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smellycat6464
03-30-2014, 02:23 AM
Hi everyone,

So, in a second WIP I'm plotting out, one of the main characters I'm planning is deaf. Here is some background info:

General premise: Superhumans meets scifi and some aliens. I guess you could compare it to the tv show Heroes, which was pretty much its inspiration (thank you, unresolved feelings).

Setting: Future (but not dystopian [yet]). Technology hasn't progressed all that terribly, so no time travel, nanobots, cure for cancer, or hovercraft. It's not that far ahead, and deafness has still clearly evaded the hand of medicine.

Character: Alice Fray, 8-10 years old. She is deaf, which she most likely inherited from her mother, who will most likely be deaf, too. So, she probably has an inner ear deformity that she inherited via mother.

Purpose: Alice will discover as the plot advances that she has the superpower of astral projection. She can go to sleep and have out of body experiences. She can engage in poltergeist-like prankster-ing, peep on others, and will eventually learn how to insert herself into other people and turn them into puppets.

However, she encounters a "Freddy Krueger" like villain that can reach her in these dreams. This would normally deter anyone from capitalizing such an ability, but that's why I made her deaf--she can hear when she is astrally projected.

Her power of astral projection is integral to the grander plot, as is this Freddy Krueger dude. But her early story involves her being bullied at school, and how the relationships she makes there affect her later on.

For example, kids make fun of her deaf voice and pretend they can't understand her. This is where I'm encountering problems:

-I want her deaf, but not totally deaf. She needs to be able to understand these experiences around her, because they shape the story, like the bullying and other communication. Is it possible to have someone who is "mostly" deaf, but they can hear people when they are speaking directly to them and without too much ambient noise (or perhaps facilitated with a hearing aid/lip reading).
-Mechanistically speaking, formatting sign language, lip-reading, and such is tricky. Does anyone know of any stories that you feel portray deaf POVs well that I can study? I found Wonderstruck by Brain Selznick on goodreads, would you say that's accurate?
-Do you think it would be better for her to have recently lost her hearing, and would then so crave it via astral projection? This would force me to make the mother not-deaf, but that I can work with much more easily.


Sorry for the borderline novel-length preamble, but I figured it was better to oversupply. Frankly, I'm nervous about accidentally offending deaf readers/betraying my ignorance on the subject matter because any handicap is sensitive.

Thanks!

Kerosene
03-30-2014, 02:29 AM
-Do you think it would be better for her to have recently lost her hearing, and would then so crave it via astral projection? This would force me to make the mother not-deaf, but that I can work with much more easily.

I would probably go this route. Maybe the inciting incident caused her to go temporarily lose her hearing, or most of it. Perhaps a loud noise, or some SFF aspect caused her. Even, perhaps it was forced upon her to protect her.
This way, she has full communicative capabilities, she just can't hear well--which could counter the baddy's influence upon her.

I also think stories with a mostly "voiceless" MC are hard to do, since they almost naturally turn passive--you can counter this easily with actions, but that creates its own struggle for the reader.

thothguard51
03-30-2014, 02:40 AM
Bear in mind, I was 50 when I started losing my hearing to the point that it affected my life and relationships. I had a lot of time to understand the world before losing my hearing.

Not sure an eight year old would handle things the same...

cornflake
03-30-2014, 02:49 AM
Hi everyone,

Her power of astral projection is integral to the grander plot, as is this Freddy Krueger dude. But her early story involves her being bullied at school, and how the relationships she makes there affect her later on.

For example, kids make fun of her deaf voice and pretend they can't understand her. This is where I'm encountering problems:

-I want her deaf, but not totally deaf. She needs to be able to understand these experiences around her, because they shape the story, like the bullying and other communication. Is it possible to have someone who is "mostly" deaf, but they can hear people when they are speaking directly to them and without too much ambient noise (or perhaps facilitated with a hearing aid/lip reading).
-Mechanistically speaking, formatting sign language, lip-reading, and such is tricky. Does anyone know of any stories that you feel portray deaf POVs well that I can study? I found Wonderstruck by Brain Selznick on goodreads, would you say that's accurate?
-Do you think it would be better for her to have recently lost her hearing, and would then so crave it via astral projection? This would force me to make the mother not-deaf, but that I can work with much more easily.


Sorry for the borderline novel-length preamble, but I figured it was better to oversupply. Frankly, I'm nervous about accidentally offending deaf readers/betraying my ignorance on the subject matter because any handicap is sensitive.

Thanks!

Most deaf or Deaf people aren't completely deaf, though some are. Most are hard of hearing to some degree. Many Deaf people wear hearing aids, sometimes, though they're not usually able to hear conversation-type stuff.

I don't quite get a few things - what school is she in and how does she communicate? If she's been Deaf, or deaf from birth, she either cannot communicate, which means she's not in school, she signs, or she speaks and lipreads. Either of the latter two could have put her in a specialized setting. A kid that young who's mainstreamed is either likely a native signer with an interpreter by her side or was in some hella intense oral program the likes of which I've never heard of - or she's only mildly h-o-h, in which case, it's not likely perceptible.

If she recently went deaf, that'd be easier to explain but you lose the bullying-due-to-deafness angle.

smellycat6464
03-30-2014, 03:59 AM
Thanks for the responses everyone!

From gathering peoples responses, you've convinced me to abandon the congenital route in terms of deafness. It seems to cause more drama and reduces complications. The character passivity/psychological impacts of non-congenital hearing loss are things I've considered, but I definitely should spend more time addressing since that could make or break her story arc.

And cornflake, you do bring up some very important irregularities in my world-building, thank you.

If logically possible at that age, I would like for Alice to be able to communicate and attend public school. It also seems reasonable that she would have an IEP, but having an interpreter would complicate things plot-wise. Assuming she is 9, and perhaps she lost/damaged her hearing 1-4 years ago, would you say it is reasonable for her to compensate for her hearing loss with a combination of lip-reading/hearing aids?

Also, she will sign, but I'd imagine fluency wouldn't be obtained in a period of 1-4 years, so she will probably have an intermediate command at the age of 9 ish.

If the state mandates the use of an interpreter, how extensive is their role at the middle school level? Would they need to escort them from start to close? or do they only assist in classes? Also, do all deaf people need an interpreter?

Thank you for your help and advice, everyone!

cornflake
03-30-2014, 04:21 AM
Thanks for the responses everyone!

From gathering peoples responses, you've convinced me to abandon the congenital route in terms of deafness. It seems to cause more drama and reduces complications. The character passivity/psychological impacts of non-congenital hearing loss are things I've considered, but I definitely should spend more time addressing since that could make or break her story arc.

And cornflake, you do bring up some very important irregularities in my world-building, thank you.

If logically possible at that age, I would like for Alice to be able to communicate and attend public school. It also seems reasonable that she would have an IEP, but having an interpreter would complicate things plot-wise. Assuming she is 9, and perhaps she lost/damaged her hearing 1-4 years ago, would you say it is reasonable for her to compensate for her hearing loss with a combination of lip-reading/hearing aids?

Depends on how damaged her hearing is. If she's completely deaf, and became so at, say, age 4 (going with the outliers), I'd think it's fairly unlikely she's compensating completely with lipreading, and in addition, she'd have needed a lot of therapy for speech and such.

If she's somewhat hard of hearing and became so a year or so ago, with hearing aids and/or some therapy, she could likely compensate fine, but again, you then lose the bullying/social problems aspect.



Also, she will sign, but I'd imagine fluency wouldn't be obtained in a period of 1-4 years, so she will probably have an intermediate command at the age of 9 ish.

She could surely become fluent in that time (perhaps not a single year, but 2-4) - children pick up languages much more quickly than adults, and if it's to be her primary or one of her primary means of communication, presumably the family would have started it immediately. However, that'd be an interesting choice for a formerly hearing child from a hearing family - I'd think the likelihood would be to push for oral education. There are some Deaf members here who can probably offer more insight.


If the state mandates the use of an interpreter, how extensive is their role at the middle school level? Would they need to escort them from start to close? or do they only assist in classes? Also, do all deaf people need an interpreter?

Thank you for your help and advice, everyone!

Deaf people who choose to communicate primarily or exclusively through sign often use an interpreter when dealing with 'important' things.

Most Deaf people can lip read, to at least some extent if not exceedingly well, and most can speak, though may choose not to. Communication is a deeply personal choice, dependent on many things like comfort level, importance of what's happening, availability of interpretation, etc.

For instance, someone who is Deaf and prefers signing who is at a store and can't find the rice or what have you, would likely use some combination of communicating they're deaf and that they're searching for rice, or writing a note to ask, or simply asking using speech, depending on how comfortable the person is with speaking, with the store, with speaking to strangers, etc. If that same person is in a courtroom situation, they'd likely ask for an interpreter, if one wasn't already provided, because no one wants to risk miscommunication.

I *think* the level of interpreting done for kids would depend on the IEP? I dunno. I know in college interpreters show up at the class the student is in and interpret and then go to the next class they're needed for.

thothguard51
03-30-2014, 05:13 AM
At the age of 9 I am pretty sure she would attend a school for the deaf, or perhaps a class just for deaf children in which the teacher knows sign and is patient...

Most schools are not going to let an interpreter follow her around all day. It disrupts a normal hearing class and is very expensive...

cornflake
03-30-2014, 05:38 AM
At the age of 9 I am pretty sure she would attend a school for the deaf, or perhaps a class just for deaf children in which the teacher knows sign and is patient...

Most schools are not going to let an interpreter follow her around all day. It disrupts a normal hearing class and is very expensive...

If she has an IEP that has interpretation on it they are required to provide her an interpreter.

Quickbread
03-30-2014, 05:59 AM
I think it depends on how deaf you want her to be. For instance, I was found to be deaf in one ear at age 5. My parents never suspected I had a problem because I'd learned to compensate. I never learned to sign, but I suppose I subconsciously learned to lipread. But, having residual/partial hearing is a super frustrating limitation that would give plenty of reason to want to spend time in a world where you could hear perfectly.

Totally deaf people live in a deaf culture. But unless a person grew up in that sign-language atmosphere, they live in a hearing-based culture, where everyone just expects you to hear. Since I was half-hearing, I never had an interpreter and went to public school. I just always sat in the front when possible or faced the teacher with my good ear, or just tried my best and filled in the blanks with my own intuition. I got excellent grades. So it's possible.

There are also some types of hearing loss that get more severe over time. So that's an option, too. She could start out hearing and it could decline.

One note about hearing aids: They never sound natural. They can't reproduce with anything near the sophistication of a human ear. (Granted, I'm talking about today's nonfictional technology.) You lose a lot of nuances, especially the loveliness and balance of music, and the higher frequencies can drop out altogether. This is particularly true with today's hearing aids, which are designed to specifically enhance conversation instead of our whole soundscape equally.

So, I think whichever way you want to take her hearing loss, congenital or not, there's a lot you can work with to support where you're thinking of taking the plot.

cornflake
03-30-2014, 06:15 AM
I think it depends on how deaf you want her to be. For instance, I was found to be deaf in one ear at age 5. My parents never suspected I had a problem because I'd learned to compensate. I never learned to sign, but I suppose I subconsciously learned to lipread. But, having residual/partial hearing is a super frustrating limitation that would give plenty of reason to want to spend time in a world where you could hear perfectly.

Totally deaf people live in a deaf culture. But unless a person grew up in that sign-language atmosphere, they live in a hearing-based culture, where everyone just expects you to hear. Since I was half-hearing, I never had an interpreter and went to public school. I just always sat in the front when possible or faced the teacher with my good ear, or just tried my best and filled in the blanks with my own intuition. I got excellent grades. So it's possible.

There are also some types of hearing loss that get more severe over time. So that's an option, too. She could start out hearing and it could decline.

One note about hearing aids: They never sound natural. They can't reproduce with anything near the sophistication of a human ear. (Granted, I'm talking about today's nonfictional technology.) You lose a lot of nuances, especially the loveliness and balance of music, and the higher frequencies can drop out altogether. This is particularly true with today's hearing aids, which are designed to specifically enhance conversation instead of our whole soundscape equally.

So, I think whichever way you want to take her hearing loss, congenital or not, there's a lot you can work with to support where you're thinking of taking the plot.

Just a note - Deaf culture doesn't require a particular level of hearing loss, nor does everyone with a particular level of hearing loss choose to live in or embrace Deaf culture.

Some Deaf people are raised oral and don't sign, some people do sign and also speak and lipread when speaking to hearing people.

Quickbread
03-30-2014, 09:32 AM
Just a note - Deaf culture doesn't require a particular level of hearing loss, nor does everyone with a particular level of hearing loss choose to live in or embrace Deaf culture.

Some Deaf people are raised oral and don't sign, some people do sign and also speak and lipread when speaking to hearing people.

Thanks for the clarification, Cornflake. :)

smellycat6464
03-30-2014, 09:40 AM
This discussion has been extremely enlightening, thank you all!

I now have a much more solid foundation to build this character, and taking in these factors such as Deaf/hard of hearing culture, aids, interpreters, and everything else has helped me shaped the story dynamics.

If people still have things to add, by all means, but I just wanted to send another thank you out there--particularly to those who shared personal accounts.

happy writing everyone :)

wendymarlowe
03-30-2014, 09:40 AM
Another thing to consider when looking between Deaf-from-birth and Deaf-later-in-childhood - a disproportionately high percentage of adults who have been Deaf from birth have significant reading and spelling issues, in large part because our ability to process written words is highly dependent on auditory memory. This could be an interesting quirk to introduce in a character, but might be one more detail than you want to handle :-P

Bolero
03-30-2014, 02:49 PM
I see one problem with the suddenly hearing perfectly - stuff sounds different. People who go from not-hearing aids, to hearing aids have to do it gradually as they are suddenly hearing lots of things they've never heard before and things they are used to hearing are changed, because they are hearing more frequencies. Recommendation for the first week is to go for an hour a day at home - preferably sitting on the sofa.
The new sounds, and the changed sounds are both tiring and distracting. So suddenly having perfect hearing would be odd and she wouldn't necessarily running around yelling "yee hah this is great". To start with she could be very scared - all of a sudden there are loud (to her ears) noises all around her and stuff she's never heard.
Not sure how you could write that - TV show, easy - CSI did Grissoms partial hearing loss very well (until the character had an operation to fix it). Book would be harder to convey it without a lot of words.

gloame
03-30-2014, 08:16 PM
-I want her deaf, but not totally deaf. She needs to be able to understand these experiences around her, because they shape the story, like the bullying and other communication. Is it possible to have someone who is "mostly" deaf, but they can hear people when they are speaking directly to them and without too much ambient noise (or perhaps facilitated with a hearing aid/lip reading).

Disclaimer: I work at a college that caters to Deaf students and I know conversational sign. I am not Deaf myself.

The answer to this question is yes. I recommend you take a look at cochlear implants. These are relatively common for Deaf people these days. It involves surgery to implant a receiving device in the head that bypasses the little seashell part of your hear so that sound can be heard by the brain. This only works for people who are Deaf because that part of the ear is missing its hairs (which pick up the sound waves); it doesn't work if the Deafness comes from the brain instead.

People with CIs can hear, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they can hear as well or as clearly. Most of the time, it's still easier and more comfortable for them to communicate with sign instead.

Lip reading and learning to speak when you're Deaf are really, really difficult and there are some very heavy controversy among the Deaf community over this. It used to be that Deaf children would be punished for failing to make a certain sound or understand what was being said or signing instead of trying to speak. This is called Oralism.

If your character is in a hearing school, which she would be if she's being made fun of, that's called Mainstreaming and there's controversy around that too among the Deaf community. Basically, it all comes down to hearing parents trying to force their children to be 'normal'. The Deaf community is really vibrant and Sign is a gorgeous and rich language.

Some links:

A good starter article on the controversies of Deaf education through the 20th century: http://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/topics/education_deaf_01.htm

Cochlear Implants: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochlear_implant

Deaf culture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deaf_culture

I hope this helps. Good luck!

Lil
03-30-2014, 10:23 PM
I have a friend who has been deaf from the age of two. He learned to lipread and speak and always attended regular school without an aid or interpreter and he doesn't know how to sign. This was quite a while ago, and his mother had to fight to get the school system to agree, but she wanted him to lead a "normal" life, and he does. He always had friends and was never greatly troubled by bullies and went on to have a successful career and marriage. His main problem is that he finds it difficult to follow a conversation in a group, and he doesn't much care for concerts.

That said, he would give almost anything to be able to hear.

wendymarlowe
03-31-2014, 06:11 AM
Relevant to your interests: http://www.thewire.com/politics/2014/03/why-you-shouldnt-share-those-emotional-deaf-person-hears-for-the-first-time-videos/359850/

smellycat6464
04-03-2014, 04:02 PM
I apologize for being absent the past few days--the week definitely got the better of me. But thanks again for the extra insights, anecdotes, and links everyone provided! I never had such amazing help with character development before. Reps around!

atthebeach
04-13-2014, 05:33 AM
I am impressed with the detail of responses you received. I am glad to see we have a community here which is aware of many aspects of Deaf culture and ASL. I will have to do a search on "Deaf" here and find other posts to "meet" everyone. Nice to meet other ASL people-cornflake, glowame and anyone else I missed! I grew up using ASL (but I'm not Deaf), and work in that field (interpreter trainer, educator-high school and university, and researcher).

Also, to the OP, I am glad you are asking as you create this story to learn how to show respect- many do not, so that is great.

I just wanted to add, if you wondered why so many posts are using the capital letter "D"eaf instead of "d"eaf, the capital D refers to Deaf culture. A person who is clinically measured as hard of hearing or deaf can choose to identify with Deaf culture and self-identify as Deaf, regardless of percent of hearing loss (this is the "choice" cornflake mentioned).

This relates also to what cornflake said (great links btw) and also the link provided by wendymarlowe above. If you read that article, and some of these comments, when you look at the controversies, they often are demonstrating or are centered around two very different ways of looking at deafness. These two perspectives are medical vs. cultural view. The medical/clinical/pathological view of deafness looks at something that needs to be "fixed", a "loss", with the focus of trying to "become normal"/hearing, vs. the cultural view of Deafness, which includes Deaf pride, community, being recognized as "normal" just as you are, and cherishing ASL.

What Lil described would be a person who sees himself throgh the medical perspective, who does not choose to be called "Deaf", who wants to function only in the hearing world, and who has a small enough hearing "loss" that it worked out for him to use speech only. He mentioned he wished he could hear. No problem, it is his life and his right to feel that way.

In Deaf culture, though, you will notice the Deaf Cultural perspective- people who love signs. And, often people who are proud of their Deafness, and who would never want to lose it (something which is often surprising to hearing people who are new to this concept).

Medical personnel and others who work with parents need to recognize that for the majority of children with a hearing "loss", this speech-only/Oralism is just not practical, and is depriving the child of a real language. For these children, English should be learned as a second language, like any ESL student, through their first language, ASL (or whichever sign-every country has their own sign language, such as BSL for British Sign Language, etc). Here is a cool link about how to help change terminology for parents (showing opportunities, not limitations).
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=h5ZqKMgXciU

On school settings, thothguard51, here the school has no choice. While many Deaf attend Deaf schools, many also do not. So, for students mainstreamed in the USA, with the Americans with Disabilities Act, schools are required to provide interpreters. These programs/schools do indeed have interpreters go from class to class, as decided by the student IEP- yes you are right cornflake (their Individualized Education Program, evaluated yearly).

But, the interpreters at high schools, for example, are not "following" kids through the halls. they are simply going to the classes to interpret all content (except in my ASL classes- the Deaf kids finally get to be in a class in their language- with many hearing kids learning it as their World Language choice as well).

For CI, as glowame said, many CI kids can hear some, many can hear more than they would have with just hearing aids, and technology keeps changing, but I agree also that many CI kids prefer signs.

I thought to further add to this discussion, I would also mention that Cochlear Implants do not make a person "hearing". In fact, they usually place the implant into the ear with the best hearing, and all residual hearing is lost in the ear they implant, so when the external magnetic attachment is removed (because the person has a headache from it, is going swimming, or just doesn't want to wear it, etc.) the person hears less than they did before with just hearing aids- they now hear nothing out of that ear at all. Some of the controversy is as glowame mentioned, that many CI really do still need a fully developed sign language to communicate without boundaries, such as ASL.

So if your character does have a CI, keep in mind it only works when the external part is attached.

Some general background to keep in mind--
Only about 10% of Deaf kids are born to Deaf parents, (these 10% usually use ASL from birth in the USA). The other 90% of parents are told something is "wrong" with their child who "failed" a hearing test, and then given exaggerated warnings about language difficulties, and frequently informed to avoid signs at all costs. In fact, many new CI (implant) kids are being kept from signing, and it is sad to see many hearing parents refusing to allow their child to learn signs, mostly due to misinformation about language acquisition.

From a Deaf culture perspective, this is a tragedy, and as a linguist, it infuriates me to see some of the misinformation out there confusing parents who are just trying to meet their child's language needs.

If the child is functioning as hearing, with a minor hearing loss, but can hear enough, and their parents never introduce them to signs, that is a very different situation than a child who cannot hear the sounds nor understand the words around them, who then needs a visual language to communicate.

You mentioned bullying-Many many Deaf will tell stories of tragedies, bullying, and experiences in school, and at home, not able to express their feelings or thoughts completely without signs. And then stories of when they first finally felt they belonged, were around others who understood them, or first learned of their Deaf identity- at Deaf schools, or when meeting Deaf role models or Deaf friends at mainstreamed schools, etc.

Also, many Deaf adults look back and can share about growing up and sitting with their hearing families at the dinner table, trying to lip read, and having no idea what is being discussed, what was funny, etc. Less often you see stories of hearing parents who allowed their children to to express themselves naturally through signs, and gratitude for this.

About the different worlds- Some function mostly in the Deaf world, while other Deaf ASL signers may choose to function in both worlds (especially h-o-h if they want to), so , it is not an entirely exclusive choose either/or, it is more complicated than that, definitely.

Of course, the reason others mentioned there are controversies is just that- there are. One on the CI includes the feeling that Deaf are being used, being experiment on for profit/for money-making purposes. In fact, there was just a recent story on the Today Show of finding a company did not recall defective CI devices and it shocked kids- really sad. Link here- http://t.today.com/health/defective-cochlear-implants-shocked-kids-even-though-company-had-been-2D79371793

Anyway for your story, a CI might work, agreed, but do keep in mind the controversy exists. And, there are many youtube videos of Deaf people sharing their own stories, all different stories too, in case you want to learn more.

Again, I am glad you asked these questions here, and you have some great information in the other posts. And, nice to meet you all!

kuwisdelu
04-13-2014, 05:52 AM
The other 90% of parents are told something is "wrong" with their child who "failed" a hearing test, and then given exaggerated warnings about language difficulties, and frequently informed to avoid signs at all costs. In fact, many new CI (implant) kids are being kept from signing, and it is sad to see many hearing parents refusing to allow their child to learn signs, mostly due to misinformation about language acquisition.

From a Deaf culture perspective, this is a tragedy, and as a linguist, it infuriates me to see some of the misinformation out there confusing parents who are just trying to meet their child's language needs.

That is so sad and frustrating. I'm not Deaf and I don't know ASL, but I know that being robbed of one's native language is a terrible thing.

When I was working as a statistical consultant at my university, the client project I remember the most was a linguistics professor's study showing how much better Deaf children excelled in school when ASL was used at home versus when ASL was not used at home.

atthebeach
04-13-2014, 05:56 AM
Kuwisdelu, I am so glad to hear that is what you learned. That is exactly the truth, and is kept hidden or is entirely ignored by so many!

kuwisdelu
04-13-2014, 06:05 AM
Kuwisdelu, I am so glad to hear that is what you learned. That is exactly the truth, and is kept hidden or is entirely ignored by so many!

It wasn't particularly surprising to me, especially once you know ASL isn't just signed English. It's only natural one would flourish more in a supportive environment with communication in a common language versus being surrounded by a language and culture you can't understand and don't really even have the facility to learn.

Language and culture are valuable things, and no one should have to give up their own to conform to the majority.

Bolero
04-13-2014, 08:01 PM
Regarding parents - remember chatting with a paediatrician who dealt with physically disabled children. The doctor got very frustrated by a few parents who didn't want to face up to the disability. Some kids had trouble walking, but with proper care would gain some level of mobility. Said care had to include putting them in a proper wheelchair when two/three, with proper foot support. Parents were putting them in a pushchair, which gave them inadequate support, in order to hide the disability, or because they were in denial about their kid's disability and thereby making it less likely they'd be able to walk.

I do not doubt that as mentioned earlier in the thread that parents are being mis-advised regarding implants vs sign language. But I do wonder if there are some folks out there too, who don't want their kid to be different - and waving your hands around signing is different.

On a happier note, there was a documentary the other year about the spontaneous development of language and it particularly studied a group of deaf children (I think it was in Argentina) who had been in an institution together and had evolved their own sign language.

Curiosity - I know different countries have different sign languages - are there people out there who learn multiple sign languages?
Alternatively, if say a deaf Spanish person wanted to have a conversation with a deaf English person, would it (just about) work by having the deaf English person sign to an English sign interpreter, who speaks aloud in English, this is translated into spoken Spanish, and then converted to Spanish sign? (This is just me being curious - it would obviously be cumbersome, just wondering how this is handled.)

Final comment on deafness - to state the obvious, a deaf person doesn't pick up on audible cues. Remember a very deaf person one place I worked, who came across as rude until you knew he was deaf. If you came up behind him and said "Excuse me, can I get past, please." Nothing would happen. Saying "Good morning" he'd probably not notice and so on. His body language was also a bit odd - very intent on what was in front of him. Hard to describe but it did come across that he ran on rails as it were. That may have been deafness, or it may have been he was concentrating really hard on something and the deafness added to his focus.

cornflake
04-13-2014, 08:50 PM
Regarding parents - remember chatting with a paediatrician who dealt with physically disabled children. The doctor got very frustrated by a few parents who didn't want to face up to the disability. Some kids had trouble walking, but with proper care would gain some level of mobility. Said care had to include putting them in a proper wheelchair when two/three, with proper foot support. Parents were putting them in a pushchair, which gave them inadequate support, in order to hide the disability, or because they were in denial about their kid's disability and thereby making it less likely they'd be able to walk.

I do not doubt that as mentioned earlier in the thread that parents are being mis-advised regarding implants vs sign language. But I do wonder if there are some folks out there too, who don't want their kid to be different - and waving your hands around signing is different.

I think most parents want their kids to face as few obstacles as possible and be accepted by their peer group and society at large. People deal with that in different ways. Some do go toward a denial of an issue and attempting to gloss over it in some way (not using a noticeable assistive device, etc.). Some will move to 'fix' the disability or issue, in ways from more accepted, basic things like laser treatment to lighten a facial birthmark to Cochlear impants to limb-lengthening surgery for those with certain forms of dwarfism (seriously). Other parents find a social group that's naturally accepting of the issue and integrate, to mitigate the exclusion of larger society, like normal-height parents going to lots of Little People of America events with a child with dwarfism or having as many family members as possible learn sign and get involved with Deaf culture or etc. Some choose to focus on other things, and say 'regardless that you were born with one arm, you do the same things, just one-handed; everyone has some way they're different.' :Shrug:

The CI has a lot of issues that people aren't all informed about and that differ from person to person. The older someone is when one is implanted, presuming the person has been deaf from birth-ish, the harder it is to learn to hear. Some older people do well and use their CIs. Some people have to spend a lot of time to be able to, and some end up just not using it at all. The brain is wired to interpret sound at a very young age, and the more time that elapses between that wiring and the advent of hearing, the lower the chance of easily learning to hear (by which I mean learning to interpret and understand and deal with different sounds). The same applies to vision. If someone blind from birth had their sight magically restored at age 30, or whatever, it'd not be like if you just covered your eyes and then moved the covering. They'd have no neurological basis for interpreting the information coming into their retinas. A deaf person, at least, usually has a connection between language and vibration and physical cues from lipreading and speaking. It can still be hard. People do certainly get their small children CIs so they won't be different, but I think there are plenty of ways to achieve that.


On a happier note, there was a documentary the other year about the spontaneous development of language and it particularly studied a group of deaf children (I think it was in Argentina) who had been in an institution together and had evolved their own sign language.

That's basically how ASL evolved - a group of Deaf people living in, I believe, MA., a couple hundred or so years ago, developed their own language which was the basis of ASL.


Curiosity - I know different countries have different sign languages - are there people out there who learn multiple sign languages?
Alternatively, if say a deaf Spanish person wanted to have a conversation with a deaf English person, would it (just about) work by having the deaf English person sign to an English sign interpreter, who speaks aloud in English, this is translated into spoken Spanish, and then converted to Spanish sign? (This is just me being curious - it would obviously be cumbersome, just wondering how this is handled.)

I know some Deaf people who know some signs from other languages, and I'm sure there are probably those who know multiple languages, same as there are hearing people who know multiple languages.

In a general sense, yeah, that'd have to be how you'd go. Some sign languages are closer to each other than others. From what I know, ASL is closest to Haitian and French sign than to, say, British. I met a Deaf person from the Philippines who could barely communicate at all with a native ASL-speaking Deaf person. It's the same issue as any two people with different native languages - they spelled a lot in English to try to bridge the gap, as they both knew English. which made it easier.


Final comment on deafness - to state the obvious, a deaf person doesn't pick up on audible cues. Remember a very deaf person one place I worked, who came across as rude until you knew he was deaf. If you came up behind him and said "Excuse me, can I get past, please." Nothing would happen. Saying "Good morning" he'd probably not notice and so on. His body language was also a bit odd - very intent on what was in front of him. Hard to describe but it did come across that he ran on rails as it were. That may have been deafness, or it may have been he was concentrating really hard on something and the deafness added to his focus.

This is a huge problem - not that someone deaf doesn't know you're speaking if you're behind them, as obviously, but that more people don't consider that deafness may be the issue. The concentration thing sounds to me like personal to him, as I've not known a Deaf person who acted the way you're describing, but it's all anecdotal really.

There have been several people killed (and more beaten, tasered, etc.) in just the past few years by cops and by random people, because the people in question could not hear cops shouting commands or questions at them, did not understand what cops were shouting from a distance and thus kept advancing, were thought to be flashing gang signs when signing (seriously, stupid as that is), etc.

The random people stupidity is one thing but there's no excuse, imo, for not training cops in every district the barest few signs to alert them to the possibility and give them an option. It's not that cops have to know every language, but most in areas with a lot of Spanish-speaking people know at least some Spanish.

It would not be that hard to teach all cops even three or four signs, like 'deaf,' 'sign language,' 'wait,' 'help,' Just signing 'deaf?' would have saved a couple of people in instances I can think of.