Monday, 18 March 2019

Teaching BSL in all schools...

Triggered a social media query from a husband of a hard of hearing spouse, who asked about BSL acquisition in later life... Some responses below.

#1 "As an adult deaf person who doesn't use it as a primary means of communication, I am unsure of its benefits except to the sole users of it from day one, who tend not to mix usually. Kids adapt pretty easily and include, but all the research suggests come post 7 years of age when they move up a school, these things stop pretty rapidly as peer pressures take hold, and it isn't 'cool' to do these things etc."

#2 "I'd prefer a wider awareness program that includes a much more diverse inclusion of people with hearing loss, and the different means they use, since, the sign using area is an actual minority, it benefits the few not the most.  300,000 with hearing loss in my area would probably not see this as a benefit for them. Of course, using it in schools is one aspect, but outside? Where are they going to use it then? I can walk local streets 24/7 and never see anyone using it. The practicalities of it and the over-focus on the minority rapidly becomes an image of the majority when unchecked. E.G. no system exists in my area to support deaf or Hard of Hearing who don't sign, or even if they lip-read."

#3 Due to the cost that it will involve and school budgets at breaking point, it is very unlikely BSL will become a norm as a curriculum class... so for those who are deaf.. they will continue to be excluded from activities. 

#4 "There are various debates regarding deaf communications that get distorted via a 'right to culture' aside, of course, less access to sign means no culture so the pro and anti areas argue constantly. The drive is to encourage hearing to learn on the basis the deaf cannot reciprocate in the hearing modes.  Not much commonality of agreement sadly.  One area favours sign only approaches, another an oral approach, yet another a combination of both, or the practical approach 'which works best'.  It's all tempered with the reality mainstream hasn't gone with any to a real extent and argue signing inhibits the deaf ability to integrate or work effectively.   It all comes with a financial cost they don't want to bear."

#5 "Its clear everything hinges on their educational areas. So far the pro exclusive sign lobby is winning their point despite concerns it is enabling a deaf alternative to mainstream instead of empowering these deaf to move into the mainstream, (the only area they can really attain real equality or its simply relative.)  Its argued the Deaf approaches to integration is becoming secondary to empowering their own areas where disadvantages are far less and communication is not an issue. to that end, their socio-communicational preferences come before anything else, even education at times."

#6 "I am aware that there are different streams debating what is the right approach, my wife is hard of hearing (depending on the level of noise and I suffer from frequency loss in both ears), I would have liked to have learnt 'sign language' at a certain level. Jennie can learn lip reading, perhaps that could be something that could be encouraged more in the educational system if signing is too much of issue to teach."

#7 " The issue with sign use for others is the way it is intrinsically bound up with the Deaf social culture.  Lip-reading has its critics too, and it is a difficult mode to master because the tuition is pretty random.     Basically, it is if others like HoH/acquired deaf e.g. are prepared to adopt the social aspect with the sign, also to accept that a fair amount of reliance on others outside that area is an accepted norm for reliant signers, but a negative to HoH."

#8  "I don't know of many hard of hearing who succeeded.   The deaf have different social structures, norms, and clubs as well as charities and support, you have to buy into the whole concept or it doesn't really work well."

#9  "The ongoing theme suggests still far too many have some 'identity crisis' that inhibits wider acceptance, even inclusion with other deaf.  I suppose at the end of the day it depends on how much will there is to risk moving away from the comfort area,  HoH have the same issues, they may want the sign but not what goes with it.  In learning sign language, mastering it is only half the job for the HoH, the very difficult half is finding ways to integrate that OUTSIDE the deaf areas where HoH prefer to be."

#10 "What it tells me is they should not be teaching BSL in isolation at all and agreeing instead to a communication program instead that is more inclusive and less exclusive...."