Where were you when the Deaf President Now protest took place on the campus of Gallaudet University 25 years ago? What do you remember of being there or hearing of DPN on the news?
The first 5 minutes of yesterday's interview webcast at Gallaudet University opens with videos and photos of that famous week in March 1988. A must see!
I was 11 years old and in the 6th grade at College Place Elementary School in Edmonds, Washington. My classmates and I learned this from our Deaf teacher aide, from whom we also learned Deaf jokes (T-I-M-B-E-R is one story that's been told time and time again, with personal touches added by storytellers) and ASL hand classifiers (handshapes that aren't ABC's). I was in a self-contained classroom (all deaf students) and was mainstreamed for a few subjects in a hearing classroom with an interpreter. I enjoyed both settings, perhaps it was the diverse experiences I was having. (I transferred to the Washington School for the Deaf in the middle of the following year, and that was a great experience, too.)
The stories of people who were around on campus 25 years ago as leaders, students and even MSSD students were fascinating to learn about. Even those who were far from campus and the stories that came up later of DPN's impact on gaining communication access and opportunities which should have already been there in our country and around the world. My husband, Thomas, recalled yesterday when he went to the 1989 World Games for the Deaf in New Zealand, he learned of the breakthroughs for Deaf people in various countries following the protest, including their right to drive cars! The impact of DPN clearly went beyond getting Gallaudet University's first Deaf president.
Yesterday was refreshing as I joined a bunch of Gallaudet Alumni of various ages at a fellow Alumni's beautiful home in Austin to watch an 1 1/2 hour long webcast of an interview panel of the original four student leaders. Their stories, perspectives and opinions were fascinating... so much more than my little blip of a connection to DPN; however for me, and I'm confident it is for others Deaf or not and anywhere in between, it still is a moving inspiration!
More on DPN: Gallaudet's Deaf President Now page.