Wednesday, July 28, 2010

NTID Correspondence RE: ICED 2010 New Era

Orange & Brown Coalition has been granted permission to reproduce the "reply all" correspondence and original email from Dr. DeCaro, Interim President of NTID, re: ICED 2010 New Era document and the rejecting of the ICED 1880 Milan Congress Resolutions.

As new emails and permission come in they will be added.

From: Mistie Cramer
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 2010 09:43:22 -0400

Congratulations!!!! It is definitively hitting a milestone in Deaf History ever! Thank you for keeping us in the loop!

Best regards,

Mistie A. Cramer
SAISD Prevention Educator and DPG Member at Large

Patricia Durr
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2010 18:02:04 -0400

Greetings all

Sorry to use reply all but this monumental, long overdue public apology and declaration is a big deal and a kind of once-in-a-lifetime thing that many of us were not sure we’d live to see.

I am moved and inspired by all of the reply all responses thus far. I thank each of you for sharing with all of us all - your thoughts, experiences, outlooks and links to resources as well as the actual ICED New Era document rejecting “all resolutions passed at the ICED Milan Congress in 1880 that denied the inclusion of sign languages in educational programs for Deaf students.”

Might I suggest for the 2020 plans that NTID consider having some Deaf representation as a big part of the New Era agreement is its recognition of the harmful effect the lack of including Deaf folks from being involved with planning and decision making has had on our history. Including Deaf bilingual-bicultural representation from NTID on the ICED Ad Hoc Committee on Site Selection would put NTID in accordance with the New Era’s Accord of the Future statement that “call upon all Nations to facilitate, enhance and embrace their Deaf citizens’ participation in all governmental decision-making process affecting all aspects of their lives.”

In ensuring that NTID heed the New Era document’s call for us to remember history – I am hopeful that NTID at RIT will host something on September 6-11, 2010 to commemorate the end of the ICED 1880 Milan resolutions after 130 long years. Given the fact that many of our students are new to Deaf history and Deaf culture – they can not remember that which they do not know about.

In the spirit of Thomas Jefferson – the New Era agreement states: “For Deaf people, it is an inalienable right to be acknowledged as a linguistic and cultural minority integral to every society.” Lets get busy - “Think Globally, Act Locally”



(Note: bold items are quotes from the New Era agreement)

From: Kevin Williams
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2010 14:42:11 -0400

Thank you for this significant news and for the incredible amount of effort that was exerted to get this accomplished.

The one challenge that I would like us to consider, as we address things here 'at home' (RID/NTID) is recognizing the linguistic fact that most of our D/deaf students (and the majority of our Faculty) are bilingual. There is a lack of formal recognition at RIT/NTID for ASL (which is the basis for ALL manners, actually, of signing found here in the US). The issue that makes NTID unique (nationally and internationally) is the fact that bilingual education is carried on each and every day. It's not that people can 'sign' ... it's that they can communicate in the natural visual language we call ASL as well as communicate in some form of English (spoken, written, both). It is the fact that faculty are (or should be) carrying on direct instruction in their respective areas of academic excellence. This type of communication very different than 'social signing.'

While it is true that D/deaf students 'have a choice' pertaining to how they communicate, if they are using signing and some form of English, they're bilingual. It is this bilingual 'edge' that sets NTID apart from other colleges of education involving D/deaf individuals. It's time that acknowledge this issue in a manner which gives equal regard to both ASL and English.

Again, thank you (!) to all who were engaged in this incredible international effort.

With respectful regard,

Kevin Williams
Lecturer, ASLIE
Co-Author, Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA)

From: Stephanie Polowe
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2010 12:36:09 -0400

Three cheers!

Stephanie Polowe

Bonnie Meath-Lang
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2010 22:52:57 -0400

Dr. DeCaro, Dr. Mowl, and colleagues--

Great thanks for your perseverance and--more importantly--your educational vision, in advocating the Vancouver Declaration.

As a hearing colleague and member of the broader Deaf community, by its generosity of spirit, for the last 38 years, I congratulate you on acknowledging a tragedy that resulted in the literal loss to the world of Deaf teachers, artists, and scientists, whose very livelihood and positions were the pawns. The Milan Conference was a purge, enabled by politics.

Words matter.

Thank you for challenging them, full force, and making way for authentic conversation.

An aside—a connection, from a teacher’s perspective: This week, as this resolution was being painstakingly crafted in Canada, a smear campaign against a self-reflective African-American woman was being enabled across the 24/7 news cycle across the US. This must be enormously painful for so many of our students to watch...Happily, she has been vindicated. But that vindication was not without the critical thinking, analysis, investigation and research those of us in the arts and general education teach here routinely. There is much work to be done in creating a just and compassionate world.

It is my hope, as we inevitably melt down from time to time through the semester conversion process, that we do not lose sight of the value of analysis and reflection, do not neutralize our commitment to diversity and the arts, and build these commitments into the process.

I am utterly convinced that our terrific Deaf , hard of hearing, and hearing students—taught to be self-reflective in so much of our curriculum—will help us to change the terms of the conversation...and will see you as role models in the fight against injustice.

Words matter.

My best to you in all this--


Pamela Conley
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2010 14:57:47 -0400


What a deeply cathartic moment for the past and present voices who have cried out against the ugly treatment of deaf people! (Please note the irony of “voices” and “cried”) As a victim of oralism, I feel safe for the first time in my life to declare publicly that I do not use my voice. My motive for not using my voice has often been misunderstood.

Dr. DeCaro, NTID Colleagues, NAG, ICED and BCDC, I thank you all for formally denouncing the devious tradition of exclusive oralism in our world that has carried on to this day since the late 1800’s. Your historically significant actions, decisions and documents will make it possible for our anxious Deaf communities around the globe to begin their long-term recovery from the immorality of the fundamental philosophy of elite oralism embedded in many educational programs.
Again, thank you for all your efforts that led to an extraordinary declaration issued in Vancouver.


Pamela Conley

Karen Christie
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2010 12:45:21 -0400

Dear Dr. DeCaro and Colleagues,
Thank you for sharing with our community news from the ICED 2010 Conference and your thoughts. It certainly is a “momentous occasion” for the ICED to reject their 1880 resolutions and acknowledge the detrimental effects of the removal of the use of sign languages from educational programs. I’ve taken the liberty of attaching the entire ICED document for those interested [see Statement of Principle and Accord for the Future] In addition, below are the press release links from Audism Free America and the National Association of the Deaf.

Thank you for participating in this historical event on behalf of NTID!

NAD’s website commentary:

AFA’s Press Release:

AFA's Video of Press Release:

From: James J DeCaro
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2010 11:55:26 -0400
Cc: Bill Destler, Jeremy Haefner, Karen A Barrows
Conversation: ICED 2010: Vancouver
Subject: ICED 2010: Vancouver


The ICED 2010 in Vancouver was quite a momentous occasion in the continuing evolution of our field.

A declaration was issued in Vancouver that relates in large part to the Congress of Milan of 1880 and the resolutions adopted at the 1880 Congress. Among other statements, the Vancouver Declaration calls upon the nations of the world to respect and accept all languages and forms of communication. NTID played a small part in these events as a result of the letter sent to the organizing committee on 22 March 2010 signed by myself and our National Advisory Group Chair, Dr. Harold Mowl, and unanimously endorsed by our NAG (attachment).

The Vancouver Declaration (attached) is consistent with the approach detailed in NTID’s Strategic Decisions 2020 regarding educating students who are deaf or hard of hearing at RIT.

NTID’s approach is grounded in what Thomas Jefferson referred to as the inalienable right to “liberty.” This, providing for individual freedom and requiring individual responsibility to contribute collectively in assuring the freedoms of other are preserved. In the educational enterprise, this translates into our need to conduct the business of expanding options: to meet the needs of students; not limit them; and support them in expanding/determining their own options.

The tragedy of Milan 1880?

The attempt to limit liberty by seeking to dictate a particular methodology in the education of people who are deaf to the exclusion of others. We at NTID must never find ourselves falling into the same trap…vigilance will always be in order. We can assure vigilance through open dialogue, scholarly debate and the continuous assessment of what we do in our educational enterprise as we strive to fulfill our founding mission.

Parenthetically, Marc Marschark and I have volunteered to work within the ICED Ad Hoc Committee on Site Selection to build the tenants contained in our 22 March letter into the criteria for site selection for ICED 2020 (ICED 2015 will be held in Greece).


James J. DeCaro, PhD
Professor and Dean Emeritus
Interim President
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Rochester Institute of Technology

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Memorial Service for Dr. Ellie Rosenfield at NTID

From an email announcement:

A memorial service for Ellie Rosenfield, former associate dean for student and academic services at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, is set for 3 p.m. Monday, April 19, in Panara Theater, Lyndon Baines Johnson Building. A reception will follow in Dyer Arts Center. Rosenfield passed away March 7.

Rosenfield spent nearly 35 years at RIT—first in the residence halls, then as coordinator of NTID’s First Year Experiences and finally, as NTID’s associate dean for student and academic services. She received many awards and recognitions including the Award of Excellence presented by the Deaf Professional Group at NTID. This award recognizes dedication, persistence and commitment to improving the quality of life for all deaf and hard-of-hearing people. She leaves behind a multitude of students, staff and faculty who were honored to work with her at NTID.

Further information about Rosenfield’s life and work at RIT can be seen at

Friday, March 19, 2010

Memorial Service and Celebration for Dr. Ellie Rosenfield

Robb Adams at NTID announced that Monday April 19 will be the date of the on-campus memorial service for Dr. Ellie Rosenfield.

Tentative time: 3 pm - 4 pm service with a reception after

Tentative location: Panara Theatre, LBJ Bldg and Dyer Art Center

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

O&B recognizes Ellie as an ally in Deaf community!


[text summary of ASL vlog]

Hello. I want to share some stories with you about Ellie – what I have seen in her character, spirit, energy and passion. I attended meeting with her, RIT administration and several Deaf people to discuss audism and Deafhood. At that time Eliie was not very supportive of Deafhood and I was a bit shocked by that. I had a debriefing with a group of Deaf people and decided to go back and discuss with Ellie again. At that time she was very protective of Deaf people and didn’t want anything thrown in that would cause turmoil. I worked with her on this because there were plans to bring the Deafhood workshop here and I wanted to see if she could be supportive. As a Deaf alum I wanted to be supportive of her and wanted to see if she could be supportive of me – to work both ways. That was my thinking so I told her about the upcoming workshop and offered to pay for her ticket and we would attend sitting side by side together. She accepted this invitation without any resistance. Seemed she had changed some of her thinking about this. My plan was for us to sit together in the front to have a good view of the ASL but Ellie didn’t want to be too close to the interpreters as she would be able to hear them and that would interrupt her receiving of the original message in ASL so she opted to sit further back so the whispering of the interpreters into the infra red headsets would not be audible to her. I watched the whole day workshop and felt it was a wonderful experience. Aftward I immediately looked for Ellie to ask how it was for her and she replied – “Two THUMBS UP. Phew it’s not what I thought. It went along fine and was very interesting."

Later we had some discussions about audism and she had the same initial reaction so we had more conversations about audism and then SHE decided to set up workshops on audism to be led by Ellie and a few of us. We met several times to discuss the agenda to cover etc. [insert of 4 pictures from the workshop – Ellie is in the blue shirt top right corner]. I witnessed this transformation and saw within her this wonderful passion in the core of her being to respect Deaf culture and ASL. We had a wonderful exchange. When she got struck with the illness, we didn’t really have a chance to catch up and too soon she was gone. I still had contact with her via email from time to time. It was so wonderful to have her spirit to help our RIT community to recognize audism and Deafhood and to see this change – a model of moving forward. I’m really touched by her work and RIT will truly MISS Ellie. We really cherish and admire her. I’m happy to see that part of the SDC will be named in her honor to memorialize her. Her spirit has been with every student through many many years here. I looked at her Facebook and saw the outpouring of comments. It’s so impressive to see how she had time for ALL. Wow – we will really miss you. We love you and we are grateful for all you have done with Deaf people.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

NTID announces plans to honor Dr. Rosenfield in the CSD-SDC

Greetings All:

Dr. Jim DeCaro, interim president of NTID, released an email this morning explaining that preparations to honor Dr. Ellie Rosenfield within the Communication Services for the Deaf Student Development Center (CSD-SDC) are in the works. Given Ellie's involvement in seeing the CSD-SDC come to life, Orange & Brown Coalition supports this endeavor and look forward to learning more about the plans.

Excerpt from email - reproduced with permission:

From: James J DeCaro
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2010 08:22:09 -0500
CC: {admin at RIT}

Subject: Updates

Student, Faculty and Staff Colleagues and Friends,

.... Excerpt from the email

On Monday, Robb Adams represented my office and NTID at the memorial service for Ellie Rosenfield in Cleveland. Robb reported to me that the services were beautiful and a most fitting tribute to Ellie. The family expressed its sincere appreciation to Robb for attending as our representative. In addition, several members of our community attended the service.

As I mentioned to you previously, a memorial service and celebration are being planned in collaboration with Ellie’s family for Rochester…most likely in mid-April or there about. I have asked Robb to take the lead in working with the family and appropriate constituencies to make plans.

As many of you may be aware, one of Ellie’s greatest joys was the planning and building of the CSD-SDC. Ellie played a pivotal role in the design of the center. The Student Development Center was her pride and joy…it was in many ways “her baby.” As I was thinking about a way to recognize Ellie’s contributions to our community, beyond the scholarship fund established by the RIT Board of Trustees, I was approached by a few individuals who suggested we find a way to recognize Ellie in the SDC.

I thought this to be a superb way to further honor Ellie in a place that was near and dear to her heart. Therefore, on Monday, I asked Robb Adams and Al Smith to work with appropriate constituencies to find a way to publically recognize Ellie in the SDC. I am expecting that we will have a concept design/rendering to share with the Ellie’s family, and our entire community, at the memorial service and celebration this spring.


James J. DeCaro, PhD
Professor and Dean Emeritus
Interim President
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Rochester Institute of Technology

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

O & B: Honor Ellie Rosenfield as name for Tower C dorm


Hello Orange & Brown Community:

I would like to inform you of some very sad news. Ellie (name sign "E" with "don't know" motion) Rosenfield, who worked as assistant Dean (picture of Ellie appears) this past Sunday, died. She has departed. We are deeply affected and sad but we have been thinking, as have other people (faculty, students, friends, alumni and community members) and we propose that we make a lasting tribute to Ellie Rosenfield. You recall how Tower C has had one name removed and no new name has replaced it. Also, the controversial plaque that was up came down but nothing has yet been put up. It is our thoughts that Ellie is the PERFECT person who should be memorialized in a new plaque. She was there for us as an advocate - an active member of our community interacting with faculty, staff, students, and community members across the land. We want to remember her 35 years of service to NTID with a plaque in Ellie's honor.

Why we feel Ellie is so deserving of such an honor is because:
  • she was a tireless ally and advocate who gave her whole heart to seeing Deaf people as a whole - this applied to faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members - she truly encouraged them to stand up for themselves and boosted their confidence in their major, careers, and socialization. Really a wonderful ally who inspired so many people.

  • secondly, she encouraged NTID to be a signing environment - people should be signing as they go to and from different places making it a welcoming and open environment. This means that Ellie recognized ASL as a language right for Deaf people to be used in this setting. Ellie invested years and years of fostering signing in open places. We thank her for encouraging signing in our NTID community.

  • thirdly, she was very motivated to attend the Deafhood workshop. She took her seat and soaked in all the information and shared her thoughts on it - please go to this link to see Ellie's reflections on what she experienced from this workshop. (see :32 sec)

Clip of Ellie signing "I really want to thank you, thank you, thank you. It was inspiring. It was so wonderful and clear - delivered in beautiful sign language and the information is so crucial for all of us. Thank you very much. ILY."

  • Ellie rolled up her sleeves and rallied Deaf faculty, students and alumni to host workshops on audism - oppression resulting from the belief that to hear and speak is superior to being Deaf. She encouraged faculty, staff, students and alumni to attend screenings of the film "Audism Unveiled" and attend workshops. Her advocacy was THERE! We are so touched by this - her actions mean so much to our community.

We, the Orange & Brown Community, want to honor Ellie by having a plaque up and the dorm re-named in her honor so as people go to and from in Tower C - they will see it and remember or learn for the first time all the wonderful things she has done - her good heart, her sweetness, her strong encouragement and advocacy. Really wonderful. We really will miss Ellie. If you think as we do - that the dorm should be named in her honor and a plaque should be mounted, please put down your name and we will bring the proposition to the RIT community. Thank you.

Orange & Brown Coalition

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Update re: AG Bell plaque and events at NTID \ RIT

Updates at NTID \ RIT

Orange & Brown Coalition reps met with NTID administration to find out:
1. what has happened to the plaque honoring AG Bell q

NTID president, Dr. Hurwitz, informed us that the plaque was melted down and thus destroyed

2. what will the new name of the dorm be q

the name has been returned to its original name - NTID Residence Hall 50C. A new name would be awarded to the building if a large donor comes in and the RIT Board of Trustee's approves etc.

O & B is very grateful that Dr. Hurwitz collected input from the community and made recommendations for the removal of AG Bell's name from the dorm and that the RIT board approved this recommednation.

O & B would also like to commend the RIT President's Commission on Pluralism and Inclusion for hosting their annual Campus Week of Dialogue with a focus on Deaf culture and by A. Sue Weisler (RIT)

Go to and click Diversity Perspectives - Fall 2008 for a newsletter from the Commission offering definitions of audism as well as schedule and description of this years Campus Week of Dialogue. The week included a keynote address by Dr. Bienvenu, which featured a phenomenal amount of information on linguicism, phonocentrism, audism, and Deaf culture in an incredibly high register of ASL and fast speed! The film "Audism Unveiled" was screened and a post film discussion followed, there was a panel discussion on diversity within the Deaf community and Deaf culture, a class shared information and a t-shirt design they created to promote Deaf culture knowledge and ways to combat audism, a presentation on the importance, value and right to signing in public places was delivered, and a workshop on helping RIT faculty understand, respect, and incorporate their Deaf students and ASL into their classroom was conducted.

Big hand wave to Alfreda Brown (Office of Chief Diversity Officer) and Michelle Cometa (Chair of the President's Commission on Pluralism and Inclusion) and all their mighty assistants for hosting and organizing this week.

About Orange Brown Coalition

Mission: To share with the RIT community about Deaf Culture (language, history, humor, etc.) and related activities.

To facilitate relationships between Deaf and hearing members of the RIT community through awareness of our cultures.

To provide opportunities for self-empowerment and self-advocacy of Deaf people on campus.

[Click Here To View ASL Version]