February 5, 2008
Ms. Julie Hamp
Senior Vice President
700 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577
Dear Ms. Hamp,
On behalf of the Deaf Bilingual Coalition (DBC), we would like to thank
Pepsi for airing the "Bob’s House" commercial and for generously
replying to the countless number of correspondence items the global
Deaf Community members and allies sent in support of the commercial.
commercial did not just raise awareness about Deaf people’s natural way
of life; it can actually enhance lives. Because of the unprecedented
and highly-viewed commercial, the chances that future parents of Deaf
babies will pick up American Sign Language (ASL) increased
exponentially. Additionally, the many benefits ASL gives to hearing
babies has been well-documented, so Pepsi did a great service for all
babies, Deaf and hearing. Thank you.
Established as a grass-roots organization and movement in 2007, the DBC is here to
ensure that all Deaf babies and children succeed and thrive through
early and strong acquisition of ASL and English. The DBC is also
challenging the Alexander Graham Bell Association’s (AG Bell’s)
long-standing campaign and activism against ASL, diversity, quality
education, and economic power among the Deaf community. Since AG Bell’s
inception, they have steadfastly promoted the mentality that all Deaf
people should shun ASL and natural and successful ways of living in
Through AG Bell’s Children’s Legal
Advocacy program, cases have been brought against school districts that
provide ASL-based instruction to Deaf students. With AG Bell and
Auditory-Verbal International’s Auditory-Verbal Therapy program,
families are explicitly encouraged not to use ASL with their Deaf
children. Finally, AG Bell’s affiliation with corporations such as
Cochlear Americas, has resulted in the accumulation of vast wealth that
does not return one cent to the Deaf community. AG Bell criticizing
Pepsi about money not being well-spent reflects a blatant double
With the overwhelming majority of AG
Bell and Cochlear America’s Board members and top executives being
non-minority and non-Deaf, the DBC finds AG Bell’s characterization of
Pepsi supposedly having a "limited" view of Deaf diversity extremely
puzzling. AG Bell appears to be confusing the issue of true diversity
with the issue of the diversification of their affiliates’ stock
portfolios. Yet that did not stop AG Bell from purporting to speak for
the Deaf community. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD), with a
diverse Board, is the Deaf community’s true representative.
It appears that any positive and widespread celebration of ASL and Deaf
people’s way of living represents a potential loss of profits, power,
and political clout for the auditory-industrial complex. The DBC is
pleased that Pepsi, unlike AG Bell, understands the miracle of sound
The DBC warmly invites Pepsi to join
our June 27-30, 2008 conference in Milwaukee. Your involvement will go
a long way in ensuring that Deaf babies learn ASL and English and
experience guaranteed success in their lives--not to mention the fact
that it will add more Pepsi customers to the already large number of
Deaf Pepsi drinkers. We will be happy to follow up with further details
pertaining to our upcoming conference.
Again, thank you for doing a great service for all babies, Deaf and hearing alike, and also for the global Deaf community.
Barbara DiGiovanni, David Eberwein, John Egbert, Tami Hossler, Ella Mae Lentz, and David Reynolds.
The core team of the Deaf Bilingual Coalition
AG Bell's Letter to Pepsi:
January 31, 2008
Ms. Julie Hamp
Senior Vice President
700 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577
Dear. Ms. Hamp,
On behalf of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell), we are writing in regards to the airing of your upcoming Super Bowl commercial highlighting deaf characters. Established in 1890, AG Bell is the only national organization dedicated to supporting children and adults who are deaf or hard of hearing who use spoken language and hearing technology to communicate in mainstream society.
Although we appreciate Pepsi’s efforts to encourage new promotional ideas from your rank-and-file employees and your willingness to celebrate diversity, we would be remiss if we did not call your attention to the fact that your advertisement offers a limited view of the deaf community. Since you have chosen the Super Bowl as the forum to launch this campaign, and because of Pepsi’s size and stature, we feel a responsibility to offer our perspective on this somewhat misleading stereotype presented in your advertisement.
We trust you understand that deaf and hard of hearing individuals are a diverse group and therefore do not fit into a single, distinct culture. Your advertisement perpetuates a common myth that all people who are deaf can only communicate using sign language and are, therefore, isolated from the rest of society. In fact, today’s hearing technology, coupled with early screening identification and intervention, has led to incredible advances
in listening and spoken language skill development. Of the more than 30 million Americans who live with hearing loss, the majority use spoken language as their primary mode of communication.
We would also like to remind you that with the amount of money Pepsi will spend on just one 60 second spot to air during the Super Bowl, you could help an untold number of families obtain hearing aids and other professional services that are costly and in many cases not covered by medical insurance. We would be very willing to work with Pepsi to develop some creative ideas to promote other facets of the deaf community and to highlight positive role models who have met the challenges of this condition and thrived using spoken language. In addition, we invite and encourage your participation at our 2008 convention to be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 27-30; the largest gathering of families with deaf and hard of hearing children in the world.
Your continued involvement in this issue would go a long way to educate the public about this oftentimes invisible condition and promote appreciation for those individuals that go above and beyond to overcome the absence of something many of us take for granted – the miracle of sound.
Karen Youdelman, Ed.D. Alexander T. Graham
President Executive Director
NAD's Letter to AGBell:
February 7, 2008
Karen Youdelman, President
Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
3417 Volta Place, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Dear President Youdelman,
behalf of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) Board of
Directors, staff, members, and supporters, I am responding to the
recent letter that you wrote to PepsiCo representing the Alexander
Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AGBell).
Specifically, I want to express our disappointment.
In 1880, the
NAD was established by deaf leaders who believed in the right of the
American deaf community to use sign language, to congregate on issues
important to them, and to have its interests represented at the
national level. These beliefs remain true to this day, with American
Sign Language (ASL) as a core value. As a consumer-based nonprofit
federation, the mission of the NAD is to promote, protect, and preserve
the civil, human, and linguistic rights of deaf Americans.
NAD represents children and adults who are deaf, hard of hearing, late
deafened, or deaf-blind. We welcome all people who value ASL, and we
promote opportunities for the acquisition and use of ASL in addition to
English in its various forms, with or without the use of hearing
technologies, to enable successful participation in all aspects of
American society, including the deaf community.
disappointed with the negative tone of your letter and obvious lack of
respect for deaf people who use ASL. We are also sensitive to the fact
that many members of the AGBell deaf and hard of hearing section know
and use ASL. We find it deplorable that AGBell continues to perpetuate
the myth that the use of ASL isolates deaf people from mainstream
society, a stereotype that is far from the truth. We know that this is
not the first time that AGBell has reacted in this manner to
high-profile use of ASL, which AGBell may perceive as detracting from
its exclusive focus on speaking and listening. As such, we are not
surprised that AGBell continues to close its eyes to successful deaf
ASL users as positive role models.
In the view of the NAD, every
deaf person has a unique place in American society, with basic human
rights with respect to identity, cultural affiliation, and
self-expression. This viewpoint, with emphasis on diversity and
inclusiveness, forms the foundation for our existence as an
organization and as a community.
We expect the same respect from AGBell on behalf of the community we represent.
Bobbie Beth Scoggins