Title: 'The Power of Grassroots: Shifting the Paradigm Towards Community Organizing to Affect Legislative Changes for Children with Hearing Loss'
Track: 10 - Policy, Advocacy and Legislative Issues
Keyword(s): Legislation, Policy, Cultural Psychology, Grassroots, Coalition
Learning Objectives:
  1. Develop strategic vision for a sustainable coalition of ideologically-diverse group to articulate policy changes for children with hearing loss.


It is a well recognized dynamic between “Oralist” and “Manualist” advocates that there exists an incredible division of thought when it comes to the welfare of children with hearing loss. One promulgating speech only training within the classrooms, and the other fighting for recognition, resources and support for the education of Deaf students in their culturally established language. Political theorists have long posited that when political differences are allowed to trump a social movement, only a privileged few have the power to effect change. These elitist groups paint other, less recognized advocates, in a light of defiance, turning the already controversial conversation for political change from its origin and toward internal dissension. Though the issues are in part rooted in cultural exclusivity, a broader analysis supports that dominant social frameworks of expectancy are what lie at the heart of the underlying tension (Young 415-421). I will illustrate these problems by first expanding the conversation about community support toward a more encompassing role of increasing societal awareness. I hope to inform the audience of the harm being caused by refusing to understand how much better we are embracing those who think differently. Keeping with our collectivist nature, I will suggest that establishing a formal coalition will provide a sense of unity in decision making and usher us towards a common purpose to implement the changes we are looking to see. Finally, I will submit the necessity of restoring accountability and respect as the cornerstones on which we lay this new foundation. Attendants of this presentation will leave enlightened to current legislative issues, inspired to invest in social change, and empowered to take the first steps into a future where Deaf and Hard of Hearing children no longer fall into the cracks of the education system.
Presentation: Tuesday_Coe_1130_OpeoluwaSotonwa_1572.pdf

Handouts: Handout is not Available
CART: Topical Session 5- 1572.docx
Opeoluwa Sotonwa - Primary Presenter,Author
Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
     Credentials: Opeoluwa Sotonwa, LL.M., Executive Director, Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
     Other Affiliations: State Agency serving Deaf and Hard of Hearing Populations
      Opeoluwa Sotonwa is the Executive Director of Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. He is a member of Missouri Newborn Hearing Screening Standing Committee. Opeoluwa is also a member of the Diversity Committee within the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (CEASD). He currently serves as the Vice President of National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA). Opeoluwa holds a law degree from the University of Ilorin. He also holds a LL.M (Master of Laws) from the Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C.

Financial - No relevant financial relationship exist.

Nonfinancial - No relevant nonfinancial relationship exist.