Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Personal Issue: Cochlear Implant Issue

Today I am not talking about sewing. In reality, It is way too late and I should be in bed. But I am up, upset and distracted, because of the propaganda about cochlear implants that I have just read. I have taken two courses in American Sign Language partnered with Deaf culture. (Capital 'D' Deaf means that the person identifies themselves as Deaf, is involved in the Deaf community, signs and does not feel 'hearing impaired').

A large part of this was learning about deaf children who were forced to attend 'schools' where they were punished for signing and forced to speak, although they could not hear nor control the pitch of their voice. Our book (which I have to find) had a very special story entitled 'CBS hurt the Deaf community by Caitlyn's story'.

Caitlyn was a young deaf child whose parents decided to have a cochlear implant installed. The Deaf community largely is against the Cochlear implant. Personally, I can't blame them. The story highlighted how Caitlyn was deaf and now can hear, can respond, 'acts like a normal child'. As though a (D)deaf child is less desirable than a hearing one?

I still remember the last sentence from the article- that when Caitlyn is ready, the community is waiting for her. I am reading this story now:

and I hope to finish it in the morning. Personally, I find discrimination of any kind disturbing. try to remember the last article you read in a newspaper about a deaf person. Can you remember one? Great! Do you remember how the person was referred to? By their first name, most likely, just like reporters refer to children or pets- not adults.

Just a parting thought. Now its way too late and I'll be at work in six hours... My boyfriend has learned some of the signs and as somebody who works at the airport, he says its amazing how his interactions with Deaf people have changed, how grateful they are who finds someone who understands them- even if its just a hello and thank you. We are hoping to take a class in ASL together soon. I can't wait to be in a ASL class again. I started the classes around three years ago, but I haven't practiced and forget a lot of the signs. I admit, I am excited when a Deaf person comes through my que. A chance to practice, a chance to remember! I simply wished that I understood more of the Deaf culture. There's some things that wiki just can't teach you. Maybe this class, we can make some headway into understanding Deaf culture better.

1 comment:

  1. I stumbled across this post trying to find the story you've linked. The post itself is interesting, though. It illustrates some very disturbing trends, in the constituents of more than one viewpoint.

    "As though a (D)deaf child is less desirable than a hearing one?"

    This is one of those issues where it's very easy for someone to make someone else seem like the bad guy. Is a deaf child less desirable than a hearing one? Of course not! Is it more desirable that your child, whom you love unconditionally, be able or unable to hear? Able, of course. Anyone who defines them-self by something very strongly is apt to erect their own barriers between who they see as "us" and who they see as "them."

    I don't recall ever reading a story about a deaf person in my newspaper. Not that there aren't any deaf people here, but that they don't define themselves by being deaf. The Deaf culture and its hearing friends have and continue to do tremendous works in the name of equality and justice.

    Unfortunately, they have also generated and propagated self-destructive attitudes. What's the difference between "Deaf People for Classroom Justice" or "Citizens Against deaf Stereotyping" and the amalgamation known as Deaf Culture?

    The difference is that it isn't a group based on an ideal or philosophy or desire any more. It's now based on a physical characteristic that puts a nearly impenetrable wall between one group of people and another. When your identity is not based on your ideals, your ideals will warp to match your identity. When a deaf parent is considering getting her newborn daughter a cochlear implant and her daughter's relation to the Deaf community is a significant consideration, that is nauseating, as is ANY other consideration except her daughter's happiness and quality of life.

    The Big Picture is that a person who hopes for the sake of the Deaf community that no perfect artificial hearing is created is little different, in principle if not scale, from someone who wishes the Holocaust had gone on longer for the sake of the beautiful art and literature created by the victims.

    Deafness is not an identity. It is not something to be ashamed of or proud of, though one's actions taken in response to the resultant challenges often are. The point is only a person's actions are worthy of that. Deafness itself is just broken organic machinery. A man may deserve tremendous praise for bravery demonstrated hiking out of the forest after his plane crash, but to walk past the town and back into the snow only makes him a fool. Courage isn't admirable if the hardship is self-inflicted.

    Deaf culture is terrified of the fact than in the developed world, deafness is a decade or two away from being no more involuntary than crooked teeth.