As you probably know, I have been taking American Sign Language classes for a couple years now. This initially began because of my inability to speak due to Abductor Spasmodic Dysphonia. I wanted to have some method for communicating if my voice should never return.
Thankfully, my voice DID return but, I have continued to take ASL courses. Why? Frankly, it is because I like learning new things and ASL and Deaf culture fascinate me. The fact that I learn languages pretty easily doesn't hurt either!
Now, you should know that prior to taking ASL classes I had never met a Deaf person. I knew absolutely nothing about Deaf culture. In fact, I wasn't even aware that there WAS a Deaf culture!
In class last night we were "talking" about Deaf culture and the conflict between hearing culture and Deaf culture. Our teacher, Henry, is Deaf. He is the head of the ASL/Interpreting department. He has been around for a while and has faced a lot of interesting situations. Our discussion had me wondering . . . . how much do people really know about Deaf people?
Did you know that there is a difference between deaf with a lowercase d and Deaf with an uppercase D?
Did you know that there is a very strong Deaf culture with its own customs, rules, and traditions?
Did you know that 90% of all Deaf children have two hearing parents?
Did you know that American Sign Language (ASL) is a real language?
Did you know that children who grow up with ASL can learn to read and write in English through ASL?
Did you know that Deaf people can do pretty much anything hearing people can?
Did you know that Deaf people were considered to be intellectually inferior simply because their ears didn't work?
Did you know that many Deaf people were forced to go through HOURS of speech therapy each day as children in the effort to teach them to talk and to lip-read?
Did you know that the hours of speech therapy replaced instruction in things like reading, writing, math, and history?
Did you know that most Deaf people who are "expert" lip-readers can still only understand between 30 - 40% of a conversation?
Did you know that most hearing parents of Deaf children refuse to learn ASL to communicate with their children or only learn the very basics of ASL?
Did you know that cochlear implants - which are touted as being able to make deaf people hear like normal - don't work like "normal" hearing?
Did you know that children who get cochlear implants need to go to therapy to learn to be able to identify what they are "hearing?"
Did you know that "normal" hearing has hundreds of different "channels" of sounds while an implant only has something like 20?
Did you know that many children who get implants get the implant before they are two years old?
Did you know that when the exterior part of the implant is removed (for baths, showers, swimming, etc,.) the person with the implant can't hear anything?
Did you know that Deaf people have wonderful stories to share if you only take the time to interact with them?
Did you know that Child Protective Services has been known to remove hearing children from their homes simply because their parents are Deaf?
Did you know that there are probably Deaf people in your neighborhood or city who you have never seen? They look just like you and me!
Voice Update: Doing okay. I work today so we will see how it handles the phones!