Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Political Involvement of Deaf Chinese: The People's Republic of China

Hello Everybody!

Please allow myself to welcome YOU again. My name is Toronja Williams and last month, I posted my blog entries explaining about my experiences at the University Presidential Inauguration Conference (UPIC) in Washington, DC. Currently, I am making the Deaf Perspective on International Politics a main focus in this blog segment, today.

It becomes critical that I cover about the political involvement of Deaf Chinese of the People's Republic of China as a more specific focus in this Deaf Perspective blog segment on International Politics. As a former scholar in the International Scholar Laureate Program (ISLP) Delegation on Diplomacy & International Relations in China in spring 2007, I visited cities in China such as Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai. During my 15 days of duration there, I learned about the International Politics and China's role and impact in global affairs in several workshops and lectures sponsored by the Chinese colleges and universities and government programs. Thus, after attending these programs, they were all beneficial, informative and interesting to me.

One afternoon, I had the opportunity to visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China. At this workshop, I asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yang Jiechi questions about the Deaf participations in the political process in the country. He explained to me that, since the Deaf Chinese were unable to gain quality education and to secure qualified jobs, they were, therefore, unable to participate in the political process of convincing the government officials to change and to enact the laws. Most importantly, the Deaf Chinese did not have the right necessary amount of political information they needed in order to be part of the political process in their own country.
Many Deaf Chinese individuals were not aware about the importance of becoming more assertive and more proactive in forming and making political decisions in forums, schools, and governments as well.
In such a situation similar to this, they, most likely, became inactive in political process in other places such as the United Nations. Therefore, the Deaf Chinese were indeed suffering from inequality and inability to gain access to political information. I remember at one point, the internet did not have any political information accessible for internet users. This example showed how the government controlled the amount of political information that citizens could receive.

We need to come together as Deaf, Hearing, Americans and Chinese-Americans to exchange information about showing the Deaf Chinese the importance of becoming more politically involved in the political process in their countries. I look forward to share more of the general perspectives of the Deaf Chinese in China in the next coming days and to provide you with valuable information about the importance of helping the Deaf Chinese to seek and to gain political information in order for them to have a successful political turnout which would come from their political involvements. Finally, I leave enough space for everyone to opine here. Your voices, thoughts and opinions count!
Stay healthy and come back again!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

International Deaf Perspective: Denmark

A vlog conversation with the Vice President of World Federation for the Deaf Lars Knudsen. I ask him about his country's political system, the governmental friendliness towards deaf people and accessibility, and his opinion on American political system.


Leah: (to audience) Hello, I am here to continue the series of International Deaf Perspective on politics. Now I’m interviewing him.

Leah: (to Lars) What is your name? Where are you from? What is your position in World Federation of Deaf Youth Section (WFDYS)?

Lars: My name is Lars. I am from Denmark. I am the vice president of WFDYS.

Leah: Good. That is nice. Welcome to America.

Lars: Thank you.

Leah: I am curious what is the political system in your country like?

Lars: In Denmark, there are around 15 parties, but there are two main parties. One is Socialism and another is Liberal. There are many smaller parties that give support to the two main parties.

Leah: That is interesting. Does the government support Deaf people? How much of support? What are the goals? What are the main parties’ perspectives on Deaf people?

Lars: Denmark is one of the most high-tax paying countries.

Leah: How much is the tax?

Lars: About 50%.

Leah: Wow!

Lars: Yes. So, with that much of money support, we have accessibilities for free. Because the money does support people including deaf, we have free interpreter services and other accessibilities in general. It is good.

Leah: So, the government pays all those, right?

Lars: Yes.

Leah: Does the government provide all accessibilities?

Lars: Yes.

Leah: Wow, that is good. What are the main parties’ opinions/perspectives on deaf people?

Lars: Yes. Socialism party gives more focus and support than Liberal party does.

Leah: Interesting. That is good. Now, I’m curious, since you are here in America, visiting, what do you think of the difference between American politics and Danish politics? What is your opinion?

Lars: I see American politics have strong media and more people are involved. Danish politics are much smaller, but in last few years, we have followed American political system more.

Leah: Good. Thank you for the different perspective.

Lars: Thank you.

Leah: (to audience) I want to say that it is interesting that Lars mentioned media and people can involve, can – no I mean, people are interested involving in America, but are the deaf people getting involved? I encourage more deaf people getting involved. We need more. Thank you.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

International Deaf Perspective: Venezuela

I have a conversation with the President of World Federation for the Deaf Youth Section. We talk about lobbying for deaf rights, meeting Hugo Chavez, and working in United Nations. Fascinating!

I need help with transcripting this vlog. If you volunteer, please leave a comment or email me at Thank you!

EDIT 1: Video comments over at!!

EDIT 2: Video isn't working for some reason. I have re-posted the same vlog in a new blog entry. View my blog in its entirety to see the vlog.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kicking off the Deaf International Politics Series!


It has become the norm for this blog to go through "series" of special focus - I have taken you along on my journey of experiences in the political landscape from Democratic National Convention 2008 through the campaign season of Election 2008 all the way to Inauguration experience. It seems to me that doing series is a successful way for me to share experiences and perspectives with all of you, my readers. I shall not stop doing this.

Now, I'm proud to say that I will unveil new series for this blog beginning NOW about the international "deaf perspective" on politics.

I already expressed a desire to branch out more about the deaf perspective on politics in the international field. Globalism is increasingly part of undeniable reality and everything is intertwined, interconnected nowadays. I am positive that it will be eye-opening, educational, and benefical for us to look at the deaf perspective from international deaf on politics and I will seek out to bring that perspective to you.

Excellent way to begin all of this - I proudly proclaim to all of you that it is the first time that World Federation for the Deaf's Youth Section has come to Gallaudet University for the first time as an official delegation! We welcome them to America and I look forward to sharing with you their perspectives. The delegation consists of WFDYS' board members and has representatives from:

South Korea

Look forward to vlogs in multi-languages (native language, native signed language, American Sign Language, and English) in upcoming week!

- Leah

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Featured on Bob's Vlog!

I am proud to let you know that I, along with the founder of Global Reach Out Alim Chandani, have been featured on Gallaudet University President Roberto Davila's talk-show style Vlog to the Gallaudet community and beyond, "Bob's Vlog"

Here is the letter our President Davila sent out below.

February 3, 2009

Dear Campus Community:

Gallaudet is proud to be located in the nation’s capital. The proximity to arts and cultural events is a great benefit to Gallaudet students. They especially have opportunities to get involved in the political process that are not available for students in other parts of the country.

On this week's "Bob's Vlog" I have a conversation with Leah Katz-Hernandez, a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in government, and Alim Chandani, a doctoral student in the Department of Administration and Supervision.

Leah and Alim are two examples of students who got involved in the political process and participated in events surrounding the inauguration of President Barack Obama. I'm proud of both of them and the many other students who took advantage of the opportunities to be a part of such an historic moment in the nation's history.

I hope you enjoy this week's vlog.


Robert R. Davila

If you wish to watch the Vlog or read the transcript, you may do so at the links below.

I would like to add that I truly enjoyed the experience of doing this Vlog with President Davila. I have always looked up to him, especially considering his impressive background - being raised as a Spanish-speaking child from the barrio and rising through deafness and cultural barriers to become such an admirable role model regarding areas of education, advocacy, and public service. At the end of the vlog, you may see that I have asked him a question about his work under two former presidents' administrations at the Department of Education. I truly took the words to heart from his response. I hope you all will take it to the heart, too.

Bob Davila:

Excellent question. I am really proud and happy to tell you that I received those opportunities by doing exactly what you two are doing now while you are young and still here in school. You are volunteering. You are getting involved. You are developing strong interests in the political process. You are reaching out to other people, offering knowledge and expertise, and your support and assistance. I think that is what is involved in becoming a good community individual, and I did a lot of that.

I was really committed to service and to volunteerism, not only here in the U.S., but in other countries as well, especially in Latin America and in the Far East. That came to the attention of other people who recognized me for my work and my commitment to service and that opened the door to opportunities. I’m really proud of that experience and I think the two of you will do much better than I did because you have so many more opportunities to be involved. Now the community is really diverse and more accepting of people who are different. So I really look forward to hearing wonderful things about the two of you and there is nothing--like you said before, Leah--nothing is impossible anymore. I look forward to reading about the two of you and your famous careers. Thank you very much for coming to join us for “Bob’s Vlog” today.

EDIT: It looks like the Global Reach Out link above isn't working. Go to for more information.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

First 100 Days of the 44th President Barack Obama and International Deaf Community

Hello Newly Readers,

First and foremost, I want to thank Leah Katz-Hernandez for allowing me to share my stories about the Inauguration days, here and, showing me the rope in the blogosphere world. What an exciting and an incredible learning experience it was for me! Basically, I am very excited to work with Leah as she is currently taking International Government classes, and will be sharing some of her academic perspectives in these blog/vlog segments.
So many of you are probably wondering why I call you newly readers. It is simply because, during the Inauguration days, I posted my blogs entries, you have read about my experiences of witnessing the historical Inauguration through my participation in the University Presidential Inauguration Conference (UPIC) in Washington, DC, a few weeks ago. Today, I welcome you again to a new blog segment forum which I will discuss about the First 100 days of Obama Presidency and the importance of addressing International Disability Laws issues.
Let’s start with Obama’s First 100 Days of Presidency. This is an important time-span for a newly incoming President Obama who will be “graded” based on his presidential performance at strictly confronting the economic crisis and at aggressively pressing for his massive economic recovery plan during his administration. Since the economy will have an undue burden on his incoming administration, his first 100 days are important as he will have the opportunity to prove to us, Americans, that the rest of his term will be successful. “Obama wants to alleviate our struggles and advance our dreams so that we can prosper and grow as proud U.S. citizens living in American states.”
In dealing with our economy crisis, he has outlined several goals:
-Make the financial sectors work well with managing the retirement benefits for senior citizens and college loans for students in America.
-Create millions of jobs for Americans backed with retirement and pension fund packages.
-Bolster banks and corporations back into the financial systems by refinancing the American families, students and employees.

“Transferring from a transition from a chaotic world to a peaceful world is difficult and requires persons’ support and transferring from a transition from an ignorant world to a compassionate world requires people to understand the people with disabilities.’’
Moving forward with Obama during these transitions requires us to have focus, determination and assertiveness qualities in facing these difficult changes. In addressing these changes, I wanted to mention that our international disability laws are being ignored and being abandoned. It is through our international petition collecting and legislation making processes, and with speaking to United Nations Disability Convention Representatives about our rights for making American Sign Language (ASL) another primary language and making interpreting services accessibly and legally; only then, we can move forward in advancing ourselves in this today's fast-paced and ever-changing economic society. This will be discussed later in the next context.
Additionally, I would like to outline some goals that I wish to achieve in this blog. -Fundraising---to earn money to expand existing blog webpage into a multi-dimensional international webpage which would reach out to the international community for support in addressing the legal changes in international disability rights issues.
-Petition collecting—to convince the UN Disability Convention to make ASL as part of the foreign language in the UN missions and goal initiatives.
-Requesting accessibility--- to call for UN Disability Convention to provide interpreting services for employment opportunities, traveling opportunities for tourists, and studying abroad opportunities for students overseas.
-Conduct informative interviews---to reach out to prominent people with successful stories at press conferences and events related to the news and media, politics and international diplomacy and security.
We need the international Deaf community to be active in collecting petitions in order to call for actions in reenacting the international disability laws which protects the rights of deaf and hard of hearing individuals in having equal partnering access in work, study and travel opportunities worldwide. Receiving reasonable accommodation in the international Deaf community helps to strengthen the economy by pushing the government to reduce poverty, illiteracy, homelessness, and unemployment issues that so often prevail within the with the International Deaf communities. By requesting the UN Disability Convention to provide quality and reasonable services, we are able to live up to our responsibilities to shoulder and shoulder with the government in eliminating these unnecessary tax-dollars spending associated with the establishing of government provisions.
Without your support for this cause, we cannot make international traveling, working and studying more accessible and more enjoyable experiences for many of YOU---so, this is the website for all of us to start with. Please feel free to leave comments or share your thoughts with us.
As always may you continue to be with us for a more joyous first term of 2009 and best wishes!