The Deaf Way II Reader

Perspectives from the Second International Conference on Deaf Culture

First Edition

Edited by Harvey Goodstein

Categories: Deaf Studies, Deaf Communities and Cultures
Imprint: Gallaudet University Press
Hardcover : 9781563682940, 384 pages, March 2007
Ebook : 9781563683756, 384 pages, September 2009
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Part One: Advocacy and Community Development

Changing the World—TogetherBenjamin Soukup

I know a story about an eight-year old child, a little boy, who had an experience with his parents, his father in particular. He had a deaf mother and a deaf father, and a brother and sister who were also deaf. This eight-year old boy loved his father very much and hoped some day he would be able to be just like his father and be a farmer. His father worked hard in the fields every day, and the son was thrilled at the thought that someday he would follow in his father’s footsteps and run the family farm. The eight-year-old boy watched one day as a storm passed through and destroyed the crops and some of the buildings. The insurance did not cover the damages, and so the father took the young son with him to the bank to see what could be done. The father wrote back and forth to the banker explaining what had happened to this farm and his crops and the need for additional funding so they could continue operating the farm. The little boy watched all of this as they communicated back and forth via paper and pen. The banker said, “I don’t know if we can loan you any money; we don’t feel that a deaf person has the ability to run a farm. I suggest that you look at other options.” But there were no other financial options or sources, and so they were forced to auction off their possessions.
The day of the auction was probably one of the saddest days of the boy’s life. He saw piece by piece—the cultivator, the tractor, the livestock—being sold until nothing was left. This little eight-year-old boy saw the family lose the farm. They had to relocate to town, and the father became a carpenter, but he was not happy. His father passed away when the boy was twelve, and this boy never forgot what his father went through, how his deafness was looked down upon, and how his mother had to take care of the family. He graduated from the South Dakota School for the Deaf, and as he was growing up he wondered if he would ever have his own farm. He would have been proud to be a farmer, but that was not meant to be.
This boy later went to Gallaudet University, and when he came back to his home, he worked at a meatpacking plant. He remembered the passion that his father had; he saw the things that his father tried to accomplish and the frustration that resulted because of stereotypes, attitudes, discrimination, and oppression. This led the boy to work with the deaf community to change that from happening to others. He saw so many other deaf individuals who went through life experiencing frustrations because of barriers and limited opportunities. They were not given the chance as others often are. That little eight-year old boy was me. I learned at a young age the realities of deafness and was instilled with the passion to change things for the better. That passion in that eight-year-old old boy is still burning today. It has never gone out.
When I became the president of South Dakota Association of the Deaf (SDAD), I studied the organization’s history, the organization’s structure, and everything that it stood for. They have fought for individuals’ rights since it began in 1902. It was located in a very rural area, and many people would travel one hundred miles on horse and buggy just to gather and attend conferences. My father was involved with the organization, and again, I wanted to follow in his footsteps. When I was able to become the president of this group, we helped establish Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc. (CSD). As a result, I was asked to become the CEO, and John Buckmaster took my place as president of SDAD. He was a tremendous influence on me, a wonderful advocate fighting for the rights of deaf individuals who always listened to their needs and always was willing to stand by the deaf community, willing to testify. He was very heavily involved with the American Athletic Association of the Deaf (AAAD). A lot of people consider him to be the father of the AAAD softball and baseball tournaments. And he was just a simple potato farmer. When he was the president of SDAD and I was the CEO of our organization, we started a very close journey together that would last for many years, and we worked with many fine individuals. Many of these individuals are in the audience today. They are the people who established a very strong foundation for CSD, and that is why CSD is where it is today.
Another thing I would like to tell you about is the value of the community. After I came back from Gallaudet University, I returned to the South Dakota deaf community. They had a softball team, social events, and a very small core of probably forty or fifty deaf people living in the local town. Most of these deaf people worked at John Morrell & Company, a meatpacking plant that was one of the largest and highest-paying employers in the area. I became employed there myself, because I wanted to be with the rest of the group, and it was a wonderful experience. During our break times, we would get together and chat about deaf issues and plan deaf events and sport activities. When we were not doing this at work, we were doing this on the weekends at a deaf club located on the third floor of a downtown building.
One day, we were informed that we were no longer able to hold our deaf club meetings there because the building was no longer safe for use. We decided to relocate the club, and that is where the community found a beginning. Until that point we took it for granted that we would have a place to congregate, but now there was an issue placed before us. We were challenged with meeting an immediate need for the greater good of the group. What were we going to do? We had to find a solution, and we did just that. We worked quickly and efficiently. We found an old army barracks that was in disrepair, and that is where it started. We were challenged, we had a vision, we knew what this deaf club would look like, and we worked very, very hard to create what we thought was one of the most beautiful deaf clubs around. This seemingly insignificant event encouraged us. We realized what we could do if we worked together. We began to seriously discuss other issues facing the deaf community: the lack of interpreting services or community support services and meeting the needs that many individuals had. We went to the SDAD convention at that time and discussed how we could better our lives. We then pursued funding avenues with the state and with other organizations and started a snowball affect. My main point is the value of community.
I went to a National Association of the Deaf (NAD) conference in my younger years, and I fell in love with the NAD goals and mission, their objectives. Later, when the NAD was experiencing a very difficult time in their history, dealing with finances, staffing, programs, and a myriad of other issues, I was given a chance to join their board. We worked hard and long to address the issues, and it was a wonderful growing and developing experience for me. We continued our efforts to find solutions and address the issues, including the education of deaf children, cochlear implants, and a wide variety of other important national issues. We worked on finding new sources of funding and reorganizing the structure of the NAD organization. I believed that we could make a difference in the lives of deaf and hard of hearing people on a greater, national level. We still faced many, many barriers and discrimination, and I knew that the NAD alone could not do the job itself. It required a lot of people—people from the local level to the national level working together. We established the State Association Presidents Conference (SAPC) to encourage this. We thought that this would be a way of improving communication and involvement. The SAPC was very successful, it still is today, and we have seen improvements in communication among the national, state, and local levels. A lot of communication is taking place through the Internet.
We also established the NAD tour. We felt there was a need to bring the organization to the people and to provide information to the membership about the organization, its purpose, its structure, and its strengths. The NAD cannot be a strong organization without the involvement of its membership, so we had the national tour. In our travels across Deaf America, we saw a lot of people with passion and dreams—people who felt that they could achieve a better place in life. I saw people with desire, people wanting opportunities, and people needing direction and guidance. The NAD tour increased the membership of the organization, and I think many of our agenda items that we established were due to the forums that we created at the NAD. This provided the membership with an opportunity to express their views and what they would like to see the NAD prioritize as far as projects. It is not possible for the NAD to do everything. The NAD has a very small staff; they are achieving a lot of miracles every day for all of us.
The only way we can really make a substantial difference is by working together with them. If you work alone, you will only continue to be isolated, and that is a challenge. We often isolate ourselves, we divide ourselves, and we limited our potential as a result. We may not always have all the answers, but I and many other people in Deaf America—throughout the world even—believe that we can find solutions and that the best way of doing that is by working with each other. The NAD will always have a special place in my heart, and I will always be there for the NAD, because it is one organization that truly advocates for the rights for deaf and hard of hearing people. They have for more than one hundred years.
The SDAD gave me their full support. They believed that we should move in a certain direction, so I started working closely with a wonderful partner, Sprint. We bid for contracts together, and we were involved with them because we were a deaf-consumer-driven organization. By working together, we believed we could provide high-quality services in the area for the deaf and hard of hearing people. CSD would provide the facilities, management, and support, and Sprint would provide the technology and the engineering. It has been a truly wonderful and successful partnership that has led directly and indirectly to many other things. In fact, not very long ago we celebrated our ten-year partnership together. Today, CSD is now involved with video relay, which was partially developed by CSD, and Sprint is helping us market this service. You will be able to see that product here at Deaf Way. You will see a lot of activities taking place with our deaf relay services and our video relay services; we are trying to branch out on a global basis with these new products. I think this has taught all of us a valuable lesson—the value of working with other businesses, those in the community, state government, and others.
In the past, service organizations have relied on federal and state grants and funding sources to support human services. This social service concept was and is widespread. At CSD, we changed our philosophy about how we provide businesses and human service models. The many political changes that take place affect and drive funding sources. Any time you see a change in political leadership, priorities change. The economy may change, and that greatly impacts services and funding sources. In addition, we cannot expect to rely solely on the government to meet all of our needs. We have the responsibility to find businesses that are willing to share the same mission, a philanthropic mission of supporting the community. This leads to partnerships whereby businesses and human service models can work together. By using the philosophy of working with businesses to address social responsibilities, we are able to establish our own direction. We are still a nonprofit organization, but we work with other for-profit organizations to provide certain services and products. We then utilize funds that we generate from certain products to help subsidize our human services. This way, if there is a human service we want to provide, we can find a way to do it. For example, we have a variety of senior citizen programs; we have transportation, apartments, and housing programs for deaf people; we have a recreational program and activities within our deaf community center. Where is it that you can find funding to support all of these venues? For us to have our own destiny, for us to create our own destiny, we must take the responsibility to find the funding for services. I do not think that there is really another way of accomplishing this.
Today CSD has well more than two thousand employees. There is a mixture of deaf and hearing people alike working together. Our hearing employees believe very strongly in what we are trying to accomplish. In the same light, our deaf employees have opportunities that they may not otherwise have had in other companies. We strongly believe that working together, we will find solutions and will address many of the issues that face deaf and hard of hearing people. It is up to us to take the responsibility of establishing our own destiny rather than depending on someone else to create that destiny for us, and I think that is a great value.
CSD has been involved with many partnerships and national organizations. One in particular is the USAFSF—the USA Deaf Sports Federation—led by Dr. Bobbie Beth Scoggins, who is the president of this organization. We met some time ago and had the chance to sit down and look at the possibilities of a partnership between CSD and USAFSF, and we felt that both organizations could contribute and complement each other. We recently announced our partnership and will be working very closely together, sharing resources, and supporting each other. One of the exciting new developments is the establishment of a museum for USAFSF. There is a rich history of many, many activities, national sporting events, and tournaments. Some of these athletes have participated in the World Games for the Deaf. This is a wonderful thing for the future of our children, who are able to come in and see the museum and their role models. If you have the opportunity to come and visit us, feel free to stop by our campus and see our new center. We feel that this will be ready for the public in the fall of 2002.
I also want to share our involvement with the WFD—the World Federation of the Deaf. When I was the president of the NAD, Nancy Bloch and I represented the NAD at the WFD conference in Vienna, Austria. It was a very long flight, and I suppose many of you experienced the same thing flying here to Washington, D.C. My travel there was one of the highlights of my life. It really opened my eyes about how much we share worldwide. We had the chance to meet many different leaders throughout the world who used different languages and signs—we tried to learn as many international signs as we could. It was a wonderful opportunity to share common experiences, some funny, some very sad, and it was a rich learning experience for all of us. Yerker Andersson, who was president of the WFD at that time, shared many of his experiences in his travels, including some very difficult experiences in very dangerous areas. That is something Yerker was always willing to do—help individuals try to establish schools and programs, deal with governments and politicians, and educate them about how they can improve the lives of deaf people. There are not very many people in the world who are able to dedicate as much time and commitment as Yerker. He is definitely one of my role models, and I look forward to the new president, Liisa Kauppinen. I also admire her, an outstanding woman who has worked very diligently. She was the secretary for the WFD under Yerker before she became president. I had an opportunity to visit with her when she came to South Dakota. We recently had a symposium on deaf education, and Liisa was able to join us. I had a chance to really get to know her, her work, what she is trying to achieve, and the funding support she is hoping to acquire for her organization. CSD is committed to supporting the WFD. We believe in their work and encourage more people to be more involved and to be more supportive of the WFD. Some of us are very fortunate to live in America or in European countries. We have many conveniences, but there are many other deaf and hard of hearing brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who are experiencing needs, and it is our obligation to assist them. When we talk about change, we need to work together with them for everyone’s benefit. I think we can do it, but it requires our collaboration worldwide.
There is value in supporting the community and also the value of our employees. I really admire the employees at CSD, their energy, their dedication, and their passion. They come to work every day in hopes of making improvements in the lives of deaf and hard of hearing people. What drives them? I have found that all of them have passion. Not long ago, we had an executive from a large corporation who came to visit us and said, “One of the things that impresses me the most about CSD is that you allow every individual in your organization to dream. Don’t ever lose that. This is a place where everyone feels they are part and parcel of the organization. They have ownership. They have ownership of the future.” I am very proud of that. It is a place where anyone can contribute. We have employees, both deaf and hearing, who have technical expertise, and they focus on finding technical enhancements to improve the lives of deaf people. There are human service employees trying to improve lives, making sure that daily needs are being met, and making sure that people have equal opportunities to participate and receive services that they need. There are administrative and support employees who provide services that make all of the programs possible, the kind of internal services that help a company run. From the groundskeepers to the CEO’s office, we have a wonderful mixture of deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing people all working hand in hand toward the same goals and mission. Our employees are not only involved and committed to CSD but other organizations as well, providing support to them. Some are involved with the NAD. Some of them are involved on a local level, working with youth groups. Some volunteer their time in working in communities. They truly are role models for others, and it is a very beautiful thing to see. About forty of our employees are here with us at Deaf Way II. All of them have been very motivated about attending this event. You might see them here, proudly displaying their CSD shirts. They want to share their stories and knowledge with you, so take the time to visit with them and ask them to share their dreams and their experiences with you. I am sure they will be happy to do so.
There is no greater investment than in our youth. When I was on tour as the NAD president or in my travels on behalf of CSD and different communities, I truly enjoyed meeting many outstanding young deaf people, who were very articulate, intelligent, and destined to be our future leaders. Unfortunately, I believe we are not investing as much as we should in youth programs. CSD established a youth camp for leadership and literacy training. Joe Murray, who will be giving a presentation this week, has been involved with the WFD youth programs and with youth around the world, and I think this is a great investment for our youth today. How can we invest in these people in creative ways? We have found that our experiences with interns from Gallaudet, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), and California State University (CSUN) has been very inspirational. Many of these students have realized their potential, and they find a passion in life, not necessarily continuing their work with CSD, but continuing elsewhere in their lives in many different ways and areas. We need to continue those kinds of opportunities for youth. Gallaudet University, the world’s only liberal arts college for deaf and hard of hearing students, has been doing many wonderful things. We do appreciate Gallaudet University’s efforts to empower and encourage deaf and hard of hearing people, not only here in America but also throughout the entire world. Also, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is a wonderful technical college for deaf students, where the NTID is one of seven colleges at RIT allowing deaf and hard of hearing students to learn more about technology and many other majors. CSUN is yet another fine university for deaf and hard of hearing students. All over the world, there are many other fine universities, which could provide an education to deaf and hard of hearing students. We just need to have a chance to have everyone work together to allow those investments in youth to take place. If there is not enough funding, we should find other creative ways to get the needed funding for youth programs. We need to explore ways that do not limit the opportunities for children to go to camp or to get an appropriate education, so that they may fully realize their potential.
As you can see, we have a rich history of accomplishment through the years. We have been involved in civil rights, trying to implement programs, establish goals, create opportunities, and improve many things. We have been trying to change the world by working together. CSD’s new slogan is actually “Changing the World Together.” We want to continue to work with new technology, address new challenges, and create new dreams. I often tell my staff that we are here today, not to benefit ourselves but to benefit others and to ensure that the future is better than what we have today. We have the responsibility and the obligation to establish a new direction for future generations by planning appropriately and by working together.

This collection showcases the best scholarship on all aspects of Deaf life presented by more than 100 researchers at the 2002 internationial Deaf forum in Washington, DC.



This extraordinary volume features the very best of the scholarship presented at the Deaf Way II, the second international Deaf gathering in 2002 in Washington, DC. More than 100 contributors from countries as far afield as Brazil, Cyprus, Denmark, Great Britain, Greece, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and Thailand share their research on a broad spectrum of disciplines joined together by the common Deaf experience.
The Deaf Way II Reader addresses every facet of the human condition from a Deaf World perspective in 65 unique studies, including all plenary addresses. Editor Harvey Goostein has organized these articles in 12 parts: Advocacy and Community Development; Economics; Education; Family; Health and Mental Health; History; Language and Culture; Literature; Recreation, Leisure, and Sports; Sign Language and Interpreting; Technology; and Youth. Each treatise examines one aspect of the deaf experience within a particular community or country. Together, they reveal how deaf people throughout the world live, study, work, and play, as well as how they relate to their families and the dominant hearing societies in which most of them reside. The Deaf Way II Reader provides a fascinating compendium of current knowledge that can, in the words of Deaf Way II host I. King Jordan, “help make the world a better place for deaf people.”


Harvey Goodstein, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Computer Science at Gallaudet University, was Chair of Deaf Way II.