Friday, 21 September 2018

Still not deaf enough...

Deafness: Rise and Fall...

Image result for hand cupped to ear
The Rise And Hopefully The End Of Hearing Loss Listening to your music is fun! But, you know what's not fun? Losing your hearing! 

It is no secret that our generation is blasting loud music right through our headphones. I am guilty of this as well. There is something liberating in escaping through the music. 

You dance to the rhythm as if you are in your own world and that nothing can stop you. But, then you take your headphones off and suddenly, you hear an "EEEEEEEEEEEEE" sound. That's tinnitus. Tinnitus is when you hear a ringing sound throughout your whole life. Sometimes, it's not a ringing sound. Sometimes, it can be crickets, buzzing, whistling, and much more. You might even hear the music. 

Sometimes, tinnitus can occur due to vitamin deficiencies or sensory issues. Personally, I suffer from sound sensitivity all throughout my life and therefore, I have tinnitus. However, it is no doubt that tinnitus can occur from exposure to loud sounds. Once your ears have been exposed to loud sounds, your hair cells become dead forever. In order to cope with that, your brain develops a ringing sound. I know my tinnitus worsened when I was in Drum Corps during my high school career. I wasn't bothered by the loud beat of the drums until I experienced sudden hearing loss every time a parade ended. 

Things escalated when I got my first iPhone at 17. Whoo boy. Since I was a sheltered high schooler, you bet that I would escape through music. I'm sure you felt that way in high school, too. Now, I have a tinnitus that is way worse and I'm paying the consequences for it. From now on, I always play music in low volume. If I play anything other than that, I would make my ears sting. But, nobody's doing the same thing that I'm doing. 

Every time I walk past somebody with blaring their music out loud, I worry for their ears Scientists stated that loud music doesn't necessarily correlate to hearing loss. In addition, the hearing loss for teens is going steady. But, reports already stated that a quarter of American adults are suffering from hearing loss. Therefore, while teens may not have a hearing loss now, they may get it in their adulthood. What's even worrisome is that once you're hard of hearing, you need a hearing aid or a cochlear implant which is something insurance won't even cover. 

Things get even more expensive when you become deaf and suddenly, you need to take ASL classes as well as an interpreter. Hearing loss is scary. You won't be able to hear your loved one's voice. You won't be able to listen to your favorite songs. You won't be able to hear the sounds around you. You are stuck in an ocean of silence or rather, auditory hallucinations ought to get you.

I pretended I was still hearing...

hearing loss memoir author Bella Bathurst sits by a window wearing a black sweater and peach scarf
Along with millions of other UK Hard of Hearing people.  For those who still insist being deaf is great and even a right, a touch of realism.

I Pretended I Could Still Hear I tried my best to ignore the problem and pretend I could still understand what others were saying.  But navigating the world without sound was incredibly stressful, sad and alienating.

By summer, it had become clear that there was something wrong with my hearing. It didn’t happen suddenly — it wasn’t like one week it was 20/20 and the next week it was down to 15/20 or 10/20 — but softly, so softly I almost wasn’t aware of it happening; sound seemed to have stolen away. There was no pain, no sound of sound retreating, just the gradual understanding that something was less. In January, I’d been able to hear the traffic outside in the street. 

By March, I could hear a few auditory exclamation marks — the bang of a door slamming, the blare of a horn — but not the noises that linked them. Noises that had been vivid seemed muffled; sentences that were once bordered by clear lines were now smoothed to a blur. Without the definition to speech — the sibilants, the corners and turns, the verbal signposts — I couldn’t seem to find my way. Meetings became no more than a low seaside roar, and I kept connecting with the wrong end of a sentence. Things that had once been so easy to navigate were now full of blunders.

For a while I did what any other sensible, evolved adult would do — I ignored the problem. When that was no longer an option, I made an appointment with my GP, who referred me to the audiology department at the local hospital. Guessing games It did not take me long to adjust to being deaf. Or rather, it did not take me long to realize that I really didn’t want to be deaf, and that — faced with a choice over whether to go gracefully or to yank the building down around my fading ears — I was going to give it everything I’d got. 

Metaphorically speaking. On the outside, I did my best to sound as if everything was fine. But inside, I was hurling myself around the bars of my self-made cell from dawn until dusk, trying to claw my way toward the invisible adversary who I believed had somehow made me deaf in the first place. If this was a kind of bereavement and bereavement was supposed to have four stages, then forget all that stuff about submission and acceptance. I planned to stick right here on fear and denial with maybe a bit of cosmic plea-bargaining. 

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Sudden hearing loss

New Cards for Hawaii deaf/HoH use.

Texas removes Keller from the curriculum.

Deaf and blind American activist, writer and lecturer Helen Keller meets with Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States.
Sara Novic is a Deaf writer and assistant professor of creative writing at Stockton University. Her first novel, "Girl at War," was released by Random House in 2015. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. The Deaf community uses a capital "D" to differentiate between people who identify with Deaf culture and identity and the physical lack of hearing (The 'cut and paste' lobby on deaf awareness ATR doesn't support). 

The views expressed in this commentary are solely hers. On September 14 the Texas State Board of Education made a series of key votes that could transform the way students learn to understand the world around them -- and themselves. 

Texas wants to remove some content from the social studies curriculum, said board chairperson Donna Bahorich, so that teachers can delve more deeply into certain topics. Sara Novic Sara Novic Billed as an effort to "streamline" the curriculum, the move spared Baptist pastor Billy Graham, the impeachment trial of former President Clinton and Moses from the chopping block -- while Hilary Clinton, Barry Goldwater, Thomas Hobbes and Helen Keller were eliminated. 

The erasure of Helen Keller, an iconic advocate for the deaf and blind whose social activism also included women's suffrage, birth control and pacifism -- who is currently taught as part of a third-grade unit on citizenship -- is an underhanded play with a troubling message: that homogeny is normal and exposure to outside perspectives should be limited. To remove Keller from the curriculum also means to eliminate the single touchstone for deafness and disability for most mainstream students. Earlier this week, I asked a room of 35 of my own college students if they'd ever met a deaf person who wasn't me. 

Four or five raised their hands—they worked retail and had seen deaf customers. Many of these students are considering fields like social work, education, criminal justice, occupational and speech therapy and law, where knowledge of deafness and disability will be integral to their work, and still their exposure is extremely limited long past the third grade. This is the norm in a society that constantly tells us to avert our eyes from disabled people, to separate out "normal" and "other." 

National Deaf community files complaint for ridicule of deaf.

Another complaint has reached the Office of the Ombudsman against Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Esther Margaux “Mocha” Uson – this time, for her mockery of the deaf community in the country. 

Philippine Federation of the Deaf President Carolyn Dagani filed a complaint against Uson and blogger Drew Olivar for violating the Magna Carta 9277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, among many other things, for uploading the “Pepederalismo for Deaf People” video on Facebook on September 14, 2018. Dagani and the rest of the deaf community were offended by what Uson and Olivar did in the video. 

Olivar, in particular, made hand gesticulations and body movements, which from the perspective of fluent deaf signers are mere gibberish. For those who are unfamiliar with sign language, his actions can even be interpreted as sexual connotations. What’s worse, Olivar made sounds akin to what is recognized in the field of deafness as a “deaf voice,” which some members of the deaf community make while communicating. 

While Olivar was making these gesticulations, Uson watched him perform the entire time and can be heard laughing in the background. At certain points, Uson would ask Olivar what he was doing and remark that he looked like a monkey. The video was barely a minute long, but Dagani and her fellow deaf members are nonetheless outraged by Uson and Olivar’s “insult to the entire deaf community, and to all persons with disabilities.” 

“Even though Olivar was just inventing his hand movements, it was vulgar. He says he was just being childish but he has disrespected the body and gender,” the affidavit read. “He sets a very dangerous public example for hearing people anywhere in the world to copy, and make fun of deaf and hearing people signing, and for deaf children and other children with disabilities to be bullied and ridiculed even more.” 

Dagani said that Uson and Olivar should recognize what a rich visual language the Filipino sign language is, and she accused them of discrimination because of their mockery. “Uson and Olivar were laughing and making fun of us. Together, they stepped all over us and crushed us, killing our dignity,”

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

American deaf campaigners in typecast overkill?

Image result for typecasting
Marlee Matlin and Nyle Di Marco in a  funk about typecasting not being used?

The American way of inclusion seems to be making more minority output, not more inclusive output.  All male, all female, all trans, all gay, all blind, all black etc, mainstream media won't go with it, because it limits wider appeal.  Mainstream will feel marginalised themselves and switch out.

OK a hearie acting as a deafie in the film 'The Silence', hardly the first, and not the last either... can any deaf actor do the reverse?  or would accept criticism for so doing?  would soak up the ridicule and abuse from own peers? Surely typecasting is the deaf actor's worst nightmare?  OK Matlin and Di Marco made a killing acting as themselves, but there are areas at present the deaf cannot act as hearing people, acting is about pretence, not realism surely?  Else its a lecture, and deaf lack inclusion experience. Their background is based on segregation.

Every day of their lives 10m HoH in the UK and 40% of deaf play that hearing role too.  The USA has near 4 times as many.

Deaf acting in films/Stage is about role play, not being themselves.  Do the deaf cultural supporters want everyone unable to speak and signing as an image?  How do we ditch the Deaf politic?  This would not reflect the reality.  CI's probably are.  Di Marco is agay who signs and appeals to the Gay USA community, Matlin is a signer full stop who actually hasn't made any successful films since COALG which typecast her as a signing deaf woman.

If deaf people can only play deaf roles, then this is a huge disadvantage to potential film or stage employment and suggests the deaf cannot do anything else, and require more versatility.    There are only so many deaf films being made, and next to none for hearing viewing.  More ability to switch role-playing is essential. 

Potential filmmakers/theatre moguls demand deaf show the theatre and film/arts areas they are MORE than just people who cannot hear and use sign language, that they have an ability to switch roles.  It's called acting,  a deafie that signs isn't something no-one else can do.  Hearing interpreters have done it since day one, a lot of them superior signers too.  Do we demand they must be deaf too?

Actually, what deaf need is more 'hearing experience' so the audience can see the bridges of communication and interaction in real time, not someone repeatedly stating I am deaf with a  D and have a culture, that is minority 'cut and paste' awareness, not acting and belongs in awareness seminars not on the stage or film. If viewers want lectures they attend seminars.  Typecasting is killing opportunity for the deaf.  The fact a hearing person can not only sign better but is more aware of the hearing angle is a plus let's face it.  

It's a situation the deaf actor cannot equate with, the issue lies in teaching deaf what access and real inclusion is and able to cross divides, not repeatedly insist they are some stand-alone area demanding own way of things.  At present they are opposing mainstreaming, and inclusion processes, immediately disadvantaging their own, then blaming it on perceived discrimination.  

If they want those options, then stick to  Deaf cultural output and play to their own minority gallery, but it still won't raise mainstream awareness that way.  Deaf output for deaf people?  No way...

Best devices for those with hearing loss?

The 'Cut and Paste' approach to awareness.

Description_of_image_used_in_working_with_adults_who_are_deaf_deaf_woman_talking_to_friend_john_birdsall_rex_shutterstock_600More confusion/disinformation being heaped upon systems who clearly do not know what is going on at all.   Wales doesn't HAVE a deaf social service, they were unceremoniously dumped 17 years ago by the deaf, and the incoherent ramblings regarding culture and the deaf are obviously made up or systems are being force-fed lies by vested interests, a cut and paste culture.  

Again NON-signing deaf adults and children, are being lumped together as needing the same support and back up.  This does nothing for the non-signers and pours support, access, awareness, and funding toward a minority instead. 2% of ALL with hearing loss, whose needs have yet to be accurately identified.

Generalisations about ‘deaf people’ are rarely helpful because the term covers such a vast range of differences, preferences, abilities and challenges. It is common to see a range of terms used to describe people who do not hear in the same way as the majority of the population. These include ‘deaf’, ‘Deaf’, ‘hard of hearing’, ‘hearing impaired’, ‘hearing loss’, ‘sensory loss’, and ‘partially hearing’ among others.

It is important to realise that these are not synonyms but may imply genuine preferences on the part of service users about how they/we may wish to be described. They also imply in some cases significant distinctions regarding language use and personal or cultural identity. For example, Deaf with a capital ‘D’ marks out people whose first or preferred language is a signed language such as British Sign Language (BSL).

Image result for cut and pasteIt is too easy to presume that the same good practice that works with one client group will also work with people who are d/Deaf because they are the same as everyone else, it is just they do not hear in the same way. In reality, Deaf people who use BSL should be regarded primarily as a linguistic and cultural minority in the UK. The challenges in appropriately meeting their rights and needs is similar to working with other cultural groups who use a minority language. People who are deaf but who have been spoken language users all their lives, or who have lost their hearing, face different challenges in assessment and provision of services.


Both the Care Act 2014 (section 42) and Social Services and Well-being Act (Wales) 2014 (section 126) have included a duty on councils to make or commission enquiries when it has reasonable cause to suspect that an adult with care and support needs is experiencing or at risk of abuse or neglect and, as a result of those needs, are not able to protect themselves.
A research review (Hughes et al, 2012), while not conclusive, has demonstrated that disabled adults are more likely to experience abuse or neglect than those without disabilities. Although d/Deaf people specifically are not differentiated in the review, they are included in the definition of ‘disabled’.

Monday, 17 September 2018


Signing, deaf awareness and inclusion
Teaching BSL and STILL expecting the deaf won't rely on help,  not make sense.

Brimsdown Primary School is a mainstream school in Enfield, North London, with a hearing impairment resource base – HIRBiE. 

If you ask any of the staff at Brimsdown they will tell you how important inclusion is to us as a school. We firmly believe that every child deserves the right to be treated equally and to receive the same quality of education as everyone else. HIRBiE has been operating for 11 years at Brimsdown and runs special staff and family signing lessons during the day and after school, teaches British Sign Language (BSL) to all children from Nursery to Year 6, and runs a unique workshop where anyone interested in learning about signing, deaf awareness and deaf issues is welcome to join. 

BSL is not a translation of English – it has its own linguistics and a very different grammatical structure. We encourage all children and staff to be confident with developing their use of facial expression and body language as this helps with the clarity of their communication. In the past, very few staff or hearing children in the school could sign. Good communication was always valued and respected, but we wanted the HIRBiE team to show this wonderful language throughout the whole school. 

There was also a need to bridge the gap between hearing and deaf people, and so over the last three years, BSL has become an important part of our school curriculum. Deaf children should not solely rely on their Communication Support Workers (CSWs) to communicate between hearing staff and children. For example, at playtime, if a CSW was not outside then deaf children experienced communication breakdown and could become isolated. 

Due to our wonderful HIRBiE provision and inclusive approach, our deaf children are independent and more confident Staff at Brimsdown have noticed that all children with special educational needs, for example, autism, really enjoy and focus on signing. Why is this? Because it is a visual language. In May 2018, during Deaf Awareness Week, a new teacher at the school commented at the end of the week on how much the whole class benefited from this participation. This important part of the school has improved the lives of not only deaf children but all our pupils. 

In the beginning, BSL greeting signs such as ‘Good morning/afternoon’, ‘Please’ and ‘Toilet’ started to be taught during 20 minute, timetable, weekly BSL Studies lessons. These lessons are taught by highly qualified Deaf Instructors and have continued with our Deaf Instructors creating our own BSL curriculum for the children. The profile of BSL has continued to be raised through a Sign of the Week during assemblies and Key Stage 2 (Years 3-6) Singing Assemblies being fully signed and all children being taught signs to the songs they are learning.