Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Switched at Birth - clearing up some things, distorting others

First, I applaud the creators/writers of Switched at Birth for bringing common Deaf issues into the mainstream light.  Most people never think about any of these things.  People mumbling, taking too fast, turning away while talking, talking behind someone, "curing" Deaf with CI, the troubles of mainstreaming, etc.

One problem I have with the show is Daphne's amazing ability to lipread with what appears to be 100% accuracy.  While it probably wouldn't make for great TV to have people repeating everything 3-4 times, we probably don't want to further perpetuate the myth that most Deaf/HoH can lipread with any great amount of success.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Captioning ASL vlogs

This topic seems to always come up, but I have a fairly strong opinion about it, so I want to write a little blurb.

It's true, the Hearing world seems to make very little effort to provide D/HoH with quality captions.  So why in the world should we caption ASL vlogs?  If the Hearing want access, let them learn ASL, right???  Here are the reasons I think we should at least attempt to caption our ASL vlogs:

1.  Lots of HoH and late-deaf don't know ASL, or are learning but are not fluent enough to follow along. I am HoH/late-deaf and I definitely have an interest in keeping up with the issues.  I've been learning ASL for 4 years now and quality captioned vlogs like Seek Geo have helped me enormously to learn more common ASL.

2. Hearing people that have a vested interest in the issues may not know ASL at all.  Think about family members, teachers and medical professionals involved with D/HoH kids.  We should certainly want to help educate them about the issues, since that is in our best interests as a group.  But if they visit a vlog and it's not captioned, then we just lost that opportunity.  Who knows, maybe a captioned vlog will spark an interest not only in the issue, but also learning ASL!!

3.  Captioning vlogs can help Deaf improve their English.  This is always a good thing, right?  A Deaf friend of mine pointed out this benefit to me a while back, and I think it's great.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Stigma of Hearing Loss

After reading the article posted on Jamie Berke's blog about hearing loss stigma, I felt the need to add my own experience.

I think being late-deaf is a little like coping with finding out you have a life-long disease.  There's a process that needs to happen.  The beginning for me was marked by anger and self-pity.  That evolved to understanding and finally acceptance and integration of the condition as part of "me".  I cannot stress enough that my contact with my local Deaf community, and learning ASL has had an extremely high impact on this process, though.  I see, through others, that becoming Deaf is not something that is embarrassing or shameful.  I see the incredible intelligence amongst the community, and knowing my own intelligence and ability does not depend on my ability to hear others.

Through the process, I have come to prefer larger hearing aids because people can more easily understand  "why" I cannot understand what they're saying, and why they need to repeat themselves endlessly sometimes.  Vanity simply takes a back seat.  And I truly believe that when you show people intelligence and ability, ageism and prejudice can vanish as they realize that hearing has no bearing on either.

Like most of the medical community, hearing professionals simply do not understand the Deaf community, so they follow the marketing and accept the stigma about the very people they are trying to help.  They push the "invisible" hearing aids, and they talk about how much these new aids will help you function in society.  For people with mild losses, this is great and true, but the rest of us need to truly come to terms with reality.

In terms of overcoming stigma, I see some great advances in Hollywood, and we all can be our own best advocates by educating those around us.  If one in ten are D/HoH, then we all need to make sure we educate at least 9 people in our lives to work towards a brighter future.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Best way to tell people you're Deaf?

I'm curious about the different ways people indicate to hearing folks the you're Deaf. I also found myself wondering why, in a nation where a huge number of people understand the phrase "no habla ingles", nobody understands the sign for "deaf". Seems like it would be worthwhile to teach everyone this basic sign in school at some point.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Switched at Birth - no captions on Netflix!!

Of all the ironies, only the first couple episodes of Switched at Birth have captions on Netflix.  A show that has the power to increase awareness about the Deaf world, inaccessible to Deaf.  So stupid!