Monday, 2 December 2019

Is the deaf community worth saving?

Walkathon for the deaf ID.

Accessibility for the Deaf

Image result for toward inclusion
When I was thirteen, I failed my hearing test. I had faced problems with my ears before—recurrent ear infections led to a childhood ear surgery, as well as some reduced hearing ability. But this time, something was different. Unbeknownst to me, what had started as a small hole in my right eardrum had become an expanding perforation that, by the time it was caught, was the size of my eardrum itself. It would end up taking two surgeries and about a year to reconstruct my eardrum, leaving me nearly half deaf in the meantime. The reconstruction was successful (though I am still mildly hard of hearing), but this experience transformed the way I view the world. 

Even at the peak of my half-deafness, I did not miss my hearing. What I did miss, however, was being a full participant in our hearing-centric society. I pretended to laugh at jokes I couldn’t hear in the cafeteria, missed out on educational videos without captions, and mourned the loss of whispered middle-school gossip in the library. When taken together, these small, everyday inconveniences caused me great frustration and isolation. Accessibility is not always a consideration or priority for people to whom everything is accessible, and many of my friends and teachers, though well-meaning, didn’t always understand how to accommodate me and ensure I was included. 

Being deaf or hard of hearing is not a bad thing—it’s just different. Deaf people live their lives just like hearing people do, from driving cars to enjoying music. There is also a flourishing Deaf community and culture with which many Deaf individuals strongly identify. This is why many Deaf people prefer more positive terms like “Deaf gain” and “differently abled” to describe themselves, instead of negative ones like “hearing loss.” As I learned the hard way, though, this doesn’t mean the Deaf don’t face accessibility challenges.

The problems I’ve faced as a hard-of-hearing student are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to accessibility issues for the Deaf. Because I can use and understand oral English, I can interact easily with hearing people. Though there are some strategies the Deaf can learn to interact with oral language users, such as lip reading, speech therapy, and cued speech, these are not languages in and of themselves, and they are not always effective—an experienced lip reader, for example, may still only catch 40% of what is being said, and cued speech is not widely known and used. It’s because of this that Sign Language is one of the best options for the Deaf. 

In America, the Deaf use American Sign Language, or ASL. Just like spoken languages, there are many different sign languages, and each one has its own grammatical structure, vocabulary, and regional dialects. Everyone deserves language, whether they are hearing or not, and Sign Languages allow the Deaf to fully communicate in ways spoken language often cannot. 


ATR:  The issue is seeing yourself as someone apart from the mainstream, if you start with that premise there is nowhere else to go.    Living in an alternate world while demanding to be included in the main event doesn't compute, the social and actual has to be real. The whole 'tone' of the article is well-meaning enough but the writer's view as being 'different' to others and communicating differently isn't addressing the issue of the isolation, which requires a lot more effort from deaf and hearing to work, all we can read is regret, anger, rights, empowerment, and a whole host of other reasons why deaf cannot progress, (Or even should not adopt any mainstream 'hearing' approach), the politics of blame has replaced the desire to include or, to meet need.  

It's obvious a visual language system is going to produce issues where the majority language used is not.  If we are talking language inclusion by majority, Hindi and Urdu have a more substantial number and a case for it in the UK, even Polish does.  

As it stands, the deaf sign user has more rights than deaf and Hard of hearing currently, have a national support structure, free and paid for access  for two dedicated sign language TV programs, access others (including the disabled), do not have, as well as 100s of BSL Interpreters. Can the UK accommodate every language demand?   The law says it must TRY, but we are faced with multiple demands from the Deaf, the deaf, and others with hearing loss, and each wants THEIR own system, and no area works with the other, but apart, there is no united approach to inclusion.

Deaf need to address their claims of bilingualism because if they were truly bilingual, access would not be a problem.  Being able to read and write (Or sign), effectively, is hindered by their visual approaches to communication and demands to use visual means only, which is going to ENSURE deaf never gain real inclusion because a 'middle' man/woman will always be necessary to facilitate that.  What others can see and the deaf cannot, is the damning image of disability and reliance on others.

The very first 'demand' deaf state, is for help to follow. that is the primary 'Visual' mainstream can see with own eyes.  Trying to re-educate hearing to not believe what they see, is proving difficult as is there less than clearly stated direction.