Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The HI Dilemma ... Gain or no Gain ?

Image result for Dilemma or apathy ?
A response to yet another poster praising Gallaudet and how you can actually GAIN by being deaf. (Which is rather a strange statement to come from the poster who had never actually heard anything, to be able to offer comparison by real experience.).

I see few real gains, and it is not really positive to suggest hearing loss to profound status is any 'advantage', for some it is hell on earth and undermines those who need that empathy and support to cope with their loss.  I'm OK so you are too, isn't realistic a statement. 

The consistent stress of having to cope or simply deciding to opt out and become isolated 24/7 every day of your life, rather limits any 'gain' to the negative side of relative..  

A lot of HoH do opt out, so convince themselves that the approach they take helps de-stress, addresses why they need to do that.   But, stress is life, and so is social interaction and a need to effectively be able to communicate.  Born deaf comparisons are not a 'like for like', you can identify very real issues are presented by those who have serious loss/deafened after formative education.    I never cross the road so unlikely to get run over by a car, doesn't ring valid when you need to cross that road.

HoH tend not to have a fallback option, or a valid support or social base either, that went when their hearing did.  I am sure to those within a signing 'community' and club ethos/deaf school background, life is less stressful, i.e. so long as they avoid mainstream really.    HoH can develop a thick skin, more skills yes, but aggressive doesn't help. There can be a tendency to blame others because they can hear and you cannot. The politics of blame tends to drive most campaigns on access and support, but I don't buy most of them. Graveyards are full of martyrs the ones that stick around make the real change.

It is your inability to present your issue or the reluctance to do that, is what inhibits wider awareness, not everything is down to people not looking at you or not signing at you, you have to identify what you need first, mainstream are not mind-readers.  The issue is you don't really know exactly what works best for you or, if you can re-adapt to what that entails.   Simply deciding A or B mode will suit without an ability to develop or use it, can mess it all up.   There is no communicational magic bullet or cure. Maybe many of your peers can sign great, or lip-read greater, you may find you are pretty hopeless at both.  There may well be medical reasons why you will never master a 'preferred' mode. HoH prefer lip-reading, deaf prefer sign, but in the HoH case their 'choice' is by far the most difficult one, and one suggests not very feasible.

For most it's a mishmash of everything, or other support that makes it viable.  A lot lose hearing of use, and hardly attend any tuition or communication class help, and expect if people speak clearly to them or sign they can still follow, well, they won't.  They will just endure more frustration and stress.  Sadly for the UK they do not have access to an organized communication class, one has never been developed. So its a free-for-all with no norm and no support basis.  At least the signer got organised.

I think there is an assumption of  'us and them' with some deaf who sign and, with those with hearing aids, a 'horses for courses' approach, which is self-defeating because both areas can enhance each other far better than any awareness gig.  I don't really have direct experieince of supportive education in loss terms, because in my time you were just called ignorant and stupid if you failed to respond properly.  There was NO organized educational support for a HoH child.

Praising Gallaudet also needs to be done with realism.  It is really a hotbed of sign radicalism to be honest. They do occasional good examples of awareness, the problem they have is embracing inclusion in that concept, which many of them feel, compromises what their 'culture' is about, and they cannot resolve that issue. There were very clear divisions at Gallaudet where HoH and Deaf did not mix at one point, indeed there was a partial deaf riot on the campus where signing deaf barricaded classrooms to keep HoH out of them insisting on 'Deaf-Only', 'ASL-only' and 'Deaf Space' areas, also problems in accepting CI's etc.   There was little an image of inclusivism or acceptance at all.  The deaf extremes ran riot.

The whole ASL ethos there is based on hatred for A G BELL mostly. We know the bloke died in 1922 but they haven't moved on and blame him entirely for the oral approach to communication, which they call the tool of discrimination and devised to destroy culture. There are a lot of issues at Gallaudet created by their conflict of interests, their cultural aims, and misguided belief, it is near all based on blaming others.

Deaf awareness has nothing at all to do with HoH awareness, that needs to be made clear, and the sign inclusion aspect is at the basic core of the problem. HoH do not feel they ID with an area that doesn't ID with them, and has a completely different view of inclusion, disability, dogma, communication, social approaches, and social interaction as well as educational. To suggest one size fits all is ridiculously uninformed.   Or that hearing loss, levels the playing field for all.

Instead of accepting these issues need to be addressed, there exists a continual and uneasy stand off, with occasional clashes where awareness excludes or conflicts with A or B areas.  I don't think HoH will ever get what they need if they carry on as they do, someone needs to get a grip on the reality and move on it. This seems to put the onus on charities, now the only area acting as a HoH 'voice'. But the charitable ethos is clinical in approach and not people-centric, the exact opposite to the cultural approach and why sign is more successful, so tough on the HoH majority who will have to put up with their status quo for the forseeable future as 'issues to be addressed' instead. 

Pessimistically I think HoH and deafened haven't a hope of advancing their cause under the current approaches. Their awareness campaigns have no appeal, and apathy rules.  HoH portrayed as a large sector of oldies with hearing aids who won't adopt a concerted approach to their problems, and the blight on their life isn't access or communication at all, but ear wax and duff hearing aids, is at the root of it all.  There are PEOPLE at the base of all these issues that aren't really being identified at all except as a clinical issue. 

One UK charity lauded the fact they supported mainly mostly 60-90yr olds, the image was completely negative and askew.   Profile images tend to be people NOT with any serious loss of hearing but have a relative who does..' then volunteer to be deaf for a day...   The consensus then being it ain't fun so I am not doing that again.      Those that did have a loss spent near all their lives hiding the fact, hardly role models.

Suggesting 9-11m with loss are mostly within that age grouping, was misleading the public, as the age spectrum gets younger every year.  Due to widespread use and abuses of technology the age areas are anything from 18 up now.  Being viewed as eccentric old codgers with a hand cupped to their ear is not going to get much support from them.  They are Generation Y the text reliant.