Saturday, February 23, 2008

Through Deaf Eyes

Last week I watched a really interesting DVD I checked out from my library that was originally a PBS program produced last year by WETA (Washington, DC) and Gallaudet University. Through Deaf Eyes tries to show the history of deaf persons in the U.S. - from weird "cures" for deafness (like being taken in an airplane for looping dives) to deaf parents who don't believe their children's deafness requires any cure.

I was already aware of some of the issues facing deaf people in the last few years, since our intrepid aunt decided to get a cochlear implant to regain some of the hearing she lost decades ago as an unwanted consequence of taking an antibiotic. The implant works! But some deaf people think that deafness, and using only American Sign Language to communicate, are perfectly fine - and not really a handicap. It's a huge conflict between those who want to be fluent in ASL and English (spoken and written) and those who want only ASL (which doesn't always have English equivalents).

Thanks, M.E., for helping us get started in learning more about what this all means! I think we still have a ways to go.

1 comment:

  1. Don't get me started on the ASL-only stuff. ASL is perfectly fine and necessary for those who can hear NOTHING or very little. But to try to force everyone, whether they are profoundly or only a little deaf, in a deaf school or classroom to depend solely on ASL with voice off is at best unkind. if your family and friends all use ASL, and that's the language you grew up with, it's one thing. if you grew up in an family that did not know or use ASL, that's another.

    ASL gets all the's "fascinating," picturesque, Marlee Matlin uses it in the movies and on TV. But it's a rare family who undertakes to learn and use ASL when one of their members loses their hearing. There's also a huge difference between what you learn in an "ASL class" and what you see when you go to a deaf culture event where everyone is signing ASL.


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