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The Forum > Article Comments > Deaf to the potential > Comments

Deaf to the potential : Comments

By Michael Uniacke, published 4/8/2009

Why do otherwise intelligent men make comments of such inane stupidity about deaf people?

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I'm not sure what your point is...

Are you arguing that hearing specialists and politicians are oppressing deaf people and their language by forcing them to have cochlear implants?

"specialists devoted to the sense of hearing regard deaf people and sign language in much the same way that butchers regard vegetarians....they regard deafness as a pathological condition which requires a cure."

Do deaf people not want to be able to communicate with everyone? As most people do not understand Auslan, wouldn't the ability to communicate with the majority of people in the community benefit deaf people, allowing them to be more productive in their lives?

As for your comparison to the oppression of aboriginal culture and language...

"This comparison with the historical suppression of sign languages is not exact."

It could also be said that this comparison is completely ridiculous and is fabricated to push your argument that deafness is a culture which these people are trying to oppress. Shame on you.

Your argument is hollow and all it seems to do is criticize the very people who care for the deaf and their quality of life.
Posted by Stezza, Tuesday, 4 August 2009 8:23:25 PM
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I agree Stezza. Having lived with a disabling medical condition for ten years, I hate the fact that you forever have to have concessions made to accommodate it, even if you give back tenfold in output. But I am pleased these concessions are made to be able to live a near normal life.

Sometimes you do feel like you are on the outside of a large circle looking in at everyone living their normal lives until you realise that everyone has something they have to deal with - illness, broken marriage, sick kids, stressful jobs, disability, emotional baggage or financial pressures.

After a while you become very adaptable and competent at managing or working around the problem and using the best of what you have.

If cochlear implants make life easier and enables participation in the larger arena this is surely something positive. It is not the same thing as denigrating the condition of deafness.

Also, you cannot blame a hearing person for not understanding completely the nuances of being deaf just as I cannot blame someone for ignorance about living with disability.
Posted by pelican, Wednesday, 5 August 2009 12:19:06 PM
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I think the point this writer is making is about lack of choice for children born deaf. Sure some children are helped by Cochlear Implants (CIs) but they dont work well for every child. I became deaf myself a few years ago and was at the CI clinic one day considering my options. In the CI waiting room I was approached by a small girl, about 2, with a CI attached to her head. I could sign a little myself so I signed hello and the girl watched closely. Her Mum though told me she had been told not to sign, or let the little girl see signing because if she did, she wouldnt learn to lipread properly because she would probably prefer sign language over learning speech. Why? Because it feels natural to sign if you cant hear anything. I think that CIs have been oversold as some sort of panacea for deafness/hearing loss but they are not. They are only one communicational option. Signing, as you note, limits who you can communicate with but a lot of people who sign also use speech - the two exist quite naturally like most 2nd languages. For me using Auslan has opened up my world to meet a lot of happy and well adjusted people just living their lives the same as everyone else. Auslan enables me to work as my employer pays for interpreters so I can attend meetings and contribute fully. Like the writer, I'm not impressed being referred to as a potential drawdown on the community or having young children referred to that way!
When these newborns are picked up as having a hearing loss their parents are not currently being offered opportunities to experience the Deaf community and decide from there what is in the best interests of the child and family. They should be. Instead, they are currently being picked up by a well meaning Medical profession that sees deafness as a deficit instead of just a different way of being human. CIs are not the only option for all deaf or HI children.
Posted by Squiggle, Thursday, 6 August 2009 3:33:03 PM
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