Archive for the 'Open Chat Night' Category

Mar 08 2016

We Aren’t Outliers

Blog topic written by Hannah Mann, A Croaking Dalek With Laryngitis

“You had strong family support.”

“You went to a good school.”

“You got lots of one-on-one time, didn’t you?”

“You were exposed to other cuers.”

Sometimes, when I tell others about what Cued Speech had done for me growing up, someone will mention the above, as if those factors somehow negate or diminish Cued Speech’s efficacy. It’s like they’re implying that Cued Speech itself didn’t work, that the other factors had to compensate, or that I was the exception that proved the rule.

It’s true that family and educational support are immensely important, and often if not usually a deciding factor in a child’s success. Home and school are where the child spends most of his time. However, communication access and literacy depend highly on what the people in those environments are equipped to provide.

In a residential school, or a mainstreamed program with a strong Deaf presence, everyone is either d/hh, more visual-oriented, or have (ideally!) received training and support to meet language requirements. Staff are able to act as appropriate language models, so that ensures communication access and, to some degree, academic success.

Outside of residential schools, though, getting that access to appropriate language models can be much more challenging– not to mention the complexities of using a manual language to impart literacy in a completely separate aural language. That’s if you have access to ASL; more often, what I’ve seen is a mixture of auditory-verbal therapy and manually-coded sign systems, and the results can vary just as much from very, very good to very, very bad. In fact, many cueing parents took up Cued Speech precisely because their local programs or residential schools were not a viable option for one reason or another.

In evaluating different approaches in d/hh education, we need to look at that approach’s overall results, not just specific examples. We can’t cherry-pick outliers to prove our point. That’s probably why those statements at the beginning somewhat annoy me, because in my experience, success at attaining language and literacy through Cued Speech is thenorm, not the exception.

In my experience, signing d/hh people who can write or read well tend to be in the minority. On the flip side, cueing d/hh people who have those odd grammatical or spelling flukes– not typos, but more like what you might see from ESL speakers– are the exception; the rest read, write, and talk like native hearing speakers (with varying degrees of a “deaf” voice). I’ve had more than one person tell me that they wouldn’t know I was deaf just by reading my posts.

The studies on Cued Speech that I’ve read bear this out– in fact, I haven’t yet found any studies with negative results on Cued Speech’s use. (I do recall one with “meh” results in a group of hard-of-hearing students, but that’s about it.)

I suspect that you won’t see such consistent results among deaf signers mainly due to these reasons:

  1. The learning curve involved in picking up any manually-coded or signed system, which demands greater commitment and effort from parents and teachers over the long term, so you’re much more likely to see a wider variation in usage and proficiency.
  2. The linguistic and conceptual gap between sign language and spoken language (or even just two different languages). You can patch that gap somewhat, but it’ll never replace incidental learning through full linguistic immersion (and not necessarily just reading and writing).

This isn’t to make Cued Speech out to be a magic bullet that bestows language and literacy the instant someone starts using it for their kid. What it does do is enable one to visually “recode” a language she already knows, without the delay of learning and translating through a second language. In this way, the d/hh kid is put on the same playing field as a hearing child for literacy and language acquisition, so d/hh cuers are much more likely to pick up spoken/written language at the same pace as their hearing counterparts.

Join us on Wednesday at this week’s Open Chat Night!

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Feb 23 2016

Sara Lundquist’s Top Ten List for Hearing Loss

Blog topic written by Sara Lundquist

It is a tad late for the start of a list for the first of the year but I think we can do this exercise at any point of the year. It makes us put things in perspective, to marvel at the changes, the normality of things people would think are not normal life. I decided to look at this past years and would make a list of 10 things I have noticed and learned. I was able to get a hold of my audiogram from 1996 when I was 19 years old. I was in college and attending the University of Wisconsin and studying Communicative Disorders. I had a conductive loss at a 30-35db loss. Which in all reality I could have been wearing hearing aids back then. I am now 38 and I have a mixed loss that ranges from a 60-85db loss. That is a big difference. Will it change from this point, I don’t know but if it does I know there will be frustrations but I feel I will be better equipped to handle it.

  1. Always carry hearing aid batteries with you. I learned the hard way this last week. I decided to leave my bag out in the car after lunch and I was subbing in science. Well both hearing aid batteries went dead. I had about 3 hours of the day left to go with no break to run to the car. Thank God we were watching a movie very little talking and listening had to take place. It made me realize I need to learn to speech read more than ever which will be my number 2.
  2. I hear with my eyes as much as my ears. I need a big boost in speech reading. I can do a word here or there but I need a lot more practice. I lack in this area greatly. Although I have done a few experiments on my own while listening to someone I really do concentrate on their face. I will close my eyes at times and my comprehension really goes down. I need that visual; I need to see it as much as hear it.
  3. Hearing aids are not miracle aids. Yes I really rely highly on my hearing aids. I recently told a friend who is deaf, I can’t sign proficiently, I can’t read lips for a full conversation. I rely on the hearing I have. I have become great friends with the phonak and starkey hearing aids I own. I don’t have perfect hearing with my hearing aids but they make up for a lot of lost ground.
  4. Ear molds are better than domes. This is an individual thing but wow a big difference for me. I was given domes then got moved to closed power domes in my hearing aids. They annoyed me and I could hear better with my finger in my ear with them. When I bought this up I was told it just took time to get used to. I then went to another audiologist and they told me my hearing loss was to great for the domes and that is why I was having the problem. I was told I needed the ear molds and I sure can tell a difference. What I learned from this, you know what you need. If it doesn’t work for you and you have a finger in your ear, it isn’t working. I will never use domes again. You can change doctors nothing is set in stone.
  5. You are not alone. Family and friends supported me and listened to me but I needed to find someone who understood me. I have found friends online. They understand hearing loss. They can laugh with you and help through the tough times. I urge anyone who is going through a trial to seek out a group that understands. As a hard of hearing friend says you need your tribe. You need the people who walk in the same shoes as you do. Seek them out!
  6. Car radios suck. Ok so I am blunt and to the point. Maybe this again is just me. I try explaining to my husband I can hear the music and the beat but I very seldom can make out the words. I can hear parts of words but it kind of sounds like a broken foreign language. I will keep the radio on I like music but the words nah can’t do it. But I have never been able to really listen to the music and get all the words so maybe this isn’t such a new thing.
  7. I have become to love the assistive listening devices I have. I was very stubborn at first I didn’t want to try these. I felt that I was not profoundly deaf or hard of hearing so I didn’t need these. I was wrong. I use the streamer on my TV a lot. It blocks out everything but the show or movie we are watching. It makes a big difference. I still use the captions but I seem to be more engaged in a movie if I use it. Otherwise I seem to lose focus and I am off doing something else. When we are watching a family movie I need to be involved and enjoy the time.
  8. Keep my family in the loop. My children know when I can hear them and when I can’t. If I say I can’t hear you they are really good at waiting till we are somewhere else and then ask me. My kids understand my hearing aids. My husband will hook up and ask if I want the streamer on the TV or for the music we are listening to. They support me and that makes such a big difference.
  9. Sign language- I know some but I would like to learn more. When we are in a situation and I can’t hear my kids I would love to be able to use more sign. Today in church I used sign to my son and we understood each other. I hope another class will be offered soon in my area.
  10. Pimping and blinging my hearing aids have become an obsession. Heck if I can go and see all these fun glasses at the eye doctor why do hearing aids have to be beige or dark brown in my case. I can decorate them and maybe no one will see them but I know they are there and sassy.

So here is my list of 10 things I have learned this past year. I wonder what my list will look like in another year.

Join us on Wednesday at this week’s Open Chat Night!

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Feb 16 2016

How to Write about the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Blog topic written by Hannah Mann, A Croaking Dalek With Laryngitis

For three years I worked at www.DeafandHoH.com as an editor and writer (Hi Senthil!). Naturally, this entailed a lot of reading about the d/hh community– most of it from hearing writers who had no experience whatsoever with that world. Not an issue per se, but I often ended up having to correct a few assumptions.

There is a right way and a wrong way to write about people with hearing loss. The finer details vary by person– and the best way to find out is to ask– but essentially, the single most important bit to remember is this:

Focus on the person, not the hearing loss.

As a general rule, the only time a person’s hearing loss really needs to be mentioned is in the introductory paragraph, or when it’s directly pertinent—like communicating with hearing peers, or getting accommodations. And, for the most part, hearing loss doesn’t really affect anyone’s ability to do anything except hear, and in some cases communicate, if we’re talking a primarily verbal environment. Take this, for example:

“Despite his hearing loss, he is an accomplished artist.”

OK, look, I’m deaf. I draw and paint. And my first reaction is, he’s deaf, not blind. (Even then, I’m pretty sure there are fantastic blind artists out there who have figured out how to make it work.)

I see this a lot with sports, by the way. You could have this 300-lb. behemoth who can strategically weave through a mob of linebackers with ballerina-level grace and finesse, and some journalist out there would still natter on about the obstacles he faced– of course, referring to his hearing loss.

To be fair, hearing loss is not exactly a picnic, because we do live in a predominantly hearing and auditory world. We will need to find workarounds, and that’s worth mentioning. But that’s just it: they are workarounds, not this insurmountable Wall to be conquered every time we have to do anything. Hell, sometimes it’s even an advantage: I draw and paint because I am an incredibly visual person, and my deafness had a lot to do with that.

For most deaf and hard of hearing people, it is just part of learning to adapt, and many of us aren’t comfortable with being put on a pedestal for living out their daily life, or serving as a stand-in to “inspire” someone. Stella Young has an excellent TED talk on the objectification of inspiration, which is worth a watch here:

Incidentally, this can be a difficult line to walk, even for me. When in doubt, ask someone who’s d/hh. Preferably, ask several. A good place to start, though, is to avoid the following terms, and any like them: Barrier, Obstacle, Challenge, Inspiration, Overcome, and Disability

So. That’s the big one to watch out for. Couple other writing no-no’s I’d include are:

Overt/excessive references to sound. Especially puns.
“Sound and Fury,” “Hearing with Her Eyes,” and “World of Silence” are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Truthfully, I tend to see these as low-hanging fruit at best, and lazy writing at worst.

…Maybe just leave them out altogether.
The thing is, we’re deaf. For most of us, sound is just not a huge part of our daily lives. I mean, I don’t even notice the absence of sound most times. I don’t have the feeling that it “should” be there (except when I’m wearing my implant, then I’ll start making random tapping noises just to make sure the battery’s working). Even a lot of late-deafened adults find that they just don’t miss it all that much.

Don’t use the term hearing impaired.
This is more of a gentle heads-up than anything else since it is not common knowledge. Although I don’t personally care about “hearing impaired,” a lot of people find it distasteful and even deeply offensive because to them, it implies “brokenness,” or that the person needs to be “fixed.” Unless the person you’re writing about uses that terminology or is OK with it, best to leave that term out of your journalistic vocabulary altogether. “Deaf and hard of hearing,” although admittedly a mouthful, is usually a better substitute.

This feels like a woefully short primer, but the crux of it is, we’re people. Hearing loss/deafness is just one part of our lives. Write about us as people, and you probably won’t veer too far off course. Honestly, that holds true for any group no matter the demographic.

P.S. I know I have been a very bad non-posting Croaking Dalek due to Life, as I’d feared. I’ll certainly be doing my best to return to a regular schedule with things settling down a bit now.

Join us on Wednesday at this week’s Open Chat Night!

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Feb 09 2016

Strength, Inspiration and our Inner Champion – by LeAnn Caseria

Blog topic written by LeAnn Caseria

Hearing loss came upon me suddenly, there was no time to gradually get used to it. Not feeling the greatest one evening, my husband and I were watching a movie and “Bam!” ….I couldn’t hear out of my left ear, there was this non-stop buzzing going on and my right ear wasn’t doing so well either . Instantly my life was harder, at work it seemed impossible to understand voices, meetings were confusing and then I’d get HOME. Home, my refuge from the world, the place where I was loved and needed but suddenly everyone was mumbling and I couldn’t hear the TV. Daily headaches and vertigo did not help….I was a mess.

When bad things happen, how do you adapt? Where do you get your hope and strength? Do you have a huge untapped inner core of strength that you tap into? And when that’s running low, how do you fill it back up? Do you have a family to rally around you and cheer you on? Or, do you have family that is used to you taking care of them and being their cheerleader? How do you cope when so many need you? Do you smile at your spouse as you go out the door saying “Don’t worry….I’ll be fine” when inside you’re thinking “holy crap, how am I going to get through today?”

If life has taught me anything, its’ that we all need an “inner champion”. That’s that place that you draw your strength from on those hard days. When you’ve been up all night with a toddler who has the stomach flu and you have that important presentation to give at work. You know “those” days when life just is really, really hard and we all know that hearing loss is HARD.

I needed all the strength I could muster to deal with my sudden hearing loss. Life was so different. Would it have been easier if it hadn’t been so sudden? I have no idea, but I was looking for inspiration. In addition to the doctors who were treating me, I saw a counselor who encouraged me to take care of “me” while I was dealing with this. He knew that I loved to read and recommended true stories of people who had overcome challenges.

Josh Sundquist became one of my favorite inspirational people. Since he’d lost his leg to cancer when he was 10 years old, he’d become a Paralympic skier and speaker who shares how you can find hope in whatever hardships you face. Once he shared how he wished that he could go back in time and talk to that scared young boy that he used to be.

Josh said, “I feel bad because he doesn’t know how much good is ahead of him. He doesn’t realize that he’s going to survive the cancer and he’s going to grow up and become everything he dreamed and more. I wish he could know that.” Then he added, “If you’re dealing with some hard situation, I feel bad for you. But I wonder if a future version of yourself would wish you knew right now that things are going to get better.”

I don’t know about you, but I doubt that I’ll become famous for anything…and most days I don’t feel too inspirational. But when I look back to six years ago when I lost my hearing, I see some really good things that have happened. I’m still working and have found some physical therapy that has helped my balance issues. In my job as a special education teaching assistant I get to be with kids who inspire me every day. Yes, it’s hard to understand what they say but I ask them for help and they try. I’ve also become better at asking for help when I need it. And there are so many great people that I’ve met through the local hearing loss association, people that face far tougher daily challenges than I. Their courage and the hard work they put into communication….that inspires me every day.

Yes, things are harder and different with hearing loss. I’ve had to adapt and change. On my worst days I may drink too much coffee, whine and drag myself whimpering through the day…but on those days when my inner champion is strong, I attack that day with a smile and laugh instead of cringe when I have to ask a co-worker to repeat herself again and again. Deciding to be the best “me” I can be….and being thankful every day.

Join us on Wednesday at this week’s Open Chat Night!

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Jan 24 2016

Game Night – by Sara Lundquist

Published by under Open Chat Night

Blog topic written by Sara Lundquist

Why is it so easy to stand up for a cause and take a stand? While we were in school we made posters, joined groups etc… But, why is it so hard to take a stand and stand up and advocate for yourself? Maybe this isn’t a problem for you, but it is for me. Why is it so hard to ask for accommodations or make a simple request? The reality is the majority of people don’t care if you wear hearing aids or have to ask people to repeat something. To an insecure mind, though, asking for these things can be like a large neon sign blinking over your head.

Around Christmas my family was invited to a young married couple’s home for a game night. I had never really talked to this couple before. I had interacted with the wife a couple times and had never talked to the husband. I am talking just a “Hi” here or there so never had said, “I am hard of hearing.” My daughter and I went to the game night and there were 4 families there. I kept thinking, “I should mention something before we played the games. I really should say that I need to be facing people, and not everyone can talk at once.” Did I do that, NO. There were a couple people there that did know of my hearing loss, but it wasn’t their job to inform others. That responsibility falls on me and only me.

The first game was pure torture. It was a game of song lyrics. Are you kidding me, song lyrics! I have always enjoyed music but very seldom know what they are talking about in the song unless I can read the lyrics. We split in two teams and were given a word. The teams yelled out song lyrics that contained the word and the teams went back and forth. I had a hard time keeping track of who yelled what and exactly what they yelled. I felt I had exactly zero worth to this team. I kinda kicked myself— I needed to participate so the next time when they announced the word we were to use, I took the card to read it since I didn’t understand them when they said it. WOW I was yelled at and told I couldn’t look at the card since it was announced for everyone. Then, to make matters worse, I finally thought of a song, so I announced it. A teammate started yelling at me that it was the other team’s turn, so I accidentally had given them a point. At this point I wanted to die. I wanted to fall into the couch—I could feel my cheeks burning red. I was embarrassed and I could tell my teammates were frustrated with me, and I just wanted to go home. I felt like this hurt little schoolgirl that wanted to run home so my mother could kiss and hug the hurt away. There were a few more times I screwed up, but thank God the game finally ended; my team lost. I really wanted to leave, but I stuck it out. I went to the kitchen to get something to eat. The next thing I knew I was getting a hug from a friend who asked if that game was really hard for me. Then another friend came to ask if I was ok. This was another kick, just advocate for yourself. How hard can this be, say something!!!

The next game was a card game with a total of 4 people. What a huge difference—it was fun and I so enjoyed myself. I did make a casual mention that I can’t hear well. The night was fun. I would go back and do it again. What would I do different? I would stand up for myself. It is the New Year and we all make resolutions, although most get broken. This year I vow to realize that I am important. I will stand up for myself and advocate for myself. How hard would it have been for me to say that I have hearing loss and hearing speech can be hard when there is more than one person talking at a time. I hope there will be a game night in the future. I will be proactive, and I will have fun because I have worth.

I can advocate for a cause I can get behind, but I have to get into a mindset that I am also an important cause and I matter also. We all matter, we deserve the same access and the same information. Let’s make it our New Year’s Resolution to recognize that we have worth and we are all worthy. Now I just have to get my game skills in tip top shape for next time.

Join us on Wednesday at this week’s Open Chat Night!

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Jan 19 2016

Signing Impaired: the Double Standard

Published by under Open Chat Night

Blog topic written by Hannah Mann, A Croaking Dalek With Laryngitis

I’ve posted about the use of “hearing impaired” and how it doesn’t bother me, though I do take care not to use it because many of my d/hh friends find it offensive.  In the Deaf community, though, I’ve occasionally come across attempts to turn the tables by using the term “signing impaired” to refer to hearing people.

Perhaps ironically, even though “hearing impaired” doesn’t bother me, “signing impaired” has never felt right to me.  Sometimes it’s used in the d/hh community as a joke, sometimes as a pejorative.  Either way, it’s never made much sense to me.  Here’s why:

  1. It comes off as hypocritical. You don’t like it when people use the term hearing impaired, so in turn, you use “signing impaired” to… I don’t know, teach them a lesson?  What lesson, exactly?
  2. The way most people use the term “hearing impaired,” they’re just referring to your level of hearing. Despite its overt focus on hearing, it’s not intended to diminish you as a person. “Signing impaired,” though, definitely carries an insulting connotation– in my experience, it is usually intended as such.  See #1 for my confusion on what it’s supposed to accomplish, exactly.
  3. It doesn’t mean anything. Ears are designed to hear. That’s what they’re for.  If they don’t hear, then they are nothing more than funny-looking flaps of skin on your head.  That’s what “hearing impaired” refers to. Hands… well, your hands work fine whether you use sign language or not.  “Signing impaired” is more about language proficiency, not physical ability; and that makes about as much sense as calling a Chinese native “English impaired.”

In the grand scheme of things, it’s pretty minor. On the other hand, words have power, and the little things add up into big things.  If we, as a community, want courtesy and respect from others, we need to model it in turn.

Join us on Wednesday at this week’s Open Chat Night!

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Jan 12 2016

Sometimes – by Marcia Shury

Published by under Open Chat Night

Blog topic written by Marcia Shury, author of Silent Hearer

New Year! “New start” and “new you,” these are words we often hear around this time of the year as we leave an old year behind and welcome the new.  Resolutions are made, some are kept, some are forgotten as soon as they are made, but sometimes it is worth the while to sit still and ponder what was, what is to come and what will be, and resolve in the New Year to do and be better.

One of those resolutions is learning to keep your mouth shut when all you want to do is confront someone who looks you in the face and lie to you—it is one of the hardest thing to do.  Deep inside you already know what their reaction will be – denial – and another new lie will replace the old one.

You tell yourself that the best thing to do would be to stay silent and take a mental note of the situation and circumstances and store it away for future use.  Being hard of hearing as it is already has its challenges, so why add more to it?  You can’t really speak to anyone about what you are going through because many do not understand your world of silence, and so you resolve to forge ahead and overcome.

Sometimes you just smile when all you really want to do is cry.  Sometimes you keep silent when all you really want to do is to scream and shout.  Sometimes you just watch people and shake your head when all you wish to really do is to confront them with their lies and betrayal.  And sometimes you just want to ask why, but you know it would be futile because you will never get the truth.

Sometimes you wish that you could go back in time and write a new chapter of your life or change events and circumstances, but times machines only exists in movies and The Twilight Zone.  Sometimes you wish those who don’t understand you and are trying to play you for their fool would get a reality check, yet you know that will never happen, but you keep hoping for a miracle.

Sometimes you think back and ask why are you still in this situation and circumstance when all you wish to do is leave, or else know you should make changes. Sometimes in a day, a night, situations and circumstances can change or feelings too, but because of so much uncertainty you hope for the best.

Sometimes when all the facts are laid out on the table and you know there will be no changes and you are in denial and don’t really want to face the truth, it is then you finally come to the realization that you will need to be brave enough, strong enough, bold enough, and smart enough to walk away. Walking away is perhaps the best thing to do…sometimes.

Join us on Wednesday at this week’s Open Chat Night!

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Dec 29 2015

We’re bringing in new blog contributors for 2016!

Open Chat Night started August 2009 and has taken place each week on Wednesday nights in our hearing loss chat room.  I have written over 200 blog topics, which have spurred insightful and intriguing discussions and conversations over the years.  I have talked a lot about my personal experiences ranging from social anxiety, hearing loss, technology, and many other related topics regarding the hearing loss community.

As we approach a new year, I have decided to open our chat room to bring in blog contributors to share their experiences that can open up new discussions.  One of our staff writers, Hannah Mann, who is profoundly deaf and wears CI, has been writing up some blog posts and we have used some of these for our chat room discussions once a month since last fall.  We now have a team interested to participate in 2016 for writing blog topics.  Rather than writing my own—which seems repetitive as I’m running out of topics—I think it would be beneficial to allow other members to write topics for our chat onwards.

If you’re interested to write blog topics and share your experiences related to hearing loss, please let us know—we’ll be happy to add more members on our list of blog contributors!  Your posts can reach potentially 100+ visitors per month.

Join us at this week’s Open Chat Night and Happy New Year!

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Dec 16 2015

Share your college stories

In the past, members of our chat group have shared interesting stories about their experiences in high school or college.  Since right about now students are graduating or starting their winter breaks, I thought it would be nice to bring up this topic again.

As I have mentioned before, I don’t have a lot to share, since in school I mostly focused on my studies instead of socializing with others.  However, I did have an interesting encounter with a dorm mate that didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped.

One year, I got to know the student who stayed in the room next to mine.  Although I thought he would be a good friend to hang out with, the relationship took a wrong turn when he became rather clingy and stalkerish.  For instance, every time he heard me come into the dorm suite, he would open his door immediately to greet me.  Sometimes it got to the point where I would quietly sneak into my room and lock the door so he wouldn’t bother me.  The next minute, however, he would come out and knock on my door for several minutes, even if I didn’t answer.  He pretty much crossed the line.  That experience discouraged me from any further attempts to make friends in college.  Looking back now though, I think it’s kind of funny, and yet discouraging, that I ended up with that type of person while I was struggling to find the right kind of friends.

This will be one of the stories I will be sharing in my future novel I plan to write about my life experiences.  That was one of the major setbacks in college regarding my social avenues I have encountered.

Have any interesting stories about your high school or college days?  Tell us at next Wednesday’s Open Chat Night.

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Dec 08 2015

Discrimination in the D/HH community

Published by under Open Chat Night

Blog topic written by Hannah Mann, A Croaking Dalek With Laryngitis

I was asked if I perceived there to be discrimination between various groups of those with hearing loss.  More specifically, did I see a difference in attitude between those who have hearing loss through either work or life experiences compared with those that are born deaf or hard of hearing?

My answer was yes, although the discrimination I saw and heard of didn’t necessarily fall along those lines.  They had more to do with communication modality (if someone cued or spoke vs. using ASL), and additional disabilities like blindness or cognitive impairment.

For all the isolation and loneliness that so many d/hh people experienced growing up, you would think they’d be more inclusive than the mainstream hearing world.  Turns out, they’re human just like the rest of us.

I can still remember the pain in her voice as Candace Lindow-Davies told us, through tears, about how badly her deaf-plus son wanted to fit in, to have friends at his residential school.  “Deaf kids can be very cruel,” she said, and I nodded with complete understanding.  Kids in general can be cruel, but combined with that characteristic Deaf bluntness… whether it’s cultural or neurological, we really don’t sugarcoat anything.

Moreover, I did some volunteer work with deaf-blind people in college, and I’ve heard some pretty sad stories of deaf-blind people being treated like lepers as soon as they started losing their vision– almost like the other d/hh people were afraid of “catching” the same thing.

Regarding communication modality, I’ve known of d/hh friends getting criticized for being “too English” when signing.  While I haven’t really experienced anything worse than pointed disinterest in Cued Speech, I do know of cuers at Gallaudet and RIT who did not publicly share that fact about themselves because of the possible societal backlash.  Nowadays, I think Gallaudet is more open-minded, but back in the 80’s and 90’s, especially during the Deaf President Now! movements, it probably wasn’t the best idea to advertise that you knew and used Cued Speech.

RIT, unfortunately, was not quite as progressive as Gallaudet; from what I gather, it is/was very much an ASL-only campus.  It was not too long ago that a fellow cuer, Rachel, struggled with getting even captioning access to her classes.  The way RIT had set it up was that, if you wanted captioning, you had to pick the one class section that offered it: all the others would provide only sign language interpretation.  And forget about Cued Speech transliteration– in 2003, Nicole Dugan had to file a formal complaint against RIT after they failed to provide her with CLT services for two years.  (In fact, Dugan had avoided becoming fluent in ASL for two years so that RIT would not be able to use that as a reason to continue using sign language interpreters instead– which I find absolutely shameful on RIT’s part.)

The long and short of it is that, yes, sadly discrimination within the d/hh community does happen. Quite often from those who most strongly claim to advocate for inclusion.

Share your thoughts at this week’s Open Chat Night!

 

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