I’ve seen three miracles this week. I saw a curly headed deaf boy convert from sign to fluent speech. I saw a deaf twin pretending to be her hearing twin and speaking so well we could not tell the difference. I then saw a whole host of deaf kids listening and enjoying music on headphones and, apparently, understanding all the words and nuances of the song. All of this happening here and now. DEAF KIDS CAN HEAR AND SPEAK!
And yes they can, at least the ones that they show anyway. It is not a bad thing. Hearing aids and cochlear implants have all made this possible. Technological advances have meant that there are now listening devices that assist listening devices so that devices are more effective devices. The consequence is that we are now seeing deaf kids with excellent speech. At least the very successful ones anyway!
I am very much a skeptic. It is not that I do not believe that these kids have learnt to speak well. It is not that I do not believe that they have a significant hearing loss. It is more to do with the spin doctors and the way these spin doctors will pick the cream of the crop to promote their needs and wants all in the name of money. “Give your lolly to us and your deaf kid can be the same” is what they imply. They conveniently do not show those kids who have not done very well with speech acquisition. They blame parents, social circumstances and the child’s intelligence. They conveniently leave out the issue of interaction, socialisation and isolation which are all part of being deaf. Speak and you shall succeed. It is tunnel vision at its worst.
Our society is under the illusion that technology is so great today that devices like cochlear implants and hearing aids virtually restore hearing. The technology is certainly better and we are now seeing more and more deaf kids developing good spoken language. This is not a bad thing. What is bad is the professionals misleading parents and the public with the illusion that good speech largely overcomes the disability of deafness. It doesn’t!
Deafness is largely a social disability. Speaking well is one thing but interacting with society is another. Being able to make yourself heard is great but not being able to hear others is 75% of the problem. The best technology today still is only beneficial in small groups and one on one situations. Deaf kids will leave school and find once they are out of their support network it is a whole new ball game.
The university lecturer that mumbles, the work colleagues that forget and the friends that start to develop interests beyond the playground towards the more adult social aspects such as bars, noisy restaurants and nightclubs. It is not easy and many of these kids who have learnt to speak successfully will seek out people that have the time to communicate with them. Many will shun the hearing community in favour of the Deaf community.
Many will then become angry, even bitter, that they were denied access to sign language. They will discover the benefits of having interpreters, the joys of communication that is full and not stilted and the relief in not having to rely on one or two people to keep them informed. The period of anger and bitterness can last a long time. It will take them time to learn to sign fluently and they will even become angry with other deaf people for not having the patience to communicate with them. Deaf and hearing rejection. There can be nothing worse.
Most will get through this period and find there niche in the world but some will not. They will spiral into depression and withdraw from both deaf and hearing worlds. They will require help and even medication. A few will take their own lives. Even these few are too many.
This all happens in the name of technology. Blessed technology. The children in these Ads may go on to be happy members of hearing society, some may find the Deaf community and some, having been led to believe that speech and technology will give them a NORMAL life, will be so angry and lonely that they may never recover.
This is why these Ads are so dangerous. They raise hopes and worse they do not tell the story of the many deaf kids that fail to acquire good spoken language or very little language at all. There are so many variables and so many skills that a deaf child needs to develop and understand. Speech is but part of the equation. The agencies responsible for these misleading and dishonest Ads should bow their heads in shame.
BELOW ARE THE TRANSCRIPTS AND LINKS TO TWO OF THE ADS THAT WERE DESCRIBED IN THE OPENING PARAGRAPH. READ THE TRANSCRIPTS THEN WATCH THE VIDEOS. THANKS TO NIC GOOK FOR COMPLETING THE TRANSCRIPTS FOR US.
Song playing in the background – What is that sound, ringing in my ears. The
Sound that makes the world go round, the sound that makes the world go round
All of us were born Deaf, but now we can hear and speak. Thanks to donations
to the Hear and Say Centre. During the butterfly appeal, buy a butterfly at
Suncorp or KFC and help other young Deaf kids into our world of sound.
My sister Maddie and I are identical twins. Except that she was born
completely Deaf and I wasn’t. The Hear AND Say Centre for Deaf children
helped kids like Maddie to actually hear and to speak just like me so that
they can communicate to the world with confidence like everyone else. And
you’ll be surprised just how much they have helped Maddie.
Other girl talks – You are Maddie silly.