In the U.S., we have the American Disability Act (ADA) which says that employers cannot discriminate against the Deaf during the hiring process and must accommodate Deaf employees to the best of their ability. Even with the ADA, I know some Deaf people have faced discrimination in the job market. I’m not sure if Pakistan and Malaysia have similar laws or not, but from what I understand, it was becoming extremely difficult for the Deaf and hard of hearing to find jobs in these countries. These deaf KFCs simultaneously raised positive awareness and helped employ the Deaf community, which raises the question: Where are the deaf KFCS in the United States?
The American Sign Language Phrase Book The authoritative source on ASL is betterthan ever with more than 50 new phrases For more than 20 years, The American Sign Language Phrase Book has been the go-to guide for the Deaf and those who need to communicate with them, such as family, teachers, and friends. Now this classic by ASL leader Lou Fant has been updated by his wife Barbara Fant to include signs for today’s lifestyle.
“The Anatomy of Prejudice” is a fantastic resource on blogspot that covers a lot of minority topics, ranging from homosexuality to religion to women. Though it hasn’t been updated since 2010 (and though this post is from 2006), it is the best explanation I have found of the number one rule of the Deaf world: The Deaf do not view themselves as having a disability. The Deaf community is not a subculture within the rest of mainstream society; they are their own culture completely. ASL is not based on English, but is it’s own language, and there are different social standards and customs that are not practiced by the hearing community. Thus, being Deaf is seen not as a problem or something to be fixed, but rather as a language barrier or cultural difference. The Deaf community that surrounds Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. views themselves in a similar way the Hispanic community in Miami views themselves. Though a Hispanic community that does not speak English is certainly at a disadvantage in mainstream society, no one would suggest that they are a disabled people because of this language barrier.
“But they can’t hear,” says a hearing friend of mine currently reading this article over my shoulder. “We have the ability to hear, and they do not. They are dis-abled to hear.”
But the post brings up a crucial point that being disabled is relative. Deaf people can communicate through soundproof glass, underwater, in extremely loud environments as well as ones that require complete silence—all environments where hearing people would be dis-abled. The roles reverse in that hearing people can communicate in the dark, from separate rooms, and without looking at each other, while the Deaf cannot. Thus, a term I have heard many times by the Deaf is not that they are dis-abled but “differently-abled.”
The post also brings up the point that Deaf people don’t want to be “fixed.” Says the post, “Extreme proponents of this view regard giving a deaf child a cochlear implant or hearing aids as akin to ‘correcting’ the colour of a black person’s skin by making them white.” Cochlear implants are very controversial and will definitely be discussed at some point on this blog, but for the sake of pacing ourselves and because I don’t want hate mail in my message box from all of Tumblr just yet , today is not that day.
As you work through American Sign Language lessons and read up on Deaf Culture, it is important to remember that deaf people have a sense of humor, too! Whatever aspect of deaf life you may be exploring, you should never forget to treat deaf individuals the same way you would your own friends…
I mean this to be the myth of speaking being a language. I would like to preface this by saying that, a.) this is my view only (and not the views of the others) and b.) if you have a CI, I’m not trying to invalidate you; I absolutely believe that you have every right to claim a Deaf identity and have your CI without buggery from other folks. This is simply addressed to the parents of folks who are born deaf, and the myths associated with being born deaf and learning to speak — I would like them to be educated to the myths associated with CIs (and other issues surrounding it) and honestly nothing more.
There are 4 core myths associated with deaf children and cochlear implants:
“Your child needs to be spoken to/speak from birth in order to have the capacity to speak later in life.”
“ASL/sign language are “shallow” and difficult to learn.”
“But it’d take too long to learn! My child has to learn language NOW or they won’t ever pick it up! That’s why I had a CI implanted at 9 months!”
“But they’re be hearing! Getting an implant “fixes” your hearing; it makes you not-deaf!”
So I’m going to do them in order:
“Your child needs to be spoken to in order to have the capacity to speak later in life. “Actually, your child needs to learn a LANGUAGE to have the capacity for LANGUAGE later in life. ASL is a language, while speaking is not. If you sign around your baby, then your baby will have the linguistic properties installed in their head and down the road, be able to learn spoken English. However, if you speak around a deaf baby, they are less likely to hear what you’re saying and thus, less likely to pick up linguistic principles. Sign, because it’s visual, is more accessible to deaf babies. A common retort to this is “But ASL is hard/and shallow! Isn’t it just gestured English?!” Which brings us to myth 2:
“ASL/sign language are “shallow” and difficult to learn.” Sign is a language unto itself; it’s not some false language which mimics English with ones’ hands; it has its own grammar and culture associated with it. And with practice, one can have conversations in basic sign in a matter of weeks! While it might take a few years to truly become fluent, any time signing with your child is language which is accessible to the child and thus, preserving linguistic qualities.
“But it’d take too long to learn! My child has to learn language NOW or they won’t ever pick it up! That’s why I had a CI implanted at 9 months!” Actually, the way your baby learns language is a 2-stage process: until 7-9 months, they really just observe, trying to pick up what is their environment and differentiate their senses. At that 7-9 month period, they then begin to filter their language from background noises/gestures; so your kid will realize that you addressing a human being is language while the coffee filter in the background is not. This means that you actually have 7-9 months to start learning basic sign (since you will most likely know your child is deaf relatively early on with modern medicine), which means 7-9 months of basic sign around your child, which will preserve linguistic ability. Which means 7-9 months to practice being able to communicate in at least full ideas (with daily practice), which will allow your child to differentiate your sign from random hand gestures, meaning they will truly have linguistic abilities saved. This means you have 7-9 months to get practice in before your kid really needs it, especially if you want to have them speaking down the road. This means ASL is absolutely important to the child. It doesn’t even need to be ASL; it can be PSE or SEE which is signs to English grammar, allowing you to expose your child to visible language in a way more comfortable to you (but eventually phasing in ASL grammar allows for more accessibility towards fuller-ASL in the future). Thus, you really don’t have much of an excuse to teach your child sign, especially if you want your child to be more verbal.
“But they’re be hearing! Getting an implant “fixes” your hearing; it makes you not-deaf!” The truth here is quite the opposite; in order to implant a CI, the surgeon must trim the hair cells of the cochlear nerve from the ear, which results in loss of residual hearing. In other words, any person getting a CI will NOT be able to hear once their batteries are dead. And no matter how hard you prepare, there WILL be moments where batteries aren’t around. And when your child can’t hear anything and lip-reading isn’t even 40% accurate without a sound to base it on (it works better in conjunction with sound), how are you going to communicate? Would you rather have a continuous mode of communication with your child or be forced to carry a pen and paper and play Pictionary? So, even if they get raised in a more-verbal environment, having sign as a means of communication is still essential.