About Us
Our Mission
Thursday, 08 May 2008

The Deaf Bilingual Coalition promotes the basic human right of all Deaf infants and young children to have access to language and cognitive development through American Sign Language (ASL).

Our Purpose
Thursday, 08 May 2008

The main purpose of the Deaf Bilingual Coalition is to emphasize the importance of the social, emotional, linguistic, and cognitive aspects (of ASL) pertaining to early visual language acquisition for all Deaf infants and young children.

The secondary purpose is to make the general public aware of the prevalence of misconceptions and misinformation that devalues ASL.

Our Statement of Goals
Thursday, 08 May 2008

Updated November 29, 2010

The goals of the Deaf Bilingual Coalition are as follows:

1. Establish language acquisition, social justice, and quality education through ASL/English bilingualism by empowering stakeholders to advocate and promote legislative action in support of ASL
2. Inform Deaf people, parents, teachers, and medical personnel of the importance of ASL and to spread awareness of research-based evidence and experience-based testimonials that support the importance of ASL
3. Collaborate with others to help parents and their Deaf children to awaken from a state of victimization and to promote ASL

History of DBC
Thursday, 08 May 2008

John Egbert: Founder of the Deaf Bilingual Coalition

Shirley and John EgbertAlthough I grew up oral, I had a burning desire at the age of 19 to learn ASL in order to understand it better as a language at Gallaudet in 1966. For many years, I was under the wrong assumption that people who signed were lesser than me. I felt their language was not equal to mine. When I learned ASL, I realized I was WRONG. I also realized how important it was to educate hearing parents of Deaf children that with full visual access to language through ASL everything is possible and ASL is definitely not a lesser language. As so many Deaf children are born to hearing parents, it is important that they get accurate information about ASL and the benefits of early language acquisition.

As organizations, such as AGBell and Auditory Verbal Therapy Programs, increase their membership, more Deaf children are becoming the victims of language deprivation. AGBell in their Auditory Verbal Therapy programs do not allow ASL. See http://www.agbellacademy.org/principal-auditory.htm stating the following:

" 3. Guide and coach

parents to help their child use hearing as the primary sensory modality in developing spoken language without the use of sign language or emphasis on lipreading."

It seems most logical to partner those techniques with American Sign Language to give children greater opportunities to full language acquisition. But they continue to deny ASL to these children.

Understanding what factors influence language acquisition are very important. Data flow rate is one of those factors. Spoken English has two components that vary the meaning of sentences: verbal use of the words and tone of voice. People speak an average of 180 words per minute. American Sign Language has two equivalent components: signs and body language. People fluent in ASL can sign over 200 words per minute. ASL has so many signs for the same words that paraphrasing to educate children can be done in numerous ways.

The unfortunate situation is that hearing Deaf education teachers are typically not fluent in ASL and this is also true of many mainstream public school interpreters. They use a variety of non-language systems like Signing Exact English and Total Communication which involves talking and signing at the same time (Sim-com/ Simultaneous Communication) in which both ASL and English are mixed together. Receptive and expressive information, (data flow), goes down to 70 words per minute or less in that range. These non-language systems that are widely accepted in mainstream schools are doing great damage to language acquisition, cognitive development, and literacy and are not viable educational tools.

Because I am not a conformist, I believe it is time to stand up and educate parents and people who make decisions for Deaf infants and children about the value of ASL and early acquisition for Deaf infants and children. It is important that Deaf children have a right to be bilingual. Respect of ASL as their first language and English as their second language is vitally important for parents, educators, and the medical profession to understand. This is my passion.

Here is the story of how I grew up
and how I came to find American Sign Language

I am adventurous, a risk taker, and a common sense person. I was born in Jackson, Mississippi to hearing parents. My older brother was born Deaf as well. We went to an oral Catholic school until third grade. I was their “oral poster child”. They would take me around to show off my skills to help raise money for the school.

My family moved to New Orleans where we were put into public school without any special assistance. Then when I was in fifth grade, we moved back to Jackson. We never learned sign and we knew that the Mississippi School for the Deaf was only two miles from our home.

In high school, I was not interested in school. I felt like it was a prison and just wanted out. Then my mother told me and my brother about Gallaudet University. My brother who was older than me also passed the admission test and was enrolled a year before I did. When he came home in the spring, I wanted him to teach me ASL. He wasn't interested in doing this and just wanted to resume our adventures as brothers.

Then after High School, I enrolled at Gallaudet. I had one goal at Gallaudet and that was to learn ASL. I followed the advice of my brother and associated with signing Deaf students in order to learn ASL. I picked it up very fast, in fact, some of the upper classmen would ask me which Deaf School I had attended. I had many Deaf friends in college but because I was so mischievous and adventurous, I was thrown out of college two days before the end of the school year.

I married my Gallaudet classmate Shirley Frelich, who came from a large Deaf family. We lived in Washington, DC, then transferred to New York after my son was born. We then transferred to Michigan and then again to Minnesota where we have resided for the past 30 years. During the early years, I worked for prominent newspapers including the Washington Post and recently retired after 20 years from Star Tribune in Minneapolis. Both my son and daughter are Deaf. My daughter is a principal at a Texas School for the Deaf and my son works at the same school as a computer OS X technician.

Professional fishing is another passion of mine.

John Egbert with Smallmouth Bass

My family...
John, Shirley and the Egbert Family

Who We Are
Thursday, 08 May 2008

The Deaf Bilingual Coalition is a grassroots group even though many of us are considered professionals in our areas. We are involved more as a community of people who are concerned about the current situation of denying access to American Sign Language for Deaf and Hard of Hearing infants and children during the critical years of development.

The idea of "coalition" is considered important for DBC's identity. The people involved in DBC should be those who desire to make positive changes by promoting public awareness of the serious situation that Deaf infants and their families are in.

DBC stands by its mission and continues to promote a clear vision that we support ALL Deaf infants and children to have access to ASL from birth and to be fluent in ASL and English (bilingual). DBC is not against speech and listening training as long as it is partnered with ASL. DBC's goal is to educate those who impact the lives of Deaf infants and children and find common ground to end the long-time friction between groups who have different philosophies on communication approaches.


Clerc's Children

Clerc's Children!

Visit Clerc's Children at www.clercschildren.com

The Color of Language

The Color of Language
The Color of Language


DBC gave two presentations at the 50th Biennial NAD Conference in July 2010.   The PDFs of the PowerPoints are available below, just click to download and view them.

DBC NAD Workshop

DBC NAD Workshop


DBC gave a presentation at the Deaf Canada Convention. The PDF of the presentation is available below, just click to download and view it.

DBC DCC Keynote

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