“Go to the people. Learn from them. Live with them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But the best of leaders when the job is done, when the task is accomplished, the people will all say we have done it ourselves.”

Lao Tzu, 604 B.C.

Another cool wise commentary on what good leadership is about, especially for an oppressed group like Deaf people.

1) What would “Going to Deaf people” mean? “Live with them”? Does that mean seeing first handed everyday their glories as well as their misery?
2) “Learn from Deaf people” and “Love Deaf people” – meaning what? Seeing them as true equals? And caring about them as you care about yourself and your own? What does that mean in terms of how we express our thoughts and ideas and in which language(s)?
3) “Start with what Deaf people know” and “Build with what they have”? What do Deaf people uniquely know? What do they have to build with? Knowledge of being Deaf, what it’s like to use ASL 24/7, our networking expertise, our storytelling, arts, high expertise on eyeing? Build what? curriculums? Programs? Foundations to sustain our future generations? Art projects for the whole world to learn and enjoy from?
4) Who will be the “best of leaders”? We will know when the WHOLE Deaf community says “WE ALL HAVE DONE IT TOGETHER!”. Right?

YOur thoughts?

Let’s go to the most likely root of what’s dividing the Deaf community.

I share a story from my high school days when I was picked from the class I was sitting in to DEMONSTRATE and impress the ignorant hearing visitors that came in about how well the school have taught us how to write in English.

In the story, I mention possible perspectives of the “two sides” of Deaf people and the division that was happening and hope you see the true culprit of that.

Fortunately, in spite of all the attempts to divide the Deaf community, all my life, I have seen many many wonderful examples of interdependence, support, respect, reciprocity (pooling our talents) and pushing the group ahead together instead of falling into the trap of the Great Divider’s method of pulling individuals away from the group and claiming any success for themselves.

True unity has always existed in the community. It’s just a matter of CHOOSING TO SEE IT right under our noses!

(7:45 mins)

Primary resource:
“Reading Between the Signs WORKBOOK: A Cultural Guide for Sign Language Students and Interpreters” by Anna Mindess.

“In cross-cultural encounters it is easy to jump to an erroneous conclusion about another person’s motives, behavior, and character when we base our judgements on assumptions from our own culture. One way to arrest our rush to judgement is to separate out three aspects of perceiving another’s behavior. D.I.E. is an easy-to-remember initialism that might come in handy, but actually gaining the skills involved requires some practice.”

Many Deaf people do not have a complete understanding of Deaf culture because they haven’t had a chance (or are not interested) in being as fully accultured as possible. Result: potential cross-cultural conflicts or misunderstandings.

This technique of D.I.E. may help.

DESCRIPTION. The task is to describe only what you see, an objective listing of facts, without drawing any conclusions.

INTERPRETATION. Now you can interpret what you think about what you see. What is your guess about what is going on in the situation?

EVALUATION. Now you can express your feelings about what you think is going on.

This example is discussed applying the D.I.E. technique: Student at Gallaudet talking on cell phone on campus in presence of other Deaf students.

It’s my hope that using this technique to “arrest our rush to judgment” because of high potential of cross-cultural misinterpretations among encultured and acculturating Deaf people, we will be better able to unify and work together utilizing the basic Deaf Culture values of being visually-centered, collective, being Deaf as a positive trait and benefical to many people Deaf and hearing in order to have a vision for 2008 and afterwards, for the sake of our Deaf children and babies.

As it nears Christmas, I recall a speech lesson on how to speak “Merry Christmas” and its results. Then, I review it after the many years, and share my thoughts about it.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year….

Yes, let’s make 2008 a year of steps towards ensuring a healthy, audism-free, life and language for our Deaf babies and children.

(Ella’s note: I got this from Paul Simmons and I thought it was fitting to share with you all…another way to look at our system and with that increased consciousness, we can go ahead and get the banana! Thanks, Paul!)


The Monkey Cage

Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs underneath it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water. After awhile, another monkey makes the attempt with the same result – all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace that monkey with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and another attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another one of the original monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. the previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.

Everytime the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they are not permitted to climb the stairs or why or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. After replacing all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana.

Why not?

Because as far as they know, that’s the way it’s always been done around here.

And that, my friends, is how the “Status Quo” begins…


Now, with the above tale, we could easily envisualize: “cold water” to be AGBell, “stairs” to be education, and the “banana” to be ASL in Deaf Education. No wonder the Deaf community in general is apathetic to fighting for change in promoting ASL to be used widely in Deaf Education. So let’s move forward and BREAK the current Status Quo…

Paul Simmons

(This is the message I wrote to most of people in my new Blackberry address book. It is also for all others of you.)

Hi all of you who I’ve been forwarding the updates about the campaign at the AGBell conference today and yesterday:

I realized after getting some of your messages and re-reading the messages I sent to u, that it looked as if I myself wrote the reports or if I were there. Yikes!

Yes I wanted to be there and had planned to be. Weirdly, things keep blocking the purchase of a decent flight ticket so we decided we should heed that message and stayed put at home.

All the messages you received came from the Deaf Bilingual Coalition people who were there at the demonstration especially David Eberwein. I want to take a moment here to thank him for giving his time, energy and money to fly all the way from California to support this protest.

I want to also thank all of those people (including some of you) who donated money, made vlogs, wrote blogs, shared news, ideas and stories that have been profound.

I want to thank the board of CAD for quickly coming to support by helping out with its donation system.

Finally, a very special thank you to the guy, a simple fisherman, by name of John Egbert. He took the first step to making this historical and clear stand against this AGBell giant. We will be indebted to him for many years and possibly generations.

I am proud of the group at that Marriott hotel. I am proud of how they handled everything. I am proud to be part of this movement in my own way and you all should be!

Adios til the next time.

(4:55 mins) In the field of Deaf education, who are the stakeholders? They are hearing parents, hearing employees (i.e.teachers and interpreters), Deaf children and Deaf community. Who are the BIGGEST stakeholders? This vlog discusses who and why.

As for stakeholders related to an enterprise, the biggest are usually those who invest the most thus have the most votes and power in decision making for the enterprise. Those who do not invest as big are not key players. They of course can present their ideas, concerns, proof, etc to try and win over, but those who invest the most are most influential in the final vote.

It seems the opposite in the field of Deaf education. View the vlog and tell me what you think.