October 4

Nyle DiMarco: That Dangerous Activist, Destroying the Deaf Community


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This is an opinion piece about Nyle DiMarco, Deaf activist. It’s fundamentally about access, inclusion, what being deaf is, and about the importance of ASL with the d/Deaf community.

This essay is available in distraction-free PDF format and also with me reading it through my podcast at the end of this post.

Nyle DiMarco is a famous Deaf model and dancer. He is from a large multi-generational Deaf family. He attended Deaf schools, and is a trained educator.
Watch this piece on YouTube, in which Nyle DiMarco talks about the importance of Deaf Education.

Nyle DiMarco on Deaf Education

So, here you have this (incredibly attractive, but that’s not the point) Deaf educator who is from this rich, deep Deaf culture. He is calling for better Deaf education for our kids, and for them to be learning ASL through programs like Lead-K.
And then you have pushback from organizations like the Alexander Graham Bell Association

This pushback is because organizations like AG Bell are audist; they are anti-deaf and believe in hearing acquisition by any means possible. They are against the use of American Sign Language (ASL).

Use of Media to Propel People Against the Use of ASL

Organizations like AG Bell that are against the use of ASL write and promote online content that attempts to make cases against ASL.
One such essay was published on The Establishment  called, “Nyle DiMarco’s Activism is Dangerous for the Deaf Community.” 

This particular piece kind of blew me away, but I want to make it clear that while I am targeting that piece, that piece is in no way unique. The opinions contained therein are standard from this audist, anti-ASL point of view, which is what makes addressing it in detail of value.

Nyle DiMarco: Deaf Activist Bent on Destroying Deaf Community?!

The author, Lisa A. Goldstein, is deaf and is slamming on Nyle’s efforts to promote deaf education and teach deaf kids ASL. She’s using the argument that because she is deaf and she doesn’t know ASL and was mainstreamed – but felt no isolation, despite being in a hearing family to boot! – that really, deaf kids don’t need to be taught ASL.

She goes on to say, “we’re deaf in different ways, and that should be ok.”

That statement is kind of ironic, given that her entire post is pushing for mainstreaming and teaching deaf kids English as opposed to ASL and English. She herself is saying “only English,” giving no space at all to the acquisition of ASL, or ASL and English.

She goes on to say that Nyle DiMarco’s activism in promoting ASL education for d/Deaf kids is dangerous.

ASL and Bilingual Education for the Deaf: Dangerous?!

You want to know what I think is dangerous?

A lot of kids growing up without language.

In her post, Goldstein says,

As part of his foundation’s efforts, Nyle is trying to get states to pass a law that requires bilingualism for deaf people—ASL and English. In other words, he wants to make ASL a requirement for deaf children, which infringes on parental choice. As long as parents are informed of all communication options, it should be up to them to choose what’s best for their children.

That sounds great! Awesome!

But this is the thing: IT IS NOT HAPPENING.

Hearing parents have had the choice forever to do what they think is best for their deaf child, and simply too many d/Deaf kids are deprived of early language acquisition, point blank.

Deaf kids are falling through the cracks, wandering through early childhood and into school without access to a full-fledged first language.

This is exactly the case for more than half of all d/Deaf kids – and if you think I’m joking, go and visit a deaf section of a public, mainstream school. You’ll find, as I did, that there are high-schoolers with enormous language deficits because they never learned a language when they were babies, because they had no access to language.

They couldn’t hear.

Their parents didn’t teach them ASL.

They were unable to grasp English.

They were left out, lost, and deprived of language, full stop.

This fact is inconceivable to most hearing people, especially in this day and age where ASL is trendy. Hearing kids tend to know more ASL and have access to more ASL than deaf kids do. And if the deaf kids have no access to language in infancy and early childhood, guess what happens? That part of their brain atrophies and makes it incredibly difficult to learn later.

Ms. Goldstein talks about her parent’s choice of focusing on lipreading and mainstreaming for her own childhood, saying that they thought she could learn ASL later. Bravo for them, all right?

But in my own – also deaf, mainstreamed and from a hearing family – case, guess what? I hear nothing without my devices. I’m 43 years old and struggling to learn ASL now. That whole “learn ASL later” thing doesn’t always work so well, because “later” can happen your brain is past the stage in which it can pick up languages easily. I’m just lucky that my hearing parents constantly checked my comprehension of English – I didn’t fall through the cracks like a lot of deaf kids do.

So listen. I don’t want to hear posts like Lisa A. Goldstein’s, that are defending a push to keep deaf kids without ASL. I don’t want to read things about bi-lingual deaf people being a “dangerous establishment.”

I don’t want to read things that are asking us to fix ourselves up through drilling holes in our skulls and wiring us with cochlear implants, or having us wear hearing aids 24/7 so that we can try and communicate orally.

I don’t want to read things that are essentially promoting more language deprivation for deaf children. We need to move past that, focus on ASL education for all deaf kids, move into English and on to other languages if the child has a bend for that.

Let’s start with what we know a deaf person will need in their life. Because even if they do have cochlear implants or wear hearing aids, at the end of the day, they take them out and are deaf.

:// end rant

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* This post was originally published in May 2016

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Meriah Nichols is a career counselor, teacher and blogger. Single mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E), she is also a cat-loving Trekkie who likes her coffee hot and black.
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    1. I’m deaf, born into a hearing family, didn’t acquire language until kindergarten, we weren’t allowed to use sign language, my deaf classmates whose parents were deaf, taught me sign language when the teacher turned her back and after class while waiting for our parents. Television wasn’t closed captioning then either. I can’t learn to hear. I can’t believe I wrote a book. A Preacher’s kid’s take

  1. I disagreed with you. If you ever visit Maryland School for the Deaf. They are the most successful with BI program therefore it is not dangerous!

    1. Huh? That’s kind of the whole point of this post: that it’s NOT dangerous. And the post was in response to Goldstein’s post that it IS dangerous. You might want to head over to hers to tell her your thoughts.

      1. I work with deaf students everyday. Out of about 15 deaf students (not counting the hard of hearing students in addition), only three of the deaf students have signing parents. These students are in high school and I’ve had them since elementary school. They read on a 1st grade level and all the years I’ve tried hard to work with them, their parents continued to be oblivious to their language needs and they make up every excuse in the book to why they aren’t learning sign language. Oh and the students who have signing parents are our most successful ones.

        1. Exactly. If the parents would take the time to teach their kids a language that would not only open a whole new world for their kids, it would make communication from the parents so much easier. I couldn’t imagine not communicating with my own kids. Tired of the excuses from lazy parents who refuse to learn a better way to communicate with their kids..

    2. Go back and read carefully!! Better yet, read the last 3 paragraph of this post.

      Thanks Meriah, for standing strong with all of us.

    3. Your reply proves Meriah’s point. You misunderstood her point, thus you showed your incomplete competency in English. She pointed out that many deaf kids with hearing parents don’t have full competency in English as result of the monolingual English language acquisition, which is faulty in most cases.

      Meriah does support bilingual acquisition for every deaf child and bicultural education for all of them. She only quotes what Ms Goldstein of AGBell Association wrote to which she disagrees..

    4. I disagree with you. I raised a deaf daughter and started her in a Deaf Ed Program, in a public school. They taught her ESL. After finding out that, she wasn’t promoted to kindergarten, I pulled her out and put her in the Texas School for the Deaf. At that school, they taught ASL. I communicated with my daughter daily, even though she lived in the dorms. Anytime, she would text me, I would correct her English. So, being a parent that was very involved with my child, that is deaf. I think being well rounded on both is a great thing. So, my daughter and you got lucky, with parents that participated with the child that was deaf. I have seen parents drop their kids off and leave them $5 in their account for the whole month, from SSI. They were hearing parents of deaf children and didn’t care at all. So, I think it is a great idea! Parents are parents til the end. Period! End of my rant!!!! JS

  2. This is my reply:

    “As long as parents are informed of all communication options, it should be up to them to choose what’s best for their children. Ninety percent of children who are deaf are born to hearing parents, the vast majority of whom do not know ASL or have connections to Deaf Culture. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, they would opt for their own culture and language.”

    While I understand her points of view, this part above really struck a nerve. The KEY point here is “As long….” well, I don’t think the author realizes just how many of those hearing parents don’t realize ASL is an option…. Sure, Nyle is trying to make it a requirement, but I believe his foundation is trying to do this so there can be a ‘middle-ground’.

    What is this middle ground you speak of? Think of it this way, it’s almost like a negotiation. When you negotiate, usually, there’s a high bar that’s set (like requiring all deaf children to learn ASL) but it creates an atmosphere for compromise. This middle ground of compromise, personally in my opinion, is requiring all states to have ASL as one of the many options for parents of deaf children. This way everyone wins.

    I should clarify and define what the lower ground is here:

    The lower ground in this analogy is to not require ASL to be provided an option, but then it’s easy for oralist advocates to push their platform even further (eg: AGB) whereas the Deaf community has no say. Oralists already have speech training and cochlear implantation, as they are already well known options.

    Think of it this way, if we don’t require ASL to be provided as an option, then how is it fair for everyone?

  3. Thank you so much, Meriah, for articulating what many of us deafies are thinking. Unfortunately, the platform that Goldstein used does not allow comments. I think that is cowardly.

  4. Spot on. I dummy have a problem with parents using other options as long as it’s not too the exclusion of ASL. If I had a deaf child, I would prioritize ASL because the research shows that ASL is beneficial to all deaf kids (even those with cochlears have stronger ENGLISH skills when they are given ASL from a young age). I would also teach them to cue. That is as close to fully bilingual as you can get for a Deaf child when one of the languages is spoken.

    Oralism works for a small percentage, but fails for many. By the time they admit that and add ASL, those language pathways have usually started to close, if not completely closed. There are “oral failures” and “cue failures”. There are no ASL failures. Any deaf child can access ASL to the extent they are cognitively capable of learning language. The only reasons they might not would be the same reasons hearing kids might not fully grasp English (language delays, etc.). Most of the time, the deaf children I see struggling with language are the ones whose parents don’t learn to communicate with them and/or the ones whose parents chose other options and they failed. Kids whose families make the effort to immerse then in ASL are pretty much always successful with learning unless there is another issue (like cognitive disability or a language disorder). The fact that there are SOME successes (and there are) for other methods didn’t make those options universally successful. ASL, done correctly, is universally successful.

    My concern with Kyle’s proposal is how we will judge sufficient access to ASL. I see so many parents who dump their kids in the signing program, but never learn to sign. By high school, they cannot have even basic conversations with their own parents, let alone discuss problems at school or life’s big issues. Is that “providing ASL”. In y experience, that is also an epic failure situation. I’d rather a parent 100% committed to cueing who drops everything to make sure their kid always has access to the conversations going on around them than a parent who sticks them in school with an interpreter as their only language model and just ignores them and used rudimentary gestures with them at home. So many bright kids have their futures taken away from them, even kids whose parents have chosen ASL as their language in school, because their own families can’t converse with them. I worry that mandating ASL without parental buy-in will just create more situations like that.

    1. You said “Oralism works for a small percentage, but fails for many. By the time they admit that and add ASL, those language pathways have usually started to close, if not completely closed. There are “oral failures” and “cue failures”. ”

      I disagree on this one..

      1. TJ dont have any idea what is going on I went to oralism school no sign langage interpeter it was suck Alexander Graham Bell wanted all of deaf children wore hearing aid learn how to listen and speak most of my friends can’t hear a single word or sounds with hearing aid on how can they learn how to speak or listen? I did not learn sign language when I enrolled NTID/RIT i met many wonderful deaf students who taught me how to use the sign language while I was living in dormority that is how I finally catch up the education i spent a lot of time how to speak and listen rather than learning more education that is oralism way i have two college degree through NTID and Gallaudet University Actually I am late boomer that my hall of fame coach told me

      2. TJ, you are too simplistic in evaluating the situation concerning the language acquisition situation of deaf children of hearing parents.

        You have to consider the majority of deaf children, not the upper 10 % of deaf children like Goldstein, Miriah, and myself. You must not consider the upper the 10% minority to judge what would be best for the lower 90%. Your accomplishments in English is largely not because of, but despite of how you were brought up. You could be successful linguistically if your parents were assholes and don’t communicate with you well. I have encountered cases of asshole parents and linguistically successful kids. My parents were assholes, and I grew up in a linguistically impoverished environment in my family, yet my linguistic abilities are above par in both German and English, thanks to sign language used in my school for the deaf by my older peers and awkwardly by hearing teachers. Still my classmates are impoverished in both signed and spoken languages. My parents tried to communicate with me very hard orally, speaking slowly and enunciatedly. My German was agrammatical with improper word choices whenever I wrote. I started to learn English as a 21-year-old adult entirely on my own from instructional books. Now I am more competent in English, but surprisingly my German has improved a great deal to the point that I have published articles in professional journals…

        You cannot use your own background to recommend anything. You must rely on the data on the majority of the population in the two-third middle of the statistical bell curve.

        Meriah is correct, oralism works for a small percentage, namely for the top 10 % of the population, and it is not because of oralism, but despite of oralism..That is exactly what happened to me.

        I have seen what happened to the bilingual situation in deaf families with deaf children. The statistics of their bilingual abilities are overwhelming.

        The history of the education of the deaf, including the current emphasis on the auditory-verbal approach has shown dismal failures.in the majority of deaf children. The auditory-verbal approach is already over 50 years old. No remarkable improvements in the overall abilities in English by the majority of deaf children have been shown,

        Goldstein has become a victim of the audistic environment during her formative years. She is only lucky that no damage was done to her as the same has been done to many others.

        1. What you say is why I think we should try a different approach.

          If you try to put an ocean into a pond you will end up with a disaster. But. If you try to put a pond into an ocean, you have less problems.

          The younger the children, the more receptive they are to learning. Instead of separating the hearing and the deaf children, why not teach them together, both languages?

          I understand that some parents may not be supportive and may not participate, but in the classroom, the children will be able to learn and support each other. Many parents don’t get involved when their children are learning any other languages, including music, so parental involvement, though welcomed, is not necessary.

          I believe this would be of great benefit to all children.

        2. And the bar set by the top 10% used to be the bar set by the top 1% in the 60s and 70s, The oral deaf teenagers I meet today are leaps and bounds beyond where my peers were 30 years ago, too. Agree with them or not, advances in CI technology and AV therapy are how the bar keeps being raised in spite of the opposition, that often borders on hatred, coming from the Deaf culture. I have zero animosity towards those who choose the ASL route, and I have met a handful of people who have done very well being raised with both ASL and speaking fluency. But if the bilingual approach was as effective as is being claimed, I would expect the champions of that style of learning to be able to speak and listen at least half as well as they sign.

          1. you missed the point.
            the point was acquisition of a language. in your last sentence, you mentioned “to be able to speak and listen at least half as well as they sign”. you were talking about modes of expression (signing, speaking, writing etc) . one can speak well but have a bad command of English. the same goes with signing– one can sign well but have a bad command of ASL.
            the article was about language deprivation.
            modes of expression were not at all the point.

    2. It’s actually the parents’ responsibility to learn ASL if they choose to have their child learn ASL. They can instruct the deaf child in both English and ASL. It’s very do able because I’ve been doing it since I was a little boy and thousands of other deaf people have too.

      1. Spot on, my deaf son learned his first word at 2 and entered ISD at 3 and 1/2. He learned ,came home and taught me.,,and with deaf community plus Church and my deaf son, soon I was part of the Deaf group
        . To this day we still talk each day
        PS I am a hearing Mother

        1. Jane,
          I wish, I had a pragmatic mother like you. When I first came home from a residential school for the deaf on a vacation as a first grader, I brought signs from the school to the family. I remembered my mother and siblings using the signs I taught them. But one year later all the signing disappeared. I still cannot figure out why they stopped the signing suddenly. Upon whose advice? Afterwards the communication between them and me went laboriously and gradually became minimal. Communication was largely one-way from me to them and much less from them to me, because my speech was pretty good and my lipreading was insufficient for the topics beyond small talk, although good in comparison to many of my deaf classmates.

          You need to spread your experience to other mothers.

  5. I agreed with Lisa A. Goldstein’s post all the way. ASL and bilingual will NEVER be succeed in the school. Nyle’s activism in promoting ASL education for deaf kids is VERY dangerous, he is a pathological liar and manipulating people.

    1. Melow Meldrew, in schools and situations where ASL and Bilingualism is encouraged and utilized, it already HAS been successful. Expand it and it will continue to be successful.
      Your narrow view is so wrong and devastatingly sad!!

    2. Ugh, what… Is this some kind of joke?! Lisa and Melow…. I find this hard to believe after I read what you guys said in your article and comments. Let me tell you a bit story of my life. I was born deaf, raised in hearing family and went to mainstreaming school all my whole life. I finally learned sign language when I was 7 yrs old. I grew up with my hearing family that they don’t even really bother to learn sign language to communicate with me and always left me out of family conversation. That really show a ‘lack’ of family bond. I often misunderstood what people were saying by lipreading… Of course, I felt so frustration, isolated and desperate trying to find a way to get through. Gosh, I have never felt so much audism in my lifetime. I personally felt that my own family never really care how I feel or what I have gone thru?!! So, I realized that I’d rather spend more time with my deaf friends than with my own hearing family, because of the communication in ASL! Until I married to a deaf guy and then later on, we had a deaf child, which it was unexpected, but sooo blessing feeling!! We decided to send our child to deaf school instead of mainstreaming school, where they use ASL to communicate. Our child turns out to be a wonderful and bright kid!

      You may NOT realize that ASL do really give us a lot of benefit to communication a lot better than being an oralism without sign language. There’s NO such a thing about being in ‘dangerous’ for using in ASL… that’s the most ridiculous thing that I ever heard!! ASL is a beautiful language! PLEASE STOP for trying to destroy ASL and show us some respect!!!

      1. @Sophia,
        there are data a plenty. First, deaf children of deaf parents are always way ahead of deaf children of hearing parents, even those from a higher socio-economic class than the deaf parents are. There are many studies to show it. Nyle DiMarco is just one example among many other examples. I can give you names a galore to support this statement.

        Secondly, the study by K.Heiling in Sweden also showed how the Swedish law 1981, requiring bilingual education of ALL deaf children and provided resources and support to hearing parents to learn Swedish Sign Language, resulted in 50 % of deaf school leavers (15 years old) have the same reading level as the average hearing peers, that is, the Swedish deaf school leavers have the same average achievement in reading comprehension as hearing children, using standardized tests, while only ten percent of the British and US children achieved age-equivalent reading levels.

        Thirdly, I have seen many deaf children of hearing parents doing extremely well academically, because their parents learned ASL and used it at home. The Office of Research at Gallaudet University should have the data to show high correlation between academic achievement and hearing status of parents.

    3. Mellow~ that’s bullshit abt Lisa’ s post! She never enter to Deaf community and see those deaf people use their ASL as our primary language! Have you go to Deaf clubs or Deaf communities?? I think that ya never understand how is really important to us is ASL NOT AGBELL!! Ya still have to study abt deaf culture and lifestyle… Ya get really wrong idea abt us! I thank to Meriah’s post which one is more dangerous ASL or AGBELL? AGBELL is most dangerous!

    4. I am a pro-oral, I’d much prefer lesser emphasis on ‘Hearing’, we aren’t at war or anything…. I tend to think all this ASL versus A G Bell is childish, and non-productive too. It looks like sign using deaf are deliberately seeking out battles to fight, instead of agreeing to differ and respecting the views of others, or just plain reading what isn’t there. Just because one area supports an oralist approach, (and certainly appears to have a fair amount of support for that), they should be respected on those grounds. Mutual respect engenders mutual acceptance, listening, respecting the A G Bell is meaning of “Excellence” in higher education teaching deaf and hoh child, it doesn’t have to be ‘Us’ versus ‘Them’

      1. @Melow Mildew,
        your ideas are mildewing. So much mold is on your arguments.
        You did not consider the sad history of the education of the deaf based on audism and oralism. Oralism in whatever raiment has produced failures in the masses of deaf children. It has made their lives miserable. A.G>Bell as the standard bearer of oralism is one major culprit of this suffering. Hatred against AGBell is justified, in the same degree as we hate Adolf Hitler, Stalin, Nero. etc.

        You MUST keep in mind, we are never against learning English, and learning to speak. The problem is the exclusivity of SPEECH in the education, Even language received the second fiddle (lesser importance) under oralism along with the real education in mathematics, social sciences and natural sciences. Speech must receive its relative value. It is good as long it is doable with little effort. Just accept, if a child does not succeed in speech. The child will acquire English through writing and reading, and gets explanation of English grammar in ASL.

    5. I feel sorry for you and Lisa because you, both, are missing out on a great language. I am profoundly deaf and can speak, read lips and ‘also, sign well. I love sign language. It is a beautiful language without which I would be lost. Lip reading is not 100% easy. I am lost in a group of hearing people who speak to each other and I learn nothing of what they are saying. It is impossible to read lips of other people speaking to each other, of a lecturer speaking from a stage, people with heavy mustaches or buck teeth. Thank god for sign language. It is just another language, a wonderful language and fun language. How can it be dangerous? I am in my twilight years now and we, elders, still have means to communicate while people who lose hearing late in life are isolated.

  6. This is such a beautiful response to Goldstein’s post!! YES YES- the whole point is LANGUAGE! Thank you for standing up for millions of deaf children!!

    1. Merlow …except that AGB wants to erdicate Deaf and ASL.That’s why Deaf is taking them on in our fight for our language and choice for Bilingualism and Deaf Education. AGB wants to take away all that and make sure deaf people are implanted with Ci and assimilated – their ultimate goal. They don’t want diversity or choices. They want to “normalize” deaf and refuses to accept anything else.

  7. YES!!! There is already far too much literature out there opposing the bilingual approach for Deaf kids, we don’t need another article written by someone with no idea what they’re talking about. What Nyle is doing is an incredibly powerful thing, and I am so glad he is using his celebrity status to benefit his own community and bring our language back to us. Yay!!!

    1. @Talitha,
      NO, there are more scientific literature that support bilingualism. Those criticizing it are old, now strongly discredited. They are written by oralists to defend their monolingual approach for deaf children.

  8. I disagree with you. Many hearing people don’t get enuff education about deaf culture. Deaf people know what’s better for deaf baby. You are ignorance!!!!

    1. This is the whole point Chris. One of the many reasons to spread the awareness to those who dont know anything about deaf culture. How is Meriah ignorance. Could you explain?

  9. Look, ASL is a popular….ASL is learning vocabulary then to use English….both of them are useful but ASL is best….hearing people learn ASL babies….I use a Beauitful ASL in the world…I
    am so sorry hearing people feel yo left out ASL..true
    Hearing people hear everything you left me out because I can’t hear anything…think a twice….hearing and deaf are equally….hearing complain to learn ASL, that is their problem and deaf people are a naturally sign languages….no barrier ASL is first language….

  10. Lord help you!! Get the facts straight! I smell jealously here for someone success!!! Sad you cut yourself short in life..,

  11. I don’t have a Deaf child, but I have a hearing child who was in a Russian orphanage for four years, with a fair amount of language deprivation, before we adopted her. We were told not to worry about learning Russian, that she didn’t speak that much of it, that she’d pick up English like a sponge … so she completely lost her first language before learning a second and is still, 20-some-years later, suffering for that early language lapse. If I had it to do over again, I would absolutely learn Russian, and if I had a kid who would benefit from ASL, I’d absolutely learn and use that too. You never ever get that time back. Kids need to be bombarded with language in those early years, not deprived.

    1. Terri Maurro,
      That your child did’nt learn Russian during her formative years is really unbelievable. I suspect, she has some kind of aphasia that blocks auditory stimuli to the auditory language center in the brain. I encountered two such hearing persons who could not process speech, and therefore use ASL. One of them received a PhD in linguistics and uses ASL-English interpreters. Would the emphasis on sign language and reading in English help?

  12. I grew up in a public school but lost my hearing gradually. Learning sign language was everyone’s last resort because they wanted me to be normal and speak. I was in speech classes up until my sophomore year in high school. It didn’t do anything for me and I started failing public school, this was a small town and I was the only deaf person. Once I went to the deaf school and learned sign language I flourished! I am still able to speak fairly normal and I go to public colleges for classes. I have interpreters but I continue to speak for myself. ASL is the best option, even if a kid gets a CI, like I got in 2007. I’m deaf and the CI is just a tool.

    1. YES! I don’t think there is anything wrong with using technology – I use and like my hearing aids – but I agree with you: we need the ASL too.

  13. YOU ARE THAT STUPID! Really!! You don’t know the other side in the deaf community and you need to go through everything in an inner the deaf community to get the better picture!! I grew up in the public school, first language I learned was English and they did not teach for who I really as a person until I learned ASL in college at a later age. I knew I am deaf but I don’t know what’s really about myself. ASL and the Deaf culture helped me understanding for who I am and where I belong to. ASL IS NOT DANGEROUS!!!

    1. Abueg, you better discuss with someone who can understand English well, before you writes something. You misunderstood Meriah by a mile. Meriah only repeated what Lisa Goldstein of AGBell Association for the Deaf wrote and criticized her strongly, although she comes from the same background like Ms Goldstein.

  14. Thanks for sharing ur part. I need to share that there are NO risks to learning ASL 🙂 Deaf children have the opportunity to be bilingual yet that’s being prevented as we have many parents depriving their Deaf children that chance. Change the focus by allowing Deaf children the pleasure of learning ASL –that this will finally end the cycle perpetuating myths as the media made possible for the truth to be shoved aside in favor of stories that glorify programs focusing on fixing ears. I shudder to think about the fact how many deaf children made it as successful deaf adults through sheer luck like u. So many ways to be deaf in a world we can get through to show the value and riches of ASL and a deaf life. Parents need this information to be FULLY informed about what it is like raising deaf children, who happen to be deaf. AGBell’s jargon for listening and speaking (spoken language as they say) is portraying “LSL” to trick parents thinking it is equivalent to ASL but “more skilled” (for lack of a better word). Listening and speaking are “skills” –not as a language that they go in training or therapy developed through 1-1 lessons, in class, or through the use of technology. In short it is oral only, not LSL.

    Deaf children get to learn ASL and English (reading, writing, and speaking) because of benefits that most of us know about. The newborn hearing screening program are doing the right thing to intervene when babies are identified deaf, however, they get sidetracked when they openly promote listening and speaking agenda and gives out biased info/resources etc. No mention of ASL or get to meet a deaf person as a mentor as many have never met a deaf person before. We have too many families who are steered away from this reality. Can u just see that it is a grave disservice to Deaf children by continuing to discourage clueless families? We can see information on CIs is well advertised while ASL get the short shrift. Society and the media do not go far enough to encourage parents to learn ASL. Give us and Nyle a break as we are trying to make points and see to improving results in the quest to win hearts and minds of the public -stressing the importance of ASL, that!

  15. Evidence of language deprivation are Deaf people who respond negatively to this post, thinking it is supportive of the Goldstein post. They missed the sarcastic tone of this post and the refuted points of Goldstein’s remarks. I agree with them and with all the others in this: yes, the Goldstein article this refers to is biased and wrong in most of its pointers. So wrong that nearly every response to it has been vehemently opposing it and overwhelmingly in favor of including ASL in every deaf child’s early programming.

    1. I don’t think it was the sarcasm in the title that confused people….I think a lot of people just didn’t read it and only read the title…which is too bad cause it was a great article!

    1. I can see why some people are mistaking your title as being your position. Hard to pick up that sarcasm from the title. Unfortunate. But whatever, great article.

      1. Rain, I agree, the title is misleading. I don’t see any sarcasm there. I indeed thought “another Lisa Goldsteon, UGH” I wish she chose a different and shorter title. Perhaps “Lisa Goldstein of AGBAD is wrong!” Or “Lisa Goldstein IS Dangerous!” or “Oralism is perpetuating Oppression against Deaf People” or “Listen, Listen, and Listen, yet They fail to Listen to Us”

  16. Beautiful blog. I concur wholeheartedly.

    That being said… far too many people are reacting to this by its cover. I’d change the title.

  17. I read most of the replies. I see some of them might misunderstand you. You was trying to make point to support Nyle. I hope I am right. I think the topic was confused? Maybe it is easy to say ” Reply to Lisa, blah…” Just an idea.
    I would like to see the law for Deaf children to have ASL and English to be pass. We are talking about the rights! We, Deaf children and Adults have every right to have ASL. With the law pass, the Hearing parents with Deaf children will know that children need two language ASL and English ( written language ).

  18. Meriah, thank you for your response to Lisa’s blog. You made your points which I wholeheartedly agree with you. You said it better than I can.

    Not knowing Nyle’s degree of hearing loss, degree of hearing loss does make a difference in understanding of speech. For those with profound hearing loss ( over 91 FB loss) hearing aids would be of no help. I am assuming the writer, Lisa, had only the mild or moderate loss,

    1. I don’t know… I was wondering the same thing though. But I have profound loss and hearing aids DO help me. So, yeah. I don’t know.
      Thanks for the kind words.

    2. Ron,
      the extent of hearing inability (I don’t use “hearing loss”, for I never looked my hearing) may play a role in learning speech well. But I know of many who don’t hear at all who can speak very well, and some have an uncanny ability to lipread. Why they can do them is a mystery.

    3. I also have a profound loss in both ears and benefit from my hearing aids. I feel like you’re looking at really old models of hearing aids.

  19. you’ll calling calling campaign for ASL acquisition for deaf kids, dangerous? I read your post four times, and I still don’t get it!

    1. I’m sorry – the title was totally sarcastic. It was a spin on Lisa’s post, as SHE was the one who said it was dangerous. I should have titled this post what my friend Liz said, “Nyle DiMarco is Hot. Now Read My Post” 🙂

      1. Meriah, Best is to write utmost one sentence or even better just a phrase that is striking and informative about the article.
        A good one would be “The Dangers of Single-Mindedness of LSL/Oralism”, or “Only LSL is Dangerous!”

  20. Visual language is the highest education to visualize than the verbal language…. What is a best option?? Using the visual language, it helps your brain build up the strongest education. So it is our ASL we preserve.. If there are no visual language on the road ie, Road Stop Sign… boom.. did you get it?

  21. oh I understand now I do believe ASL is first language for deaf people to help them understand better before to learn English to write better.

  22. Believe me, I grew up at an oral school for the deaf and lived in “hearing world” like attending public school system. I was completely “lost” due not using sign language until I was 20 years old. That is when I started “finding myself” and developed self confidence with help of ASL. Eventually I entered business world and owned construction business. Now I am 70 years old, retired and am most grateful for the ASL that “saved” my sanity. Without ASL, I would have “fallen though ” those cracks and be part of over 70% Deaf population who are underemployed or unemployed around the country. It is time for everyone (Deaf and hearing) to “listen” to the Deaf education professionals as well as Nyle (he was a teacher before going into show business). For a long, long time, those Deaf education professionals’ words has fallen on Deaf ears (excuse the pun) and we need to LISTEN to them. There is a serious Deaf social genocide as result of unsuccessful mainstreamed education programs and “scientific technologies” like cochlear implants that were not good for many, many Deaf people. We need to STOP fooling around as there are only 2% of Deaf young people being exposed to ASL. My children and grandchildren had the benefit growing up in a “bilinqual language” environment which lead them communicate effectively as young as two months old.

  23. Parents who choose oral methods for their deaf or hard of hearing children are simply abusers. Hear me out on this.

    Just imagine a scenario: I, a deaf parent, have two hearing children and I refuse to place them in the public school system because I’m afraid that they will pick up on hearing culture, and hear spoken English. They will discover their true identity. I shelter them from interacting with their hearing peers and they are allowed to be only with deaf kids that sign. T.V. doesn’t exist in our house, as there are too many hearing people using their mouths to communicate. I punish my hearing children whenever they try to sneak by listening to music or using their voices. ASL is the only language allowed to use in my house. I don’t take them out in public to the grocery store or to the shopping mall because I don’t want my children to be tempted to use their voices or to witness hearing people in their everyday lives. I desire for my hearing children to be like me, as a deaf person. I want my hearing children to be a part of my culture only.

    If that’s the case..

    I would be investigated by the DCF and my hearing children would be taken from me when the public learns that I ban my hearing children to speak or to listen to any sounds in their surroundings and they are required to sign at all times. I would be investigated for neglect and for abuse of my hearing children’s rights.


    It’s ok for hearing parents on this dear earth to decide to ban their deaf children from learning American Sign Language.

    I’m at a loss for words.


  24. What about this deaf boy? He has CIs, can speak, and is doing better than an average kid. He certainly isn’t “language deprived.” In case you wanted to chime in and say I don’t know him, I will use myself as another example. I am deaf, I can speak, and my English is fine. I know some Chinese as well. No language deprivation at all. Oh, I also learned ASL when I attended Gally. I have no problem picking up ASL at a “later stage in life.” I read Lisa Goldstein’s article and your biases have clouded your interpretation of what she wrote. Lisa doesn’t have a problem with Nyle advocating ASL. Her concern is Nyle promoting that ASL is the only approach. ASL is fine, but so is using CIs or hearing aids. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the attempt to learn to speak. Deaf is always touting “Deaf Can.” When it comes to learning to speak, it is suddenly “Deaf Can’t.” Why is that? http://www.cbsnews.com/news/11-year-old-boy-who-was-born-deaf-among-nations-top-spellers/

    1. What about what deaf boy? I missed something there.
      But regarding Lisa’s bit with ASL, Nyle is NOT promoting ASL as the only approach; he’s simply promoting it as there is a real need for deaf kids to have a language, full stop. He’s advocating for biligualism. He also has nothing against CI or hearing aids – so I don’t understand the relevance of your comment there either.
      Now, I agree with another comment here with this post that Nyle’s trying to make ASL learning mandatory for deaf kids is like swinging the pendulum hard in the other direction so that it can fall somewhere in the middle.
      Lastly, glad you learned ASL fast later in life. I’m assuming you went to college when you were typically-aged, but even if you went when you were in your 40’s and learned it fast, kudos to you! Not my experience though. It’s grown harder for me to learn languages as I get older.

    2. I think there is a misconception that CIs are successful for everyone. I know quite a few Deaf people who have CIs but needs ASL interpreting as well. It’s not a one size fits all type of thing…it should be whatever works for each individual Deaf person! I think Lisa was a tad extreme when she said that Nyle’s activism is dangerous. Not everyone has the success she had with lipreading and hearing devices…she made it sound like Nyle could hear but chose not to….there is no guarantee that hearing aids and CIs will make a Deaf person hear….it just not the reality. I agree using hearing aids and CIs are fine…but for some they are simply not successful, so ASL is their only viable option!

    3. Thomasina,
      you belong to the top 10% on the statistical bell curve. You and your child can perform well no matter how you are educated, regardless of the degree of hearing inability (not to say “hearing loss”!) and electronic use of residual hearing.

      You do well despite the circumstances that harmed many other deaf children, such as depriving them of sign language. It is true, as verified statistically, that not all deaf children can master English or any other spoken language like a native English speaker, but every Deaf child can master ASL or any other signed language well … this when there is no neurological impairment.

      A spoken language as a FIRST language is difficult for most deaf children. No best educational approach can achieve this for most of them. Spoken language can be acquired with the aid of ASL as a second language. The same can be done with speech. It will be sort of like a second language, which can vary among the whole deaf population. However the net effect of the bilingual approach is the fact that much more Deaf children will master English better than any oral/aural approach has done so far.

      What Nyle says, to which I agree with my 70+ years of experience, basically: Your bet is better and indeed safer placed on the bilingual approach. That is what the language of “deprivation” as advocated by AGBell Association comes in.

      It is always WRONG to operate on “try this first, and if it fails, then try another way” and also WRONG on “EITHER and OR”, as the AGBell Association’s language of “options” bids.

      The safest thing is to operate on the principle “Do the safest now and work on the chancier other at the same time or a bit later”.

    4. Thomasina,
      Lisa Goldstein is a LIAR. Nyle NEVER advocated ASL only. She knows this fact and still perpetuates the lie. LSL has become “Let’s Speak Lies” Lisa’s position is absolute monolingualism and monoculturalism of the elite. It is the oralist version of Aryanism of the Nazi dictatorship.

  25. Thank you. All the love to you. Lisa and her peeps are simply butthurt by Nyle’s success. It’s time for us, the Deaf community, to shine.

    1. One more thing…

      I bet you that Lisa experiences loneliness and exclusion from the crowd. Denial is destructive. And powerful too.

      1. I know Lisa. She is not lonely and has lots of friends — and her husband, kids. She has a very full life. Don’t project onto her.

      2. Like Bonnie Tucker, an arch oralist deaf author who wrote an autobiography. Her husband left her suddenly, leaving a note, saying “Because you are deaf, I am leaving you”. She is lonely now, even with a law degree obtained after the divorce.

  26. Really… seriously… Nyle is a blessing to the Deaf World, period! Enough crabbing other deaf people… no more!
    We Deaf and deaf people need to be united period – for one common goal is to be accepted as human beings- all we wanted the world to do is to DEEP LISTEN to us Deaf people, and not think, yeah right…(yawn) – so be it!

  27. To be honest, I don’t know any people who are deaf and I’m not sure how I stumbled upon your blog. Maybe because you life in a yurt off the grid and I’d love to do the same (hubby is a city/technology guy though). But I have always thought that if my child was born deaf, I’d immediately take a crash course in ASL Yes, I think it is a real advantage for them when a deaf person can eventually learn to read lips and speak well, too. But I would want my child to see me communicate with him/her immediately. I talked to my hearing babies all the time and I’d want to do the same for a deaf child. I would feel that it was somewhat necessary for their emotional well being, not to mention, as you say, that their ability to take on language and perhaps in many cases, their ability to develop thinking processes to some extent, depends upon the acquisition of language – any language.

    1. You would be an amazing parent for a deaf child and it sounds like you are a very involved parent for your own children. Thank you!

  28. Great article. I don’t know if you know this but this ignorant lady, Lisa Goldstein actually is the member for AG Bell. Go figures. She’s featured on AG Bell facebook page (May 13, I think) Just wanted to give you heads up. Makes sense why she’s saying all of these things….

  29. This is fantastic. I am a hearing adult who works with D/deaf children, and I constantly see children who come to school (school for the Deaf) that have fallen through the cracks of the mainstream world. I am getting my degree to become a speech therapist, but with a language emphasis. I think teaching children language is far more important that teaching them to orally speak. I think getting more professionals in the field who understand the need of ASL over speech itself is really important. So many parents think if they implant their children, they will be ‘cured’ which is just not the case, but that is what they are told by doctors and other medical professionals. Anyways, I appreciate your article and thoughts.