Michael Lockrey's Personal Story

Michaels story was submitted as a comment to A Communities Wrath – Ir is worth a post on its own so we have reprinted it here. Thank you Michael!

Just to add a personal story – I was schooled in the lipreading / auditory approach from a very young age. It was certainly effective – as I can still recall meeting my first Deaf (signing Deaf) person in my teens and I really thought that I was nothing like him and that I was really a “hearing” person!

Obviously this was a fallacy (and a half)!

My biggest personal regret of my life to date is that I didn’t learn Auslan until I was 30! Looking back over my life I can see countless missed opportunities – both professionally and personally – as I simply couldn’t measure up as a “hearing” person. 30 years of butting my head against a brick wall in the mistaken belief that I could be a “hearing” person (when I was profoundly Deaf)!

This is all so obviously wrong that I am somewhat ashamed of myself for letting this happen. But the reality is that this flawed approach of focusing on lipreading and active listening (without a similar level of focus on Auslan) simply will not work effectively. To this day I still pretend to have heard what people have said! I truly hope that we can prevent more “Michael Lockrey’s” in the future…..I simply can’t see how focusing on non-sign language communication methods equips you with the self confidence and understanding necessary to survive in our society.

6 thoughts on “Michael Lockrey's Personal Story

  1. Communication is all. I still see a dedication to a visual language as completely isolating the deaf from the mainstream, at best you are a 3rd party. I see no issue learning oral and signing means, then you have choices. I’m a hearing person first middle and last, but I haven’t hears speech for 30 odd years. I use sign too, I don’t have any crisis of communication nor identity, only at first was it an issue, because of extreme difficulty functioning in a hearing world again after going deaf, but I refuted the suggestion I should embrace my deafness and go over to visual or manual communication full time or even 51% of the time, so, I still watch lips etc, I see no problem with it, it’s hard, what ‘s the options ? the deaf world ? I think it would never work for me. I only wish that as I was adult at the time of deafness, there existed decent educations in communications I could have taken advantage of, but there wasn’t. The writer appears to have been deaf first, a huge difference in perceptions of interaction and communication, I think signers stick together via nil choice in the matter, the suggestion of ‘preferences’ is a complete red herring… so they suggest discrimination and oralism is to blame for everything, in most part it is abilities,and lifestyles. Holistic approaches are best, sign seduces. Who needs to lip-read ? then you are in a corner unless the other party does. 9 out of 10 don’t, so its basics, not politics. In years to come they will laugh at these debates about which communication mode deaf should be using and why. Lip-reading equals oralism, oralism equals discrimination, debate over, that is what it always looks like.

  2. MM … Of course they have a choicee
    They can chose to either struggle to communicate or be with people who can communicate fluently.These ppeople are both deaf and hearing. It is the same as people interested in football gathering because they have a common point of connect. the chip on your shoulder is huge, do you tilt when you walk??

  3. I think struggle is common for us all, it’s not a born deaf domain only. It’s education and adjusting that education to help the deaf cope in a hearing world, we KNOW they can cope in a deaf one, but that is not what it is all about is it ? Most deaf who require translation services have huge problems coping with a hearing world, most here don’t even support translation services by demand…..you need all the abilities you can gain, not expect hearing will adjust to you, because they won’t.

    If you look at post-education areas, the deaf stop bothering to improve communication options to a large extent, there are few if any courses to improve the damage the deaf schools have inflicted by keeping deaf away from hearing mostly. You cannot then expect deaf will attempt to integrate after forming unbreakable bonds in exclusive deaf areas……

    I had to make what I could of what abilities I had. YOU try it without any support or access, you soon learn skills you never thought you would ! because if you don’t you are out. All this silly oral versus sign thing has to stop or the deaf will never get anywhere. If you want to work, you learn the trade, do the time, if you want to communicate more effectively to hearing, ditto, there is no point expecting accommodations, it doesn’t work like that when you are the sole deaf person with 30 hearing co-workers.

    I’m bored with the “They are trying to make me hearing…” excuses. Deaf culture needs to address effective communication means not play deaf politics, and inventing new words every day…. Today the British government is insisting migrants learn English or else… the basis of that is they cannot integrate if they cannot learn to communicate effectively, why is that different for the deaf ?

    In essence it deprives the deaf too, not all can learn alternatives or extra communication options, but a lot won’t if told by activist doing that is cruelty. The system of deaf education is crap, it needs changing.

    • But again MM you miss an essential point – Already the deaf have met the hearing world half way, already they are working, already accommodations are being made .. BUT work and education are only parts of the equation. Accessing information, conversations, language, the media etc etc are all essential components of a deaf child’s development. Being able to discuss, understand and share views expands ones horizons. The paradox is that by trying to make deaf kids almost exclusively hearing they miss out on developing skills and maturity that is required to participate in any world. By the time they get to adulthood .. playing catch up means they are constantly disadvantaged. Big picture – its not signing vs oralism .. its signing and oralism being equal and necessary .. Your view is far too black and white … there are many shades of gray and you need to look for them.

  4. In essence I am accepting mainstream is not going to comply with what deaf need or want, certainly nowhere near deaf expectations at all, they never have, I fully accept in most part the injustice deaf get, but again am I feel realistic in stating it is always going to be down to us. Work and education is ALL, without it the deaf community is more deprived.

    The Deaf community will also suffer MORE by not accepting alternatives. THAT is the big picture, unless the deaf ideal is to stay entirely within a deaf world, opposing CI’s alleviations and everything else and not being employed or getting an decent education. A deaf community will fail unless they get with it, it will certainly be very impoverished. The social area is vital, I think the repeated image we see is the deaf saying “Social comes first above everything…” In Derby (England), the deaf student community had a choice given, give up their free deaf club the university was paying for, and get more support in education, they chose to not improve their educational prospects, a number failed exams as a result..

    taken to ultimate conclusion they will never move outward. I agree about the unfairness, perhaps I have just accepted regardless the onus is still on us.

    • Where we differ on this MM is that i believe that the majority of Deaf people are with it. They have already made the accommodations and are meeting the WORLD more than half way. The majority that wont probably cant because a system that denies them access to a language that allows them access to information has screwed them up. Its not about rejecting the world it is about making sure these young kids can take on the world. Sign language is not something that helps it is something that is vital and gives deaf kids a tool to tackle the world head on – Deaf or hearing. In short i don’t put deaf people in one basket as you appear to. Sure their are some that are very insular but these are the minority not the majority. As for the people in Derby – I doubt very much giving up their Deaf club would have made an iota of difference to their exams .. that’s just an excuse that will acknowledge the failure of the system.

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