SASL Newsletter - Summer 2018 Issue Issue 10 - Summer 2018 - Page 6

A Note from the President By Samuel J. Supalla Some Thoughts on the Position Paper of the World Federation of the Deaf As part of my job as President, I am here to affirm the need for an organization such as Society for American Sign Language or SASL. One route to achieve this is to look around and see what other organizations have done to date. I have chosen to discuss the position paper of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) that was released in May of 2018 to help explain why SASL is so important. The title of the position paper subject to my commentary is: Complementary or Diametrically Opposed: Situating Deaf Communities within 'Disability' vs. `Cultural and Linguistic Minority' Constructs (see https://wfdeaf.org/news/resources/11-may-2018-deaf-community-linguistic-identity-disability-position- paper/). The WFD seems to be supportive of what the United Nations has done through the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as follows: “The CRPD integrates both the language minority view of deaf people and their status as 'persons with disabilities' and seeks to support. This is a critical development for the Deaf Community throughout the world” (p. 10). The following quote from WFD's concluding remarks in its position paper is equally interesting: "Rather than seek to create a hierarchy of rights, or preference [for] one instrument over the other, or say that linguistic rights apply in certain circumstances and disability rights in other circumstances, the Deaf Community must be able to avail itself of all the powerful tools available to it under each of the international legal frameworks. Far from being irreconcilable or diametrically opposed, they are complementary, and as a whole can assure that every deaf person can thrive as citizens and learners in their communities." (p. 13) From these remarks, it appears some lines are being re-drawn on the cultural and disability constructs. However, I must note some things that the WFD acknowledges as being unique to the international community: 1) The existence of hearing individuals "who are committed to the use and fluency of sign language" (p. 3) 2) The existence of "community sign languages and even village sign languages" (p. 3) 3) "Sign language can become the mother tongue of the whole [hearing] family with a deaf child” (p. 6) This supports, in part, why SASL was created in the first place. While the WFD represents deaf people, who speaks for signers? Very little is known about signers and the research literature on hearing families who sign with deaf children is also sparse. I must say that in the last ten years in Tucson, Arizona, the number of hearing people signing THANK-YOU to me after rendering services ___ (Continue on the next page) The Power of ASL 6 Summer 2018 – Issue 10