Letter to Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

News & Events
April 12, 2016






Tuesday April 12, 2016

Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
3417 Volta Place Northwest
Washington, District of Columbia 20007
United States of America


Dear Ms. Meredith K. Sugar, Esq.,

On behalf of the Canadian Association of the Deaf-Association des Sourds du Canada (CAD-ASC), I am writing you a letter to inform you that we endorse the statement that came from the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), in response to the letter from the Alexander Graham Bell organization, issued in the Washington Post’s “The Reliable Source” column on Nyle DiMarco.

Founded in 1940, the CAD-ASC 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 who use American Sign Language (ASL) and langue des signes québécoise (LSQ).

We are very disheartened to learn that your organization issued a statement in response on Nyle DiMarco regarding ASL as a communication option for deaf children and we wish to inform you that there is evidence that Sign languages have been recognized internationally as legitimate languages with their own grammar, syntax, and vocabulary.

Further to this, the International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED) opened its 21st Congress, in Canada, with a historic announcement, that formally rejects the resolutions passed at its 2nd Congress (commonly known as the 1880 Milan Congress), which specifically discouraged the use of Sign language in the education for Deaf. The original resolutions at 1880 Milan Congress did irreparable damage to Deaf individuals, educators, professionals, schools and communities in Canada, United States of America and around the world.

In addition, the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD) formally recognizes Sign languages and confirmed these languages’ rights and protections and equal status to spoken/written languages in the signatory countries. Canada’s Parliament, as one of the signatories, ratified the treaty in March 2010. Deaf education is referenced in the CRPD, specifically in Article 24, which supports “recognizing and promoting the use of Sign languages” (Article 21, section e); “facilitating the learning of Sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the Deaf community” (Article 24, section 3b), and “ensuring that the education of persons, and in particular children, who are blind, deaf or deafblind, is delivered in the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication for the individual, and in environments which maximize academic and social development.” (Article 24, section 3c).

As evidenced in the letter from the NAD, research also proves that Deaf schools are the best places to teach in Sign language. Deaf students who have strong levels of ASL/LSQ early proficiency also attain high levels of English/French literacy in Canada. We in the Deaf community constantly see the long-term results of the campaign against Sign language: adults who are poorly educated and unable to quality for post-secondary institutions, who are unemployed, who suffer mental health and addiction problems directly related to their lack of real language skills, and who embrace the liberating force of Sign language that was denied to them at an age when it would have been most beneficial for their entire lives.

The CPRD makes a specific reference on Sign language rights towards to the “importance of recognizing the cultural and linguistic identity of Deaf people” (Article 30) and “to recognizing and promoting the use of Sign language” (Article 21) and there are over 60 countries around the world has recognized Sign languages. The Canadian Association of the Deaf-Association des Sourds du Canada is currently working on getting the recognition of American Sign Language (ASL) and langue des signes québécoise (LSQ) as an official languages of Canada through the Parliament of Canada.

It is our view that your organization must reverse your statement and to issue an apology towards specifically, Nyle DiMarco, Deaf people in United States of America, and around the world, because we recognize that Nyle DiMarco as an amazing Deaf American individual who exemplifies and promotes the multitude of benefits of accessing language acquisition through Sign language, as a part of children’s language development. We believe that all children deserve to grow up in an inclusive environment where Sign language is the birthright of every Deaf child.

Together with NAD, we enrich our culture and languages, by including ASL and LSQ, which provides a beautiful, bilingual future of cooperation and mutual respect. The Canadian Association of the Deaf-Association des Sourds du Canada asks your organization to join with us in respecting our Sign languages that will be part of each Deaf child’s rights to have an acquisition for language development anywhere in our global civil society.

I can be reached at ffolino@cad.ca to welcome the opportunity to meet with you at your earliest convenience to discuss more details that demonstrate Sign languages must be respected and shared with our values.


[Original signed by F. Folino]

Frank Folino

Distribution Lists:

  • Board of Directors and Staff, Canadian Association of the Deaf-Association des Sourds du Canada
  • Provincial and Organizational Affiliates, Canadian Association of the Deaf-Association des Sourds du Canada
  • Jocelyn Mark, President, Association of Visual Sign Language Interpreters of Canada
  • Rylyn Lennox, President, Deaf Youth Canada
  • Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General, United Nations
  • Colin Allen, President, World Federation of the Deaf
  • Debra Russell, President, World Association of Sign Language Interpreters
  • Nyle DiMarco, Actor and Model
  • Chris Wagner, President, National Association of the Deaf
  • Howard A. Rosenblum, Chief Executive Officer, National Association of the Deaf
  • Dawn Whitcher, President, Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
  • The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister, Canada
  • The Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada
  • Barack Obama, President, United States of America
  • John Kerry, Secretary of State, United States of America