ASL for America is a petition campaign to the White House in early 2013 which received over 37,000 signatures. In August 2013, the White House responds, "there should be not any stigma about American Sign Language."
ASL for America and the Ameslan (ASL) community are pleased with the response. However, it'd like to point out a few significant things that ASL speakers still experience daily discrimination and stigma in their lives. The laws don't protect their language enough. Without the laws, there is "active, systemic discrimination by individuals and corporations against the acquisition and use of ASL."
A general misperception of the signed language is that ASL is some kind of an accomodation or an "aid to disability" rather than its true nature as a language in its own right. The quote below is perfectly succinct that is prevalently known in our literature and bilingual-bimodal education discourse, but is unfamiliar to the hearing world.
"Free and appropriate education still does not happen for every ASL-speaking child. Ironically, the "least restrictive environment" clause in IDEA is routinely used to prevent deaf children from receiving their education in a fully accessible ASL environment where they can develop cognitively, socially, and emotionally at the same level as their English-speaking peers. These issues merit an investigation and redress."
ASL for America, ASL community across North America, and Deaf communities worldwide have been tirelessly fighting for human rights and for our signed languages which provide full access to language acquisition, education, and social, emotional and cognitive development, for many decades and decades. Language is central to our cultural and human identity.
Phonocentrism and ignorance have been deeply ingrained into this hearing society since the days of Aristotle. It has been a very long incessant collective battle against inhumane oppression and audism in this hearing world.
Yet, signlan speakers still have a insurmountable hope. ASL for America has made a difference and the response from the White House is a sign of positive step. It is one step of many long ways to go.
ASL for America. "White House Replies to ASL Petition". http://www.pr.com/press-release/509863
ASL for America's website: aslfor.us
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