Thursday, 13 April 2017

Of deaf, (and elephants.)..


Reading charity comment slots where those losing hearing are still asking why they have to pay to learn BSL ? even parents of deaf children forced to pay to learn to communicate with own children effectively, but the question doesn't actually address the situation of communication support for those with hearing loss...


ATR doesn't think BSL or lip-reading are viable modes on their own.  Each system uses many other means to follow the spoken word, no one size fits anyone. especially valid for those who acquire serious hearing loss, as politics kicks in straight away and there are many issues like trauma, and cultural identity side-effects too, as people desperate with hearing loss struggle to understand the point of A and B modes in a social or access context, because they conflict with a need.

Being charged a fee to learn A or B modes, and without any advice as to how to go forward with either, is a complete lottery in many respects.  learning just one mode isolates those who do not use it or prefer to use something else, as it stands no need assessment actually take place to ascertain which is viable for you in ability terms, 'preferences' do not go far if the ability is not there, or the will isn't.

Obviously, parents whose children are deaf and being solely educated with sign use, must have free tuition in the primary means being used to educate them, but with well over 60% now using CI's and able to utlise those, the system that maintains sign effectiveness and their social cohesion, is under stress and assault from those alleviations and clinical technologies..    

In education, teaching sign does not go alongside teaching  awareness, and fitting into the mainstream of things, the concentration on language acquisition, ignores the primary context of language and social interaction. Children deaf can leave school not understanding the need for that interaction, or the need to integrate at all.  Their futures in that respect mapped out from day one... their interactions a life-long reliance on interpreter or family support, this '3rd' person forever present, this 'elephant in the room' distracts interaction away from the deaf person. Mainstream will always use the path of least effort, as do the deaf themselves and they accept it as a norm... that norm is not based on inclusion.

The 'Deaf' community is fighting against a rising tide of progress, hence their approaches becoming more and more inflexible to protect the status quo, which they are struggling to now define, hence the social angle played down in favour of the signing priority, because deaf schools are doomed to closure, and that was their cultural base....

Deaf schools are rapidly being viewed a dated concept, with inclusion and cost saving putting more and more deaf into the mainstream.  As regards to all areas learning BSL, it's a dream and not practicable, or will meet all needs either.  It's a drive via minority support need, not a majority one.  For those who rely on BSL alone professional support is available via the system we are well served in wales e.g. As regards to about our daily lives again expecting random people you meet once, or rarely, to be able to sign at you, is unrealistic.

There is talk about training nurses Drs, etc in BSL, shop assistants etc, hearing children, but staff turnover defeats most adults acquiring it, and who, pays to teach them ?  Currently they are expected to self teach or pay themselves, on the off-chance they 'might' come across a BSL using person.

There is lots of talk and drive as to pushing for the mainstream to sign to everyone with hearing loss, but the majority do not sign.  I'd like to see deaf people learning how to communicate a lot more.  Hearing-deaf interaction should be mandatory education in the curriculum for deaf children, not taught hearing are against them because they are deaf, and unless they stick together, they are going to have a very hard life.  

From day one they see own interactions as token or part of the school 'once a day', set ups, they very quickly learn, THEIR inclusion is just with people 'the same as they are..'.  The current stance is 'I sign, so you must learn it to communicate to me..'  It rarely works as simply as that, given the 'Deaf' community is averse to integrating and socialising with hearing people, it is debatable IF hearing signed, that would change the dynamics of their perceived 'Deaf' community ethos.. they would still demand own space... 

BSL isn't a magic bullet to communicate to all deaf people. Neither is lip-reading.  It's been said before, but a 'Communication' set up with a norm needs to be initiated to address social, clinical, and communicational issues with those who have hearing loss.  The social area approaches are basically a barrier for those who acquire serious loss early, or later, they become a refuge, not a stepping stone to equality, so doesn't really work at all.  A parallel world does not equate with an inclusive one.

Is deaf culture nature or nurture? we think the latter.  Nothing is written nor signed unless WE,  say so....

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