality, and our community is taking steps to combat it.

19. Interpreters

Deaf clients have the right to the highest-quality interpreting services available, and should be “the boss.” Interpreter agencies should have Deaf representation.

20. 9-1-1 Communications

Getting equal communications access in clinics and hospitals is still a major problem for us. VRI and linked TTYs cannot replace interpreters.

21. Medical Services

Deaf people still face inequality, such as being forced to wait weeks or months for appointments when hearing patients are scheduled promptly.

22. EHDI & Us

EHDI puts far too much emphasis on medical intervention and not enough on ASL and education. Deaf presenters are still a small minority.

23. The EHDI Act of 2015

H.R. 1344, a seriously flawed bill, was drafted without input from Deaf stakeholders. We do not support it. We insist on having a say.

24. VRI & Us

VRI, used by hospitals as a cost-cutting approach, doesn’t work well in many situations, when a live interpreter is the best (and only) solution.

25. Policing issues

Although far more Deaf people have been crime victims than perpetrators, there is genuine fear among us of police miscommunication and mistreatment.

26. Courtroom issues

Equal access for Deaf people in courtroom proceedings, and for Deaf inmates of prisons, are two areas of concern for our community.

27. Oralism (LSL)

Oralism has produced a few superstars and a multitude of failures. The Oral movement has steadfastly refused to acknowledge this—but we do.

28. Total Communication

In TC, deaf children supposedly have access to all approaches that benefit them, but in practice,  ASL, a crucial component, is rarely included.

29. Coming soon

If you have a suggestion for a position statement not posted here, or if you want to know our position on a particular issue, please contact us.

30. Coming soon

If you have a suggestion for a position statement not posted here, or if you want to know our position on a particular issue, please contact us.

Contact

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  • We The Deaf People, Inc. Headquarters
    1900 Clinton Avenue, South, Unit 18044
    Rochester, NY 14618-7001
    Email: inquiry@wtdp.org
    Fax: 585-442-6731