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Mike Arrington: hard of hearing, an influence on perception?

Mike Arrington posted a blog entry about a recent Techcrunch party, where he got backlash for being cold.

Mike then goes onto cite 'hearing problems', which could have an influence

One problem I have is very bad hearing. When there is background noise/music/conversation I often cannot understand what a person is saying right in front of me. Sometimes I try to follow the conversation from fragments that I pick up. Other times, I ask for them to repeat what they said. It’s frustrating.

For hard of hearing people, how much does this influence people's perception of who they are? In fact communication, or lack of, can get in the way of any of us. When I was a mainstream deafie, trying to cover up a communication breakdown (pretend to be hearing attitude that I was brought up with, although I was plain deaf) ensured that people thought I was rather [fill in the blank]. Sure I did come across like that, but that was part of my conditioning to conform (and failing). Why aren't we more upfront with communication, and why do we allow hearingness to take over?

Does this mean that the tech crowd don't get diversity, or some people just don't like Arrington? Or is there a need to be more open about the whole can't hear thing - tell the person you are talking to - and don't cover it up at the time?

Comments (5)

There isn't a potential deafie alive who doesn't fight hearing loss consciously or otherwise to the bitter end. Since effective communication is all, it is unsurprising, that some continue well after the hearing has gone too... it's a natural emotion to assume people are uncaring of your communication loss or hearing, but near all of us hide it very well, so that is a wrong perception, not everyone will laugh at you or insult you once they know.

Since being deaf is seen as akin to being on another planet and out of real participation in things for good, etc it is unsurprising most do not want to be part of it, (The deaf area has a poorer image of acceptance than a hearing one these days), mostly those losing hearing, want hearing peers to accept them and to accommodate them as usual.

Awareness as they see it is as a means to re-integrate, as deaf see it, simply recognition of the status quo. It's not helped by 'hidden hearing' adverts either... but it shows those in the know appreciate the real drive of those losing hearing to avoid ending up in the deaf community if they can, fear is a great driver.... Perhaps if deaf made more attempts to dispel that myth..

Or perhaps the HEARING MADE MORE ATTEMPTS TO UNDERSTAND! Why should us Deafies do all the bloody work?

@ MM: Are you saying that the Deaf community should be more welcoming to those who have profoundly lost their hearing and do not have SL? I am trying to get to the bottom of this as I am not sure what is your point.

@ Alison: Admitting that you cannot follow conversations is like taboo in the hearing world, especially in the social settings a la party stylee, because most people are more concerned with mingling and having a good time or with their own tasks. I used to be like a nodding dog, put my thumb up "Yeah Yeah" when I didn't understand most of it.

On the other side of the coin, if you say "I am sorry I cannot follow you - could you step under this light here" it will force them to think about having to make themselves understood. Most don't like being put in the spot, have an anxiety attack, just plain ignore you or they will struggle for ideas how to communicate (when pen and paper usually suffice) and they rarely ask you what is the best way to communicate. We have to do all the work for them. Hearing people are just as guilty to admitting their communication shortfalls, when they don't know how to communicate other than babbling along to their hearts' contents. It is rarity to get someone who is a confident communicator and be keyed up.

Of course, and so should hearing make effort to communicate as well in an ideal world. I think the perception, is to expect less ignorance and excuses from those already deaf. Sign Language is as much a barrier to communication as someone speaking is... If signers won't go half way, and hearing won't go half way, then those in the middle are going to be considerably more isolated than either of those sectors, there is always a need to accept this 'third sector' exists, who will never fit in either sector to any real degree, for those willing to have a go, the door should be open.

As for writing things down, I see no problem with it, it is communication, you can't expect joe soap on the street to turn around and take a sign lesson can you ? or even lip-speak clearly, on the street, I doubt the deaf ever use sign to communicate to people they don't know, what would be the point ? Deaf do not NEED to communicate via shops etc, because they check prices, choose the right shops to feel comfortable in, position themselves so they can see the total added up etc, they are never going to stand there and pass the time of day with anyone are they ?

If you take a terp with you on 'official' meets or something, then again the direct social chat is NOT happening either. If they are honest and profoundly deaf sign users, then I doubt they would claim to go out every day and chat to hearing people. It creeps up on you, you take short cuts, avoid situations where confusion could happen, before you know it, you find you've painted yourself into a deaf corner, it's a form of self protection to a degree....still, there's always your DEAF mates isn't there ? I would like to see communication tuition than promotes easier deaf-hearing communication, as I think the onus will ALWAYS be on us, and we have more interaction to lose....

very interesting, but I don't agree with you

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