18th International Congress on Education of the Deaf

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This Web page contains miscellaneous notes related to my attendance of the 18th International Congress on Education of the Deaf, which was held in Tel Aviv, Israel, between 16-20 July 1995.

The Congress was attended by more than 900 persons from more than 50 countries. For the first time, I could see in my eyes the results of the new Peace Process in the Mideast: I passed on to the Egyptian delegation an E-mail message which asked DEAF-L subscribers for contact information of a Deaf club in Cairo, and saw some of the Jordanians buy Israeli Sign Language dictionaries (one of them was one of the keynote speakers during the Congress).

Areas of interest

When selecting lectures and other activities in which to attend, I emphasized the following areas of interest:

  1. High education of deaf students (trying, unsuccessfully, to emphasize graduate students' needs - apparently their number is still too small for structured support services to emerge).
  2. Superachievement of deaf people - the official title was "what they did not teach us at school".
  3. Self identity. The lectures which dealt with this gave me perspective on various arguments which rage on DEAF-L and I discuss this in a separate posting.
  4. Development of leadership in Deaf organizations.

Congressional accessibility

The Congress had the smooth feeling of being a well-organized operation. Almost everything was accessible to me thanks to the abundance of interpreters in those sessions which interested me, and thanks to having all lecturers using transparencies for overhead projection.

It was amusing to notice that the session whose inaccessibility hurted me the most was the "what they did not teach us at school", chaired by none other than the famous Lew Golan.

The session was held in Golan Room (named after the Golan Heights, but now renamed after Lew Golan). It was one of the smallest rooms made available to the Congress, guaranteeing that it would be overflowing. I was sufficiently obnoxious to catch a good sitting place, next to Robert Davila (an overachieving Deaf).
This session was held in a room in which the Congress organizers decided not to provide interpretation for non-English speakers, so only ASL and BSL interpreters were available.

The lectures (by Lew Golan, Jay Wyant and Bosco Keown) were accessible to me thanks to their being presented on transparencies.

However, when the Q&A period began, it turned out that ASL interpretation does not meet my needs, and that there were no empty transparencies nor felt pens to facilitate impromptu notetaking of the questions and answers on the overhead projector.

I sat through the entire period, feeling like a deaf in class of hearing with no support services. Afterwards, I asked some people and they told me that the entire discussion (except for my contribution) centered around the Oral vs. Sign debate. If I were able to participate more, I'd urge the people not to debate this issue (they have the DEAF-L for this, don't they? :-) ), but to discuss other aspects of overachievement by deaf people.

I find it amusing that Lew Golan didn't bully the Congress organizers into ensuring that his session would have full interpreting services (i.e. including Hebrew/Israeli Sign Language) or at least accessible to people who can read and write English (by provision of a notetaker and empty transparencies and felt pens).

At the beginning of the session, I inquired about this point but it was too late to do anything about it before they had to start the session.

Moral: future Congresses which need to accommodate also deaf people should indicate in the schedule what interpreting services will be available in the various symposia - so that if someone needs better service in a particular symposium, he'll be able to arrange for this ahead of time.

By the way, I found that I prefer to follow English CART rather than Israeli Sign Language interpreters when I can choose between both. I also found that to my surprise, I can lipread in English. However this skill is good only for smalltalk when it is not required that I really understand every point the spaker makes.

My tiny contribution to the War on Deaf People's Civil Rights

During the Congress, I made my tiny contribution to the War on Deaf People's Civil Rights: the Congress organizers announced that it is possible to send FAXes from the hotel's FAX machine at near-cost price. I went to the Reception to send a FAX to my sister, who lives in Jerusalem, about someone whom I met during the Congress. The hotel wanted 10NIS for the FAX (the true cost of sending the FAX is about 0.60NIS). I called Jerry Reichstein, one of the Congress organizers, to advocate in my behalf.

He obliged and talked with the hotel management. Eventually my FAX was sent and I paid only 2.50NIS, which would have been the cost if I were hearing and had used coin-operated phone to transmit the same amount of information.

This was not a real war as the people in question had generally been understanding. They just needed to have the problem pointed out to them by someone who is assertive and is willing to waste about 20 minutes of his time in making the point.

Last update date: 
1996 Jan 23