It’s sadly quite common among the culturally Deaf to conflate their wants with the needs of all deaf and Hard of Hearing people alike. Clearly that’s not the case because like with the HoH, they don’t need classes in ASL or BSL, it’s not going to really help them. Hearing aids do however. And then there are those who are deaf, but mainstreamed rather than being involved in Deaf Culture. Most mainstreamed deafs don’t rely on signing, have hearies for family, friends and romantic partners who also don’t know how to sign. Many of these deafs rely on speaking and lip reading or cochlear implants.
However, those who are culturally Deaf tend to lobby for funding from programs and proposed programs that would help the mainstreamed deaf population (the majority of the deaf population) and the HoH by siphoning those funds to deaf clubs, deaf meetups and signing courses. They also siphon those funds to sign language interpreters (terps). I’m not against job creation in services like that, however very little of that money goes towards stenographer services for deafs like myself.
I seriously prefer to just have a stenographer listen in on the call and type out what’s being said when I schedule doctor appointments or call government offices like Social Security rather than someone on a video call signing it to me in a broken, ass backwards inferior language. It’s my own personal opinion as a deaf person that ASL is inferior to English and Signed English. What do you expect from a language made literally by a group of uneducated children?
How is ASL inferior to my signed English? If I ask for a cup of coffee, I can ask for sugar and milk, but when I ask for “milk” I actually get “coffee creamer” rather than actual milk because it’s interpreted to be creamer. Well sorry you screwed up my order of coffee due to such an inferior language not being able to distinguish between milk and coffee creamer, but when using Signed English, when I say “Milk” I mean actual, literally milk from the cows tit kind of milk. My use of Signed English has a sign for coffee creamer and a sign for milk. I can even sign if I want butter milk, skim milk, low fat milk, 2% milk, whole milk, etc. I also have specific signs for powdered creamer, liquid creamer, and various creamer flavors.
So for someone that’s a mainstreamed deaf that speaks English and lipreads/uses cochlear implants, how is a vastly limited, highly interpretive language like ASL or BSL going to actually help someone like me? It won’t, it’ll only frustrate me. Now how will it help someone who’s hard of hearing that uses hearing aids? Answer? It won’t, because again, they’re used to milk being milk, creamer being creamer and numerous other things that have to be interpreted in order to get the picture. Basically literally saying one thing meaning something else.
The mainstreamed deaf and the HoH both do not need sign language interpreters, nor do we need these deaf meetups, deaf groups, deaf clubs, etc. What we need are language literacy classes (for English, the mainstreamed language of our country ((USA and UK))), stenographers, proper closed captioning, hearing aids, cochlear implants, audiologist visits and education on the care of our hearing and listening devices (and batteries for said devices).
The culturally Deaf insist that mainstreamed deafs and HoH need ASL interpreters and these various clubs, meetups and spaces and ASL classes to “Improve our lives” as “It’s what we need”. It’s not what we need, it’s just specifically what they particularly want. It’s a want, not a need.
I know roughly 1000 words with ASL, I wouldn’t say I’m fluent in it in the slightest and my home signing those who rely solely on signing, an ASL user will understand about 30% of what I say. My deafness runs in the family, and as a result, we have a home sign that’s passed in the family which, from what I can tell is based on ASL and BSL both. However, there are lots of words I can use and often do, that ASL and BSL users cannot translate because my home signing was created by educated adults in mainstream society. Hence I have words for coffee creamer and milk separately. I can also sign words “is, an, and, the, etc” while they cannot.
Do I rely on my home signing in my daily life? Not at all. In fact it’s exceptionally rare for my husband, roommates and various friends to see me ever sign anything, ever. Exception being my husband when I make a video where I’m signing, but that’s about it. When I speak to my Great Uncle, my two brothers, my sister, my mother, my father, my step father (my mom’s previous husband, not her current alcoholic abusive child molesting asshole she’s currently with). Otherwise, nobody really sees me sign much at all, it’s exceptionally rare.
I will more often than not speak when I need to communicate even though I always worry about how I sound due to bullying growing up in a mainstreamed school (kinda why I fully support homeschooling and school choice so god damn much).
But, did I get raised using home signing? No, the adults used home signing but they spoke with the children, even the deaf ones like myself and my system and the HoH ones like my brothers. I didn’t start learning home signing until I was 11 and by then I’ve already had a good 5 years of speech therapy under my belt, literate in English and spoken English and was lip reading (with some challenges) and wore hearing aids (which helped a ton back then).
Why was I taught the home signing? Because it’s easier for me to communicate with the adults and vice versa, but I was encouraged to speak orally all the same.
My upbringing in oralism has taught me a lot. I can speak well and enunciate properly, enough so nobody really even realizes I’m deaf much of the time. I can read and write exceptionally well, better than average at the very least. Plus I’m able to mingle in mainstream society and take part in numerous cultures surrounding me and just walk up to a random person and be able to communicate well enough with them, even if I can’t hear them at all, to be able to do things I need, including even as far as getting directions.
Granted I do have memory issues but that’s another story in and of itself caused by untreated hearing loss, which is more common than people want to admit. Memory issues and depression and feeling isolated aside, my life is vastly better than someone who relies solely on signing and my needs are thusly vastly different than those who are culturally Deaf.
I don’t require a terp for phone calls or even in person visits to my doctor. Just enunciate or if I can’t catch something, I’ll ask you to write it down or type it on your phone and show me your screen. For my phone calls, I just use InnoCaption on my Android device so a stenographer listens in and types things said to me. Those who I would otherwise talk to like family and friends, I just send and receive texts and IM’s instead. That last part is also why it’s super important for social media giants like Facebook to not ban people all willy nilly for having the wrong opinions and why I dislike posting much on my Facebook at all. I don’t want my ability to contact loved ones to be snatched out from underneath me because someone got butthurt about something.
Suspend my mom and oops, now suddenly it’s that much more difficult to casually speak to my mother. Suspend my husband or roommates, BOOM now suddenly it’s a thousand times more challenging to communicate with them. #FuckCensorship