Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Joey Baer's comments about deaf clubs

If you haven't viewed Joey Baer's ASL blog on the dying culture of Deaf Clubs, log on at joeybaer.com and click on the one with blue shirt, and "5 minutes" caption underneath. Interesting narrative on diminishing numbers of deaf clubs across the country. He resolves to resurrect these old days of deaf clubs, for us to toss aside the modern technology that took us away from personal socialization/interactions, and is the cause of changing landscape of the deaf community. He is right - technology HAS changed the landscape even though it brought us closer to the mainstream society and enable us to communicate with the public at large without language barrier which is great. The question is DO we want to resurrect the deaf clubs or accept it as part of a life cycle of a community? A beginning is a means of an end. Is it just time for the deaf club to die out? Or should we hold on to it Or just create a different kind? For me, the third is the logical option.

During my parents' time, it was a NECESSITY. These deaf clubs provided a support system. Deafies flocked to the clubs to rant and rave, to ask questions, to listen to advice on how to solve problems at work, with families, with children, with bosses, etc. It was a bloodline for the Deafies. They attended deaf clubs religiously. My time, as a young child, it was more social. Workshops. Celebration. Holidays. Sports. You get the idea. Within 20-30 years, it evolved. We had interpreters, relay service and increased awareness of the deaf. We had IDEA. We had Civil Rights laws. Now, it evolved again. What does a deaf club serve for us now? Seems to be uncertain. What is the "job description" of a deaf club? Sports remains a mainstay part of the club in most places. Referrals is another part in places where there is no state agency for the deaf. We have one here in Arizona, so our PAD (Phoenix Association of the Deaf) does not provide a referral service. Ah, yes, KODAs organization. A relatively new organization for increasing number of parents experiencing parental difficulties with hearing children and a support system for the KODAs. Deaf parents nowadays are more articulate with issues with raising hearing children, the issues they face as CODAs, thus needing an organization.

So, creating a new kind of deaf clubs may be unnecessary since it apparently already has evolved, but for the social aspect, it seems to become an irrevelant part of the deaf club culture. As for myself, I dislike going to deaf clubs solely for social functions due to the fact deaf people are notorious gossipers. I have had my fill of that in my youth and had experienced the destruction of idle gossip, so I avoid that like the plague. I believe many other Deafies feel the same and avoid deaf clubs for similar reasons. It is simply that there is more to life than gossip. I'd rather do other things. An organization is supposed to serve a shared goal by their members for the betterment or enhancement of their lives, not to gossip about others and to destroy others' reputations. That is my view of a deaf club.

So, Joey, you have a genuine passion to preserve the deaf culture which is commendable, but time has an annoying way of evolving, of changing, so the reality is not always accommodating. We STILL have deaf culture, but different from our parents' time. That is part of life. We need to re-define what a deaf club constitutes of and how it should serve the deaf.

Any comment, anyone?


BBV said...

I just think Deaf Clubs are a waste of time. I went there a few times for KODA events but I prefer KODA events at public parks or hosted in private homes. More warm atmosphere than at deaf club. And they charge you for using their club, too. I don't attend deaf club except for KODA events and I also watch sports sometimes so my kids play with other KODAs, but that is not at deaf club, anyway.

I agree with you about gossip. That is one reason why I don't go.

I keep contact with my friends via SK, VP, AIM and to me that is good enough. Deaf Clubs need to change their goals. Maybe more agency than club.

I just think many Gallaudet students miss the social atmosphere they experienced at Gallaudet and want deaf clubs to stay alive so they could re-live the experience. The way Joey Baer said it on his vblog make it look like that reason. Well, Gallaudet is once in a lifetime and it is gone now. Move on with life.

Joey Baer said...

"So, Joey, you have a genuine passion to preserve the deaf culture which is commendable, but time has an annoying way of evolving, of changing, so the reality is not always accommodating. We STILL have deaf culture, but different from our parents' time. That is part of life. We need to re-define what a deaf club constitutes of and how it should serve the deaf."


Hello - this is Joey. Yes, I agree with your comment above that we need to do that! We need to remember one thing that Deaf people and culture usually do better if we discuss issues in person. With the technology evolution, I have a sense that it is hurting our politics activism because we meet less and less in person. Thus it is important for us to find ways for us to get together more often to discuss issues that will bring better lives for Deaf people.

I am not going to move on with life if the lives of Deaf children are not getting any better. Too many of them are left out in the dark. We need to find ways to reach them and let them know that we are there for them just like old days when many Deaf people who were there for us.

I look forward to more constructive discussion on this and many other topics!

Joey Baer

Cy said...


Thanks for clarification. Your passion in resecurrting deaf clubs lie in political and cultural activisim. I DO agree our techno toys have fractured our communal unity and we are indeed more lost than ever, and seem ununitified. We seem to have become more individual groups.

Methinks deaf clubs need to be structured and constructive in their activism and goals. Current trend is deaf clubs is mainly about sports. Our PAD (Phoenix Association of Deaf, where my father was president 3 times) currently holds Bingo Night every Friday and makes up mainly of senior citizens who also make the largest member roster. They also give Scrapbooking Club workshops. They host occassional holiday parties for fundraising purposes.

I feel their role in Phoenix's deaf community is insignificant at the moment. It has been "taken over" by our senior citizens who are mostly retired with time on their hands.

I am pondering upon how to change that.

Joey Baer said...


The best bet would be to form a think tank group that include various of individuals who will share different perspectives on some issues.

Then you can just discuss what you brought up right here with your think tank members. Believe me, you will be amazed how much your group will come up with some ideas. There is really no answer to our current issue all over the country in such short time. In addition to that, no cities are same in responding on some issues.

I am confident that the two upcoming clips on my ASL Blog will help you and others to realize that a such think tank is much needed everywhere in the country.
I am trying my best to have clips ready as soon as I can. Stay tuned...

I am really excited about the idea of so much dialogue with many Deaf people across the country to bring better lives for Deaf people!! We really need to work together!

Joey Baer

Anonymous said...

Our community deaf center has a youth program. It invites Juniors and Seniors from the deaf school over once weekly (7pmto9pm) for a few months. It helps that the center is five miles from the deaf school. Various topics such as looking for a job, using interpreters and VRS, functioning in hearing world etc are covered...mainstream students are invited, too. Program concludes with a bowling trip at the university alley. Occasionally the esstential food is provided (pizza)

Anonymous said...

Socialization is still too peer oriented...deaf kids at the deaf school are with each other too much, in my opinion. Not enough deaf adults (mature...responsible of course) are involved either with the kids after school or at the center. Each of us should mentor one deaf kid for that kids' lifetime from primary to college/secondary training. Most of their parents/guardians don't sign well. I just saw the YLC blog...wow...each school should have a YLC camp. :)

Cy said...


Yes, I need to view your clips to better understand what is involved regarding the think tank and Deafhood. I have a grasp on what Deafhood is basically about but I'd like to learn a little bit more...

It would be a hard sell to get the PAD prez to redefine how our club should serve our deaf community. At the moment, he seems more interested in his self-serving gloriness...his goal is signing more memberships to beat an old record which was during Steve McLeod's, if you remember him, tenure as president. I feel to draw more members, we need to overhaul the club to modernize it, to follow the current trends, and become more articulate and raise more awareness rather than simply social functions such as Bingo, Scrapbooking Club, KODA events, etc. That's snooze city. We have so many academic and articulate people here and all are hiding out all over.

Bay Area has had good foundations of deaf unity...in part due to being in proximity of CSDF...our PDSD is a day school and made up of mostly hearing teachers, so there is not a strong center for the Deaf here in Phoenix, so it would be a tough sell to draw them to come and unite.

I will view the clips and ponder upon how we can sell the idea to our Deaf community. To begin, I will need to find out who from Phx area went to Nad Conference and attended the workshops, and I pray one of the 3 other women in my Literacy Club went.

:) Cy

Cy said...


Yes, it would be nice if cities with large deaf communities have YLC programs for their local teens. Leadership development is essential for our youths to continue unity for the deaf in our future generations. Many of our current Deaf leaders were YLC campers themselves. YLC has been declining in past recent years. I believe it has to do with the location...it is up in Oregon, in a small town east of Salem, home of OSD. Beautiful place, no question, but the Oregon Deaf community does not have a strong deaf center. YLC needs to be in a place where there are strong Deaf leaders and community. YLC needs to pull out of Oregon and seek another compound. Better yet, promote each state to run their own. Perhaps more feasible would be regionally...West, Midwest, Southeast and New England.

My beef right now is I cannot send my sons to KODA camp at CSD this summer...too expensive and wrong time...Aug 11 - 19, I think...my boys start school and have football practice so they couldn't go. Many states start their school year in August so having KODA camp in middle of Aug is just wrong time - it should take place in July. Like YLC, KODA camps should be regional...at this time, there are only two...one in NY and one in SD. Both are on northern part of country and are too far for many of us to send our children. I understand Bert, the founder of Mark 7 Koda camp in NY, and is currently running the camp at CSD... is working on the regional idea. Let's give him a hand wave and made that happen!

Anonymous said...

Deaf Club, Deaf Club, Deaf Club It is a part of our life even a lot of us do not go there for several reasons. I am trying to image there is NO deaf club. Strange! Not all Deaf people go to Gallaudet. Image no Gally, strange! Guess that Deaf Club is just part of our life. How to improve that, tough! So many grassroots belong to Deaf Club. I do enjoy them, but where are the college people??? Should we start using the building for meeting, workshops, etc. I know we do already but not enough??

Cy said...


Yes, I've noticed most Gallaudet crowd do not go to the deaf clubs. I suspect they tend to stay with "their own kind." They stay in contact via pagers mostly and occasionally get together at some public places. I am guilty of that myself. I don't go to deaf club much. Part of the reason is Phoenix has grown tremendously in deaf population that when I attend deaf club, there seem to be nobody there that I knew. They are mostly senior citizens ( we have large SC population here), interpreters wanting to learn to interact with deaf people and young recent high school graduates. I think our deaf clubs are suffering an identity crisis and we need to re-define what a deaf club is. And to draw back the Gallaudet crowd...that crowd has good leaders that the deaf community need. Like everything else, trying to inject changes into something is not easy. We have to find a way to revive a dying culture of deaf clubs.