An interesting view into how technology is helping those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing and use sign language. Soon it may be possible for the Deaf to communicate with the hearing counterparts who are “hearing impaired” – I hate the term “hearing impaired” normally as it is a negative connotation to those of us who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
But I use it in the sense of those who are hearing as being the ones who are hearing impaired because they do not know how to communicate in sign language – ASL (American Sign Language). Therefore they are the ones who are having the disability.
Could I be a bit bias? I suppose some would see it that way. While I am Hard of Hearing, I am more culturally Deaf – attitudinally Deaf. We dislike the term “deaf and dumb,” or “mute” or for that matter “hearing impaired.” Those terms are used by those who are ignorant of those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, especially in a cultural sense as well as the physical sense. It is used by those who think that we need “fixed” when we feel that we are fine and it is normal for us because we live with this and it is a normal way of living for us. We do not feel a need to be “fixed” – you can do that to your dog or cat, but let us be who we are.
Many who earn a living “fixing” those who are D/HH and it is their means to get wealth will often use the terms – they are the “professionals.” Professionals want to continue to “fix” so they can pursue their livelihood. This group consists of audiologists, doctors, speech therapists, and some sign language interpreters, etc. – we call them “audists.” This includes those who make and/or push cochlear implants (CI) – which most culturally Deaf people oppose because it is more of the same “fix them” mentality. The cochlear implant is seen the same as genetic engineering. Most people oppose genetic engineering to change an unborn child’s hair color, eye color, height, weight, and so on. This gives you a small perspective as to the reason most Deaf people do not support the implants.
It is time to let those of us who are D/HH speak for ourselves, about ourselves, our needs and our desires instead of listening to the audists and in some cases the interpreters.
We see ourselves as a culture. We have our own language – studied now in many universities as a foreign language – yes, it has its own syntax/structure, verbs, adverbs, nouns, pronouns, etc., our own political views (generally held), common experiences, and audiological unity among others. As one hearing lady said in Samoa, “If you take away our language, you take away our culture.” This is one of the reasons why we strongly defend our right to American Sign Language (ASL). Many audists and those who perceive us in a simplistic, pathological view or those who are oralist are in favor of removing ASL as a means of communication among the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
Note: those of us who are D/HH when in a group of signers, can understand everything that is being communicated. When we are with non-signers we miss much of the communication. Therefore, we much rather prefer being in with signers that non-signers.
Nevertheless, new technologies make it easier for communication to flow both ways between the hearing world and the Deaf world. This is what this new technology will enhance and profit both worlds.
Feel free to comment.