This Speaking Voice of Mine is Nothing But Trouble – Submitted by Billy Thatcher

I speak…fluently…but it’s not fair that hearing people can understand me while I have the hardship of ‘listening’ them back.  I am totally deaf.  So, what’s the point in my speaking in the first place if I cannot understand them?

When I was younger, my hearing loss was not so bad.  I was diagnosed with a mild hearing loss.  This greatly helped in conversations with hearing people.  As I got older, my hearing gradually got worse and now I am profoundly deaf.  What good is my talking voice when I am profoundly deaf and having such difficulties hearing and lip-reading the hearing people that I am talking to?

It’s much easier for me to engage in legalities by writing as it enforces the communicator to write back, even though they’re hesitant to do so.  After all, I get to keep the paper of what has been stated between us.  In fact, I have used these written statements as evidence of previous conversations to my benefit when needed.

Those who speak and are proud of their talking voices…good for you, but from my point of view…whoopie do!  Yes, my talking voice can be understood, I speak…but, I can’t hear or understand others!  It’s not that I disrespect anybody for being ignorant, I simply can not hear and its hard’n’stressful for me to wisten (a combination of Watching and Listening; although, it’s not a word).

I am concerned about the false encouragement given to many deaf people who speak. Many are often told that they ‘speak fluently and crystal clear’, when the fact is, they have a horrible sounding voice. This false encouragement leads to the deaf/HI person believing that they have a pleasant voice when the reality is that their voice sounds horrible. Unfortunately, these false assurances cause great pain when the deaf person finds out that they actually have an awful sounding voice.

To this day, my parents insist that I speak well. I am skeptical about it and try to keep verbal speech to a minimum.  Auslan to me is for keeps and it allows me to communicate effortlessly.  This is how it should be … ‘communicating effortlessly’.

People nowadays want to communicate effortlessly. But professionals and authorities such as the Education Department and schools with philosophies that disregard sign language think speaking is the solution to communicating effortlessly.  It’s not, not for those who are deaf or who sustain heavy hearing loss later in their life. After all it is a fact of life that most of us lose a degree of hearing as we get older.

There are many older folks who have hearing difficulties and still speak fluently; however, they still have a hard time trying to understand what is being said by others.  Communication between carers, families and friends of these individuals is often strained. If only, people learned sign language they could communicate effortlessly with anyone at anytime especially those who are Deaf or who have lost their hearing.  That is, if they do not have any other problems with their body.  We should all admire Scandinavian countries and other countries who implement mandatory sign language in their schooling programs.

Between English and sign language, which method would be better for communication between those who sustain hearing loss and those who have no hearing loss? The answer is straight forward – Sign language! We know that everyone loses at least some of their hearing as they age. For those that lose their hearing completely what good is speaking?!

People, institutions, or any others that endorse the philosophy of speech over sign language are bloody idiots. They are contributing to the undeniable consequences of communication hardship. Of course, taking up sign language is a personal preference, but don’t say I didn’t warn you and I wish you all a peaceful old age.

(The Rebuttal thanks Billy for his submission. It outlines many frustrations that many Deaf and HOH people experience. We are happy to print Billy’s views; just remember the views are Billy’s alone.)

8 thoughts on “This Speaking Voice of Mine is Nothing But Trouble – Submitted by Billy Thatcher

  1. A big AMEN!!!!!

    I totally get what you’re saying, Billy. I have issues with ‘wistening’ too and everyone says I talk so well, yet I’ve had a few say I sound horrible. Monotone, I think they said.

  2. Me too learned the hard way that if I want the other person to write, I’d best write too. It seems to cause cognitive dissonance if I talk but they can’t talk. I’ve also learned to take with a grain of salt when someone compliments my speech. I know my speech isn’t perfect and everyone can tell it’s “different.” If it’s understandable, great, if it’s not, then do something else.

    However, I disagree that learning sign language is the answer to everything. Even if all students are required to take a course in ASL in school, they’ll forget it if they don’t use it on a regular basis. Just like you won’t remember your high school French because you never used it once the class was over. And a person losing their hearing due to age won’t want to learn ASL either if nobody around them signs. I’m not saying never give ASL a try. It’s a beautiful language and fun to learn and use. There are pros and cons with every communication option for deaf people.

  3. Something to remember.

    Yes, hearing people want communication to be effortless [don’t we all], and yes, they consider speaking/speech to be communicating effortlessly.

    But don’t be mislead, inspite of all the speech/ speaking going on, misunderstandings, and communication breakdowns occur with alarming regularity!

    You can indulge them, and agree, yes whatever floats yer boat!

    However, communication is rarely effortless, whatever method you use. It’s success depends on a person’s receptiveness to the message/ information [that is, listening: which has nothing to do with the actual receiving of sounds via the ear, but everything to do, with how you receive and perceive those sounds].

  4. Anonymous .. It’s true that many will “forget” sign language but it will at least mean they are more aware if Billy’s idea became reality.

    It is equally true that many will be inspired to learn more about sign language if it was a mandatory sub ject at school. This would mean many more people are in a position to utilise sign language in different situations including if they were to lose their hearing.

    Tony is also right in his summary as to what communication is. But even at a superficial level like ordering a burger at Maccas or asking for help in a shop .. If people could communicate more easily with Deaf or HOH then it would mean so much less stress.

    No harm in dreaming of Utopia even if it won’t be achieved in our life time. 🙂

  5. well said, Tony! You’re right that there’s so much more to communication than simply the ability to talk, in whatever language.

    Gazza, not sure about the “inspiration” part. True, there may be a few individuals who fall in love with ASL and the Deaf community, just like others fall in love with the French language and people, or Spanish language and people. But my recollection as a bored teenager “forced” to take those mandatory classes was that they were just something to get over with, not inspiring at all. OTOH, I can’t tell you the number of hearings I met in the community who told me how they learned to fingerspell in the 3rd grade and still do it from time to time. I’ll take anything I can get, sign-wise! It’ll sure be a better world when everybody can accept the diverse ways that we communicate — through our minds.

  6. Anonymous … Yes the fingerspelling genuis, the deaf in one ear who can relate to your frustrations, the woman whose great aunty wore hearing aids and the church going matron who speaks so slowly you could make a cup of tea between words. They try …But doesn’t make the communication any less frustrating.. Thank god for communication between the minds.


  7. Hey everybody, can I recommend watching ‘War Games II’ where there was communication in signs/gesture.

    Watch where the two youngsters want to get hotdog from the hotdog stand and trying to communicate with the hotdog dealer.

    This is exactly what Billy is talking about.

    The best form of communication to achieve one’s end would be sign language/gesture. And this is proven by the above mentioned movie. This would be inclusive of Tony’s ‘communication of the minds, in conjunction with, anonymous’ ‘whatever the language’. To further solidify this argument, when we try and communicate with Helen Keller, how is it ‘best and effortless’? Spoken language is and will be eliminated as she can not see or hear and it leaves sign language as the ONLY one to get through her. Although, there is Braille and that is for her reading purposes, not for communicating with the general public.

    Fortunately, Billy’s argument still stand as communicating through signs/gesture is far more understandable than the rest of the spoken language. This is only applicable when signs/gestures are being used properly and the recipient is quite aware about signs/gestures; otherwise, mis-communication will prevail.

    Yes, unfortunately, Tony is correct whereby any language depends on the recipient and this is why they lack awareness in signs/gestures. Anyhow, how often do we surprise ourselves when we go to shops and at the checkout, we encounter somebody who has some knowledge in deafness awareness and make our ‘transaction’ much easier? Usually, all the time; although, I take no notice as it is part of their jobs.

    Lastly, Billy is tackling those people who intend to steer children with hearing loss away from signing because they are DONKEYS! Donkeys they are as they have different philosophical beliefs in ‘effortless communication’ just like Saint Thomas Aquinas (possibly the father of all donkeys!). Anyway, let the rest of them suffer by enduring the hardship of wistening, eventually!

Comments are closed.