Deaf studies

Glass Ceiling in the Hearing Space

Glass ceiling is one of some examples of oppression tactics, including tokenism. Let's look at a few cases.

Superintendent of the Provincial Schools Protest 2015

The Deaf Ontario community had been following the process of selecting a new superintendent for the Provincial Schools Branch (PSB) in Ontario: Sir James Whitney School (being the oldest deaf school, founded in 1870) in Belleville; Ernest C. Drury School for the Deaf in Milton; Robarts School for the Deaf in London.

Since then, there has never been a Deaf superintendent for more than 145 years anywhere across Canada. Whereas, some Deaf superintendents or principals of schools for the deaf have been already appointed in the U.S.

From October 22, 2015, the Deaf community submitted letters, videos, and other messages in ASL and English to the Ministry of Education, expressing concerns about the selection process and supporting the position of Superintendent for the Provincial Schools for the Deaf to be filled by someone who is Deaf for many reasons.

"...a Deaf superintendent will educate, empower, enrich Deaf children naturally."

PSB Audistocracy Oppresses Deaf Superintendent
Source: Jeff Beatty.

On November 6th, the PSB selected Jeanne Leonard to be its new Superintendent. The PSB also created a brand new position specifically for a Deaf candidate, Heather Gibson, to assist Jeanne.

Assistant? Why not the way around -- creating a new position specifically for a hearing candidate as an assistant/interpreter?

Compare qualifications and experience
Source: Rose C. Etheridge's post on Facebook

The neologism audistocracy speaks itself very well. "Glass ceiling does exist that prevents Deaf individuals from such a senior management positions." -- Jessica Sergeant, Alumna of Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf (Class of 1999).

PSB Deaf Superintendent poster
Heather Gibson holding an Order of Ontario award. Source: PSB Protest Facebook page.

"Heather is well qualified for the Superintendent position, for which she already possesses her Supervisory Officer qualifications. She was awarded the Premier's Awards Teaching Excellence in 2008 and appointed to the Order of Ontario in 2009. Also, she led the development and implementation of North America's first curriculum based on ASL. The Deaf Community view Heather's placement as an assistant to superintendent as tokenism and the Branch trying to pacify us. Furthermore, it is a huge insult to Heather, who is a well qualified individual for that Superintendent position. She just happens to be Deaf." -- Jessica Sergeant in her letter of support.

The weeklong rally began during the week of November 9, 2015 to send the message that the Deaf community demanded a Deaf superintendent.

PSB Deaf Superintendent because it's 2015
Source: PSB Protest Facebook page. "Because it is 2015" was new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's response to a reporeter's question why gender-balanced cabinet was important to him.

The supporters rallied with the spirit for a week despite the cold, rainy weather in Ontario. Many supporters from all over the places also rallied in support of the movement, including Canadian students at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

Supporters sent letters of support and video letters via email and social media, including Deaf Youth Canada (DYC), Ontario Association of Sign Language Interpreters (OASLI), Deaf community across North America, ASL-English interpreters, individuals, Deaf children, and so on.

"There has been a great support for #PSBprotest and #PSBsuperintendent2015 , but June Rogers and Jeanne Leonard are still being stubborn!" --

"The problem is not that the (deaf) students do not hear. The problem is that the hearing world does not listen." -- Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, American civil rights activist, Minister, 1988; in reference to Gallaudet University's Deaf President Now protest in 1988.

The organizers set up a protest for November 16, 2015 at 900 Bay Street, Toronto, Ontario. with the aim: "The current Hearing superintendent of the Provincial Schools Branch MUST resign and we can make it happen together!"

Becoming Allyship

If you're a hearing interpreter who is hired over a qualified Deaf person of the similar qualificaton or above for a non-interpreter position, what would you do? Why did you become an interpreter in the first place? What's the purpose of an interpreting service?

Unpack hearing privileges.



Related posts

How Gallaudet University student protesters broke the glass ceiling for a Deaf President during the DPN protest of 1988.

Explore hearing privilege, tokenism, allyship, or institutional audism.

New to sign language? "Where do I start?" or "How do I start learning sign language?" This ASL Rookie guide lists some selected links to the tutorials for ASL beginners to get started and keep rolling. It may be a useful review for intermediate-level learners and ASL students as well.

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Expressing needs and wants

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