Discrimination alleged, change requested at ISD in petition

By Gary Scott on September 9, 2015 at 1:09pm

Education advocates are sounding claims of “audism” at the Illinois School for the Deaf.

Audism is defined as the notion that one is superior based on the ability to hear. An online petition on Change.org that has been signed by more than 15-hundred people lays out a laundry list of complaints about supposed incidents of audism.

The petition claims deaf employees of ISD have “experienced tremendous discrimination and oppression by hearing administrators and faculty over the years,” and claims more than five families of deaf students have left because of educational concerns.

The petition complains of a lack of deaf educators and administrators, including a lack of a deaf superintendent, and requests new hiring is done to adjust the issue.

Also, it requests a “comprehensive and family-friendly workshop on” the Individual Education Plan rights of parents, and to provide deaf mentors for students and for ISD to continue delivering education via American Sign Language and English “in a balanced and bilingual approach” based on the school’s mission statement.

It should be noted that the previous administrator, Janice Smith-Warshaw, who is deaf, was the subject of a different petition regarding the use of “cued speech” at the school.

According to the organizers of the petition, signing it sends “a strong message to ISD to stop audism.

According to the petition, a letter has been sent to the Secretary of Education, Beth Purvis, with copies forwarded to the governor, Department of Human Services and others, regarding concerns about this topic.

We reached out to the organizers of the petition, as well as the Department of Human Services, which oversees operations at the Illinois School for the Deaf. We did not get an immediate response this morning.