My Deaf client lip reads very well. Isn't that enough?
Lip reading is very tiring and extremely difficult. Whilst a person may be able to lip read you for a short time in non stressful situations on a one to one basis, lip reading may become impossible when not in these situations. If a deaf person has requested that you book an interpreter, it is probably because they are finding lip reading difficult and recognise they need an interpreter. Lip reading is also very much a guessing game as only 30 – 40% of words in the English language are distinguishable by lipreading. This means that up to 70% of what you are saying to the deaf person is not actually lip reading – but is guessing' based on the 30% they are lip reading.
Lip reading is a very tiring way of receiving information in a one to one situation (eg: appraisals or interviews), even with a person that is aware of clear communication tactics. Many people can speak up to 200 words per minute (http://www.lipspeaking.co.uk/fact_lipspeaking.htm). In small or large groups (eg: team meetings or training courses), it is impossible to follow what is happening by lipreading alone.
Although the deaf person may seem to lip read very well, on what basis are you making this decision? Just because they may have hearing aids, this may not help them with reception of what is being spoken, depending on their level of deafness.
Give that person a medal, please. There has been many a time when somebody has come along and just assumed that because I can lip-read a small number of very clear speakers for a very limited period of time, that somehow 'carries over' as the ability to lip-read anybody for any length of time.
Lip-reading is the love of oralists, not of mine. To me it is like tea-leaf reading or astrology or pin the tail on the donkey.
Agreeing strongly with this petition and seeing that it had only just started, I tweeted "Action on Hearing Loss" (sic)to see if they supported it. Unfortunately, not for the first time, they completely ignored me.
I then mentioned on the AOHL forum what had happened and my post was removed, along with the contributions of another Deaf person on the same matter.
I don't know exactly what is going on, but it seems that everything about Deaf people is being done without Deaf people and this is not a good comment on AOHL's attitude to Deaf people.
My hunch? AOHL is doing secret deals with BBC/providers/Ofcom, entering into hidden agreements on what is an "acceptable" level of access through subtitles and BSL. If you can shed any light on the matter, please leave a comment, thank you.
I am reminded of some important maxims and why they are important:
Since my last blog post I have thought some more on the issue of ‘medical model’ terminology and after reading Charlie’s thought-provoking blog post and having a good Twitter discussion with him, Alison and others, I have decided that I am going to have to retract part of what I said, to quote:
“The new terminology around ‘loss’ is strictly medical model and while I have no problem with people seeing and describing their own deafness this way...”
This seemed pretty reasonable to me when I said it. It was about respecting differences of opinion and perception, and the right to self-determine. As Charlie had quite fairly questioned, ‘is it right to tell other deaf people they shouldn't call themselves something?’ However, I don’t think anybody is quite doing that; people will use whatever terms that they like, as they are entitled to do so. I think it is more about just debating which terms are better and hopefully agreeing on something that is not damaging or oppressive to Deaf people and then encouraging its use.
So what is the problem with people describing themselves as ‘hearing impaired’? That’s their choice, right? Yes, but I think there are two issues here. Firstly, it could be argued that the term is oppressive or even abusive and that it is biased, of the medical model and imposed on us from a hearing perspective. ‘Impaired’ is in the same bracket as 'loss,' ‘broken,’ damaged,’ ‘defective,’ ‘lacking,’ etc. If somebody self-harms, we wouldn’t just shrug our shoulders and say ‘well that’s his choice’ and then leave it at that. We might encourage him to seek help, etc. So is somebody psychologically self-harming by referring to himself in such terms? I used to do this sort of thing and it didn’t feel at all good for me.
Secondly, Alison referred to John Donne’s famous quote that ‘No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main.’ If you give people the OK or nod to use oppressive terms to describe themselves, or you just let them get on with doing so, doesn’t that have implications for the rest of us? It may be self-perpetuating, giving other people the impression that it’s acceptable to refer to us in this way.
I am glad this debate is now underway, as I think we need to push away the old oppressive terms.
A few years ago, the Royal National Institute for Deaf people (RNID) re-branded, changing their name to Action on Hearing loss (AOHL.) I think this was a disaster for Deaf people and here I will set out why.
The old word – Deaf – is perfect in terms of diversity and inclusion. It includes people who espouse the medical model of disability – seeing Deafness as a problem and/or tragedy. But it also includes people on the opposite end of the spectrum, those who espouse the social model of disability and Deafness and who embrace Deaf community, culture, and language. It also includes everybody in between. The word is entirely neutral. This is why it is still easily my preferred term today. ‘Deaf’ is also the best term for an organisation that wishes to represent all deaf people, because it doesn’t leave anybody out while still respecting difference.
The old terms that came with ‘Deaf’ – ‘making the world a better place for Deaf and hard of hearing people’ were superior to their replacement for a number of reasons. They were about respecting and including people. Such words made it clear that Deaf people were part of society and had an equal stake in society. The new terminology around ‘loss’ is strictly medical model and while I have no problem with people seeing and describing their own deafness this way, they have no business imposing it on others. Who has the right to come along and declare or make out that my deafness is a disability, a loss, a tragedy that is in need of ‘action’ to correct it? Apart from being factually incorrect in my case – I never lost anything, I can see myself how I like and if I choose to see myself as a Deaf person who likes his Deafness, community, culture and language, who has the right to object?
How can it be good for Deaf people and Deaf children to tell them that they should not be proud of who they are, that they are defective, and that they have a ‘problem’ that requires ‘action’ in order to be ‘fixed’? How is that good for their psychological well-being? Isn’t that just a hearing person’s perspective? To me the idea of suddenly becoming hearing is probably just as horrible as the idea of suddenly becoming deaf is to a hearing person.
People often say that you should be positive and not negative. I think you need to find a balance. And isn’t my view of Deaf people here positive, while AOHL’s is negative? Yet who is supposed to be at the crease batting for Deaf people? RNID’s re-brand was a disaster for Deaf people engineered by hearing people with a negative view of Deafness. These new words in their name are for their benefit, not ours.
Action on Hearing Loss did not see fit to comment on this story on their forum, so I tweeted them yesterday, asking if they were concerned about this crude testing, but I got no response. Surely Atos should be conducting proper hearing tests using the right equipment and getting accurate results printed onto audiograms?
Thinking that perhaps AOHL may simply have missed my tweet, I tweeted them again with an identical question the following day (today) and still got no response.
It’s bad enough that Atos use such methods without being allowed to get away with it by the people/charity who are supposed to defend Deaf people. Atos are paid to assess people properly and AOHL are paid to act in the interests of Deaf people. Yet one bullies Deaf people and the other does nothing about it – ignoring Deaf people who ask for their help.
Update: AOHL have now responded to my tweets, promising to reply to the concerns raised on their forum regarding Atos . Lets hope that we can have a bit of good news in respect of challenging this bullying behaviour.
In my blog post yesterday I said that I had been censored by the Limping Chicken. It now transpires that the use of links in my comment had caused some sort of computer malfunction that prevented my comment from going forward.
Therefore I have amended my post and would like apologise to the Limping Chicken for any offence caused.
The lesson from this is that if a comment that you make does not appear or you get a message saying something like ‘You’re posting too fast...slow down,’ don’t jump to conclusions, there may be an innocent explanation.
"Sir Malcolm has spent only the last three as an MP for a party in government and he has come under some intense criticism on internet forums and on Twitter for voting with the coalition on welfare reform."
That's correct. Here's my first blog post on how Malcolm Bruce voted to attack Deaf people in various different ways: