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Deaf Awareness Week: Elizabeth Foundation tops RNID

Elizabeth_Foundation_Site.jpgThe Elizabeth Foundation went one better than the RNID for Deaf Awareness Week. Instead of using hearing people to subtitle sound and make everyone cry; they used real live deaf children, and sent them off on a listening walk:

The [deaf] youngsters listened out for as many different sounds as they could and recorded it on their clipboard and tape recorder.

A highlight of the walk was a visit to the building site of the Listening for Life Centre which will be the base of Bradford Royal Infirmary's Yorkshire Cochlear Implant Service and is right next door to The Elizabeth Foundation in Smith Lane.

Run this one past me.

This was how I would interpret Deaf Awareness Week. Increase awareness amongst the hearing community that deaf people exist. Remind them of the barriers that they face, and how to work in partnership with and actually provide access.

Is that a reasonable interpretation? Yes? No? Seems not.

I don't see the Elizabeth Foundation practising none of the above? Its a hearing agenda: lets make deaf children fit into our world. Through this objective, we have a underlying oppression happening. Listen a bit harder, deafness is your problem not anyone else's.

You are broken. We can't accept you as a deaf person, pretend hearing person instead. Conform to hearing ways. Force the normalisation stereotype, and don't encourage diversity. And who decides this agenda? Hearing people, who aren't actually deaf themselves but for some unknown control issues, they would like to push this agenda.

I get some deaf people actually will use hearing aids as a means for sound, but that's not the issue here. Chucking such messages in the press such as "showed the exciting opportunities and potential deaf children have today through learning to listen". This strong promotes a value judgment around normality, conformity, lack of diversity and difference. It has a wider ripple effect on the rest of us: communication is your problem. Everyone must aspire to be normal. You fail to do so, and its your failure. This ends up having ripple effects on e.g. employability of deaf people, and lack of willingness to make adjustments.

Deaf awareness week should not be an excuse to be oppressive, or promote oppressive attitudes.

Hearing aid youngsters listen to building site!

See also:
The Sickness of Deaf Awareness Week: Imagine A World Without Sound

Comments (5)

hi, am excited to read your post, am an administrator in an institution catering for youth who are hearing challenged, totaling 200. your article is very relevant esp in our scenario where special education polices are non and unknown.please do communicate, thank you.

Wow, you really are grumpy.

Making the general public aware that kids can hear with cochlear implants is a good thing. Them hearing with them... another good thing.

@Mom - the miracles of CIs are in the newspapers every day. One recurring advertisement, dressed up as personal stories. "x can now hear", "Miracle cure for family", etc.

Hearing is a *personal* thing. What the general public need to be aware of, is adjustments where necessary and be okay with diversity. If someone reckons they can hear, and be a pretend hearie ... let them. If they can hear as much as they claim, then what's the need of "deaf awareness" for? They're pretend hearies aren't they? ;-) If the argument is that people can listen then they don't need any adjustments. If its about fitting in, awareness is about what exactly?

And yep I can see that's shallow, but that's the kind of logic being applied.

And yep I'm grumpy, but small wonder!


CI - when they work, yes they do a great job. How about those that it doesn't work? It does not give the same level of "success" for every one. For many others it's just a very powerful hearing aid, but does not help that much compared to their hearing aids etc. Perhaps it would have been better to increase awareness in order to help make their life a bit easier and more of a success instead of hiding them away.

The whole campaign so far have been all about making us "normal" by using kids etc where CI does work and point at them "LOOK! It works!" and the public will then see it as a cure. It's not. Let's make them aware of that fact - CI - it can work. But it's not a 100% result. And not everyone can get it. How can we be more aware of them? Make things easier and make them part of society instead of trying to make them just like us"

I think it's strange that the Elizabeth Foundation acknowledge that a 'one size fits all' approach is inappropriate, yet they exclude sign language, even though that could be a size that snugly fits some. It seems to me that they are pandering to the simplistic myth that sign language impedes the development of speech, language and listening skills. That's just a guess, often peddled by medical consultants. Baby sign in America and elsewhere has been shown to have the opposite effect i.e. it IMPROVES the development of speech, language and listening skills!

People who withhold any form of communication from children should perhaps ask themselves whether holding a child to such a rigid prescription of nnormalisation is in their best interests (the child's!) If they want a good answer, a good start would be to ask the deaf people who actually went through it.

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