Albert Einstein once said that making the same mistake over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Yet somehow we humans manage it. Especially in the area of deafness where the same old arguments, the same old philosophies and the same old mistakes are made over and over again.

I sometimes just wish that I had never lost my hearing. That I had become a cabinet-maker or a chef. I would love to finish my work, go home and just chill. I sometimes would love to live an existence where I am not made angry by the human race repeatedly discriminating. I sometimes wish it meant nothing to me, that it was something that existed for those others. Alas, this is not the life that I lead.

So once again I got angry. Once again Village Cinemas, this time at Sunshine, treated Deaf and hard of hearing people like garbage. Forty Deaf and hard of hearing patrons turned up last Sunday ( 28 April) to watch the new Avengers movie.

So the 40 excited Deaf and hard of hearing people sat down to watch a movie that had been advertised as open captioned. You can imagine the titles coming up. It being a Marvel movie you can imagine that there were some spectacular special effects just to warm up the audience. KABOOOOOOM, whiz bang … weeeeeeeeeee, ZOOOOOOOOM.

And then the dialogue starts. No captions. FUCK! Let’s wait a little longer and see if it comes on .. NOPE! You can imagine as one 40 patrons leaving the cinema to confront the manager. Confront the manager they did and I am told they got a meek apology and that was it. No offer of rescheduling, no offer of free tickets – NOTHING.

That’s 40 people. You can imagine a fair few kids among them. Disappointed and their afternoon, indeed their whole weekend, ruined. All because some clown couldn’t be bothered, didnt know how or simply did not want to turn on the captions.

I wasn’t there. Maybe I should just turn a blind eye. Maybe I should just laugh it off as just another idyosycrancy of those daft hearing people. No! It pisses me off. I feel the anger of those that attended as if I was there myself. Well done Village Road Show… Not only do you make people suffer Craptiview but the one chance you get to do it right with open captions you screw it up.

And then their was this. – “Your baby’s brain needs sound right away in order to be activated.”  – ” followed by this – ” Good hearing – a clear pathway through the ears to the brain – is important for speech, language, and reading development. You don’t want your baby to miss out on the sounds and spoken language that surround them. Hearing is your baby’s connection to the everyday sounds of talking, singing, and reading. These are the building blocks for learning to listen and talk and doing well in school. ” (Taken from: CLICK HERE )

But worse was to follow: – ” If a child has an undiagnosed hearing loss during the first few months of life, they miss this window of opportunity to naturally be hearing and learning the sounds of speech, even though they’re not saying any of those sounds back.
Dr. Patti Martin

Let me say this now. Hearing is good. It’s a useful tool. For a start it means when you grow up the arseholes from Village Cinema wont screw up your afternoon at the cinema. You wont have to worry about no interpreters or ever being discriminated against. It is all good.

But does it activate your brain? NO! Well it does, but is it the only thing to activate your brain, NO! Will not hearing your mummy or daddy sing or talk turn you into this soulless thing with an inactive brain? NO! I just wish these people who put out this ridiculous and inaccurate information would stop it. They do more harm than good.

When professionals distribute this crap parents take their word as god. The information is false. Babies do not need to hear they need to communicate. Whether that is by hearing or signing it does not matter. But it is a truism that they need to communicate a lot and be able to participate and be involved to develop their brain and language. Hearing alone is often not enough.

But anyway the great linguist Noam Chomsky recounts a story about deaf kids. As the story goes there were these deaf kids who had received no exposure to sign language. Their spoken language was extremely limited. These kids were left alone to play. It was found that over time that they had actually developed their own sign language. And this sign language was so developmentally sophisticated that their communication with each other was actually age appropriate.  Perhaps only they could understand each other but this language allowed them to communicate at a level that other developmentally normal kids of their age could.

There is a similar story of deaf people in Nicaragua. Apparently deaf people in this country had been separated from each other and had limited exposure to each other. There were several failed attempts to teach them spoken languages that just led to horrifically delayed language.

I am not sure how it happened but somehow a few deaf of Nicaragua were allowed to mingle and socialise on a limited basis. Over a period of time these people developed their own sign language. Researchers were later to find that this sign language had complex grammar and rules similar to other sign languages.

And then there is Bellugi, an American linguist. She did comprehensive research into the areas that the brain uses to process language. She found that sign languages and spoken languages are processed in the same parts of the brain . Apparently when the Wernicke’s area of the brain is damaged it causes deficits in both sign and spoken language. The Boca area of the brain is activated when people are either speaking or signing. Language is language whether it is signed or spoken.

What I am trying to say is that the brain is not activated by hearing. It probably isn’t just activated by using sign language either. From what I can tell, from my limited study, it is human interaction that activates the language brain.

Even in the absence of any language it has been proven that people begin to communicate and develop their own language.  This can be seen from the young deaf kids left alone and the deaf people from Nicaragua. And this language is not just gestures, its sophisticated with its own rules and grammar.

So what do we conclude? We conclude that interaction and communication is what activates the brain and leads to language development. Whether this is sign or hearing is not the point. Human interaction is the key. We also know that often when deaf kids are expected to get by with limited hearing it impedes their language, education and human development. Simply because they miss too much and are isolated. It is time to acknowledge this as fact.

But still professionals make the same old mistakes. They insist that deaf kids MUST HEAR! It’s rubbish and it’s time that we cracked down on this misinformation because it is doing more harm than good.

And that’s why I get angry. I am just fed up with Deaf and hard of hearing people being screwed around – CONSTANTLY!

“A language is not just words. It’s a culture, a tradition, a unification of a community, a whole history that creates what a community is. It’s all embodied in a language.”

Noam Chomsky




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