Thursday, 19 January 2017

Communication IS it the great leveller ?

Image result for lip reading laughsThe issue of isolation is communication.  I was never sure socialising like with like was the way to go, even with lip-reading classes.  I think when it comes to socialising there is a greater aspect in play than just less stress and sympathetic surroundings, because we still have inbuilt prejudices and choices as to whom we socialise with.   Of course, reading lips is not much of an advantage in a Deaf community because it isn't the way they communicate primarily.

E.G. the time I attended LR classes I was the youngest and most deaf person there amid two types of 'peers', 2/3rds were women over 70 and most there seemed to hear quite well with hearing aids, so I was isolated within the class area and struggled.  The tutor attempted to put us in pairs or little groups to find ways of lip-reading each other, and to get used to reading people's faces and lips. 

No-one wanted to work with me because I was deaf and they just thought raising their voice would do it ! mostly they did very little to support me because they did not know how to communicate to someone who could not lip read or hear anything they were saying, the tutor struggled too.... when 2 'peers' resorted to writing things down, I told the teacher this was a lost cause as I was concerned, you don't learn lip-reading by using a pencil and paper, and I could do that outside of a class, and was already doing that.

How would I lip-read people in uncontrolled surroundings ?  I.E. every area outside the classroom door, or people who do NOT know how to speak clearly ?  It's one thing reading lips, another to know how to speak properly. The difference between the factory floor and a quiet lip-reading class was immense.  Rather than widening my choices of socialising, or finding ways back to partial socialising in areas I was au fait with, it was restricting it to others in the class with whom let's face it, I had zilch in common with and never saw afterward.  It's the plight of deafened people.   

'Talk Tidy' is a welsh term and humour-speak, but in seriousness, good lip-reading depends on clear speech being used, and pretty ideal circumstances... and we were all mumblers with a degree in gibbersish, and, as many were elderly had neither the skills or the will to make real effort. They were more concerned with their own peer approaches... one even had her usual 'nap' half way through the lesson !

I don't think lip-reading tuition can be useful if you are deafened to the degree I was, the classes were just not designed to manage that.  In reality, there were NO classes for improving your communication as a deafened person unless (A) You had some useful hearing still, or (B) Had been deaf prior to formative years and had been educated in that environment, the jury was out the latter really improved their social intercourse with hearing mainstream either.   The approach seemed to be let's form own community instead.... novel, but impracticable for deafened people with a hearing background.

The sole answer seemed to be to direct you to the social services system, who usually redirected you back to the class, who... you get the idea !  It was a pointless and pathetic circle of people who were don't knows.   Now and then they would suggest DIY anyway.  So as a deafened person you made your own way or went ga-ga really,  depression was a given.   Taking advantage of counseling was a conundrum as this too required you had that lip-reading or useful hearing ability first, I had neither.    I found counselors had no system either in regards to deafened.  Whoever they referred you to assumed you had good communication first.  Counseling itself suggested the issue wasn't  deafness, communication, or loss, so was viewed a bit dubious, even pointless. 

I found as did most, the only way forward was to ignore the current signing and LR systems and tough it out.  I often wonder what the success rate of that actually is....  What skills I have are self-taught via the system of taking it on the chin mostly.  Pride was the first thing you got rid of, sensitivity to unaware peers was another.  If you wanted to fit in, or even contribute you kept your head down and pressed on, any kickback you lost out no-one else.

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