Moments of Permanence - Post a comment

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June 28th, 2009 - 08:19 am
Okay, thank you for this -- I appreciate the clarification. Really, I do, and I appreciate that you're trying to understand me, even if I'm not clarifying very well -- please do ask me to explain myself if I get too obscure.

I've been in and out of a decent headspace for this sort of thing over the last few days, and ... well. I'm replying out of gmail, because I just ran into fail elsewhere (I believe you're familiar with the warnings debate?) and having that cross over with the fact that the title of your post feels like the proverbial chalkboard-and-nails -- well.

Would it be all right to ask you to change to it something else? You can add to your eta or something that that was what the original title was, but it does hurt to see and I would like to respond, I really would, but it's difficult to scroll past the title itself when it pops up in my address bar and there's some overarching points in what you say that I'd like to respond to if I can. ♥

And as an addenum -- yes, you're right, I had terminology fail in my last comment, reaching for similiar-but-not-the-same concepts and landing on the wrong one. When I said 'colonialism', I meant something along the lines of 'that process of domination and assimiliation and moreso depreciation of minorities', if that makes sense. Like, when it comes to sign language, the position is still precarious. It is, in some very real ways, a finite resource. And I'm very aware of that.

(I should add that I'm pretty much only speaking for myself here when I say 'we'; it's a very bad habit of mine, and I shouldn't do it, really.)

And I think most of us are aware of that. And I'm aware that hearing parents would rather perform invasive surgery on their child rather than learn to communicate with them as they are. And then when that fails, as it did with me off and on over the years in a thousand different ways, they brand their child 'failures' and send them off to learn sign language because they'll never be any good at oral communication, when the delay in language and development is caused by the insistence on that surgery and the following expectation that they'll learn oral language.

And I'm aware, personally, that perhaps written language would be an ... hmm. Enticement to those hearing parents of nine out of ten deaf children. But it doesn't matter, really, because that... really take priority, I think.

As long as that attitude of 'oral first, manual when oral options are exhausted and the child is branded a failure' exists, as long as we have to deal with the painful, life-long effects of that attitude, with the consequences (hell, the wreckage) of hearing people's privileged attitudes toward language, as long as children are made to suffer the expectations of Becoming Hearing (and failing because they weren't hearing in the first place to begin with); as long as manual languages and the cohesion of deaf communities and the very option of manual languages itself is under threat, and under such severe threat, it is that which needs changing and fixing.

Having a written system means little if there is no-one to use it, and that is the postion which I and others like me face. I understand your argument that you believe in the preservation of languages, and that preservation happens through a written form (or perhaps abstraction) of the language in question, but it's rather putting the cart before the horse. The horse must be fed first. It must grow, and under heavy pressure it can't carry a child, much less draw a cart.

And that is the position manual languages are in and have been in living memory (very recent memory: I myself am a product of the denial of manual languages, of this attitude, this is my pain, this is where my hurt and my rage comes from) and while I wish dearly that it could happen, that this is a world where it will eventually happen, I can't make that assumption.

I really, really can't, because I meet so many hearing parents of deaf children who believe, who sincerely fucking believe, that their children won't need to do [sign language] ever, that they won't need to teach their children a way to communicate with them before oral options of forcing the child to speech and talk to their peers and fit in with the hearing become fraught and frayed and no longer a promise spun by oralists who believe that if only a child is taught to speak and hear as best as they can, to speechread, to listen, to pay attention, to watch for cues, and above all never learn sign language, then they will be hearing.

This is not a myth. This has happened to me. This has happened to people I know.

This is happening to the son of the real estate agent who sold us this house, who said of her deaf son, when asked what accomodations she made for him, that she spoke clearly to him and had him in speech therapy. That's it. Just that. Just for that a deaf child. Isn't that nice?

Worse: her second son had CAPD, Central Auditory Processing Disorder, and she 'spoke clearly' to him too. It is a fundamental scrambling of the sounds processed by the human ear. Speaking clearly aids a little; it does not help the problem, which is that the auditory processing of a person with CAPD is fundamentally fucking different to begin with. Much like deaf children's are, though the structure of how they process (or don't process) auditory stimuli is very often different from CAPD.

It's all of a piece, that kind of attitude. It all ties in together, and I run into it just about every time someone notices my hearing aids or the way I talk or how I watch their lips and faces or or or or or or or fucking or.

And to me, the right to a natural language of the heart, where one can communicate at all, full stop, the end, is the threat and concern. Seriously. It's that fucking bad. And that's why your post title is so fucking painful, because it completely leaps past the attitude of the hearing and how that influences everything and makes it into the concern of the hearing. It's not. It's my life and my words and it hurts.

I know your position. I fight with it all the time. And I'm fighting with it because I want you to understand that your position is of a piece, is an ally to, is working against me, is contributing to my struggle, with the positions and attitudes that denied me the language you are so intent on preserving in the first place.

Whew. That turned into a bit of a rant. I'm not sure I want to delete it, though. Just know that I'm mostly angry and hurt in general, and that most of this is not directly specifically at you; more the overall arch of how this kind of reasoning just makes it harder for me to claim what is left over when hearing people are done going through it and poking at people like me yet again.
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