NAD Ideology


This document lists the Seven Vital Reforms which were published on the DEAF-L list on 21 Oct 1994.

They are the seven major issues that VPAA Rosen magnifies in her article, 'Advocacy and Agendas in the United States' published in the same source: 'PARALLEL VIEWS,' (pp.46-48).

"The major concern of the NAD (National Association of the Deaf) is to shift paradigms and alter people's mind-sets. This means changing permanently from old to new perceptions and attitudes. (Caps = italic)


- First, we must change from PATERNALISM to PARTNERSHIP....;

EARLY IDENTIFICATION of deafness and appropriate intervention measures, includidng early involvement of signing deaf professionals (as role models) with families with deaf infants. Information for parents must be from the deaf viewpoint and must include the obvious fact that the deaf child will always be visually oriented.

(You must walk a mile in another person's shoes before you can understand what it means to be that person. Only deaf people understand what it means to be deaf. They must lead, and nondeaf persons need to become supporters and partners for mutually desirable goals.) (some portions deleted)


- Second, we must change from PATHOLOGICAL to HUMANISTIC approaches.

This means changing from the medical view of deafness, as a deviation to be fixed, to be humanistic view of deafness. It is dandy to be deaf! This is one reason why NAD, along with the World Federation of the Deaf, opposes cochlear implants for children too young to make their own decisions.

Parents who do not receive false "hopes" can move more easily past grieving and the denial of deafness to the business of living and loving. FULL COMMUNICATION ACCESS AND QUALITY, as defined by the deaf consumer.

Professionals harm instead of help when they give parents material about all possible communication and educational options without supporting information on each and without the involvement of deaf adults. Parents will naturally want their child to be as much like themselves as possible and will probably choose oralism; only after struggling with that will they finally accept that their child is deaf. We believe in telling parents to give their child both sign language and speech -- in short, everythihg.

Research has shown that sign language does not harm oral skills. To the contrary, deaf children of deaf parents often demonstrate superior skills in both the native language of signs and the spoken language. [stuff deleted]


- Third, we must move from perceiving society as HOMOGENIZED to recognizing that it is CULTURALLY DIVERSE. Instead of retaining a "one size fits all" mentality or trying to emulate the WASP mold, we must cherish human multiplicity, including variations in ethnicities, races, genders, religions, and many other human differences, including hearidng and not hearing.

A BILL OF EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS, including the right to be in a fully enabling environment. In line with the national goals of regular education, deaf children should likewise be able to enter school ready to learn and to attain skills to graduate with their grade level. This is true for deaf children of deaf parents! Hearing children expect to go to a school where they can understand and be understood by the other children and by the adults. To extend this right to deaf children means limiting options to those schools that can provide a fully enabling environment with peers and adults who can communicate comfortably and fluently. This is best done in magnet schools and in schools that have both deaf and nondeaf teachers and administrators fluent in communicating with deaf people.


- Fourth, we must turn from MONOLINGUALISM to BILINGUALISM and even TRILINGUALISM. In many countries, residents are encouraged to know at least two languages, but in the United States, English reigns supreme. However, there is an increasing awareness and acceptance of the legitimacy of native or natural languages in the United States. For deaf people, bilingualism means American Sign Language and English. Moreover, the true language of signs is one that conforms to visual and linguistic principles appropriate for a three-dimensional language, which facilitates natural and comfortable communication for visually dependent persons. Trilingualism occurs among deaf people born to non-English-speaking families. Academic programs in Deaf Studies must also be available.

BILINGUALISM AND BICULTURALISM as the birthright of each deaf child. Families need to understand that the visual dependency of their child mandates visually clear communication and an understanding of the child's essence and identity. Rather than be doomed to a twilight world without a solid language, culture, or identity, the child is empowered by knowing both American Sign Language and English, being part of both the deaf and nondeaf cultures.


- Fifth, we must move beyond SIMPLE ACCESS to QUALITY OF ACCESS. Access is the law, but quality remains elusive. Access of poor quality is not access! Quality standards for educational professionals and educational programs must be developed by and with deaf consumers. Interpreters need to meet standards determined by deaf consumers. Communications and safety-light systems need to be designed in collaboration with deaf people to ensure appropriateness. Programs must meet standards that surpass minimal expectations and enable more than marginal participation. If one cannot access or benefit from services or programs, one might as well stay home.

EMPLOYMENT as an essential life function contributing to self-esteem. Deaf people must not only become gainfully employed but must also choose vocations based on their interests and abilities. By law, jobs may be altered in order to accommodate individuals with disabilities. Therefore, a broad career education is essential not only for deaf students but also for career counselors, families, and employers, who will be able to counsel students better.


- Sixth is the need to move from DEPENDENCE to INDEPENDENCE. Ninety percent of deaf children are born to hearing families. The 10 percent born to deaf families often become models of excellence in education, communication, leadership, and society in general. The challenge, then, is to identify the factors producing positive self-esteem, educational excellence, affective well-being, and environmental enhancers in all-deaf families and to transplant them into nondeaf families with deaf children. Several factors come readily to mind. In addition to more immediate acceptance of deafness, they include high expectations, full and visual communications, and a barrier-free home where deaf children have full information and a greater degree of independence. All-deaf homes are more likely to have the full array of technological aids, such as TDDs, TV decoders, flashing or vibrating alarm clocks, and flashing-light signals for doorbells and phones. Deaf children also participate in discussions during family meals and find that their opinions are valued.

COMMUNITY LIFE for deaf people that is the same as for nondeaf people. Community services and features -- libraries, museums, theaters, welfare and health services, transportations, housing -- need to be accessible and appropriate for deaf people. Deaf people must be informed and involved in determining the standards for accessibility and quality.


- Seventh is the vital switch from the CAN'T mind-set to the CAN-DO attitude. Deaf people can do anything. They can be doctors, automobile mechanics, computer programmers, dentists, engineers, construction supervisors, plumbers, administrators, lawyers, and so on.

EMPOWERMENT, meaning full involvement and leadership for deaf people. For example, if a school, whether special or mainstreamed, has a significant number of deaf students, does its board include deaf adults representing the interests of the deaf students? If a business or community is planning a new program, are deaf leaders part of the planning team? In a program basically for deaf people, do deaf people constitute a majority of the planning team or board, or are they tokens? If a new policy or law is being considered, are deaf people consulted? The empowerment of deaf people also means the empowerment of parents and professionals who feel successful and positive in their roles as partner-advocates."


In the conclusion of the VPAA Rosen's article is "Where do we go from here? Join with us, walk beside us, and be our partners toward a more progressive future where people are accepted FOR themselves rather than IN SPITE OF themselves."

There are more than 20 articles contributed by American and French professionals in the book. Some explain why the education for the deaf children has failed since the Milan Conference delegates banned sign language in 1880.