Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Been Deaf, done That.


Having recently read Ezio Savva's recent advert for his discourse on dysfunctional audism, ATR feels bound to respond with some realism on what was in fact a fudged concept at day one.  The paper is 4 years old as it is and based on a 10yr old issue first written up by the Americans, (A source of 100s of rather pointless terms, memes, outrageous blame games,  and campaigns that divide near everyone with hearing loss), as they vie for 'top dog' in the hearing loss areas, it has to be said, rather too successfully for real comfort as it is uncoordinated and random as well as non-inclusive, in that access and inclusion has been set back years as they attempt to redefine it.  

Demands for 'academic proof' of debate is a  misdirect, debating his thesis and offering up a view on it demands grass-root realism, not long-winded terms most deaf won't understand anyway, the idea is to convince HEARING they are academic too, but quoting each other is not really valid referencing, and suffers bias obviously, academic output has to provide far more in the way of facts to be reliable, such facts are statistics mostly, and the sole source appears to emanate from their own area and not elsewhere.

ATR was then asked why I didn't do a thesis/paper on it?  But I felt, who needs all that written out? the first thing deaf will say is it needs to be signed or something, failing that boring, or, another dig at deaf culture to be ignored. ATR uses text because that is his prime medium.  It probably suffers from in-depth explanation, but I feel BSL lacks such in-depth so at least they can get that from what I know,  experience suggests explanation tends to be a huge turn-off for the deaf, who can lack the concentration or patience to stay with it, not all obviously, but individuals like Ezio who make a point of academic input to promote deaf culture etc, so we assume he WILL read it.

Deaf UK:  

Ezio, I go via direct experience, and a near lifetime of being profoundly deaf, which is worth I feel, a dozen dusty long-winded tome's gathering dust on a shelf personally.  Having read the dysconcious audism thing, seems initially, a preamble based on the old Deaf-UK site, (which I was a  member of at the time). It wasn't actually disrupted by American input, but by a deaf individual who had some mental health issues, I know this because he spammed my blog day one, disrupted a local deaf club social site I set up, to bring it down,  was personally abusive, and brought down the old RNID feedback forum by pretending to be 4 different people, one of them posing as a female and another posing as an underage child.  

He was later identified via his 'Au' tag on his posts, an USA deaf blog aggregate banned him on those grounds for misrepresenting who he was and spamming other people.  They also issued warnings to other Deaf-UK posters who attempted to disrupt there too.  ATR was itself kicked out of Deaf UK for raising concern about what was happening after the UK-Deaf moderators started altering posted input, removing responses, posting comments identified as you but written by them etc to totally make it look like a poster was doing it themselves, so, an 'excuse' to ban.  Demanding they 'approve' of a post first means they can access it, change the content etc, as well, or simply not include it if it makes their input look wrong.  

UK social media deaf sites, a number still do it.  They had a deaf uk member savvy on hacking which he used to the full extent.    You can play them at their own game by removing your own comments to make them look silly but why bother?  This deaf individual set up own forum topics and then posted and abused his own input, using various alias', forcing the charity to close it down to all.  

The site couldn't be moderated effectively and genuine contributors to the open forum were getting laid into, the charity had no choice.  Sadly, this individual actually got a lot of support from BSL using deaf at the time, they felt he was 'defending' deaf culture and sign language, but the whole thing was toxic and hateful.

Deaf-UK established a first UK 'Deaf' blog aggregate in the UK, a model the USA took up, but as usual, the issues of its members, relentless attacks on others, and bullying meant the UK aggregate soon fell apart and to date, has never been re-established.  I'd love to see a UK deaf blog aggregate it is time I came in out of the enforced cold by these people, who manage bans that last years and use them to stifle free speech.  The UK desperately needs more deaf input that is neutral, more inclusive, and well moderated.

By comparison, the USA made theirs work because the moderation was far better.  Azio mentioned Harlan Lane, he contributed to that USA aggregate.  Had Harlan been British he wouldn't have been able a lot of very able and clever deaf also contributed to it, but only by being reasonable and supporting wider access and inclusion, there was no drive to maintain deaf isolation in any form.  Deaf UK promoted hate.  Some remnants of it are on social media today but viewed as rather extreme and irrelevant (And plain daft!), by the deaf community.  They don't contribute on the hearing stage at all because they would not be tolerated.

One or two Deaf UK members went to the BBC SEE HEAR site and got that feedback option to that BSL program closed down as well for 'allowing too much HoH involvement', in a 'Deaf' TV program, whilst baiting HoH to argument, to encourage closing them out. Other members abused its deaf representation, by undermining the British Deaf Association to promote a 'mutiny' against the charity, that had started to promote inclusion more, claiming a 'cultural sell-out', they even used the BDA's own resources to do it.  

The BDA retreated and today are irrelevant too and in all sort of bother losing trustees time after time,  and threatening members with legal action if they inform others what they do.  A culture of secrecy rules at that charity, but they get nil respect from me. It would be silly to write deaf activism off, they are very adept and clever people who still need to be monitored and confined to areas where we can prevent them from influencing others.  The ATR blog has covered it all for years.

The BBC ended up removing ALL deaf and disability input and dumped the deaf and its feedback to social media, this in effect prevented any disability or deaf involvement to the BBC direct.  The BBC later electing only those who did not complain to the BBC about anything.  The end result was the prime BSL channel relegated to the graveyard shifts, and a BSL 'channel' sent to online, thus ensuring BSL was out of prime time view when deaf need to be at the heart of the UK's prime TV medium.  A new set of 'Deaf media Luvvies' emerged, but few if any represent us or deaf people in reality and in it for their own egos.  Making up cultural output as they go.  It is signing hearing things mostly.

Far too many technical and academic terms that are in themselves dated, are being used to suggest a cultural academic base, that is negligible so far because they are hearing, not deaf based.   Sticking a BSL/Cultural label on something that is intrinsically hearing based is seen through pretty quickly.  Deaf-UK was a  hugely biased deaf e-mail site moderated by extremists, sadly, the new wave of 'Deaf' social media deaf sites are even worse but being even more widely accepted.  Near all are 'closed shops' and for the few, not the many. It WAS a leader at the time of deaf views and campaigning.  Sadly the negatives far outweighed the positives as they got a bit 'power crazy' and lost the plot entirely.

Deafhood-Audism:

Things like audism and Deafhood never took root in the UK they are American 're-imports and viewed divisive.  Deafhood was ridiculed in the UK initally, SEE HEAR had to ask what Deafhood and Audism actually was, nobody had any idea.  It was actually America who took up Deafhood and made it 'pay' as a concept.  

The Brits cannot sell their own output.  To do that the USA deaf adapted it to suit own perceptions linking Harlan Lane, Helen Keller, Gallaudet et al to it...  the UK had no equivalent, and the USA went on to establish 'Deafhood classes' on translating Paddy Ladd's efforts into a format/language deaf (ASL deaf), could follow, to date, it has not succeeded. They still need a 'Rosetta Stone' (Context), to make sense of something that was for hearing not them.  The USA is re-writing it to do that.  What there is, bears little or no resemblance to Mr Ladd's original tome itself which was changed beyond recognition.  Still, Paddy made mileage on the lecture circuit so not a complete loss for him.

Again, we need to understand Deafhood was written for HEARING academics, not deaf people, the format was/is inaccessible to deaf signers.  Some attempts were made via Bristol to do it, but the deaf courses there were later abandoned as was their deaf history attempts after funding dried up.  Deaf historians lost their way and struggled to ID actual deaf IN history.

Deafhood is viewed in the UK as a bit of 'emperor's' new clothes' (Context), in basis.  I just feel deaf latched on as best they could to the idea, to add kudos to the deaf culture which had no text academic basis, only a poor BSL dictionary that was challenged BY deaf people etc.  The terminology used baffled academics even more than it did the deaf.   Deaf were inventing their own, but using established translation, shot themselves in the foot. ATR at one point offered plain English translations at the time to posts deaf simply did not understand.

Sign Language and culture:

To be frank the deaf no longer 'own' sign language because when it became a 'commercial' proposition hearing developed its own approaches and structured course work, and raised the bar to get more skills and recognised qualifications into sign use, and to comply with educational qualifications and rules, indeed, the deaf demanded it.  

I can still recall when the antiquated deaf support network ran by social services were closed down, when they found only 35% of all deaf social work support, had any sign language qualifications of any kind. No doubt part source of your claim and attacks on other deaf for adapting to the 'hearing line'. Hearing people aren't our enemies and I am not in the business of attacking them.  We need to work together for inclusion to happen. I am totally against Deaf Versus deaf output, deaf versus disability, or deaf versus hearing.  It is anti-access, anti-inclusion, it is hate messaging, bias, bullying, and divisive.  No one 'owns' deafness or determines its effects or support either.

The British Deaf Association actually decided to offer a BSL alternative because they were angry at the way sign was being taught and started 'True BSL' lessons by deaf people.  It never gained any traction.  The last thing signing deaf needed were two different sign approaches.

Culture and Legal Enablement:

Cultural bases have moved away from deaf clubs and schools to online, this was happening years before covid, what clubs exist are usually in populated cities where more deaf live, they tend to determine what 'Deaf' want or don't, and where campaigns start, but, devolution has undermined that.   To counter devolution and the 'watering down' of less effective approaches to inclusion,  BSL acts were lobbied for area by area, as ATR blogged over the last 9 months, the UK is currently split, as England and Wales have yet to go with such an act and only Scotland and N. Ireland have.  It is very early days.    

'Community' is relative and debatable.   As you are London-based you will know already multiculturalism is a joke, and a myth at best, and BAME (Context), areas deaf or hearing do own thing regardless, and that divide is obvious in the deaf community as well, they have own clubs apart from others.

So far, both BSL Acts in the UK are just 'talking shops' there has been no identifiable access advance as such, particularly in vital areas the deaf activist wants the act to be effective in, notably, Education.  It HAS raised the Deaf profile but not deaf or hearing loss awareness, the BSL Act would have had a point if systems said they cannot just promote in a singular fashion, its own access, but have to include all with hearing loss equally.   

I am surprised if they allowed a BSL alternative to what would be against the 4 other equality acts.  This is another fudge deaf and Deaf areas and charities, as support groups have already polarised, another reason the majority in the UK in Wales and England have expressed reservations on a BSL Act there.  One major drawback is the reluctance for Hard of Hearing majority (10m), to take any interest it seems only they have understood the BSL Act excludes them, which raises concern regional government has bought into that.

This of course makes it far easier for BSL deaf to be NON-inclusive and go it alone. The Act is not doing what it was intended for, i.e. to change deaf education from its current integrational approaches (And I accept, poor support), to some sort of cultural/immersive signed approach for the deaf child.  Unfortunately, this suggests a 'tiered approach and have, or have nots for deaf students, bordering on an elitist approach to deaf education.   The BSL Act cannot override parental choice currently. One area in the UK has no deaf schools to attend, Wales.

PHU's are vogue (Partial Hearing Units), which many feel is neither one thing nor the other, or some sort of mini deaf school and outpost in mainstream, with 'token' education for the deaf who are 'wheeled out' now and then with hearing peers in the same school, but who they are mostly apart from, 'inclusion for show'.  The reality is that there are fewer deaf and they are spread more widely so systems can't justify a stand-alone school, and they are mindful of the abysmal academic record and abuses, that caused many to close for good.  A number reported recently ravaged by accusations of sex abuses etc... the writing is on the wall (Context),  for such areas.  At least mainstreaming means that is less likely to be allowed to happen, albeit faith schools' (Context), are still an issue.

It is debatable if any back 'to the future' (Context), approach but with culture at its base, is going to happen.  Some sort of inclusion appears to be going on, and the price is the deaf cultural base, this is not only inevitable but the aim, of inclusive projects.  We know, inclusion is still an 'academic' issue and relative to some deaf anyway.  If they can establish a more solid base for a stand-alone system using BSL/culture, it means integration will not happen by default, which goes against that approach.  We all want deaf included and alongside everyone else, not spectators to the main event.  As of now, it exists in parallel, not inclusive terms.  So  'preferred isolation' is essential to cultural success while it struggles to communicate.

Addressing communication options is a battlefield obviously as sign language is still not seen as the means to inclusion, academic advance,  or independence and a job-seeking advantage, the image of interpreters viewed highly negative.  

We don't all need to 'prove' some academic point, we can just use our own eyes and experience.  For every statistic there is a counter statistic, for every claim another claim, we adopt a mean, not assume what works or labels us is right for others that isn't the case if it ever was.

We no longer are going to stand for deaf having to choose 'one side or the other' to determine livelihood and work options, determined by db, loss degree, or communication, mode, or even which school you went to, these are archaic and discriminatory maxims from the 19thc,  the year is 2021 not,1888.  Choice is paramount, as is accepting we have to all adapt, nothing stands still, young deaf will discard the old ways, this is always the case.

Bilingualism is essential, not monolingualism.  The current claims of deaf bilingualism do not apply to hearing deaf interactions, or, their access to English in part. Which for reasons best-known to extremes and no-one else, who feel having access to that language as a means to empowering themselves is another discrimination of some kind and an 'attack' on their way of life, where BSL isn't doing the job for them on its own, we do write and read English and Ezio, you did your paper with it, so it is confusion as to why opposition emerges from your work.  Papers are intended primarily for information and awareness, I feel yours is all rather one-sided and suffers lack of wider awareness.

We know that bias, leads to discrimination and bias against other deaf, and if we draw lines in the sand (Context),  and demand they sign this or speak that or else... it doesn't work, it brought down Deaf-UK because they had no answer to it.  Deaf must learn the lessons. The current pursuit of culture and academics/language improvement is suffering via technological advances and medical advances etc, 40% of deaf children with a CI e.g.  It's progress, deaf are being offered more choices, as a result, must we say they can't? or they 'betray' the 'Deaf'?  We saw Deaf attacking parents, calling them child abusers, hardly the best way to make our point is it?  In fact, suggested to parents in particular, their deaf child is best out of it.

Cultural Proof:

The BSL dictionary is all deaf have as an academic 'root' really it contains little technical or advanced educational or scientific signs.  There are few if any we know are visual 'books', or descriptions that identify its 'grammar' effectively so it is stand alone. The very few deaf scientists and professionals having to invent their own so actual lessons can start.  It limits how much deaf can be taught to enable them to 'compete' with hearing and English using peers.   

The language of English is based on over a 1,000 years development, BSL less than 60.  It is evolving but so is access to English for the deaf.  Of course, sign was used in the past but not really as an academic thing more a manual means to make themselves understood as best as possible.  That source is about 200 years but unstructured and of course no dictionary then.  Deaf owe hearing people the kudos for the development of what is BSL today.  

Attempts are always being made to move the goalposts so BSL and its grammar stand alone as a teaching aid, but that has not gained real support because the mainstream simply does not work that way, and parents voice opposition, the claim subsequently,  is that deaf would be primed to fail, it is why deaf schools suffered mass closures, deaf were stuck in a rut unable to go anywhere parents wanted out, the state did.  Deaf adults exist today in their own cultural bubble.   It is not inclusion. 

There is a 'chicken and Egg' approach, to maximise sign use you need dedicated schools, teachers, professionals etc, none are currently being trained, because there is no agreement on a sign based education especially at school onset. Such sign access and deaf inclusion also demand huge personal and state investment to learn sign too, that isn't happening.   Deaf are predominantly demanding support, not inclusion.

It is ironic so many UK charities and deaf campaigners are demanding funding and awareness aimed at them being accepted and included, but no visible sign apparent the deaf want integration, and prefer their own 'kind'.

The 'Deaf' option requires isolation and a degree of dependency as a norm, albeit a comfortable one written up and hyped as a right, the image says it all,  that image defeats a 1,000 academic papers.... I just do not feel that is the right way to do things.

Am I an Audist? discuss.

ATR extends blog space for any response Enzio cares to make without edit.