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From:  Ronald Zapien
Date:  Mon Nov 22, 1999  1:51 pm
Subject:  [Fwd: Fwd: Fw: ASL has no written form therefore can't read or write English]

A friend of mine sent this to me. I thought one of you would like to
respond to this. This man is speaking to very influential individuals.
The other side of the story needs to be heard (or seen :])--particularly
that ASL (and other signed languages) are in the process of developing
written literature.

Take care,

Cheryl Zapien
Date:  Sun Nov 21, 1999  12:49 am
Subject:  Fwd: Fw: ASL has no written form therefore can't read or write English
To:  , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Date:  Wed Nov 17, 1999  2:15 pm
Subject:  Fwd: Fw: ASL has no written form therefore can't read or write English
To:  undisclosed-recipients:;

Date:  Wed Nov 17, 1999  1:51 pm
Subject:  Fwd: Fw: ASL has no written form therefore can't read or write English

From:  "Johnny L Bailey"
Date:  Mon Nov 15, 1999  4:42 pm
Subject:  Fw: ASL has no written form therefore can't read or write English
To:  "Irving and Nina Kinder" , "Mike Burke" , "Hot Pepper Amicia" , "David Bungee"

-----Original Message-----
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Date: Friday, November 12, 1999 4:02 PM
Subject: Fwd: ASL has no written form therefore can't read or write English

Full-name: Bassin Din
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 14:16:18 EST
Subject: RE:Fwd: ASL has no written form therefore can't read or write
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[From Otto Menzel, Ph.D. -- copy of his testimonial on the Education of
the Deaf Act, entered into the record of the United States Senate
Subcommittee on Public Health and Safety by Senator Bill Frist, M.D.,
Chairman, 2/12/98. The hearing was to reauthorize funding for the
Education of the Deaf Act, which included authorization for Gallaudet.]


Project: EDUCATION OF THE DEAF ACT, TITLE I, Part A -- Gallaudet

Submitted by Otto J. Menzel, Ph.D.

The purpose of this memorandum is to call attention to the gross
misfeasance and deception on the part of "Gallaudet University" with
respect to its obligations under the Education of the Deaf Act, as
amended in 1992, and, more particularly, with respect to the Individuals

With Disabilities Education Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as
amended), all up for reauthorization at the present time.

The 140-year history of what is now euphemistically designated
"Gallaudet University" is replete with deception of the Congress and of
the taxpayers of the United States, purporting to be an institution of
higher learning for the deaf. In fact, even today, Gallaudet admits
students who are "half-fitted" and graduates them "half-educated," and
even this is almost a glorification.

Admission to Gallaudet, even today, is open to students with no better
than an 8th grade reading level, let alone reading and language skills
commensurate with customary collegiate entrance requirements elsewhere.
Indeed, according to a report of the Commission on Education of the Deaf

(1988), "in spite of several decades of concentrated effort to improve
the figures, the average reading level of deaf high school graduates
remains at roughly the 3rd or 4th grade equivalent."

Among the Powers of the Board of Trustees of Gallaudet [Sec 103(b)(7)]
is "to confer such degrees and marks of honor as are conferred by
colleges and universities generally... as, in its opinion, may be deemed

advisable and consistent with academic standards." Despite this, more
than a few Gallaudet graduates are functionally illiterate, assuredly
not qualified to teach, as implied by their degree from the Gallaudet
School of Education and Human Services.

Indeed, Gallaudet graduates are not qualified for employment by leading
corporate employers, a number of whom have notified Gallaudet University

that they would no longer hire Gallaudet graduates because they cannot
read and write, even at the most basic levels of literacy.

The "Deaf President Now" revolt of 1988 on the Gallaudet campus resulted

in the appointment of the current president, who was chosen for his
deafness, not for any leadership or administrative abilities. His
salary, paid by U.S. taxpayers, is among the highest of any university
president in the country. Under his tutelage, Gallaudet has
deteriorated apace, chiefly by his yielding to, perhaps condoning,
changes seriously detrimental to the education of the students. Most
blatant among these changes is the policy advocated by a group of
extremists on the faculty of using "American Sign Language" (ASL) for
all purposes, to the exclusion of all other means of communication,
including other forms of sign language based on English word order.
This is being carried to extremes.

It must here be noted that ASL is a "gestural surrogate" (Scouten), a
pidgin language that came into ascendancy when, after more than a
century of use only informally, chiefly by children, as a colloquial
form of expression, William Stokoe, a member of the Gallaudet faculty,
"discovered" that ASL has a distinctive grammar [sign order] of its own,

unrelated to English grammar [word order]. This otherwise trivial
finding gave rise to inordinate pride on the part of many users of ASL
and led to its coming to be viewed as "the natural language of the
deaf," and touted by its defenders as equivalent to English as a vehicle

for conveying the "same meanings, information, and complexities as
English." (Hoffmeister).

According to Stewart, ASL, as linguistically defined, has nowhere near
the power of English for receptive OR expressive purposes. ASL has its
own merits... "but anywhere near as powerful as English for education,
commerce, and all-around communication purposes it most certainly is

Under the present administration of Gallaudet, all teaching and
communication generally has been ordained to be via ASL only! Even the
previously prevalent custom of the teachers' speaing and signing
simultaneously has been banned, with a "no voice" policy, even outside
the classroom and even between hearing or oral deaf persons who rely on
speech and speechreading. This is a clear violation of Section 104 of
the Education of the Deaf Act.

According to Stelle, a professor at Gallaudet, "By extending offers of
admission to potential students, a university establishes an expectation

that its agents will make reasonable efforts to communicate in ways
accessible to the greatest possible number of those students. Students
and faculty come to Gallaudet at every point along the continuum from
virtually perfect to virtually nonexistent receptive skills in both
English and sign. Faculty members who sign without speaking exclude
from access to their communication those who depend for their
understanding on a speech component, just as surely as those who speak
without signing exclude those who depend for understanding on a signed
component. To pretend that neither of those choices is a responsible
one at Gallaudet is to be wilfully negligent."

In 1995, the Cued Speech Center on the Gallaudet Campus was summarily
abolished. Cued Speech was developed at Gallaudet by Dr. R. Orin
Cornett in the 1960s, as a method to improve the English and speech
skills of deaf students. The method was highly successful and was
embraced, in 1975, by Gallaudet College as the answer to literacy

The greatest weakness of ASL is that it has no written form. There is
no such thing as textbooks in ASL, nor can students take notes in ASL,
etc. With all instruction now being carried on in ASL exclusively, the
sole source of information is what each student can absorb during the
lecture and remember. He has no way of supplementing this, particularly

because he has learned no English, and therefore cannot read English
books on the subject matter, either. Obviously, once cannot learn
science nor history nor any other academic subject this way.

For years, much of the efforts of teaching Gallaudet students has been
directed toward teaching them English, though they should have had those

rudiments prior to admission. This, naturally, came at the expense of
academic subject matter, but command of the language had to take
precedence over all else. (then!)

Now they are not even taught English. Instead, a very strange and
utterly ineffective approach has come into use, not only at Gallaudet,
but also at elementary and secondary schools for the deaf elsewhere. It

is called the "Bilingual-Bicultural" method. In fact, it s neither
bilingual nor bicultural in any sense. The theory is that by intensive
instruction in ASL (NOT in English!), the student will magically acquire

command of English, which of course does not happen. When he inevitably

performs poorly in English, the "solution" applied is to intensify the
ASL instruction.

The inevitable result of the ASL-only and Bi-Bi policies is the
perpetuation of illiteracy among the students, already the greatest of
their problems.

  Replies Author Date
2387 US Senate Memorandum on ASL... Valerie Sutton Tue  11/23/1999
2392 Re: US Senate Memorandum on ASL... Neil Bauman Tue  11/23/1999
2393 Re: US Senate Memorandum on ASL... Valerie Sutton Tue  11/23/1999

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