Monday, April 21, 2008

Old Deaf culture and New Deaf culture

Last night, my wife and I were watching the movie called Hallmark’s Sweet Nothing in My Ear, I realized something and told my wife that I am seeing the "Old Deaf culture and New Deaf culture" in this movie. I believe this movie is accurate in many ways. I was watching carefully of one character who played the deaf grandfather in the movie and he has portrayed many of the "old" Deaf culture individuals' attitude while today's Deaf culture is little different. The deaf grandma who was probably the most wise character in the movie did every well explaining pros and cons of Deaf culture. The "old" Deaf culture didn't have to deal with today's technology while today's Deaf culture is dealing with it. Oh yes, there was one character in the movie who played the hard-of-hearing psychologist who both signs and speaks which is very much how I am in real life except that I am a professional accountant.

The key phrase in the whole movie comes down to is this: "to help him (Adam) have a better life". Of course, everyone was doing this for Adam from each of the characters' own perspectives. Yesterday, I posted about Nebraska's billboard promoting an Omaha school for the hearing impaired is drawing fire from the Deaf culture who lives in the area. Some deaf people saying they’re insulted by the sign’s message which means the Deaf culture is still struggling for self-recognition. The billboard was aiming at kids who are hearing-impaired (or deaf) more than parents.

I have no problem with the billboard that was sending a message to hearing-impaired/deaf kids because they all have that 'right' to do whatever they want with their own body. No one else should tell them what to do. That's the MAIN issue about parents placing kids to have cochlear plant by giving them a choice.

This movie have portrayed very well because at the end, we noticed the 'father' have confessed that like many others are 'selfish' to do what they want for the child. Both deaf and hearing. Not just hearing. I am having the same issues with deaf as well for not allowing one person who has the right to do whatever he/she want with their body. They were making decisions based on what is best for themselves but not for Adam. Its not about hearing culture or Deaf culture but rather a freedom to choose. We are free, but our freedom does not mean we can know for SURE what is right and what is wrong. Until we know we can maintain our integrity only by admitting our own ignorance, we can be truly humbled by the fact that ONE individual has the right more than anyone else whether to obtain a cochlear implant or not.

Today, I am having issues with experts like AG Bell telling parents what to do. Its very tough for parents to find the "right" path for our disabled children when they are not getting ALL of the information about deafness.

We have to remember that the "parents" have the greater burden of making decisions for the family. Not the grandparents, friends or even Deaf or hearing cultures. We also have to remember that being "parents of children with disabilities" are NOT easy and we work much harder than parents of "normal" kids. They are facing a much greater trial more than anything other than facing a child who is dying or have died.

With technologies available today, many people with disabilities will NOT reject the "cure" of medical intervention if they will help make their lives easier and live in a society so that they can have a decent life. The Deaf culture will reject the cochlear implants but accept any other technologies that will help them. We should be looking at ALL aspects of what can HELP our children regardless how we think should be the right way. They are the ones who are living their lives and we are NOT living their lives. We are helping them living their lives and we want to enjoy life without us placing our own agendas what would be "best for them". We want the BEST for them to bring them out as who they are and how they can actually enjoy life independently however they can cope with. We cannot place restrictions on them because we "think" or the "experts think" what is best for the children. Parents are likely to have a very good gage of their child's functional limitations and what the child is like as a person however, without proper education in understanding "fully" of the disability, parents of disabled children will not necessarily have the best interests of the child at heart any more than the average parent. Therefore, with that thinking, disabled children are particularly vulnerable to suffering at the hands of their parents who are willful in their own ignorance on agendas.

My deafness which I was born with, is not an illness nor a disability but rather I can't hear. Looking back. I was very healthy and was able to do anything that a "normal able" people could do but hear. I am hard of hearing (completely deaf when not wearing hearing-aids) so I was able to hear almost "normal" and I am thankful for today's technologies.

I was able to do many things ever better than "able" people until later in life that is, when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis on April 22, 2002 (which is 6 years ago tomorrow). Living with Multiple Sclerosis, I am prone to live with chronic pain. The main thing I need to remember is that "my will" has the power to control my thoughts. I am more into in thoughts than I am into feelings but I have both which helps me make decisions based on logical analysis and reasoning rather than feelings. I am doing what is BEST for me because this is my life.

Its not about us or them. This is about "what's best for ME" so we need to put ourselves in a child's shoes to figure out what is BEST for the child regardless how I think or feel.


Karen Mayes said...

Gotcha. We keep forgetting that each child is different and it is normal for parents to live out their dreams in the child/children (not fair, adding pressure on the child/children, I know... I, too, am guilty of this.)

Also, my husband and I don't always agree on what is best for our children... both who are deaf, are in different academic settings.

The 21st century's technology, medicine, and education methodologies for deaf people are vastly different from what we experienced in 20th century... so nothing is black and white... more gray, more confusing. Yes, there are successes and failures, but only in varying percentages.

Steve said...

Sound like you encouraged the kids to put tatoo on themseves, or pierce on the nose? Kids don't make decided without wise choice!!

whimsical brainpan said...

As a hearing person the movie was an eyeopener. I loved the way it ended.

Meryl K. Evans said...

Beautifully said, Jim. I can understand the father's confusion between selfishness and doing what's best for the child.

I also liked that they didn't decide what to do for Adam once and for all. I think that would've taken away from the movie's main points.