Milan 1880: ICED 2010 Regrets Milan 1880
Currently the International Congress on Education of the Deaf (ICED) is taking place in Vancouver. The conference website can be found here.
A statement was put forward to the congress, on Milan 1880. This is the draft text via Senan Dunne (which I got last night - about 14 hours ago, as I type):
"…The resolutions of the 1880 congress in Milan:
In 1880, an international congress was held in Milan to discuss the education of the deaf. At that time, the members passed several resolutions that effected the education, and the lives, of Deaf people around the world.
1. removed the use of sign language from educational programmes for the deaf around the world
2. Contributed detrimentally to the lives of deaf citizens around the world
3. Led to the exclusion of deaf citizens in educational policy and planning in most jurisdictions of the world
4. Prevented deaf citizens from participation in government planning, decision making and funding in areas of employment training, re-training and other aspects of career planning
5. Hindered the abilities of deaf citizens to succeed in various careers and has prevented many of them from following their own aspirations
6. And prevented the opportunity for many deaf citizens to fully demonstrate their cultural and artistic contributions to the diversity of each nation
Therefore, we reject all resolutions passed at the ICED Milan conference in 1880 [about 35 seconds of applause!]
I think there will be more cheering at the end. I’ll start again - all resolutions passed at the ICED Milan conference in 1880 that denied the inclusion of sign language in educational programmes for deaf students. Therefore, we acknowledge and sincerely regret the detrimental effects of the Milan conference. And therefore, we call upon all nations of the world to remember history, and ensure that education programmes accept and respect all languages and forms of communication. Thank you."
This was accepted, and thus a formal apology made to the Deaf community worldwide. It only took 130 years for it to happen.
As late as 1990 (and possibly later), an apology was rejected. A friend said on Facebook earlier:
I attended the ICED in Rochester NY USA in 1990. I remember the uproar when delegates tried to put forward a motion for this apology. The organisers weren't having it. Just took another 20 years for it to happen...
Do not underestimate the significance of this. Will it take away the damage that Deaf people have experienced in the past 130 years? Of course not.
The tone of the resolution, should be given gracefully and received the same. A recognition of such is a statement that history should not be repeated. The absolutely crucial thing is: you cannot regret then go out and continue to make the same blunders you just acknowledged. The impact on this, educators internationally need to reflect on and no child anywhere should be denied sign language.
To those people whose lives have been hurt: yes you got hurt and this is formally recognised. It is time to hold your head up high and one hopes that there is enough space for forgiveness.
The saddest thing in all this? Those people who suffered but did not live to see this regret in their lifetimes. We owe them the future, away from the suffering of the past 130 years.
Update: I got the following e mail, "
I am at ICED now - it is not "apologize" but regret+reject. CED did not agree with "apologize" because they are not a government nor an organisation with a formal structure, but a changing team that just organises a conference. But as you can see it is a strong text that explicitly rejects the pure oralism + gives recommendations - it caused many emotions yesterday, especially amongst older deaf people!"
Apparently the BC Deaf community will issue a press release today. Hope so, something as big as this needs faster press management (due to the scale of the news).