Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Promoting BSL to Mainstream

Related imageFirst, you have to agree what BSL is and then accept some norm, it goes without much saying, you have to clarify WHO benefits from mainstream being aware of it apart from the few...

E.G. the BDA promote a DIFFERENT version of BSL to the other areas as I understand it, and promote a different deaf week of awareness too, they believe their BSL is in the 'purist' form, i.e. devoid of 'English and grammar influences' but inclusive of cultural background, they object to sign being taught simply as a 'tool' of communication.  

Frankly, that is ALL learners are interested in, because they take it up as a paying job (Interpreting).  Whilst they will sit there learning about the culture, in practice, they won't be espousing or promoting that aspect except as a sop to clients. There is an acceptance they have to put up with the cultural part of sign, but they (Hearing learners), don't see it as integral to the work they will be doing and pay (Pardon the pun!),  'lip-service' to it..

The issue of awareness communication-wise, (and viz-a-viz with the hearing loss population), has little or nothing to do specifically with the 'Deaf' in this respect or even BSL, as basically, it is about those who lose hearing after formative years or are losing it now, the majority not the minority, who have own systems and never use such classes.  

It is staggering there is actually no set up of comms support tailored for that majority, except a fee charged BSL class set up, or a DIY Lip-reading set up without aim, bottom line, or purpose, given they represent that majority, and as statistics suggest, massive increases of people with hearing loss emerging.  They cannot all have or want CI's... and those with hearing loss are NOT the pupils attending the classes.. They are all hearing.

Even if they eventually agree on a signed norm, it still will do nothing for the other loss sectors.  We have 3m in the UK who would rather cut their ears off than wear a hearing aid e.g. and a load of others going downhill, but still desperately convinced they can hear something so they are OK, (except when it deteriorates to the point they are isolated by default!), then they get angry wondering why there is no support for them or any national program established for them.  

Those with majority hearing loss, do not see the fault of unawareness is entirely their apathetic own.  Awareness is a poor joke, but there are plenty of clowns making money from it, and nobody to oversee if awareness 'Deaf' or otherwise, is accurate or is just a complete free-for-all.  It's all randoms and colleges making money on it, re-framing hearing loss, and communication as a culture, it is the hard sell... 

There is no authority or standard to oversee any sort of accuracy, it is why the BDA went off on its own.  But 'Deaf' have little or no influence on college or private learning... or on how sign via the curriculum is taught, it is hearing dictating the format, honing the tuition to fit in with hearing employment norms, eventually, they will change the entire nature of sign and its use, one suspects BSL grammar will be the first casualty...  

Sign tuition being profit driven, could all collapse if market forces dictate the money isn't in it... there are already concerns state support via DWP ESA allowances for the deaf to work etc, are being capped or simply removed, this means interpreters would not be able to make a living out of it.  The state responding with 'You are too expensive to support,' and urging the deaf to find alternatives to sign... and/or to rely on others like family or friends prepared to help for free...  Employers don't want sign users or prepared to pay their support bill, which they claim is higher than the value of the deaf employees' skill value, or wage.  Employers are not a charity or non-profit. Providing a social service they don't.

The more able BSL sector has latched on to the fact awareness means money, and jobs/work for them as 'advisors to the ignorant'. Who would question (Apart from us), whether it is fact-based, accurate, or not ?  They just publish own take on it and ignore deaf and others who don't sign.   They aren't going to do the HI's work for them.  

Many are not interested in BSL, in either its 'pure' format, or its random 'preferenced' anything-goes approaches, it should really reflect English, e.g. Signed English, we live in the UK not 'DeafWorld', and it makes more sense to educate in the host country's grammar, if only to land a job, and read a book about their own background....  

The way sign is taught is self-isolating, and anti-inclusion based.  Using S.E. sign would make more sense and practicality to HI/HoH, encouraging 10 times the number with hearing loss to learn basics of sign, because they and hearing, are both conversant with the grammatical form.   If the majority hearing loss sector take up sign in any number then demand would also rocket.  Opposing english grammar is negative.

While sign carries the albatross of culture and deaf politics, as an equal or higher priority, it is not an attractive or realistic proposition for HoH, and a barrier to mainstream. Culture should be an optional take up, not part and parcel of sign language learning. All is still 'falling on Deaf ears..' as the pursuit of culture, overrides the practical issues and drawbacks of sign usage in the mainstream, and the direction is simply to fight court cases...