Sunday, 31 July 2016

Abandoning BSL...


In the drive for more and more introspective academic focus, and the 'Deaf Way',  via BSL and its grammatical structure, is there any point in pursuing a purist form of UK sign form simply to enhance a cultural aspiration, that does very little to enhance the practical skills of deaf people to work in, and more effectively communicate in the mainstream of things ?

The main point seems to be the focus on 'Grammar' and even Signed English or Sign-Supported English seen as some 'challenge' to culture and to deaf people.  Only recently ATR posted a vlog up about the research into developing signs that equate with the modern world and higher education, but they had to use English Grammar to do it.  More obvious was the fact current BSL did not have the people or the signing systems in place to formulate or develop a signed education for deaf children, it is still 'work in progress'.

Much is made of criticisms deaf are not supported in mainstream, some is valid, but the problem is not just funding that, but actually finding the professional staff able to do it.  Deaf haven't this in a deaf school, let alone in a mainstream one.  The fact most deaf have no chance of making University tends to be blamed on support, when Universities have already stated, the issue with deaf students is LITERACY, and that literacy is based on the English grammatical structure, simply because that is how coursework operates.  What point would their be in a BSL oriented coursework to enable deaf in mainstream where it isn't in use ?

Migrants who come to the UK fully expect and know they have to get to grips with English or they won't work, yet, deaf assume using sign alone isn't an issue, only that business won't learn it. The question is do we waste time developing the deaf grammar/signs version whilst the mainstream version continues its own way ? This would very obviously continue to disadvantage deaf from progressing in the world.  

I don't think claims of Audism and Discrimination's, are going to hide the reality the deaf are getting more introspective, and taking their eye off the access/inclusion ball, to pursue a dream, whilst the mainstream are getting more global and have little will to alter to suit them.  Even if some do, the lack of deaf support defeats it, and the in-depth knowledge of English and its grammar is going to be a continual stumbling block..

The deaf problem is an inability to separate a social medium from a practical and necessary mainstream norm, they need to get with. I sign, I need a terp, they must provide etc.. this is simply not going to happen, and business/commerce is not going to alter the way it functions just to suit a sign user.  Savvy English aware hearing people will sideline them immediately.  It all goes back to education and the insistence BSL grammar should be respected and prioritised over English.  Does not the fact 63% of UK deaf are unable to get a job ring any alarm bells ?  It isn't just deafness, but the communication mode and the lack of English awareness.

Does not University and other Higher Education concerns, that deaf aren't literate enough to do coursework ringing any bells ?  Should we automatically empower deaf to higher education, then, spend the first few years undoing 16 years of wasted deaf education to teach them the basics of grammar they need to work and to study ? OK so deaf go total BSL use very inventive academic signs etc (It would take 25 years at least if you had the people), and another 25 to train up the staff, but would there be any deaf schools in 50 years in the UK ?  It's more likely we will all end up reading text instead. 

If deaf can be truly bilingual then this has to start day one, and without demands for an alternative to what everyone else uses, has to come first.  Most of these 'demands' come from a  sector of people for whom inclusion is already relative.  Are they not obsolete anyway ?

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