Essay about Deaf Movement at Gallaudet University: Deaf President Now

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In 1988, students at Gallaudet University came together to formed a single "voice" that was heard, but more profoundly seen, by the world. Now known as "DPN" ("Deaf President Now"), these deaf students formed a community with a cause. They affected pedagogy: abandoning classes, closing the gates to the school, refusing to budge until their demands were met. They altered the power structure and strengthened their own community: rejecting the newly appointed president and having many of the faculty join their cause. Not long into the protests, deaf schools in Canada and West Germany closed on their behalf, and the media swarmed in, fumbling in its attempts to get interviews from students who didn't speak and to record rallies in which…show more content…
"Deaf Awareness," "Deaf Power," and "Deaf Pride" were now slogans often emblazoned on the shirts of the students at Gallaudet. Before this surge, deaf education in American schools, for well over 200 years, had gone by the hearing world's dogma: oral communication, based on print-centered literacy, had always been strongly insisted upon, and manual, visual communication discouraged (if it was allowed at all). The reasoning was that if deaf people were to function and communicate, they must do so as if they can hear; if they can't get along in the hearing world, they can't get along at all, and knowing the dominant (hearing) culture's language, doing well with its literacy, is the key to "getting along." By now, we easily recognize this argument. It is an argument that many current "literacy" and rhetoric studies are taking up-an argument that investigates the power, politics, and pedagogy of a dominant culture designed to keep that culture in a dominant position primarily through its language and rhetoric, its "social grammar". Schools both implicitly and explicitly serve the dominant culture and instill that social grammar. Thus, education in American schools has explicitly prioritized the indoctrination of the English language over the use of American Sign Language (ASL). ASL relies primarily on vision, on seeing the world and language enacted; English, as a spoken language, arises primarily from hearing. As
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