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The Deaf Connection: TSD Student Protest (1991)

Texas School for the Deaf Archives

Sound | 1991

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  •  Introduction by Dr. Steve Baldwin, host of The Deaf Connection 
  •  Students protesting outside the Texas School for the Deaf 
  •  Gayle Lindsey meets with TSD students 
  •  The panel of guests: TSD faculty member Brian Strom, TSD student Thomas Koch, and TSD alumnus Jerry Hassell 
  •  TSD students marching to the State Capitol Building 
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This 1991 episode of public access television program The Deaf Connection considers protests against the reappointment of Gayle Lindsey to the Governing Board of the Texas School for the Deaf (TSD). Host Dr. Steve Baldwin welcomes a panel of guests—including TSD student Thomas Koch, TSD alumnus Jerry Hassell, and TSD faculty member Brian Strom—to discuss. The protests began in response a letter sent by Lindsey to State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos. In the letter, Lindsey objected to legislation brought forth by deaf rights groups requiring the TSD Governing Board members to be majority hearing-impaired, saying that the “list of qualified and competent deaf people” to fill the seats “will be exhausted in a very short period of time. The average national reading level for the deaf is the 4th grade and the math level is 6th grade. Interpreting state and federal statutes into local policy has been very, very difficult for the deaf board members to participate in.” At the time, three board members had to be hearing-impaired, three had to be parents of deaf children (Lindsey had a daughter attending TSD), and three had to have professional associations with the deaf community. After Lindsey’s letter had been publicly distributed, students from TSD began protesting, ultimately forcing Lindsey to resign. The program, entitled The Deaf Connection, presents a summary of the events leading up to the protests through Lindsey’s eventual resignation. The panel (comprised of student Tom J. Koch, TSD alumnus Jerry Hassell, and TSD faculty member Brian Strom) is interviewed by host Dr. Steve Baldwin, sharing their perspectives on the protests and their reactions to Lindsey’s letter to Senator Barrientos.
Located in Austin, the Texas School for the Deaf is both a statewide and national leader in deaf education. The school first opened its doors in 1857 with only four male students. In 2009, the school housed over 500 students on campus, with many others in summer and short programs. TSD also offers outreach programs to families of students with hearing disabilities outside the Austin area.