April 11, 2016 | Deaf Jam |Long Branch, NJ
The projection and sound at the Pollak Theatre was superlative!
For the Q+A, I was very fortunate to be joined by Liz Wolter, the driving force from Lexington School featured in the film. Liz is also the author of the companion guide for the Deaf Jam educational DVD. She is the kind of teacher that every parent hopes his or her child is fortunate enough to work with.
We fielded questions concerning the current climate of deaf education. The most recent out cry had just occurred a few days prior to the screening when the A.G. Bell Association released a statement negating the importance of sign language acquisition for Deaf and hard-of-hearing children.
In a recent Washington Post column, (Polus, March 28, 2016), Nyle DiMarco, the popular star of “America’s Next Top Model” and now, a favorite contestant on “Dancing with the Stars”, shared his views that there are many deaf children who are being deprived of their own language, American Sign Language. He also shared that he recently established a foundation, the main goal of which is to improve deaf infants’ access to ASL. A firestorm was ignited when the Alexander Graham Bell (AGB) Association characterized the comments of Mr. DiMarco, who is profoundly deaf himself, as spreading myths about the benefits of American Sign Language and in so doing they alleged that the need for American Sign Language had diminished for children who are deaf. Additionally they alleged that the use of ASL is declining dramatically and that “the window for a deaf child to acquire listening and spoken language is much shorter than the window in which ASL can be acquired.” Ironically, no actual research was cited.
A detailed editorial favoring bilingual education and siting factual evidence contrary to the AG Bell association’s statement was published by a reporter for the Gallaudet Publication – The Buff and Blue.
While Deaf Jam is not a political film, it does showcase the profound attributes of ASL practice. Of note, was that the audience at Monmouth was entirely hearing and the discussion regarding the on-going controversy over best practices for deaf education was new for everyone.
Post by On Screen/In Person touring filmmaker Judy Lieff.