Certain things in this world are like a red rag to a bull. The mere mention of them is bound to get people going. It might be animal cruelty, it might be the reasons behind the global credit crunch or something as mundane as to why a persons football team is performing like the local paddock hacks. For Deaf and hard of hearing people a sure fire way to get them going is to talk about cochlear implants or to belittle sign language.
The Rebuttal comments on many things. Our own favourite red rag is the lack of opportunities provided for deaf people by our Deaf Sector organisations to run these organisations. We have hammered home this arguments like a dog with a bone and probably will continue to do so. There is a lot of arrogance among hearing and some deaf people that work within the Deaf Sector towards people who are Deaf and hard of hearing. When challenged they will come up with some of the most amazing counter arguments.
Like recently when challenged for their lack of consultation they claimed that collectively they had 555 years of experience of both hearing and deaf staff. Thus implying that they knew enough to comment on behalf of Deaf and hard of hearing people. That they had left out important points in their submission to the government that they might not have if they had consulted properly did not matter. As The Rebuttal said in its PDF edition 555 years of experience as opposed to probably millions of years experience of thousands of Deaf and hard of hearing people around Australia does not amount to much. Or, as we said, 555 years equates to being a fossil and indeed many within the sector are.
The Rebuttal has been blown away by the response to the article on the Cochlear Implant, Cochlear Revolution. What started as an innocent article to highlight an increasing trend brought out a myriad of emotions and responses amongst our readers. There were those that jumped on the band wagon proclaiming the wonders of the Cochlear Implant. There were those that reminded us that Deafness is a state of being and that the error of advocates for the Cochlear Implant is that they focus on deficits something many Deaf people do not feel they have. There were those that reminded us that by advocating Cochlear Implants in children and using adults as an example was to fuel false hope among parents looking for answers. And there were those that reminded us that whatever the issue communication was the key – not mode nor method. All valid arguments and all articulated with passion and intelligence that is inspiring.
More recently we wrote several articles about television advertisements from the Cora Barclay Centre in Adelaide. These ads, deliberately or otherwise, belittled sign language. They implied that spoken language was far superior to sign language and that it was the pinnacle of communication. Worse they used a young boy as an example. The boy signed poorly, obviously coached by someone that had little grasp of sign language, and then broke out into lovely speech with an affectionate lisp that announced that speech was a better way!
The outcry was enormous. responses were received from various parts of the globe. Nearly all of them Deaf. The message was simple, how dare they! Again the message was argued with passion and intellect. Among the outcry was a little voice that said, “Hey you criticised my old school and it is a good school and I speak great” or words to that effect. The writer was brave to make his voice heard among these predominantly angry Deaf community members and we admire him for that. For sometimes it is the little voice that is loudest and makes change. Not in this case, but the writer was brave nonetheless.
So thank you to all the people that respond and do so with so much passion. It makes producing The Rebuttal that much more worthwhile. Open and informed debate is essential in our society. Most importantly the responses to The Rebuttal articles show the depth of talent and intellect among Deaf and hard of hearing people in our society. Yes there were some hearing people that responded and their arguments are equally valid but the majority that respond are Deaf or hard of hearing. Now wouldn’t it be great if our Deaf sector organisations could recognise this and allow us Deaf and hard of hearing people to take control of our lives and these organisations … Now that would make me happy!