IDHHC Director Miller sent a letter on July 26, 2016 to the Illinois Association of the Deaf with the standard “textbook excuses” the IDHHC has used over the years. In response, IAD President Corey Axelrod asked Director Miller to retract erroneous messages distributed by the IDHHC, to take accountability for their inactions and to collaborate with the Deaf community.

Transcript of IAD President Corey Axelrod:

Hello, some of you may have received or seen the letter from John Miller, Director of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission (IDHHC), to the Illinois Association of the Deaf (IAD). We received it a couple of days ago. A review of the letter left the IAD concerned and perplexed, and we subsequently responded with numerous questions for clarification.In this VLOG, I’ll go ahead and take the opportunity to share some of the things we shared and asked in our letter.One of the first things that caught our attention was IDHHC’s assertion that they have been heavily involved with Illinois School for the Deaf for some time now. This comment is surprising, and we’re led to believe that due to the lack of the IDHHC sharing information about the events that transpired at Illinois School for the Deaf (ISD), that they haven’t been involved at all.However, three organizations have been heavily involved and have corresponded with and met with the Governor’s Office, Secretary of Education, etc.in regards to their respective concerns. Those three organizations are the IAD, Illinois School for the Deaf Alumni Association and Jacksonville Community Center for the Deaf. These three organizations have been backed by the many members of the community! One part of Director Miller’s letter was quite disconcerting to us, the part in which he shared it was his goal for equal representation of ASL and Oralism on the steering committee. There are many mainstreamed programs in Illinois that provide oral-based educational instruction. ISD, however, is the one safe place for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students to go to and use ASL.Some students have gone to mainstreamed programs and have either failed or struggled because of the emphasis on oralism. We do not want these students to transfer to ISD and then face the same struggles all over again. In his letter, Director Miller shared he reached out to numerous Deaf individuals who submitted a form letter (that IAD developed) of concern to his office. Director Miller shared some people withdrew their comments during their respective conversations. The IAD is left wondering if Director Miller shared full information about the individuals on the steering committee. There are now five members on the committee. A new member, Susan Dramin-Weiss was recently added – congratulations, Susan! Nonetheless, did Director Miller share that two of the original deaf members selected are proponents of cued speech? Did Director Miller share that? We are not sure. As we want to ensure the steering committee gathers comprehensive data points from all stakeholders, we recommended they meet with deaf individuals who primarily use sign as opposed to meeting with all individuals simultaneously. This concern is rooted in the audism that takes place at ISD. We’ve had enough, the committee needs to gather holistic data points. Additionally, one of the commissioners has been sharing on social media the IDHHC’s letter to IAD. We asked Director Miller if these posts are IDHHC’s official communications or if IDHHC will be releasing their response to the public through their official channels. Additionally, as this commissioner tried to discredit the IAD, we asked if this is the IDHHC’s official position regarding the IAD. Last, but not least, we challenged the IDHHC to explain why they accepted new responsibilities from the Governor’s Office despite claims they are under budgeted and understaffed. We look forward to IDHHC’s explanation and will share accordingly with the community when we hear further. At IAD, we believe community engagement is important. We value our community, and that’s why we continue to fight for our rights. Thank you for being a part of change. Thank you for advocating for our rights. We look forward to continuing to work with you, our Deaf community. Thank you!

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