Sunday, December 9, 2012

Chapters 32-36

Chapter 32
 The ability to lip reading (more accurately called speech reading) is one of the most common misconceptions that hearing people have towards the deaf community. They think that all deaf people have the ability to read lips which isn’t the case!  It’s actually a quite difficult thing to do!  Speech reading is an acquired skill. Ultimately it involves a lot of guesswork which I found rather interesting.  Only 30% of all spoken sounds are visible on the lips. Sounds like “b” “p” and “m” are nearly impossible to distinguish by just watching the mouth. Nonetheless, for those that can speech read there are still barriers present that hinder communication. Speech reading also involves the face, eyes, and eyebrows. Nonetheless, it’s a very complex skill, and I applaud anyone who attempts it! However, as hearing people it’s important that we don’t assume that all deaf people are speech readers. As stated in the text, some hearing people tend to over exaggerate or over enunciate their speech when first meeting a deaf individual. They also tend to ask the deaf individual “Can you read my lips?” and when they respond the hearing person automatically assumes they can speech read.  There are many other ways to communicate with deaf individuals if you are unfamiliar with ASL. Ultimately you can use a pen and paper, or even your palm to spell words! If you are really interested in communicating with a deaf individual you will find a way around the language barrier! Not only is this the case for ASL and English but for many other languages as well!

Chapter 33
In the past, speech pathologists, doctors, and audiologists have had a bad reputation in the deaf community. When a child is first born, doctors and audiologists are usually the first ones to deliver the news to the parents that their child is deaf. Audiologists then make recommendations to the parents. Their words are usually carrying weight, and come across lacking sympathy. They also tend to carry negative associations rather than positive ones.  If I was in a situation where I was dealing with a speech audiologist like the one above, I would dislike them as well! Therefore, I don’t blame the deaf community for their beliefs towards these types of people.
Speech pathologists take up where the doctors and audiologists leave off. The have the task of modeling the child’s language.  They teach them how to form sounds correctly, differentiate their vowels, and control their breathing and voice, and much more.  Nonetheless, speech training is very grueling and tiring work. For many children who participate in speech training it can become very frustrating.  However, speech pathologists also looked down upon by some deaf individuals. It’s important to note that they don’t oppose speech training, but oppose some of their beliefs and strategies.  One thing I found completely shocking is that some speech pathologists have the view that deaf children broken and need to be “fixed.” This is appalling to me! Deaf children are no different than any other children. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. It just so happens that deaf children lack the ability to hear.  Nonetheless, they can do anything that a hearing child can do. However, not all medical professionals act in this way. Nonetheless, it’s important that we move forward as a community and look towards the future! J

Chapter 34
Among the deaf community lies the debate of oral speech versus signing.  Some oralists tend to believe that career opportunities for speaking deaf versus non-speaking deaf are better. This remains a questionable topic today.  However, I personally feel as if a workplace shouldn't discriminate on any of these factors. If the individual is capable of completing the task at hand, it shouldn't matter whether or not the individual can speak or not. As I said before, if communication is really necessary there are ways around the language barrier! People do it every day.
Before reading this chapter, I never knew that deaf individuals could actually verbalize. My deaf cousin mainly speech reads and signs. Nonetheless, if deaf individuals are comfortable with verbalizing I see no problem with it at all! It’s important to note, that deaf individuals can’t hear themselves speak therefore they may speak rather loudly during inopportune times.  But who are we to tell them to not verbalize? Everyone has the right to free speech!

Chapter 35
As stated in the text, deaf individuals have a wide range of speech skills. It’s important that we, the hearing community, eliminate stereotypes.  Some deaf individuals have good speech skills, and other prefer to not use their voice at all. This is a very controversial topic within the deaf community.  As stated by the author: “If we don’t use our voices, do we give hearing people the wrong impression? If we do use our voices, are we opposing other deaf people?” As a hearing individual we should respect a deaf person choice on rather or not to voice. Ultimately, it’s a personal decision made by the deaf individual.  
One think I found interesting in this chapter was when the text stated that some hearing persons don’t use their voices in the company of deaf friends, relatives, or clients. I thought that was really special. It also shows a sign of respect to the deaf individuals around you! After reading this chapter, I've realized that there is more to speech than just the ability to communicate.  There are multiple ways to communicate whether that’s with ASL or another way. I think the author says it well when he says, “the spirit of communication is far more important than the dogma of mode.”  J
Chapter 36
All deaf individuals have the ability to speak.  However, it’s their personal decision on whether or not to do so. In the past, deaf individuals that “could not talk like a normal person” (as stated in the text) were stereotyped as deaf-mutes or deaf-and-dumb. I find both of these stereotypes very offensive towards the deaf community. A deaf individual that has chosen not to voice is no less superior!
Some people in the community seem to think that signing interferes with speech development. This isn’t true. It is a proven fact that deaf children whose first language is ASL tend to develop better speech than those who were given intensive oral training. Having a solid foundation in a visual language makes it easier to learn another language. For example, let’s say there is a child that recently moved from Mexico to the United States. If the child has previous background knowledge about the content being taught in English they will become more successful in learning the English Language. This goes for ASL as well.  Nonetheless, language is transferable.  
It’s important to remain respectful of the choices that deaf people make regarding speech. If they feel comfortable voicing we should welcome them to use their voice whenever. However, if they don’t feel comfortable we should be understanding and not push them into something they don’t want to do. Nonetheless, deaf people who choose not to use their voice live very happy and productive lives without it! I’ve come to realize speech is not necessary to survive; it’s just a tool we've become reliant upon.