Sunday, February 3, 2008

The AgBell Letter Screamed "Show Me The Money!"

Stole the AgBell letter from Mishka's Blog - thank you so much for making a copy available. Her blog also raised some excellent points such as this:
Deaf people only communicating using sign language? How does AGBell Association know the Deaf people don’t speak orally, too? They may be wearing hearing aids and can lipread, too.
This situation brings to mind an event that occurred about a year and a half ago in Italy. There is an international television program called "Lo Zecchino D'Oro" that is a contest for the best international Italian children's song. There are children from all over the world competing, singing songs in Italian. Every year this program generates a cd that becomes the torment of all pre-schools in Italy. And, every year there is a choir that signs the songs in LIS...every single year, until last year the FIADDA (Associated Families for the Rights of Deaf Children) protested as AgBell did with their letter. The purpose of the FIADDA protest was to increase awareness of all approaches in deafness, which is so necessary here in Italy as the support network is practically non-existent - the complete opposite in respect to the USA. This protest gave my son the opportunity to become a member of the audience during one of these historical programs and the television camera fell quite often on his cochlear implant and the bilateral cochlear implants of the child sitting next to him.
In respect to the AgBell letter, I view it as an attempt to solicit financial support from a business -PepsiCo- that is obviously interested in promoting diversity:

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.

Paula on her Hearing Exchange Blog wrote the following about her reaction to Pepsi's bold advertising strategy:

Unlike many deaf bloggers, I purposely did not post the video online at HearingExchange. Quite honestly, I was put off by the audacity of their strategy for free publicity.

Here’s the email I received from Pepsi’s “people”a few days ago:


I wanted to share with you an innovative advertising spot which will be debuting during the Super Bowl on behalf of Pepsi, who is sponsoring the closed captioning for the game. Bob’s House is an ad which illustrates a popular joke in the hearing impaired community, and was created and performed by EnAble, a network in PepsiCo which supports diversity and the inclusion of persons with different abilities. I have included links to the spot, as well as to some behind-the-scenes footage which I think you and your readers will find interesting.

[Links removed]



Kristin Montalbano | New Media Strategies

[Phone and address removed]

Gosh, wasn’t that nice of them to share their innovative advertising spot with me? Of course me and my readers would find it interesting. But Pepsi, don’t you think you should compensate deaf and hard of hearing bloggers and website owners if they agree to put your ad videos up on their sites for all of their readers to see?

This was my response on Paula's blog:
Guilty of taking the publicity to another country *smile*...but I'm a sucker for creativity and innovative advertising with an effective I'm cool with it, don't mind being a pawn, as long as I'm conscious of being one sendin' some huggin' your way,

Let us all not be so naive...there is a helluva lot of money involved in all of this - money goes a long way in raising awareness - for all parties involved. Why not take advantage of the opportunity?

BTW: Luca's going to dinner with his football team tonight at 10 and they will watch the Superbowl live here in Grosseto at midnight. I'll be home with the kidlings. I doubt they will show the Pepsi commercial here in Italy, but he has been forewarned to be on the lookout!


Anonymous said...

God I love your blogs.

A CI mother who supports all facets of the deaf community.

Who'd a thunk it?

May all those whom you support today reciprocate for you tomorrow.

Cheers Jodi!

Anonymous said...

My Gawd, Jodi.

I know! The AG Bell surely have lots of money to invest. I am *NOT* surprised. No question about that.....

Think about the cochlear Implantation, Inc. They have lots of money, too.

We have paid the health insurance.

Sometimes the health policy are the sucks. Boo-hoo.

It makes me to think of a movie, "Sicko" by Michael Moore. It was about a pretty Mexican American little girl whose family does not have the health insurance. They cannot afford to pay for the health insurance to help the little girl to obtain the CI.

Nothing is to be told in any country.

I'll give you a box of strawberries with chocolate.

White Ghost

Anonymous said...

Nice article, Jodi. AGBell might be interested to know that the passenger in the Pepsi ad wears a CI. Betcha the Bell organization didn't think of that one. I think we oughtta press home that point some more, lol....btw, nice rebuff of Ridor elsewhere, lol....


Unknown said...

Love your more, and thanks! Jodi

Unknown said...

White Ghost,
Live for your comments and strawberries with chocolate! Jodi

Unknown said...

I really liked the commercial...thannnnnnnnks, Jodi

MKChaikof said...


I have to take the opposite view on this one, and I wrote Pepsi and told them so. Before Rachel was born and we were introduced to the world of deafness, my notion of the deaf was that they couldn't hear, period, and that they all communicate with sign and attend special schools for the deaf. Over time, I found out that it is actually only 25% of the deaf who consider themselves part of the deaf culture.

I have worked for the past 20 years to ensure that accurate information is out there readily available to parents of newly diagnosed deaf babies sbout all the options available to them. Unfortunately, most of the general public still have the same misconception of deafness that I did 20 years ago. Pepsi could have used this ad to inform others of what deafness can be today and possibly change the life of a baby born deaf today. Instead, it perpetuated the stereotypes. The public already knows about the deaf culture, but most people don't know that deaf kids can hear and speak very well with appropriate early intervention.

Anonymous said...

Deaf kids can speak and lipread (and even hear in some cases) quite well--as well as hearing folk in many cases--without the use of CIs and hearing aids. ASL has been, in fact, shown to HELP Deaf kids learn how to speak/lipread. PepsiCo did not perpetuate a stereotype, but showed a thriving, vibrant community that exists whether or not you like it, Melissa. Oh, and I'd like to see the source of your information that only 25 percent of the Deaf world uses ASL and is a part of Deaf culture.

Anonymous said...

Jodi, thank you! This is why I like you so much. You are open to Deaf culture, even though you've made different choices for your son.

Not all deaf children will succeed with the path you've chosen for your children. Your children were "lucky." Cochlear implants don't work for everyone, and neither does AVT. That's the way it is.

Truth is, your message is already out there loud and clear via countless media stories and there are very few deaf characters in the TV and movies who do not speak. Ours is getting swept under the rug. So I do NOT appreciate your constant efforts to sweep us aside. You're doing far more than simply ensuring that people get all their options. Pepsi is doing a great public service in bringing some of the balance back to the equation.

If AGB gets sponsorship from Pepsi or Pepsi recants in any way, I will hold you personally responsible, at least in part.

Jodi, I don't mean to hijack your blog this way. Thank you for being an ally.

Anonymous said...

"Of the more than 30 million Americans who live with hearing loss, the majority use spoken language as their primary mode of communication."

That is mislead.

It should say: "Of the more than 30 million Americans who live with hearing loss, the majavascript:void(0)
Publish Your Commentjority used spoken language as their primary mode of communication. However, three-fourth of the majority has been switched to sign language as their primary mode of communication."

Anonymous said...

Jodi, I agree with Melissa, deaf culture has been around for longer than cochlear implants have been of good enough quality to allow profoundly deaf people to discriminate speech. With earlier diagnosis in the US due to newborn hearing screenings and advances in technology of hearing aids and cochlear implants, babies are receiving diagnosis and access to sound at significantly earlier ages. These factors have greatly improved deaf children's ability to hear and speak well. Obviously, you know all this, but society at large does not.

Divided said...

I am glad you had positive experiences with Rachel and that she benefits from use of Cochlear Implants. You say that "...only 25% of the deaf who consider themselves part of the deaf culture" where did this figure come from?

I disagree with your comment, "...but most people don't know that deaf kids can hear and speak very well with appropriate early intervention." It is misleading. Not ALL deaf kids can hear and speak well, even with early intervention. I have met and worked with many deaf students who were raised orally and without sign language who failed miserably in school. So much time and emphasis was spent trying to teach speech and listening skills instead of educating the child using sign language. Do I support that every deaf child be given an opportunity to develop speech and listening skills...sure, if they show potential. If deaf parents choses not to do so then that's their privilege. I happen to know this because my own parents had absolutely no speech ability nor the ability to hear. My mother's education was totaly wasted because her parents insisted she attend an oral program where she failed miserably and did not go beyond 3rd grade at the age of 14. She blossomed after meeting my father and learned sign language (my father attended and graduated from a deaf school).

As for AGBell...Chris Heuer from DeafDC Blog said it well when he made a reference about AGBell " are not an organization that recognizes that there are indeed “many” choices available to parents… including sign language. Your organization is not a mere “resource” for those parents who specifically choose spoken language for their deaf or hard of hearing children."
The Deaf Bilingual Coalition website is supportive of all choices and provides many information and research links..see their link:

Please explain how you would have wanted Pepsi to change their ad?

Anonymous said...

Melissa, your comment is silly. Of course Deaf people can speak and lipread as well as use ASL. The commercial was an attempt to sell Pepsi, not explain the ideology and civic struggles of a minority group. I realize you probably have your own issues and concerns as the mother of a Deaf child, but please don't perpetuate stereotypes yourself in your effort to give your child every opportunity. What you just said - is exactly what you are complaining about, and will do no more to get rid of stereotypes than anyone else.


MKChaikof said...

Divided and others who asked,


In the United States, culturally deaf people are joined together by a common language (American Sign Language, or ASL), a common history, and many common traditions. Most culturally deaf people are deaf or hard of hearing from birth or a young age. They also grow up using sign language for most of their lives. Between 21 million and 28 million people in the United States are hard of hearing or deaf. However, only a relatively small number of people (between 100,000 and 200,000) consider themselves culturally deaf. Most other deaf people either lose their hearing after childhood or grow up without using sign as their primary language."

Even if you remove those who are hard of hearing from the 21-28 million figure, the percentage would actually still be smaller than the 25% that I read elsewhere.

MKChaikof said...


My children were not "lucky." A total of 12 years of AVT and giving up my career for 7 years to focus on my children is not luck. It's called dedication and hard work.

MKChaikof said...


"If AGB gets sponsorship from Pepsi or Pepsi recants in any way, I will hold you personally responsible, at least in part.

You credit me with far too much power, especially because I don't work for AGBell. I'm merely a paying member. Second, AGBell wasn't seeking sponsorship nor money specifically for it's organization but, rather, was pointing out to Pepsi that the millions of dollars it spent on that ad might have been better spent helping hearing impaired children who have financial need. AGBell then offered to help provide Pepsi with information.

As I've said before, A.G. Bell is an organization that exists to promote oralism. It does not force members to join but, instead, is there for members to choose to join if they support the oral approach. Had the ad featured CI children hearing and speaking and not signing, there would have been an outcry from NAD and the signing deaf community, and I would have expected them to write in and complain just as I expected Bell to in this situation.

MKChaikof said...


I'm not sure why you find my comment "silly." No one assumed for a minute that Pepsi was out to "explain the ideology and civic struggles of a minority group." My point is that, unfortunately, far more people in the general public are going to learn about and form an impression as to what deafness is from this Pepsi commercial during the Superbowl than they are from any of us. I didn't ask that Pepsi not show any signers. Rather, should have shown deaf people both speaking well and signing. Maybe that would have better reflected the diversity in the community and alerted the public that deaf people can also hear with appropriate technology and speak. My concern is also not for the general public per se but for parents of a newborn deaf baby to learn of ALL the options that are out there.

Prince Andrew and the Queen Mum said...

Hey gal. i don't comment much but i do read. I think the Pepsi ad was right on and I couldn't find any Deaf person who was offended while seaching on the Blogsphere. I wrote a comment on Paula's blog because i think it comes off as deaf people being stupid because they weren't offended. But i think it was ?? snooty?? of AG bell to be offended themselves. it was a great commercial for what it was. It brings those with disabilities into the 'mainstream.' DS has other disabilities which is probably why I understand this differently...Anyway- interesting. I'll have to read the comments that people leave more LOL! I think CIs are being painted right and left in a pretty good light now - and I live in an area that is heavy ASL.

Anonymous said...

Like Prince Andrew's mom, my kiddo has other disabilities and I think that also makes me see this issue a bit differently. I don't think that there is a need for parents of newly diagnosed children to see Ci's and oral deaf people in commercials in order to find out about their options. Everywhere we turned we were told about cochlear implants. I cannot think of one person that discussed sign language with us. Not one!