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Adrean Clark
ASL networker

Adrean Clark doesn't see herself as a revolutionary, but she's managed to stir up some action.

She's a cartoonist, illustrator, blogger, mother of three homeschooled boys, and is married to author, anthologist, and publisher John Lee Clark. The family lives in Burnsville, Minnesota.

On November 12, Clark posted a petition on the We the People Website, the White House's petition site. Anyone can post a petition, and thousands of citizens and foreigners already have. Some of the petitions are personal, some frivolous, some serious, some strictly jokes. Petitions that get 25,000 signatures within 30 days of posting are promised a reading by President Obama and an official response.

Relatively few petitions collect the necessary 25,000 votes. But Clark's petition, asking for official recognition of and respect for American Sign Language, was something that the Deaf community could agree on—passionately. Word got around, videos were made, links shared, friends contacted friends, and the ASL petition reached 25,000 signatures before December 12. And it continued to gather signatures.

We're still awaiting the promised response from the White House. But Clark's petition has shown the power of Deaf networking.

Her background is familiar: years of struggle in mainstreamed schools (she grew up in North Carolina) with a Total Communication approach, but with emphasis on speechreading and speech therapy; doctors discouraging her parents to sign with her. But finally, Clark's mother learned to sign, and ultimately entered an ITP course and learned to sign fluently, the only relative who did. Clark transferred to North Carolina School for the Deaf, attended MSSD for a year, and graduated from NCSD.

She first met John Clark at NCSD, later at Gallaudet. They've been married since 1998. Clark wants to see public attitudes towards ASL change from negative or indifferent to appreciation of "a national treasure." There are many ways that we can advocate for ASL, she says. And think of the advantages . . . if more people could sign, everyone would benefit!

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