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More on the AGBell Letter to Pepsi

Just learned National Association of the Deaf (NAD) wrote a letter [pdf file] [Letter and video in NAD blog] to Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing regarding AGBell’s letter to Pepsi. Here’s the backstory, if you missed it.
I appreciate NAD’s letter. I think it would have more power had the President mentioned deaf people who don’t know ASL. I know the focus is about AGBell’s comments on ASL. But acknowledging that there are oral deaf people shows respect and acceptance of the diversity of those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Now I am tempted to write a letter to Pepsi.

3 comments

  1. Marina

    When I first learned that there would be a deaf commercial during the Super Bowl game, I was thrilled and told as many people as possible about the commercial. A few hours before the kick-off, my friend and I decided to grab something to eat at a new restaurant. As soon as we looked at the menu to discuss if the food and price were within our budget, I could feel many eyes were upon us. I was used to being looked at because I use sign language but this time I felt funny for being looked at and could not figure out why. I dismissed them as simply being curious about us using sign language. A man came up to our table after our food were served and enunciated to us that he saw the deaf commercial and thought it was really cool. I looked at his crowd and they nodded in agreement. What I did not realize until later that they actually looked at us with respect and awe. “Oh,” I thought, “that is why I felt funny about them looking at us.” They were impressed with people that represented the commercial.
    I translated what the man said to my friend. I then began to wonder, “What? They showed the commercial already?” We were starting to worry that we might have missed the commercial. We polished off our plates and went to a friend’s house. We are not football lovers but we still watched the game religiously for that commercial. I did not see any. We were really disappointed. My hearing friends said it is probably due to the Writer Guild strike. I knew it had nothing to do with the strike. Thanks to deafread.com I learned that the commercial is now available on YouTube.com. I thought the commercial was great and I was thrilled to see 1,013 comments regarding the commercial and the politics involved. Freedom of expression is why I love America.
    After reading some of the comments, Pepsi’s new Super Bowl ad involving deaf people is a controversial TV commercial for many reasons. I am not going to explain all of the reasons because there are 1,013+ comments pointing them out. After reading the letter that Alexander Graham Bell (AGB) sent to Pepsi company “correcting” the misconception of the commercial, I feel that I should say something about the importance of sign language which AGB has failed to recognize as a part of our society –deaf or hearing.
    According to the letter, AGB rejected sign language and implies that deaf people that sign are isolated somewhere out there. The deaf employee working in Pepsi Company and the commercial s/he came up with confirmed that. Is deaf employee working in Pepsi Company isolated? No. S/he is obviously in the mainstream by working for Pepsi Company. Does the commercial based on one of the oldest deaf joke among the deaf show any indication that signing deaf are isolated? The commercial involved signing-deaf people driving in a car looking for a house owned by signing-deaf people in normal-looking neighborhood for a party. This is exactly how mainstreamed signing-deaf people are. Signing deaf people have cars and they have place to live. They have friends and go to parties. Because AGB believed that deaf person and sign language do not mix and should never mix, AGB has failed to recognize that signing deaf people can have perfectly normal lives.
    When AGB rejects sign language, AGB has failed to recognize that sign language is a key to ANY child’s language acquisition. In fact, many parents have learned that they can communicate with their child using sign language before the child can begin to speak. The presence of Baby Einstein’s “My First Signs” DVDs at internationally renowned toy store, “Toys ‘R Us” and “Babies ‘R Us” confirmed this.
    For those who do not know much about early language acquisition, by using sign language, you will be providing the communication access to the child before s/he could speak. The language is not developed when the child speaks; it is developed long before the child has the ability to use its voice to express. Because the child could see and its voice box still developing, the child will begin to see the connection between the signs and the objects, i.e., milk or cookies. When the child sees the connection between milk and the sign, s/he will attempt to use its hands to imitate the sign for milk then once the child gets positive reinforcement from the signer, the child will continue to sign, “Milk”.
    As the child grows, the child will get more exposure to all forms of language that surrounds us –written and spoken while s/he signs through media, school, and family. Once the child learns other forms of language via sign language, the child will continue to acquire language of any kind as long as the child continue to receive exposure of that language. In other words sign language is not an obstacle but an accommodation to a child’s language acquisition.
    If your child is deaf, so what? Teach your child how to sign like you would want to teach your hearing child how to sign. You still will be providing your child an access to the language before your child learns how to speak. When your child can learn how to speak, sign language is still the tool to teach your child the language of all forms. The bottom line, sign language is the bridge for hearing or deaf child. What AGB is trying to do is break that bridge from not a hearing child but deaf child because according to their belief, signing deaf “do not fit in” our society.
    Think about it, knowing that your child can learn a language before it could speak, can you imagine having to wait until the child could talk before both of you could communicate? Can you imagine having to wait longer if the child happens to be deaf before you both could communicate to each other? Can you imagine having to wait even more longer to learn from your doctor or an organization more about what you can do for your deaf child? Regardless of your child’s hearing status, sign language is the short cut to child’s language acquisition. Embrace sign language.

  2. Rox

    Look, it was announced before the superbowl that it would be shown during the pregame stuff… I don’t know why everybody has their panties in a bunch over it not being shown during the game. Sure, I wish it was shown during the game, but it wasn’t intended to be.

  3. Meryl

    Rox, you’re right. Some of us found out about the commercial, but didn’t see that it would air in the pre-game. So naturally, we assumed it would be during the game. Who ever talks about pre-game show commercials?

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