on moving

(Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., the only institution of higher leaning in the world that is designed for students who are deaf.)

"...the more I spend time with the Gaullaudet students, the more I enter into a world where liveliness of expression is a universal art form. Because their words are kinetic and their faces expressive, I feel as if I'm fully present in conversation in a rare way. I know how much I would be missing out without a signer as a bridge, but an effort is being made to include me...Both the men and women are so fast, subtle, and nuanced in talking to me and to each other that I feel as if my audible words are like bricks, and their visible ones are seashells and feathers. 

Ever since Judy Heumann and other disability activists made the point of inclusion in Houston in 1977, feminist speakers have been better about asking that a meeting provide signing and be wheelchair accessible, although it doesn't always happen. At Gallaudet, however, there is not just one signer where the audience can see him or her and I cannot, but one on each side of the stage, and also on each of a dozen or so special platforms around the audience. This means I can see a chorus of motion while I am speaking. There is also the signing of lyrics and poetry. It's like watching a ballet - a democratic ballet that everyone could learn if we tried. "

-- Excerpt from Gloria Steinem's My Life on the Road.