Deaf Community

URGENT: Support CRPD, Deaf-Friendly “Disability Treaty”

Posted on 30 October 2013. Filed under: Advocacy, Announcements, Call to Action, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (, CRPD (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabili, Deaf Community, Disability | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

URGENT: Support CRPD, Deaf-Friendly “Disability Treaty”


The marathon battle for the U.S. ratification of the deaf-friendly “Disability Treaty” may soon have its end in sight. But only if thousands of supporters across the country take action now! That means YOU!

What can you do?

  1. MAKE CALLS!! We need everyone to call and email Senators as often as you can. Tell them over and over to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)! Don’t stop until they ratify! 

    The CRPD Action Center at offers tools that can help you communicate with Senators. This includes a template email and a script for phone calls. The same site has a FAQ on the CPRD.Every call really does matter. Set up phone banks for your dorms, organizations or classes. Hold events where everyone calls together!

    In addition to your own Senators, you also can call Senator Menendez and Senator Corker. As Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, they represent all Americans.

  2. Sign and disseminate the petitions! Youth below age 30 can sign a petition for young people at People of all ages can sign another petition at Every signature really does matter!!
  3. The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has scheduled two hearings on the CRPD for November 5 and 12, 2013. WE NEED YOU TO COME. Bring your friends, family, and classmates. Help us FILL THE ROOM. Show the Senators your support. Monitor for forthcoming details on time and location.

Facts to Remember:

  • The CRPD is the first international treaty to recognize the inclusion of sign language and deaf culture in society.
  • More than 700 disability, veterans, faith, business, and humanitarian organizations support CRPD ratification. These include the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), Gallaudet University, and the U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD).
  • More materials on the CRPD for the Deaf, deaf, and hard of hearing communities are available at

Last year, we lost by only 5 votes. This may be our last chance for a long time. Please help us succeed this year!

Please let us know what you are doing! Any questions? Contact: Andrea Shettle at, video phone 202-540-8812. Other questions on the CRPD campaign can be directed to Eileen Magan at

Please circulate this text freely to all U.S. deaf and hard of hearing community members, their friends, loved ones, and allies. Reblog or copy/paste the text into email, Facebook, etc.

If you have a website, put the logo below on your website and link it to


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Deaf and Disabled Women Activists Change the World!

Posted on 7 January 2011. Filed under: Advocacy, Announcements, Deaf Community, Disability, Interesting web sites, International, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Let me share with you one of the most amazing music videos you’ll ever see! I have met the women in this video–both the Deaf women and the women with all different kinds of disabilities–and they are some of the most awesome, passionate, visionary, world changing women leaders I have had the honor to have met. These 54 women from 43 different countries are doing incredible things in their home countries, changing society one little corner at a time so that it is more inclusive of Deaf and disabled women everywhere. Please, PLEASE — go watch this video!! Then when you’re done–please get a YouTube account (if you don’t already have one) so you can leave a positive comment about it. And click on the “like” button (looks like a thumbs up sign). Then click on the “Share” button so that you can tweet it … and facebook it … and otherwise share it with every person you know. Then encourage them to do the same thing. I want for the WHOLE WORLD to watch this video!

Can you feel their love and passion and energy just pulsating off the screen at you? I came home with an AWFUL headache tonight and just wanted to go to sleep … but when I watched this video, it had me tapping my toes and signing and singing right along with them! You will do the same — PLEASE GO WATCH RIGHT NOW!

The song is sung in English, Arabic, Spanish, and American Sign Language with English captions.

Disabled women activists change the world through YouTube music video: Loud, Proud and Passionate!(SM)

January 6, 2011 – Signing and singing with passion in Arabic, Spanish and English, 54 disabled women activists from 43 countries celebrate the achievements, pride and solidarity of women with disabilities around the world. These leaders are revolutionizing the status of women and girls worldwide. Filmed during MIUSA’s 5th International Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD), the Loud, Proud and Passionate!(SM) music video release marks the beginning of MIUSA’s 30thAnniversary year-long celebration.

Watch and share the YouTube link:
Music Video: Loud, Proud and Passionate!(SM)

Our goal is to reach 2,500 views and to raise funds through donations for the next WILD program empowering women and girls with disabilities. Every donation large or small brings us closer to that goal! To donate, visit

WILD delegates in the video come from Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Bangladesh, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Palestinian Territories, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St. Lucia, Syria, Turkey, Uganda, United States of America, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The video is captioned. For the text video description in English click here.

Mobility International USA (MIUSA) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower people with disabilities around the world to achieve their human rights through international exchange and international development. For more information visit

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Coming Out … as Deaf!

Posted on 29 September 2007. Filed under: Deaf Blogs, Deaf Community, Interesting web sites, International |

If you rely on Deaf Read to help you find interesting or humorous Deaf-related vlogs then you might have missed this one. Today, I discovered a funny 6-minute vlog skit, in BSL with English subtitles, about a man who comes out to his hearing mother … as a Deaf man! It’s funny because in the first 30 seconds it looks like he’s about to come out as gay. But the parrallels between the Deaf experience and the gay experience don’t stop there — it’s carried throughout the skit. And don’t miss the interesting twist at the end of the video!

I found this video by browsing through, which is where the Deaf Read editors put links to blog and vlog posts that they aren’t sure belong in Deaf Read. Sometimes interesting posts are buried there. If you think one (or more) of them belong in Deaf Read, then you can click on the “vote” box next to the link to “vote” for it; apparently they do take a second look at any post that receives enough votes. (While you’re browsing deafread/extra, those of you with an interest in human rights issues for Deaf and disabled people internationally may want to follow the link entitled “Call for papers: Conference on UN CRPD” which would take you to my other blog.)

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Deaf in Disaster or Emergency Situations

Posted on 12 September 2007. Filed under: Advocacy, Announcements, Audism, Deaf Community |

 What happens to Deaf people during disasters like the events of September 11, 2001, or during the Katrina hurricane?  What happens to deaf and hard of hearing people, or people with disabilities generally?  Unfortunately, we know that accommodations for people with disabilities generally tend to be very limited.  How many wheelchair users died on Sept 11 because they did not have an evacuation chair and a team of co-workers ready to take them down the stairs — instead of being forced to wait for help that never arrived?  How often have Deaf people been the last people to know critical information that could help save their lives, because television wasn’t captioned and radio wasn’t accessible?  How many Deaf (or disabled) people found emergency shelters to be accessible?

Have YOU been affected by a disaster or emergency situation?  If so, YOUR story of how you were affected could help other Deaf people (and people with disabilities) in the United States benefit from better emergency planning in the future.
The US National Coalition on Disabilities is gathering feedback from people.  But there isn’t much time left.  They need to receive your  comments by SEPTEMBER 16.  That means you have the rest of this week, including the weekend, to think about what information and documentation you want to share and write it up.  (They started gathering feedback several months ago.  But I did not realize in time to announce it here.  Apologies for the late notice.)

Learn more about the feedback process and what kind of information would be most helpful by going to this web site:

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Debate and Controversy in the Deaf Community

Posted on 3 June 2007. Filed under: Deaf Community, Reunifying Gally |

Sometimes it surprises some Deaf people to realize that, hey, we’re not the only community to experience heated debate, or hot controversies, or virulent disagreement.

Or maybe it’s only a surprise to people who are both relatively young and also far more insular than they realize? Or a surprise mainly to people who subconsciously stereotype any community other than their own — perhaps, again, because they are more insular than they realize? I don’t know. But I do know that it was a big surprise to me many years ago to be informed that some of the touchier debates common to the Deaf community also exist in other communities. Though that might have been just because I was far younger, more naive, and–yes–more insular back then.

There are some controversies that seem to be common, as far as I can see, to ALL minority communities. Please remember that I’m NOT seeking to start discussion on any of the following questions. I’m ONLY seeking to point out that these are common questions that MANY, and maybe all minority communities struggle with. Can you picture how a debate on any of the following questions might unfold in some minority community OTHER than the Deaf community? Or in any community BESIDES the multiple communities to which you probably belong?

For example: where do we draw the boundaries on our community? Who “belongs” and who doesn’t “belong?” Which of several possible labels that we COULD use to define ourselves (and that we perhaps HAVE used to define ourselves in various contexts over various time periods) is actually the most appropriate label to use? To what extent can or should we be unified in agreeing upon how to label or define ourselves, particularly when representing ourselves to people outside the community? Who can appropriately be considered “allies” — people who belong outside the boundaries of our community but who are very supportive of our goals? What exactly is the appropriate role of these allies within (or with) our community? Are there certain topics that can be considered “dirty laundry” within our community that must never be aired outside of the community? If a certain topic is popularly considered “dirty laundry,” are there times when it can do more harm than good to our community when we try to avoid all debate about it? Do we have hierachies within our community, where some members think they are “better” or more “pure” or more truly a part of the community than others? If so, to what extent are these hierachies actually a strength (are they?) and to what extent do they cause more harm than good? Why do we have these hierachies and how do we disassemble them?

Again, please remember that these questions are NOT meant to be answered here and now. All are interesting questions for debate ELSEWHERE. Here, I’m trying to take some large steps backwards to look at the whole phenomon of debate and controversy within minority communities generally, of which the Deaf community is simply one of many.

All the above questions, and a great many more, are important issues for any minority community to explore among themselves. And in most minority communities, these questions can stir up intense emotions and sharp disagreements about which “answers” are “correct” and which answers will only lead to the destruction of the community.

When these kinds of disagreements occur, but especially when they are prolonged, intense, and involve large numbers of people, then sometimes people start worrying about the very existence of disagreement. Some people may start saying, “This disagreement is tearing us apart. We can’t be a community like this!” Sometimes some members of the community become so upset at the very presence of debate that they start looking for someone to blame for starting the debate. They may point to someone who did nothing more than raise a question about an issue that has already been festering within the community for a very long time, even if it has usually been ignored up until now. And accuse them of trying to divide the community simply for raising sensitive questions that have no easy answers.

Some months ago, the American Deaf community (and, to a lesser extent, Deaf communities in Canada and the UK) was plunged into a deep controversy over the Gallaudet protests. Of course, Ground Zero was on Gallaudet campus itself. But that’s not the only time we’ve faced controvesy in the Deaf community–it’s merely one of the more dramatic events that caught an unusually high number of people in its grip. We’ve seen a number of smaller debates spread through the Deaf blogosphere from time to time. (I haven’t been reading DeafRead for long enough, or extensively enough, to point to good examples. I’ll let others do that in the comments area.)

At the moment, it appears that the on-line Autistic community is having a very intense debate of its own, particularly among Autistic adults and parents of autistic children within a community of bloggers called the Autism Hub. I first became aware of it when one of the most prominent autistic bloggers, Amanda Baggs (at Ballastexistenz) wrote a post in response to that general debate. Some of what she says is specific to the particular controversy that is now sweeping many Autism Hub participants. But Amanda has a real knack for taking what seems to be a very specific incident and drawing much broader lessons from it that we could all do well to consider.

So, she raises some points that could be just as relevant for the Deaf community to consider in dealing with our own internal debates as they are to the on-line Autistic community. To give you a few random quotes:

Working within an organization and critiquing its power structures, even harshly, are not mutually exclusive.

Communities that can’t handle dissenters aren’t real communities, but can certainly grow into them if they learn to handle dissent by doing something other than a Chicken Little routine.

Conflict won’t destroy a community, but thinking it will just might. So will incessant pettiness.

Critiquing the priorities and power of a group that someone belongs to might just be a sign they care about that group, not a sign that they are evil incarnate or “infighting” or all that crap.

Critiquing power structures that benefit certain people above others is not the same thing as saying these are bad people who must go away and leave us alone and that we don’t appreciate them.

Having impure motives doesn’t make someone wrong or wholly evil or to be castigated for those motives while ignoring some of their real points, focusing entirely on speculating about people’s motives is a good way to avoid issues though.

At the same time, it’s not always our job to reassure you that you’re not evil and awful and stuff. At some point just decide that as axiomatic and move on to something constructive like figuring out what’s right and wrong and trying to do what’s right.

Disagreeing on how things should be done doesn’t mean people can’t work together or that the entire community is falling apart at the seams.

Sometimes a person’s disagreement comes out forcefully because they’ve been hiding it for a long time, knowing what kind of reaction they’d get if they said anything. Doesn’t make it less valid.

Anyone who thinks the web is or should be a comfortable safe place like their living room hasn’t been paying attention. (Edited to add: Anyone who thinks everyone even has a living room, or that everyone’s living room is comfortable and safe, hasn’t been paying attention either.)

She says some other interesting things that I think are of broader relevance to our own community. You may want to check out these quotes in context.

Then, let’s come back here and discuss: in what ways can we do better in handling and responding to controversies within the Deaf community? What lessons we can draw from Amanda’s post that would be relevant for ourselves?

[Want to submit your own essay for publication at Reunify Gally? It should be related in some way to reunifying or healing the Gallaudet community in the aftermath of the protests, or to diversity within the Deaf/deaf communities. If interested, review my Guidelines for Guest Bloggers and submit your essay to ashettle (at)]

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