Monday, 1 April 2019

A Bill for all, or for the few?

"I love you" in American Sign Language.
A bill of inclusion for all with access needs and with hearing loss, that is fronted by an ASL sign and discusses signed access not inclusive access for all.  Another sad example of how access and inclusion is being misused via news items and coverage.  Do not severe deaf and Hard of hearing suffer language deprivations too?  

Students who are deaf or hard of hearing often struggle to develop language, so state lawmakers are considering a bill that would require districts to collect and share data on their language abilities. 

It's said that language is the foundation of all other learning, but students who are deaf or hard of hearing often fall behind their peers, and then learning other things takes longer. The reasons why are complex and varied, but lawmakers seem poised to take a step forward to fix it. Speaking to the General Assembly's Education Committee through an American Sign Language interpreter, June Freeman said many students end up trying to learn sign language after years of failing in public schools, struggling to talk.

"Language deprivation is still happening, and it continues even today," Freeman said. The bill would require districts to develop a language and communication plan for any child identified with a hearing disability. This plan would include information on the child's mode of communication -- speaking or signing, the amount of social time with peers, a list of educational options and the relevant teacher qualifications. There would also be a framework set up to help districts create an intervention program if a student falls behind with language. Additionally, districts would be required to develop emergency plans for deaf and hard of hearing students, something parent Susan Yankee said is badly needed. "Deafness is an invisible disability," 

Yankee said. "And administrators and teachers often forget that students with hearing loss have inadequate access to basic safety measures. How can I send my son to school every day, knowing that he might not hear an emergency announcement, or an officer telling him to stand down?" She suggested that schools and emergency personnel learn some basic signs to use in those situations. The bill has yet to be voted on by the Education Committee.

New Zealand's Deaf MP.

Young, Deaf, and addicted?

You have to marvel at some surveys don't you! If you are under 50 and reluctant to wear a hearing aids odds are, you become a drug addict?  If over 50 then prone to dementia etc, are there ANY positives to hearing loss... erm.. NOPE!

Can deaf people read lips?

Mostly no they can't, various and random surveys/tests found in many cases hearing did better.  The question doesn't really address the hostility some deaf feel about linking lip-reading to speech so anti-sign, anti-culture at the base of it.  The primary issue (In the UK anyway), is the classes are not appropriate, or structured, and approaches do not actually include deaf people!

To master any sort of lip-reading, you have to start very early on, and most who attend classes go there as a last resort not a first option, get discouraged, and do not go back, some only lasting a few weeks at most and then giving up.  The reality that effective progress relies ON having useful hearing rather defeats the point of teaching those already deaf.  As does the pupil make up deters young people.

The UK system is 6 monthly at most in nature, aimed at those with residual hearing and with a duration of about 2hrs a week, hardly any tuition that includes on the street practice where it is needed.  It's viewed as 'oralism/audism' by some deaf who oppose it being used in schools. 

Classes also polarise by in most cases, so that fellow students struggling with hearing will struggle with those with hearing aids who in reality are probably LISTENING more than they are lip-reading.  It is debatable a sole teacher can teach one person effective lip-reading let alone a class of 12 or more.  The same token is mooted via BSL being taught via captioning means, nobody looks at the sign much.  It is why BSL users often produce signed output with no captions which they claim is real awareness but in reality, just means those who don't understand sign will just switch off.

There is little doubt text in its various forms and accessible formats has demoted BSL to a major extent as necessary. Media is text driven deaf-wise,  not sign-driven.  Lip-reading you could not hone as any skill via media again because subtitling removes the effort needed to try and 99% of media output is not geared to lip-reading.  On the street, the 'Face me and speak clearly..' advice is pointless and unviable.  Access to lip-speakers for support is almost impossible.  Unless a major change of approach is made with regards to teaching those losing hearing more viable access formats, lip-reading is not going to work.

Demands for an inclusive 'communication' class approach would be the sole way to enhance access for most, and one on one intensive, but the polarised approaches to communication, the HoH reluctance to adopt sign, and the Deaf reluctance to adopt lip-reading etc, defeat any attempt to try it.