Indiana Deaf community protests against the passage of state bill HB 1367, 2012

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Timing
Time Period:  
11 January
2012
to
16 March
2012
Location and Goals
Country: 
United States
Location City/State/Province: 
Indianapolis, Indiana
Goals: 
To prevent the passage of state bill HB 1367, which would transfer outreach services provided to deaf children by the Indiana School for the Deaf to a newly established, independent center overseen by the state.
 

On January 11, 2012, Indiana Representative Cindy Noe introduced HB 1367 in the Indiana General Assembly, a bill that would transfer outreach services for deaf children, currently provided by the Indiana School for the Deaf (ISD), to a newly established center with the state’s budget agency making recommendations on oversight of the center. The Indiana deaf community, led by members of the Indiana Association of the Deaf, quickly formed the Indiana Deaf Education Coalition (IDEC) in opposition to the bill. IDEC argued that the bill did not take into account the opinions of the Indiana deaf community and that the bill would favor the use of oralism, the education of deaf students through oral language by using methods such as lip reading, as opposed to the instruction of American Sign Language as a first language.

The deaf community had already recently organized to oppose Governor Mitch Daniels’s decision to fill vacant seats on ISD’s Board in May 2011. Daniels had chosen to fill the seats with four people: Ann Reifel, Mary Susan Buhner, Scott Rigney, and Lucky Witte. The deaf community in Indiana was displeased with these choices as three of these members were hearing with no obvious ties to ISD. These three members were sympathetic to the oralist approach, which, in the predominant view of the deaf community, downplays the instruction of American Sign Language. While parents of current ISD students held protest rallies and attempted to directly confront the newly appointed board members at their first meeting in June 2011, they were unsuccessful at removing or forcing Daniels to change his appointees. With the introduction of HB 1367, the deaf community began to organize once again to oppose what they saw as changes in the way deaf children were being educated in Indiana.

A few days after HB 1367 was introduced in January 2012, IDEC circulated an online petition on www.change.org and encouraged people to sign it to declare their opposition to the passage of HB 1367. IDEC was successful in gaining support from several national deaf advocacy groups including the National Association for the Deaf on January 19, the American Society for the Deaf on January 20, the Deaf Bilingual Coalition on January 21, and Deaf Youth USA on January 26. Each of these organizations sent letters to Indiana state legislators in stating their support of IDEC’s opposition to HB 1367.

On January 27, the Indiana state legislature held a closed meeting on HB 1367. IDEC planned a rally outside of the statehouse where members of the Indiana deaf community, including parents of ISD students and ISD alumni, publicly showed their opposition to HB 1367. In addition, IDEC launched a social media campaign where deaf individuals posed with signs with messages about their personal opposition to oralism with the phrase #LiesAGBellToldMyParents, referencing the historical use of oralism in the education of deaf individuals in the US as advocated for by Alexander Graham Bell. On January 27, IDEC had several members successfully enter the statehouse and take pictures of themselves holding #LiesAGBellToldMyParents signs inside the statehouse.

On February 16, the Indiana State Senate planned to hear testimony in support and against HB 1367. IDEC held another rally outside of the statehouse to voice their opposition to the bill. Many of the national deaf advocacy groups that had come to IDEC’s support, including NAD, encouraged deaf people from all over the country to come to the rally in Indiana to support IDEC’s efforts. However, despite IDEC’s organized opposition, HB 1367 successfully passed in Senate on March 1 and was signed into law by Daniels on March 16. The bill would begin to go into effect on July 1, 2012. However, while the IDEC failed to stop the passage of HB 1367, it has committed to continue voicing its concerns regarding the bill’s implementation.

Research Notes
Sources: 
"Controversial Bill HB 1367 Gets Into Senate Comments." Thebuffandblue.net. Gallaudet University, n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2012. <http://www.thebuffandblue.net/?p=8522>.

Frazee, Gretchen. "Bill Would Create Unified Deaf and Hearing Education Center." Indianapublicmedia.org. Indiana Public Media, 7 Mar. 2012. Web. 9 Oct. 2012. <http://indianapublicmedia.org/news/bill-create-unified-deaf-hearing-education-plan-27634/>.

Frazee, Gretchen. "New Law Moves Deaf Services Out of School." Indianapublicmedia.org. Indiana Public Media, 30 Apr. 2012. Web. 9 Oct. 2012. <http://indianapublicmedia.org/news/law-moves-deaf-services-school-29740/>.

Davey, Monica. "Among Twists in Budget Woes, Tensions Over Teaching the Deaf." Nytimes.com. The New York Times, 27 July 2011. Web. 9 Oct. 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/27/us/27deaf.html?pagewanted=all>.

"Deaf School's New Board Looks To Quell Controversy - News Story." Theindychannel.com. WRTV Indianapolis (ABC), 10 Aug. 2011. Web. 23 Nov. 2012. <http://www.theindychannel.com/news/deaf-school-s-new-board-looks-to-quell-controversy>.

Heuer, Christopher Jon. "Public's Denial Driving Frustrations of the Deaf." Journalgazette.net. The Journal Gazette, 5 Mar. 2012. Web. 9 Oct. 2012. <http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20120305/EDIT05/303059995/1147/EDIT07>.

Kelly, Niki. "Deep Division on Deafness." Journalgazette.net. The Journal Gazette, 27 Feb. 2012. Web. 9 Oct. 2012. <http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20120227/NEWS07/302279984>.

"Parents Divided Over Possible Changes To Deaf School's Teachings - Education Story." Theindychannel.com. WRTV Indianapolis (ABC), 19 May 2011. Web. 9 Oct. 2012. <http://www.theindychannel.com/news/education/parents-divided-over-possible-changes-to-deaf-school-s-teachings>.

"Protest Takes Aim On Deaf School Appointments - Education Story." Theindychannel.com. WRTV Indianapolis (ABC), 7 June 2011. Web. 9 Oct. 2012. <http://www.theindychannel.com/news/education/protest-takes-aim-on-deaf-school-appointments>.

Stokes, Kyle. "How Indiana Took Sides In A Debate Over Deaf Schools." Stateimpact.npr.org. NPR, 29 Mar. 2012. Web. 9 Oct. 2012. <http://stateimpact.npr.org/indiana/2012/03/29/how-indiana-took-sides-in-a-debate-over-deaf-schools/>.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Rosanna Kim, 12/10/2012