CAD Request Official ICED Apology

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CAD Request Official ICED Apology

November 13, 2009

Thursday October 15, 2009
Ms. Claire Anderson, Conference Chair
21st International Congress on Education of the Deaf(address)

Dear Ms. Anderson,
We, the Canadian Association of the Deaf, are writing an open letter to the Vancouver Organizing Committee 2010 of the International Congress on Education of the Deaf, and to all delegate representatives around the world.

Founded in 1940, the Canadian Association of the Deaf is the national information, research, and community action organization of Deaf people in Canada. We promote and protect the rights, needs, and concerns of those who are linguistically and culturally Deaf.

We strongly request a public and official apology from the 21st International Congress on Education of the Deaf for the actions taken at the 1880 Milan ICED, and the terrible effects these actions have had on Deaf communities and individuals around the world over the past 130 years.

Such an apology would be a positive step towards ensuring that our language and culture will be respected as a basic human right, and that Deaf people will have the opportunity to participate on an equal basis in society through social, economic, political and cultural means.

Prior to 1880, there were many Deaf people who became successful politicians, writers, artists, lawyers, educators, and so on because they had access to a quality education in Sign language and exposure to Deaf culture. Deaf children were taught in Sign language at a very young age and were encouraged to thrive in our community, which led them later to take an active part in the larger non-Deaf community.

The basic human rights of Deaf citizens, as expressed through their freedom to use Sign languages and to receive quality education in Sign, have been severely oppressed as a consequence of the Congress of Milan. It was 160 oralist educators who passed the resolutions to ban Sign languages and who declared that the oral method was a better one to use in Deaf education. Hence eight (8) resolutions were adopted as follow:

  1. The instruction by the oral method in Deaf education must be preferred;
  2. Effectively seal the fate of Sign language in the education of the deaf;
  3. Provide the education of poor deaf children and adults with oral method;
  4. Create guidelines on the oral method of teaching deaf people;
  5. The need for instructional books for oralist teachers;
  6. Ensure the long-term benefits of oral instruction;
  7. Continue the oral method throughout the full term of instruction; and
  8. Phase out Sign language and segregate its users.

All these resolutions seriously impacted the lives of Deaf people around the world. The introduction of the oral method in Deaf education isolated Signers and deliberately worked towards the destruction of our cultural identity, communities, and ability to fully participate in society as equal citizens. Needless to say, the 1880 Congress is remembered among Deaf people as a bitter symbol of the oppression of Sign languages.

The Canadian Association of the Deaf is asking all representatives attending the International Congress on Education of the Deaf in Vancouver in 2010 to pass a resolution that will:

  1. Aapologize for the 1880 ICED resolutions; and,
  2. Recognize and accept the resolution adopted by the World Federation of the Deaf at its 15th Congress in Madrid in 2007. This WFD resolution states the following:
  3. Reaffirming that deaf people are entitled to the same human rights as all social groups and that diversity is an intrinsic factor in the Deaf Community, Recognising the importance of children and youth; deafblind; deaf with disabilities; immigrants; Indigenous peoples; Lesbians, Gays, Transgenders and Bisexuals; people in rural areas; religious minorities; senior citizens; and all deaf people as citizens of society with the same rights and obligations as other citizens, Emphasising that by adopting positive actions, equality among all will be accelerated, Emphasising that Sign language is a human right for all members of the Deaf Community, including those who use assistive devices and implants, Reaffirming that multi-lingual education in Sign language gives deaf and hard of hearing people the best opportunity to achieve full citizenship and enjoyment of all human rights, The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), its Members and the participants at the 15th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf agree to promote and implement this Congress Resolution to all governments and authorities, demanding respect for the realisation of HUMAN RIGHTS THROUGH SIGN LANGUAGES.

    This position is consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which supports ?recognizing and promoting the use of Sign languages? (Article 21, section e) and ?facilitating the learning of Sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the Deaf community? (Article 24, section 3b). We call upon the delegates to the International Congress on Education of the Deaf to endorse this UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, recognizing once and for all that Sign languages are an important mean of communication, equality, and participation of Deaf people in all aspects of society.

    A public apology from the International Congress on Education of the Deaf will ensure that we will all work together to promote and recognize Sign languages in Deaf education and that teachers for the Deaf are competent to teach in Sign and to provide a positive, effective bilingual education.
    We look forward to your positive response to this important issue on behalf of all the Deaf communities in the world.


    Doug Momotiuk Frank Folino
    President Vice President Secretary
    cc: Sheila Montney, Past President, Canadian Association of the Deaf Martin Bergevin, Treasurer, Canadian Association of the Deaf
    Chrissy Montgomery, Member-at-Large, Canadian Association of the Deaf
    Executive Director, Canadian Association of the Deaf
    Grant Underschultz, Director, Alberta Association of the Deaf
    Art Hillcox, Director, Saskatchewan Deaf Association
    Aaron Montney, Director, Manitoba Deaf Association
    Christine Ehrlich-Brady, Director, Ontario Association of the Deaf
    Dominque Lemay, Director, Quebec
    Elliot Richman, Director, Nova Scotia
    Myles Murphy, Director, Newfoundland and Labrador

    “The CAD applauds the Deaf committee in Vancouver for the leadership and determination they have demonstrated in the campaign to obtain an apology from the ICED.  We encourage everyone to watch their website which includes vlogs in International Sign.  Here are the links:”

    Related Vlogs.

    Why do we demand a letter of apology from the ICED?

    Why Deaf citizens should come to Vancouver

    Together we can

    Part 1 of 2: Why do we ask for an apology from the ICED? International Signs

    Part 2 of 2:  Why do we ask for an apology from the ICED? International Signs