Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Paula and McConnell: Just Like Old Times!

I've locked myself in my bedroom to blog and suffer from the flu in peace as six kids run rampid in my house and the dumb-ass dog chews Sofia's shoes. There is no rest for the weary in this house. Anyway, the post Parents Always Make Mistakes has generated a bit of activity on the blogosphere motivating Paula to come out of hibernation...and guess who came to debate?? That's right Mike McConnell- read 'em here:

Yer darn right, Paula. Parents have the right to decide what's best. But what's different today than 15, 20, 30 or 50 years ago is that it is easier to become more informed and make an informed decision. I'm like you, I don't regret the decision my parents had to make on raising me strictly on aural and oral communication skills. However, the decision back then would be entirely different nowadays with the internet and better access and communication. And many are learning that (depending on hearing loss amount and type of aid, cochlear or hearing aid used) that early intervention is the best prevention and make use of the brain's plasticity. It's basically either you use it or lose it.

It's not a myth but a proven scientific fact that cannot be denied whatsoever. It's amazing when you go on YouTube and see all those young kids with cochlear implants do so extremely well on listening and speaking. You wouldn't even know they're deaf. Though the option is there to use signing method (not necessarily ASL) as part of the visual communication aspect. However you look at it parents will have to make that hard decision that will follow that child for the rest of his/her life for the better or worse.
mcconnell | Homepage | 02.03.09 - 4:35 pm | #

Hey Mike, Thanks for chiming in. You're right, the Internet has definitely aided in disseminating information to parents (and others) at crucial decision-making times. My daughter is one of those kids who has such great speech and articulation that you'd never guess that she is deaf. Her oral education coupled with hearing aids and later, cochlear implants has enabled her to speak well, hear easily and even identify lyrics in noisy restaurants (something I could never do). We are thankful for the technology and have never regretted our decision.

I don't wholly agree with your last comment about parents' decisions following their children around for the rest of their life. In fact, I have seen many families start with ASL and then transition to oral, I have also seen families start out oral and add ASL. Parents' decisions are not set in stone and can and should be modified based on how the child is doing.
Paula Rosenthal
| Homepage | 02.03.09 - 5:23 pm | #

*Note: I have placed this statement in bold because for some reason everyone always comes down on Paula as being anti-ASL- I never understood that*

Any parents that make a decision for their child does have an impact and does make the child for who he/she is for the time being. My mother made a decision for me and I'm the shining but positive example of that decision. Her decision back then has had an impact on me to this day while growing up. When I say "follow" I didn't mean in a negative way about the resulting effects of that decision. It does make you for who you are today along with your own decisions as a mature teen or adult that further mold you as you are. Supposed my mother instead put me in an all-deaf school with sign language and not an aural and oral intensive schooling program I'm sure I wouldn't be the person I am today. Certainly not educationally. Thank god for her decision. That decision has made the difference in who I am today. So, yes, I do believe a parents' decision does make a life long impact on a child which is probably a better wording there.

I also loved my friend Debbie's comment - she's a bad-ass in NYC that led to MM's poignant post:

I am always shocked to hear others comments on parenting -- be it deaf, CP, autism, blind, etc. If you tell a parent of a typically developing kid (I speak as a Mom raising a little girl with global developmental delays, CP, hypotonia, g-tube fed, suctioning, non-ambulatory, non-verbal, upcoming strabismus surgery, tubes in both ears)what they've done wrong -- you will not hear the end of it. They will say (maybe not to your face) "HOW DARE YOU". Why is it with such complicated lives and decisions -- with no "Guide to Your Special Needs Kid" do people feel even more entitled to give their two cents regarding their judgement of how to raise your child?!?

I am not part of the deaf community, but have learned a lot from Amelia's service coordinator who works for Clark School here in NYC, one of the big CI schools and through my friendship with you,Jodi. I have sat on the sidelines and watched the back and forth "To CI, or not to CI" and it makes my head spin.

Chocolate and Vanilla people...whatever works for you.

For centuries, parents have strived for one thing: to "do right" by their kids -- and no one has a right to question that unless it puts that child in danger, physically or emotionally. That my friends, is a parents' virtue.


mishkazena said...


It is not the words people use. It's how they express themselves.

If some people are constantly perceived as anti-asl by a large group of people, etc, there is usually a good reason for that. These sentiments don't come out of a vacuum.

In my younger days when I was learning about ASL and socializing with Deaf people, I wasn't sensitive to subtle attitudes of some of other deaf oral people toward culturally Deaf people.

Now I spot them one mile away.

All I can say is keep an open mind when you hear complaints regarding some people. If a large diversity of people feels this way, there is a kernel of truth there.

Anonymous said...

"Supposed my mother instead put me in an all-deaf school with sign language and not an aural and oral intensive schooling program I'm sure I wouldn't be the person I am today. Certainly not educationally." .....OUCH!!! It's been a long time since I've commented but just could not let this one go. My entire family are a product of deaf schools. There are many of us who went to deaf schools and lead happy, successful and productive lives educationally, professionally and socially. It is quite obvious that there are no one single answer and parents of a deaf child(ren) must explore, become familiar, accept and acknowledge their child(ren)'s deafness. Once they've done that then there are plentiful of support out there. Yes, there are so much information out there on the internet, however, parents need to visit schools, organizations and seek out successful deaf leaders. Most of all...learn sign language (whatever it may be ASL, PSE...)and begin communicating with their child early on...using both sign and oral method, if they wish while exploring the best option for their child. I can only speak from my experience and I've had both...attended deaf and hearing (this was in 1960's) schools and obtained master's degree from a deaf university. I've had a wonderful and positive experience in the deaf schools and a not so great experience in the hearing school. (I can use the telephone and speak without any problem and wear only 1 hearing aid).
-Sharon "Divided"

Anonymous said...

I think to be fair, people should look at the blog that started this and read through the comments. For anyone that supports Deaf children's rights to be bilingual through ASL and English (written and even spoken), get ready for some hardline exclusive oral only comments. It is sad to see the "Audism" that is exemplified by Rachel and Paula's comments:

Anonymous said...

Here it is again if you missed the link:

Parents Always Make Mistakes: 2009/01/parents-always-make-mistakes.html

Debbie said...

You make me blush Jodi. I thought my badass days were behind me.

Thanks for the words of encouragement -- that's what we're here for isn't it? I've really needed them after the past couple of days (years). We're all here to inspire each other, aren't we? Just as our kids have inspired us!!!

Dianrez said...

When I read comments from people showing a balanced appreciation for both CI/speech methods and ASL methods used in combination, I feel reassured; THEN when people (especially parents) start ecstatically bragging about the oral/hearing skills of their children, my heart hits the ground. They STILL don't get it.

Drolz (Mark Drolsbaugh) has it right when he emphasizes the assets of deaf children. He remarked that parents end up crying when he asks them in meetings to list what their kids can DO besides talking/hearing.

That's what the Deaf community is trying to tell parents and CI proponents: the world is not all about hearing. There are more important things to develop-- love, compassion, knowledge, maturity, talents, creativity...the list goes on.

Talking and hearing are fine, but these are found in most people of the world. The other attributes are rarer and more valuable.

Shel said...

Well said, Dianrez!

"Learning to speak and listen" is all well and good, but if that is the sole focus for the Deaf child, then that's time wasted if that child does not develop talents unique to that child.

What is more important in my perspective is that Deaf children (and ANY children for that matter)DEVELOP STRONG LITERACY SKILLS in any language...preferably more than one language.

By the way, PSE is NOT a language. It's a mode of communication designed by educators to teach English.

I agree with Elizabeth's (Mishka Zena)comment, Jodi. I might stretch that further into a cultural perspective. People from minority groups are just as quick to spot racist, ethnocentricist, (fill in other --isms at your leisure) attitudes however subtle they might be.

Anonymous said...

"It is not the words people use. It's how they express themselves." So true!

"Audism" that is exemplified by Rachel and Paula's comments"
So untrue! And unfair!

"There are more important things to develop-- love, compassion, knowledge, maturity, talents, creativity...the list goes on."
We all strive to do the best that we can for our families, be it through ASL,cued speech, AVT, or what ever mode of communication we choose. May the road we all travel lead us to the best we can be while not trampling over those we meet along the way. One day our journeys will end and when we look back we can only hope that what we see is 'job well done'.

Anonymous said...

AMEN Dinarez....AMEN!

Sharon (Divided)

Anonymous said...

I was once on one side of a coin, thought that everything there was what I thought was of everything who I was about myself.

But I discovered the other side of the coin when I entered Gallaudet and learned American Sign Language and the Deaf culture.

That was when I realize that there are many deaf people like myself that thought "we were" OK on that "one side of that coin".

After I learned ASL and Deaf culture at Gallaudet, I realized that I should have listened to other Deaf people.

But I understood about it after learning ASL and Deaf culture by entering their world, otherwise, I would never understood as many of you that still don't get it.

I think that it almost impossible to comphrend certain people that never enter the other side of the "coin" to understand what I went through.

And I understand why it is so hard to get those people to understand about ASL and Deaf culture.

I am so happy now after I understood about myself and at the same time I feel bad about those that are unable to understand themselves.

Anonymous said...

Just a quickie note. Most people not knowlegable or informed about linguistics, including bloggers and commenters on DeafRead, mistakenly think that bilingual means "spoken". Au contraïre, to be bilingual, it does not mean that a deaf child should be able to speak. Noted linguists say that to be a bilingual deaf child is has to have "an ability to read and write" in English and "an ability to read and sign " in ASL. Hope this helps.

Jean Boutcher

Anonymous said...


I've read thru "Parents Always Make Mistakes" and this newest one, with following comments.

Many of the commenters on both sides have valid points. However, I've also seen some on the ASL/bilingualism side lobbing remarks toward Paula and Rachel such as:

Anon (to Paula): "You were three when you lost your hearing and therefore already had spoken language...You were the lucky one..."

And this "Untrue! And unfair!...Audism!"

FYI Anon, I was born profoundly deaf and because of early intervention, my parents decided to enroll me in a speech and hearing clinic. I was mainstreamed in the first grade and attended K-12 public schools throughout. I wear a hearing aid, and speak like a hearing person much like Mike McConnell does, complete with a Southern accent and voice intonation. I'm not saying this to brag, I'm saying this only to explain this has been my experience. Now before you vilify my parents' choices for me, let me add that I have nothing against bilingualism as another parental choice, so long as it's an informed choice. I believe Paula herself has said the same thing and nobody seems to be "listening" out there online, because she just so happens to be ORAL. Now just because a deaf person is oral does NOT necessarily mean he/she is anti-ASL. I do wish some who espouse bilingualism would stop pointing fingers at every oral deaf person who comes online-- these are ASS-umptions!

I do believe that a good number of oral deaf people will agree that
bilingualism can work for some deaf people. It can be and should be put in as one of several options on the table for hearing parents of deaf children to consider when they make their decision. I also realize that the bilingual option is not recognized by many medical authorities and that Deaf mentorship programs are a step in the right direction to publicize this option in a positive way to hearing parents.

To those who favor bilingualism:

Instead of hitting the deaf oral people over the head with remarks like "unfair, untrue, audism, etc" try to refrain from accusations and insults and instead use rational arguments backed up with some research. Ya ain't gonna win allies with vinegar...

Last of all, I am continually dumbfounded when some people continue to criticize the informed parental choices ALREADY made. Too much hot air being spent on decisions already done and over with, folks, but you CAN have an impact on decisions that have yet to be made, that will influence the next future generation of deaf children.


Anonymous said...

Yes, while deaf people without cochlear implant can certainly develop creativity and talents, but what if the parents want to give their deaf children the opportunity to sing, play a violin or a flute, participate in broadway shows and choirs, be a radio host and etc - the abilities that requires hearing and speaking?

That's fine if anyone wants to call me audist. That's your problem.

I'm here to provide parents of newly diagnosed deaf children encouragements when they read the comments on various blogs.

Anonymous said...

Ann_C, I always think you should blog. You have so much wisdom and eloquence when you write.

Well said.

Also, I wish deaf people who have experience the oral route years ago (pre 90, maybe or even 85) would understand that the method that they have experience is no longer true today. The horrors of horrors that they went through does not exist these days. So, it seems trivial to even try to compare that to AVT and the oral method that exists today. It's not the same.

So, this message is also for you, John. Do not worry. Oral kids today will not go through what you went through. (fact is, I'd be shocked if they still apply the old fashioned speech therapy to kids who do not have CI and who has NO hearing.)

I will agree that there's more to the life of a child beyond talking and listening. I think many parents do, or at least I hope they do.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous says...
Just to set the record straight, I do not believe Rachel & Paula are audist as was stated by the other Anonymous with this quote, "... Audism" that is exemplified by Rachel and Paula's comments" I believe the audism comment to be totally untrue and unfair to both Rachel & Paula.

My sincere apology for having offended you.

Sign me Anonymous 2

Anonymous said...

Anon #2, your apologies accepted. There are several "Anonymouses" on this post, including mine, lol, but I at least sign my ID name below my comment to make my view identifiable. If you want anonymity, use an ID that doesn't contain your real name but will give ya some separate identity among all the Anonymice comments.

Thanks, Candy, maybe later on. ;)


Karen Mayes said...

Good idea, why don't you, Ann_C, blog? Your words are full of wisdom and gives us a clear depth of what is going on in the Deaf community, that there is nothing cut and dried, no black and white, etc.


Anonymous said...

Technology could be the top secret. Many people would not realize that we are either deaf or hearing when we use emails, internet, blogs, and many more. It could be more dangerous when we write in a different way.

We are thankful to have such wonderful technology that help the world more accessible. We have obtained more information from this internet. They would not listen to the medical professionals/doctors. They would rely on the internet to obtain the information for what's the best for the child's future.

Researchers, Speech Language Pathologists and parents are doing their job selling their scenarios which shows that the CIs/hearing aids can be accomplished. It is amazing.

Technology has the secret weapon.

Mike McConnell is right. Ann_C., you nailed on the head.

White Ghost

Anonymous said...

"make use of the brain's plasticity. It's basically either you use it or lose it."

While the above statemant is true, it now seems *not to be irreversible*. That is, it now seems possible to regain at a much later time in life what was lost as a child, at least in some circumstances. An important story to follow as it develops.


Unknown said...

Hi everyone,
Thank you for your comments...just got back from Pisa, still have the flu-gotta go to bed. I'll write tomorrow- Loved Ann's comments on this one and the other one- totally agree with Candy-must blog. Night night! Jodi

Mike said...

Peer-reviewed journals on this subject is well researched and covered. The brain in enfants and young children is actively wired and programmed to absorb information at an astonishing rate and then it tampers off as the child gets older.

If a blind person born totally blind and regains his sight or "sight" (maybe a crude technology) as an adult his brain would not be able to make sense of the visuals at all, especially in 3-dimension plus color, texture, shape and so forth. It's not just the visual cortex but everything else that ties into that area of the brain that makes sense in a visual world. There are stroke patients who suffered brain injury who can see objects and can navigate without any problems but cannot tell you what a particular object is until the object is touched. The brain is a complex organ but by no means have the same rewiring capability and plasticity as a young child. The same for hearing loss. A perfectly hearing baby deprived totally of sound will lose that ability to discriminate and understand sound around him. The brain does have some plasticity later on in life but the massive rewiring already took place while young. It's the "use it or lose it" period of opportunity. It's much harder to progress/improve as an adult compared to young children exposed in the same environmental area.

Ooh, Jodi, thanks for the kudos! And get well!

Mike said...

The above was mine. Drats. It's me! mcconnell!

David said...

for mcconnell and all:

Yes, that has been the well documented understanding for decades. However, keep an eye on the research on stroke recovery and spinal cord injury. Some studies are suggesting that there ways to "reset" and recover some or much of the neural plasticity seen at earlier stages of development. As I said, exciting research.


Anonymous said...


Can you blog about this development in re-wiring of the brain and what that can do for developing language acquisition at a later age? This would make an interesting read. Thx.


Anonymous said...

David --

Oh I See....what about the stem cell that could treat the spinal cord injury? Will the stem cell treat the hair cells in the cochlea?

Come on, David...pleaze blog about this.....

White Ghost

Anonymous said...

Ann_C wrote "I also realize that the bilingual option is not recognized by many medical authorities"

Whoa! Phyisicans or family doctors are not medical authorities! Please name medical authorities or you will lose your credibility!!!

Anonymous said...

Ok, so the ONE day I don't check Jodi's blog she writes about me and Mike! LOL Thanks, Jodi.

Mishkazena, you have never met me, know extremely little about me, have never spoken to me face-to-face or ever outright asked me what my opinions are about anything. Yet you're willing to make judgments about me and also couch your opinion of me in the "...if some people are constantly perceived as anit-asl by a large group of people, etc. there is usually a good reason for that..." rationale. Talk about how some people express themselves! If everyone thinks someone robbed a bank does that make it true?

Think whatever you want, Elizabeth, but the FACT is you don't really know if I'm anti-ASL or not. You just THINK I am and you're determined to make others think I am. Have I smeared you? Where is your hatred coming from?

Honestly, folks, being on the defensive gets really tiring. As a blogger, speaker and leader of the HearingExchange community, I share resources, personal experiences and when asked, advice related to hearing loss, oral deaf education, parenting and cochlear implants. These are what I have experience with. I do not judge others for choosing ASL, Cued Speech, bilingualism or anything else. To each their own. What works for one doesn't necessarily work for another. I don't shove oralism, as you put it, down anyone's throat. I share what has worked for us. Not interested or it doesn't pertain to you? Then don't read it.

As for there being more to life than learning to listen and speak, ok, yes, I'll agree with that. ;-) But implying that parents who choose oral education for their kids are not teaching their children about love, compassion, knowledge, maturity, talents, creativity... simply ludicrous. As you teach and communicate these ideals to them via sign language, we teach them via oral speech. Children aren't in a vacuum learning to speak without having experiences of being loved, learning to share, acquiring knowledge, learning skills, etc. Drolz' and Dianerez's imagery of our kids couldn't be farther from the truth.

Ann_c - thank you so much for defending me and "getting" who I am even though we've never met. I pride myself on being good at expressing myself (sorry MZ) and it is clear that you've "listened" to what I've written over the years. Thank you.

Jodi - feel better my sweet friend!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 4:39 PM,

You did not read carefully. Ann_C is referring to the "bilingual option."

Ann_C. is right. *Parents* are the ones who authorize to make the decisions whether to use bilingual options or not, not the medical authorities (physicians/family doctors). We don't need the medical authorities to discuss about the bilingual options.

Nice try, tho.

White Ghost

Anonymous said...

What I meant by "medical authorities" are the doctors and audiologists who are often the first contacts for parents of a deaf child. Many doctors and audiologists have little to no knowledge of the bilingualism option, so they often recommend CI's or other technology and speech therapy such as AVT, because those are options they do know about.

Ultimately, it's the parents who make the final decision for their deaf child, and hopefully they are informed of ALL options, including bilingualism, by the time a decision has to be made. That's why I mentioned that Deaf mentorship is a step in the right direction of publicizing the bilingualism option. Who better than a Deaf person to educate parents about this option?

The more often that this option is presented, the more it will come to be accepted as part of the package of different options available and the medical community will come to include it as well. That will take continued effort on the part of the deaf community to keep this option in front of hearing parents, doctors, and audiologists on a regular basis.

I hope that clears up any misunderstandings. As for my "cred", well, I'm just a commenter here and I ain't no d/Deaf expert, just plain ol' deaf, 'kay?

You're welcome, Paula. Wish your blog was back on DR but I understand your reasons for not doing so at this time.

Jodi, take care of yourself and get well, girl!


Anonymous said...

Paula and Rachel too,

People in society are very careful about being racist or sexist. That is because they have become more educated in today's society on what is appropriate and what is not. I thought maybe you might want to educate yourself about what is appropriate when you make comments like "pushing Deaf culture" and "ASSumptions". You are exhibiting some real anger and some real negativity when it comes to Deaf people who want children to be exposed to Bi-Bi. ASL and English and Hearing Culture and Deaf Culture regardless if they have auditory aids such as CIs.

The definition of "audism" has been in existence for at least 17 years. Isn't it time to learn this "ism"?

According to: Gallaudet University's FAQ: Audism

FAQ: Audism

Audism (from Latin audire, to hear, and -ism, a system of practice, behavior, belief, or attitude) has been variously defined as:

* ...the belief that life without hearing is futile and miserable, that hearing loss is a tragedy and "the scourge of mankind," and that deaf people should struggle to be as much like hearing people as possible. Deaf activists Heidi Reed and Hartmut Teuber at D.E.A.F. Inc., a community service and advocacy organization in Boston, consider audism to be "a special case of ableism." Audists, hearing or deaf, shun Deaf culture and the use of sign language, and have what Reed and Teuber describe as "an obsession with the use of residual hearing, speech, and lip-reading by deaf people." (Pelka 1997: 33)

* The notion that one is superior based on one's ability to hear or behave in the manner of one who hears. (Zak 1996)

* attitude based on pathological thinking which results in a negative stigma toward anyone who does not hear; like racism or sexism, audism judges, labels, and limits individuals on the basis of whether a person hears and speaks. (Humphrey and Alcorn 1995: 85)

* ...the corporate institution for dealing with deaf people, dealing with them by making statements about them, authorizing views of them, describing them, teaching about them, governing where they go to school and, in some cases, where they live; in short, audism is the hearing way of dominating, restructuring, and exercising authority over the deaf community. It includes such professional people as administrators of schools for deaf children and of training programs for deaf adults, interpreters, and some audiologists, speech therapists, otologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, librarians, researchers, social workers, and hearing aid specialists. (Lane 1992: 43)

Persons who practice audism are called audists. Audists may be hearing or deaf.

The first appearance of the term audism in print seems to have been by Harlan Lane in 1992. However, Lane credits the invention of the term to Tom Humphries' unpublished 1977 doctoral dissertation (Humphries 1977). After Humphries coined the term audism, it laid dormant until Lane revived its use 15 years later. It is increasingly catching on, though not yet in regular dictionaries of the English language. Humphries originally applied audism to individual attitudes and practices, but Lane and others have broadened its scope to include institutional and group attitudes, practices, and oppression of deaf persons.

The first half of Lane's book The mask of benevolence: disabling the deaf community is the most extensive published survey and discussion of audism so far (Lane 1992).


Humphrey, Jan, and Alcorn, Bob (1995). So you want to be an interpreter: an introduction to sign language interpreting, 2nd edition. Amarillo, TX: H&H Publishers.

Humphries, Tom (1977). Communicating across cultures (deaf/hearing) and language learning. Doctoral dissertation. Cincinnati, OH: Union Graduate School.

Lane, Harlan (1992). The mask of benevolence: disabling the deaf community. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Pelka, Fred (1997). The ABC-Clio companion to the disability rights movement. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio.

Zak, Omer (1996). ZPIG - Zak's Politically Incorrect Glossary., July 13, 1996.

Anonymous said...


Your comments are hitting the nail. I wished that there were more commenters like you who would be willing to speak up. I'm in the same boat as you about people who call me anti-ASL. People are drawing imaginary thoughts about our views. We just simply don't advocate for it...simple as that.

Like Paula, I've been outreaching to various people. I've been maintaining my website, Cochlear Implant Online, since I was fifteen years old, and the sole purpose was to create an awareness of the technology. At that time, I felt that cochlear implants were not well-understood by many people including professionals, and also, it was unheard of by many people. When people meet me for the first time, 90 percent of them have never heard of the technology until they have met me. Also, when I first received a cochlear implant in 1989, many professionals were against it. An ENT called my mother an "abusive mother" simply because I received a cochlear implant, and he told her that the cochlear implant should be removed from my head immediately, and also, he told her that she should be teaching me sign language. Also, my parents received many misinformation about cochlear implants prior to my receiving it, and if my parents didn't receive the misinformation, I could have received the cochlear implant seven months earlier. Thus, I don't want the parents of newly diagnosed deaf children to go through the same experiences that my parents have gone through. I don't shove cochlear implants down anyone's throats. I just simply let people know that it's one of the valuable options, and I want to make sure that the parents receive accurate information about it. When I talk about accurate information, I don't just talk about that cochlear implant do work incredibly well, but also the fact that the parents have to be committed and put their effort into raising their children to be successful cochlear implant users. I'm just sharing my and other people's experiences.

Anonymous said...

Thank you from the last Anonymous's last comment on this post.

It is time to respect those people such as Mishkazena and other trying to get reality fact into the heads of Rachel and Paula.

Truly, these two people have no idea what it is like to be really Deaf.

It is time to stop the self-ideology of their reality and not have any consideration of those that are not able to achieve to be like "Rachel" or "Paula". There are thousands of Deaf people that don't have the ability to be "hearing-ized" like these egoistic, proud deaf people like Rachel and Paula.

Enough is Enough!

Stop thinking yourselves and start feeling those that are not able to be hearing.

They need a genuine language to learn how to learn!

My two Deaf children achieved successfully through bilingual education and language.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Just Above,

Gonna have to address you as such, as there are way too many Anonymice here in the comment section.

I have read Harlan Lane's books, as well as a couple of Humphries' books. I don't know about Rachel, who is young and still in college (she's probably swamped with enough class reading material as it is), but I'm sure Paula has read or heard of references to those books. I read a LOT, including material on other deaf-related things such as scientific research for developing hairs on a damaged cochlea, for example.

Please don't assume that oral deaf people don't know about audism. I know plenty about the concept of audism, thanks to Lane et al. I've EXPERIENCED plenty of audism in my lifetime too, and I'm sure other oral deaf people have too. Those in Deaf culture and use sign language are not the only deaf who have experienced audism first-hand. Maybe that's where I get angry, that Deaf culture and sign language users think they have a corner on this audism.

So, don't get off on the wrong foot with me, or Paula, for that matter. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

Since Anonymous mentioned Harlan Lane, I have to say that he is the MOST IGNORANT person who I know. A friend of mine who has a cochlear implant tried to meet Harlan when he was seven, and Harlan refused to meet him. Washington Post mentioned this experience in an article ( "Kate Heitman raised her hand and offered to bring her boy forward to demonstrate his fluency, Lane waved her away. 'With all due respect, madam,' he said, 'I don’t need to meet your son.'" Another friend of mine who has a cochlear implant also had a similar experience when she was younger.

Anonymous said...

Ann C.

Rachel and Paula have not idea what is like to be in the reality of being Deaf.

Therefore, they are one-sided theorist of what is like to be person having hearing loss.

Why listen to them? There are plenty of Deaf people that have been through both reality of being Deaf and "hearing" culture. These are the people that we should learn from.

Can you be comprehended???????

I say, best to ignore Rachel and Paula.

Mike said...

Anonymous (@ February 5, 2009 6:21 PM),

It's ironic how you have now assailed Paula and Rachel by assuming that they actually harbor or exhibit these so-called "real anger and some real negativity" about Deaf culture. How do you know? A mind reader? Did they admit this shortcoming of theirs? Is it so obvious like a pimple on your nose? What? It's like when a white person criticizes a black politician and he gets assailed by being called a "racist." The same thing with Deaf culture or anything remotely tangent touching on issues about ASL when a deaf, hh or hearing person says something critical about it or lauds about the virtues of being able to hear (ie cochlear implant, hearing aids, etc) would some Deaf people go about doing a knee jerk reaction by calling that person an "audist."


Let's change the definition of "audism" a little bit with an emphasis on vision in this new definition of "Sightism:

"* ...the belief that life without vision is futile and miserable, that vision loss is a tragedy and "the scourge of mankind," and that blind people should struggle to be like people who are not blind as much as possible." McConnell at S.E.E. Inc., a community service and advocacy organization in Boston, consider sightism to be "a special case of ableism." McConnell describes sightism as "an obsession with the use of residual vision and the reading of texts." (McConnell, 2009: Page 1)

"The notion that one is superior based on one's ability to see or behave in a manner of one with normal vision." (McConnell, 2009).

" attitude based on pathological thinking which results in a negative stigma toward anyone who does not see, like racism or sexism, sightism judges, lables, and limits individuals on the basis of a person's ability to see." (McConnell, 2009).

"...the corporate institution for dealing with blind people, dealing with them by making statements about them, authorizing views of them, describing them, teaching about them, governing where they go to school and, in some cases, where they live; in short, sightism is the non-blind people way of dominating, restructuring, and exercising authority over the blind community. It includes such professional people as administrators of schools for blind children and of training programs for blind adults, opthamologist, Braille trainers, psychologists, psychiatrists, librarians, researchers, social workers, vision specialists and independent living specialists." (McConnell, 2009).

Persons who practice sightism are called "sightists." Sightists may be people who may have some minor vision problems or have regular vision.

So, a Deaf person with normal vision (funny how they don't object to the word "normal" in this instance when it comes to vision) could be called a "sightist" since they can drive a car, can walk without bumping into objects, can fly and land an airplane unaided, can shoot and aim a target wihtout difficulty, can read the fine print, and so on and so forth. But the moment when a deaf or hard of hearing person talks about the advantages of being able to hear and do the things they can do with their cochlear implants or hearing aids you suddenly find some Deaf people scream like a banshee and point their fingers at them and call them "audists!"

Tell me, would you rather be deaf or blind? If you say "deaf" then that means you're a sightist. No? It's much better or, in this case, more superior situation to be deaf than blind. Hmmm...?

In other words, this veiled but repeated "audism" charge is getting old. Just like hearing the word "racist" get flung around unnecessarily toward people for all the wrong reasons it gets old and meaningless very quickly.

But the irony doesn't stop there. The moment when there is a cure for blindness would Deaf people not object to that exciting medical discovery would they in a heartbeat cure their own vision problems as well. No more contact lens or thick glasses or walking cane! Yay!!! But when the topic is switched over about an exciting medical discovery on the ability to cure hearing loss would Deaf people be up in arms over it saying it would "destroy their culture." In short, it pathetically oozes hypocrisy and double standards.

Now, there is a difference when it comes to pushing Deaf culture versus providing information in a more neutral way where people can be properly informed in order to make an informed decision, including the value of ASL. It doesn't hurt to provide information in a neutral manner so that parents can make an informed decision about their deaf/hh child. But they are the ones who make the final decision for their children whether you like it or not.

Now, it's time for me to listen to some radio talk shows.

Mike said...

Drat! Forgot again. The above comment to anonymous was mine.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous who mentioned about Harlan Lane.....

Please do not assume about Paula, Rachel and others and their sounds....

Audism.....what about foreign people who cannot speak english? Can we deal with them by what? Using the body language and gesture. Can you deal with them? Do you really think that they (foreign people) are really audists? I think not!

I can imagine that Paula, Rachel and others have went through dealing with the "un-directive" sounds. For instance, when they hear the bird chirping between 6-10 feet away, they will have difficult locating the bird's chirp.

So, it will make others (when they yell at Paula, Rachel and others about 6 to 10 feet) to think that they ignore them but they really are not.

Ann_C at 7:31 PM have said it all.

White Ghost

Anonymous said...

After reading "Mask of Benevolence", I found it ironic that Harlan Lane is a hearing person and that it took a hearing linguist to authenticate the term 'audism' coined by a deaf linguist, Tom Humphries, who came up with the term 15 years earlier. Yes, I knew about that fact before Anonymous Just Above brought it up here.

Rachel, calling Lane "ignorant" is a personal attack. Yes, he may not have believed in the CI technology, but he's entitled to his view. Just as you're entitled to your views here. I can take a guess you haven't read his books either? You know the adage, don't judge a book by its cover.


Anonymous said...

Ann_C, I apologize if my comment about Harlan was perceived as a personal attack. Yes, he is entitled to his views, but why would he be so rude by refusing to communicate to certain people and share thoughts. He doesn't have to believe in cochlear implants, but there is no need to be rude by telling other people like my friends that they can't speak with him.

Anonymous said...

Mike, your comment hit the spot. People who choose to receive treatments to have the ability to see is a perfect analogy for people who choose to receive treatments to have the ability to hear and to speak.

As someone who has Usher Syndrome, I will certainly choose to get a treatment whenever it becomes available so that I can continue to pursue my passions which is being an artist.

Anonymous said...

Mike, your comment hit the spot. People who choose to receive treatments to have the ability to see is a perfect analogy for people who choose to receive treatments to have the ability to hear and to speak.

As someone who has Usher Syndrome, I will certainly choose to get a treatment whenever it becomes available so that I can continue to pursue my passions which is being an artist.

Anonymous said...

Aaah! My computer was acting weird.

So, yes, people could call me "sightism" simply because I personally feel that my life would better and easier with vision.

Anonymous said...

Really, Rachel? Sightism? How did you feel about having people calling you that? Insulting? Just Curious!

Your'e my damn young girl! Stay young, ;-)

White Ghost

Anonymous said...


Dunno, we can't read other people's minds.

It may have been Lane didn't wish to compromise his research by acknowledging hearing technology at the time. If this were true, LOL, Dr. Lane practiced a form of audism waving off a couple of CI kids.

Back then not a lot of people understood the CI technology, including well-read hearing linguistic researchers.

May have been something in his stomach not agreeing with him and he'd had a long day. ;)

Could have been anything, but it's best not to assume.

"Mask of Benevolence" is an intelligent discourse on deafness and why sign language arose. It would be to your benefit to read it, so you can fully grasp the meaning of audism. Then you're fully armed with no excuses, girl. ;)


Anonymous said...

I would feel insulted because people would be telling me that I have no right to enjoy traveling around the world to see beautiful architectures and landscapes, and see people of different nationalities, enjoy seeing the images of the movies and artwork, and also enjoy photographing various things. This is just my own personal feelings.

Anonymous said...

My last comment is for White Ghost.

Anonymous said...

That's interesting, Rachel. At this point, I think Audism is a new term. Many people would not know what it is.

I looked up the Merriam-Webster's dictionary and it's not there. However, I found the wikipedia,

As far as we know that the term, sightism. -ism is a simple and powerful noun suffix.

That is a huge difference.

I don't know *if* the word, Audism is offically ordained in the Merriam-Webster's dictionary.

White Ghost

Anonymous said...

Ann_C, I'll eventually read Harlan's book, but as everyone know, I'm a busy college student who has a huge stack of books to read for classes and loads of projects to do.

Anonymous said...


that is an old article you are referring about Harlan Lane -- that was when we didn't know much about cochlear implants.

still there are deaf people who think that they are superior over deaf people simply because they can hear and speak well. we need to get rid of this attitude.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure Kate Heitman knew fully well that Harlan Lane was against cochlear implant but she used her son to literally make Harlan look bad as if she was saying to the whole world, "see Harlan Lane wouldn't even bother to talk to my son". This is a reflection of poor or bad parenting on her part. Who in their right mind would do that to a child especially when they meet someone who has opposing views on things. I would never do that to my child.

Harlan Lane is a well-respected researcher, his heart is in very much into deaf world. He admires deaf people and looks up to them. I've met him in person and he is a very humble and quiet person. I am pretty sure if you ask him about cochlear implants today, he may have a different view today than he did in the past.

What I am pointing out is that the attitudes need to change big time! Enough of deaf people showing off that they can talk or hear well. We don't show off that we can sign very well in ASL, do you think so?

I hope I will live to the day when we all can come together without being divisive and that hearing parents who discover that their child is deaf, will come to us, learn our ASL, be open-minded, respect us, eradricate audism and support us all the way. Enough of speech and hearing.. It is way boring. Language is what makes a person interesting, not good speech or hearing.....

Anonymous said...


That's ok, I'd guessed as much that you've already got a load of college material to read. ;) "Mask of Benevolence" is a thick tome, summer reading some day.

For the latest Anonymouse,

I think the times, they a'changin'. There are some deaf people "who can hear and speak" who are seeing the validity of bilingualism as another option on the table for hearing parents of deaf children, in all fairness, even though they themselves don't use sign language as their primary language. Are you really listening to what I and other deaf people have been saying over and over in DR for the last couple of years??? How about getting rid of your accusatory tone and knock off this "which deaf is superior over which" (sheesh) for a change? Just maybe McConnell and others will come around. You want the cause to work? How about not resorting to cry-baby tactics and instead work on gaining allies? Take Gandhi's example, he worked with both Hindus and Muslims who hated each other to gain India's independence. There's a purpose above and beyond all of us petty mortals...a better future for those who go beyond us.

Mike, I love your no-nonsense approach about issues but have ya ever thot that your shoot-from-the-hip language can be alienating? "...screaming like a banshee", I mean, c'mon, that's not flattering anybody here and THAT's getting old, too... ;)


Anonymous said...

I don't think Harlan's mind has changed that much over the years because not too long ago, a friend of mine sent Harlan her blog about her child who has a cochlear implant and hears and speaks and a few video clips of her child speaking. Harlan just responded to her by saying "Your child is just a 'star.'"

Harlan can always be passionate about deaf culture and ASL, but he doesn't need to be dismissive about cochlear implants.

Anonymous said...

Why are they trying to convince Harlan Lane? If they know he is not comfortable in advocating for CI, then leave him alone. Why do some hearing parents bother with him? it doesn't make any sense to me.... Do they want validity from him?

Mike said...

Well, Ann_C, some are simply ultra sensitive and will quickly accuse you of being an audist on short notice. So, I have a certain flair for my choice of words. Call it a hyperbole if you wish. And, I hear ya. Though alienation of some people may be the result. But I'm not hyperventalating over it. Never in all my blogging or commenting did I ever hyperventalate over the prospect of alienating some people. Certainly you won't see me accuse some people in so many words and imply such things that they're racists. And wimply bail out the moment the accusation is challenged.

Mike said...

double drats...! the above comment was mine.


Anonymous said...


Harlan Lane has been known to spread misinformation about cochlear implants, and so, people are just simply trying to help him clear up the misconceptions.

Anonymous said...

Hi Double Drats, poker draw :),

LOL, Mike, can't imagine you hyperventilatin' over what people say about you-- such things roll off your back. Ya got a thick John Wayne skin. I have a thick skin too, but some other people don't or have yet to develop that thick skin and they don't understand where you're coming from half the time. I'm not sayin' dumb down the language, I'm merely wondering if some people literally misunderstand hyperbole, same with satire. Me, I luv hyperbole, satire and all, and it makes the language colorful but like I said, it may rub some people the wrong way. Some Deaf accuse us of acting superior because we talk and write well.

*sigh, banging-head-on-the-wall*

And Yes, I've never known you to back down from a draw. :)


Mike said...

I am acutely aware that some will misunderstand the hyperboles and bit of biting satire in my writings but if I can't be me, what am I then?


Anonymous said...

Well, Mike, now you know why I bang my head on the wall at times. There are some in Deaf culture who would just love to shut us up. But what they don't understand is that there is a big spectrum of deaf out there that is very much a part of the deaf community. Exclusion has never solved anything.

Your humor is the winningest side of you, use it well. Short and sweet.

Are ya out of winter hibernation? >blink *yawn* blink<


Anonymous said...

I believe that attitudes on both sides need to change, since we're on that topic.

First off, it's unnecessary for deaf people who hear and speak well to think that they're better than people who don't. But then again, we have to deal with people like that everyday, whether they're deaf or not.

Second off, it's also unnecessary for deaf people to assume that deaf people who speak/hear well are "audists." I've seen that plenty in this blog.

And it does seem that audism is a new term. My computer doesn't recognize it Microsoft Word.


Dianrez said...

Those who continue to defend one or the other choice really are not contributing anything to harmony.

For both sides to take the neutral position and say up front, "This was my personal choice and there are also other equally valid choices" is taking the more mature approach.

Offering information in an even-handed way to parents of the next generation of deaf children is also more mature. None of this siren song stuff touting one over the other. None of this exclusionary stuff, either.

Forget the miraculous and "lookee I'm hearing", and forget the corollary "Deaf culture is beautiful", just own up to the validity of all available choices and the benefits of a balanced, cosmopolitan attitude.

Hammering on one or the other invites shutdown and running in circles. Let's stop this insanity.

Anonymous said...

Well said Dianrez


Unknown said...

Um. I went to sleep and there were 20 comments. I woke up to 63. I missed the party:(( Loved the dialogue between Ann C and Mac- not to mention Mac's new identity . Cool! Based on everyone's comments, I posted a new one today...I love you guys...Jodi

mishkazena said...

Paula, pardon me? Did I mention your name? No, I didn't. I was responding to Jodi, so I will appreciate it if you don't put words into my mouth or hands.

To another commenter, no, being an oralist doesn't mean the person is an audist. A person can be oral and show respect to a culturally Deaf person... or not. A person can be fluent in ASL, yet bears low opinion of culturally Deaf people. It's the attitudes and the beliefs of the person, not whether the person is oral or not.

Anonymous said...

I didn't have to think of a comment because this one says it all:

"Those who continue to defend one or the other choice really are not contributing anything to harmony.

For both sides to take the neutral position and say up front, "This was my personal choice and there are also other equally valid choices" is taking the more mature approach.

Offering information in an even-handed way to parents of the next generation of deaf children is also more mature. None of this siren song stuff touting one over the other. None of this exclusionary stuff, either.

Forget the miraculous and "lookee I'm hearing", and forget the corollary "Deaf culture is beautiful", just own up to the validity of all available choices and the benefits of a balanced, cosmopolitan attitude.

Hammering on one or the other invites shutdown and running in circles. Let's stop this insanity."

Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

I have always stated that as long as parents make an informed decision for their deaf/hh child then they have done their job knowing full well the hard that lies ahead. But if others who disagree vehemently with that decision and try to interfere or meddle into parents' affairs should just learn to back off. It's really none of their business in the first place.


mishkazena said...

Some people don't wimp out. They may find the attitudes of other people too distasteful to continue carrying the diaglogue. Some people don't seem to understand that showing poor attitude can result in termination of any constructive discourse. I don't waste my time with unpleasant people *shrug*

Unknown said...

That's what I'm trying to say girlfriend!

Mike said...

Exactly, Karen. When people push the "Deaf baby has a right to ASL" (in the U.S.) to the extreme it doesn't create a beneficial or suitable environment. How about the notion of babies born with a hearing loss have a right to have access to sound enabling greater communication access? This is what many hearing parents feel. You can't blame them for that.

Babies born with hearing loss (from mild to profound) are not "Deaf" babies to begin with. Saying that is tantamount to calling ownership to all babies born with a hearing loss by the Deaf community. Again, this creates in the eyes of hearing parents the appearance of a selfish-driven agenda by the Deaf culture and community which can turn off many hearing parents with a deaf/hh child.

There are no rooms on the exteme ends but plenty of room in the middle. There are situations that parents are unable to control versus those who live in the all the right places to get the resources they need for their deaf/hh child.