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.)