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.

12 comments:

Nancy C. said...

I completely agree about lipreading. Especially back when I used my hearing aids, but even now, I'm excellent at speechreading. But it all depends... on the person, on my emotions, on the environment. So when a hearing person asks, "do you read lips?" I struggle with what to say. "Yes," sets up unrealistic expectations. "No," is obviously a lie because I just lipread the question. I've learned to be vague: "Some people," or "Only if I'm not tired or upset," or "If I can't lipread you, I'll tell you so you can write it down."

uminnesota said...

the show showed Daphne struggling with lip reading like 4-5 times --- I have written two examples below.

She having breakfast with her new family whole family is talking about rhubarbs and then after tasting it, she says rhubarbs.

She and Liam go to the music store -- and she struggles to understand Liam until the 3rd time - then shows him by putting headphones on him and have him read her lips too.

Aaron said...

Uminn: I do agree, there are specific incidents (another is the cooking class where her teacher turns away), but on the whole, they portray her as a Deaf girl getting along perfectly fine in a Hearing world. I've been HoH my entire life, and never knew just how well I could lipread, and I cannot get along half as well as they show her doing. It is entirely possible that I'm just a bad lipreader.

JoeBob said...

I agree with uminnesota. I think the show has shown that lipreading is hard. It would be unreasonable (at least to me) for Daphne to constantly have issues lipreading. The show would tend to drag on. Myself, I'm deaf (not HoH) and can't hear a firetruck with all sirens blaring right behind me. I grew up without sign language and had to rely 100% on lipreading in public school b/c back then interpreters weren't available. Honestly, I think I lipread better than most and I speak clearly like Daphne and thought nothing odd about how well she was lipreading in the show.

JoeBob said...

Also remember that Daphne has been Deaf since 3 from Meningitis so she's been lipreading her entire life. It's harder for those that lose their hearing later in life to lipread as well as those whose very life depended on it as long as they can remember.

Aaron said...

Wow that's great! I've been relying lightly on lip reading for decades now but I still suck at it. It only helps clarify things for me.

Doose - Chronicles of a Bionic Woman said...

Am almost always envious of those who can lip-read with what seems like 100% accuracy! I am still training myself in this skill. You r right to point out tho - hearing people shouldn't think that means most deaf people can lipread with 100% accuracy - if only!

Nancy, i get your point - i have personally never told anyone i lipread and left it at that - i always say something like "some, but not all people" and then i just briefly mention what it depends on for me.

I'm in the UK - is there any way to catch the show with captions online, preferably for free?

Aaron said...

Captiones and free on hulu.com

GoingBerdyKat said...

There is yet another example, to add to uminnesota's examples of Daphne struggling to lip read.

Remember when they were doing the car-wash fundraiser and Wilke approached her telling her "I can see that look in your eyes. You were hoping I'd be shirtless, dripping with suds..." and Daphne said "Whatever that was I'm glad I didn't understand it."

Then there are examples to show that not all deaf people can easily lipread through Emmett. After he played drums at the Kennish's and a hearing girl approached him, he had to tell her to momentarily stop to tell her he was deaf (because she really was talking too fast). Then at the car-wash, Emmett told Bay how much he has to work just to lipread and even then, he would only get 30% of what is being said.

I do think SAB is doing what they can to inform the hearing world of the realities of the deaf community and culture. They only had 10 episodes, and I'm sure we'll see more of the deaf culture in the next 22 episodes. They have a lot of deaf consultants on set, and I'm sure they'll try to be as accurate as possible.

Aaron said...

@GoingBerdyKat I noticed these also. My main problem, though, is that I don't think the general Hearing public is picking up on these. I think we are all more in tune with these things. If this were not the case, why would people speak so often while not facing us? Clearly, they're just not in tune with the fact that we need to see their faces to gain meaning. I don fully understand that the show cannot be 100% accurate or it would lose all of its mainstream audience. I very much look forward to coming seasons. This very much seems like good "information sharing" on behalf of all D/HoH

GoingBerdyKat said...

Ahh but Aaron, you would be surprised how much a hearing person picks up from Switched at Birth (SAB). I'm hearing, and through Switched at Birth, I learned quite a bit, and also understand that watching SAB is only touching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding deaf culture. I learn even more when I communicate with my dead of HoH friends, and it IS a learning process. I've spoken to my hearing friends who are fans of SAB, and they did pick up quite a bit, learning that lipreading is not an accurate science and that only a fraction of what is being said might be understood and therefore it is important to learn to sign when communicating with someone who's first language is ASL. I think the important thing to bridge the gap is for both communities to learn from one another, and SAB is only one of the many vehicles to accomplish this. :)

GoingBerdyKat said...

Crap! I meant "deaf", not "dead". Sorry the "d" key and "f" key are much too close on the keyboard and I am famous for my typos, accoring to my friends.