Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Senator Ken Salazar: Acknowledging the Deaf

Below, here is the mini-interview I had with Senator Ken Salazar, D-CO.

Do you have anything you want to say to the deaf people who are watching the convention?

Salazar: "I am aware that we have deaf schools but they are not of as good quality as Gallaudet University."

Will you encourage deaf people to become politicians?

Salazar: "GO FOR IT!!!"


It's interesting to notice that he immediately mentioned that he was aware that deaf schools' quality could improve. Moreover, he knew of Gallaudet University's prestige, even though it's pretty safe enough to say that Gallaudet's quality is higher than secondary school. What I learned from speaking with him was that he was aware of deaf education and the importance of bi-lingual. I was especially struck by how he seemed very genuine when he was talking to me, how he didn't view communicating via paper-and-pen with Jacob as time consuming or annoying, and his sincerity in encouraing more deaf people being involved with politics.

I realized that he was one of the only three Hispanic Senators (Robert Menendez, D-NJ and Mel Martinez, R-FLA). This is especially important to note because the Hispanic population in America is often bi-lingual with English/Spanish languages. And if a person is able to speak only Spanish language, the person experiences the same thing as deaf people do in terms of communication barriers and frustrations. Thus, it would make sense that the Hispanic population could be sympathetic to our causes and we should be sympathetic to their causes, too. They are our allies in bi-lingualism.

In political networking, it's always a great idea to branch out beyond your core issues (such as deaf issues) to support other demographics' issues. The Latin quote of "Quid pro Quo" comes to mind; the loose translation is "What I give you, you give me." Sometimes, educating the hearing world can be tricky. However, you might be surprised at where you'd find strong supporters for your cause.

Never stop trying, never stop exposing and educating, and most importantly - never give up your activism! The more you participate with the political process, the more other people will learn from you. Then people at the top will listen to you and you are in a position to effect change for yoursef, your community, and other communities.


Dianrez said...

What schools did he mean? Primary/secondary schools or higher education schools? If the latter, what higher education schools for the deaf are there in Colorado? Just curious about his answer.

Leah Katz-Hernandez said...

I think he was being very general but he mostly meant elementary and secondary schools for the deaf. I believe that there are two deaf schools: Rocky Mountain Deaf School (RMDS) and Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind (CSDB)

If there are more than that, let me know.