Sunday, September 17, 2006

344: breaking down audism 2

VLOG WORKSHOP... sort of.... experimenting here! I wanted to examine audism more deeply, and composed some questions to cause debate with you all and your friends! It's a good time, a recent protest at Gallaudet was about audism; the students at the University feel the college has been paying lip service to the ideal but taking no action. What action they want hasn't been specified, although from much of the reading I have a fairly good idea. However - there's a lot of grey areas in audism. So GET SOME COFFEE and start thinking! (P.S. I'm testing out vlog formats, so I vlogged my introduction and explanations... maybe more later as I work with this new tool...)

A professor at a hearing University is approached by a student concerned about a movie used in class which is not subtitled. The student cannot use an interpreter, since the theater will be dark and the class is in the hundreds - not easy to move. Eventually the professor provides a script. Is this audism? Are there any colleges in the United States whose primary language is other than English? Note: this problem was reworded after the initial post to make it more sensible.

Two students are walking to Ely and see a total of twelve members of faculty and staff speaking, not signing. Is this audism? What if those members of faculty and staff had been using a sign language these two students did not know? What is the difference between fully accessible and fully comprehensible?

That 2nd question leads to a big question: if we fight for recognition in terms of culture and language, do we still have the right to ask for access, which is based on the disability model? Not every hearing person speaks every language! And thanks to DE for this next question which came from his class discussion:
Two hearing parents go to a doctor and ask the doctor about non-surgical procedures to deal with their child's Deafness. The doc doesn't mention ASL but terrifies the parents into getting a CI for their child which comes with a contract stating the child will not learn ASL for a specified number of years. Is this audism? What if the doctor talks about "maximizing your child's opportunities in life?" How do you respond to that? Is this a nature vs. nurture argument?

Await people's thoughts...
UPDATE: I realize lots of people not happy with the word "audism," but it's out there.

UPDATE II: How ironic I wrote this post, then went and read Ridor's post about his experiences with his family. I hate VRI. I really do.


Anonymous said...

I am never comfortable with the term audism. The English language has many words that separate things. Let me cite an English language example that has a strange twist: A philosophical syllogism:
Premise A: People are speaking animals.
Premise B: Deaf people do not speak.
Conclusion: Deaf people are animals.
Moreover, if one is not familiar with hearing the term audism, one would hear it as oddism.
Gallaudet University has an official seal with a term fingerspelled around it: Ephphatha. It is from The New Testament, John 5:24. The underlying message here is that it is a benevolence to make the Deaf hear and speak.

Cindy said...

The first situation: WTF? This falls under accessibility, ADA and all of that. Plus we're talking about GU -- did/does this example actually happen? In any case, my take on that is that it's discrimination (I really don't like the term "audism" -- it's incorrectly constructed, sounds like autism, and does not convey the intended meaning to someone not already familiar with the word.)

Second example, another WTF? Accessibility does not mean entitlement. If I am asking these people a question, then I have a right to some expectation that it will be comprehensible to me, but if these people are chit chatting as I come up, then what they choose to talk in is their business. If I join in the conversation, then I would expect it to shift to something everyone can understand (or have someone relaying, but that's never ideal). I would base this exactly the same as coming up on a group of folks chatting in Spanish (when you speak only English).

The last example is something I would consider not only discriminatory, but running afoul of medical ethics. A doctor should be presenting all aspects of the issue, not pushing his own agenda. For a doctor who is offering CI, he should certainly be aware of the issues surrounding CI and present the parents with all the facts, regardless of his opinion. If they ask him what he thinks best, he can say that, but to require a contract for the CI -- that violates so many medical practices and ethics I hardly know where to begin. Medical intervention is not contingent on social intervention. Imagine for example a doctor who performed surgery related to emphysema only if the patient contracted to stop smoking or maybe giving a young girl that new cancer vaccine only if she signs a contract to remain a virgin until she marries or..

JRS said...

Hi Cindy,

I badly worded the first statement and need to go back and reword it. It wasn't meant to be Gallaudet University, but another college, and to be based on my own experience with a teacher who provided a film for the class to watch one evening. The film was an amateur work and not subtitled. She eventually wrote up a text of the film to me, but of course I missed the point of the movie, since a movie is both text and image.

Ely center IS a place at Gallaudet (which is why I was confused - typing too fast!) At Gallaudet, there is a signing-all-the-time policy which is somewhat loosely followed.

The third example is unfortunately common in England, I do not know about America or if this is still common practice, but I do know implant corporations more recently advocate the use of ASL with CI-users.

Cindy said...

Oh, well NHS *has* been known to try and refuse surgery to smokers so maybe that's not as unexpected (if still completely unethical.)

Thx for clearing up the first example. My take on it is still the same (clearly illegal), but at least the apparent insanity of it happening at Galloudet is removed... ;-)

Cindy said...

OK, with the reworded first example...less clear.

Is the professor aware, before screening the movie, that there is a deaf student in the class? If so, then a script should be provided from the get go.

However, once the professor is aware of the student's concerns, then he or she should provide a script asap to the student.

If the professor stalls or is otherwise not readily cooperative with the issue, then I would label that discrimination and head for the campus ombudsman as a first step.

Anonymous said...

Situation 1: Um...I think it ain't exactly audism; the professor didn't exactly deny the student access to information. However, I don't mean to imply that giving English text is the best solution for all situations.

Situation 2: To me, this is bordering on audism- when you are in a SIGNING environment, and you simply vocalize, that's blatant disrespect. I mean, those people already can sign, teach/work with the Deaf, and yet vocalize...gawd. They're telling us that vocalizing is better than signing. However, if they sign in a foreign sign language- sure! That still implies that Sign Languages are accessible, universal, etc.

Situation 3: Clear-cut audism. Perpetuating ignorance among parents is an act of audism itself, IMHO. And perpetuates the system of disadvantages for the Deaf. Audism in all its glory.

Now- I got a situation for y'all. Last week my partner Colin tried to purchase four strobe-based smoke detectors for our new home. The initial cost- $500. Colin strolled down and saw, "SHHH MEMBER? DISCOUNT!" (not exactly that, but you get the drift.) Guess what? $500 becomes $77 if you are a SHHH member. Never mind NAD, DCARA, whatever. And for a STROBE-based, not SOUND-based smoke detector. Reinforces my belief that this system disadvantages Deaf people- and rewards "residual hearing", no matter what.

Anonymous said...

This is a great blog. I will definitely be coming back to review what has been posted and make my own comments. In the mean time, you also have to check out this great website I found. It has unbelievable resources, tips and techniques for home business owner. It also provides software and ebooks for FREE! Not only do you get all the resources mentioned above, it also reviews home business opportunities and provides an actual money back guarantee on their most successful home based businesses to its members if they dont have the same success! Its unbelievable! You can get to it by going to this URL: