WASHINGTON, DC—Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), formerly known as Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH), has responded to the controversy at Gallaudet University in which the university rescinded the appointment of Jane K. Fernandes as its new president (see Top Story in the October 19th HR Insider, the online weekly e-newsletter from The Hearing Review). The reversal by the nation’s only university for the deaf resulted from protests and a campus shut-down by students and faculty who were objecting to Fernandes’ appointment. Retiring Gallaudet University President I. King Jordan, the first deaf university president, was swept in almost 20 years ago by massive student and faculty protests, and he supported Fernandes’ appointment.The appointment of Fernandes, who is also deaf, was opposed on the basis that she doesn’t fairly represent the needs of the typical university participant or alumni. Much of the debate centered on Fernandes commitment to Deaf culture. She was born deaf, but grew up mostly around hearing people, not learning American Sign Language (ASL) until she was in her 20s. She has stated that Gallaudet should include “all kinds of deaf people.” The protesters believed that she would have reduced the need for sign language and/or increased the reliance on cochlear implant technology or other technologies that are not generally palatable choices for advocates of Deaf culture. Additionally, some protesters have also questioned her fluency in ASL. Some argued that Gallaudet needs a president who has been deaf from birth and fully immersed in Deaf culture.In response to the controversy the Hearing Loss Association of America’s President Anne Pope and Executive Director Terry Portis issued the following public statement:The Hearing Loss Association recognizes the complex and difficult issues facing the leadership of Gallaudet University. We understand that Gallaudet University has a rich heritage and a unique place among educational institutions in our country. We appreciate that the research programs of Gallaudet University have helped to improve the lives of people with hearing loss through educational and research programs. The Hearing Loss Association values the opportunities for collaboration we have enjoyed in recent years.The Hearing Loss Association believes in accountability for organizations, institutions and agencies that receive local, state and federal funding to provide services, support, programs and research for people who are deaf AND hard of hearing. This accountability must ensure that funds are being appropriated to support a variety of communication choices, including American Sign Language (ASL), real-time captioning, and hearing assistive technology. Since Gallaudet University receives more than $100 million annually in government funds, it is crucial that they be held accountable in this area.The Hearing Loss Association supports the choice of people to use ASL as their primary language or as a tool to communicate more effectively. However, discussion about programs and services must recognize that the vast majority of people with significant hearing loss (deaf and hard of hearing) do not choose this communication modality.The Hearing Loss Association believes that medical and technological solutions for people with hearing loss continue to advance. Cochlear implants, advanced digital hearing aids, and potential medical breakthroughs will continue to shape the future.Terms such as deaf and hard of hearing are becoming less useful in describing people who are experiencing hearing loss.Our organization will continue to focus on the millions of Americans who have a hearing loss and wish to use various communication strategies and technology to manage their own hearing loss and thrive in the mainstream of society. We still have a long way to go in improving public understanding of hearing loss, in the protection of civil rights, and in the challenge of accessibility.Ann Pope, HLAA PresidentTerry Portis, HLAA Executive Director