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 their 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.
"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:
If you are Deaf, you may, like me, have been sad and disappointed when one of our alleged supporters, Malcolm Bruce, voted to unleash a whole load of vicious social security cuts against Deaf and disabled people. Sad because of the misery and distress it will visit upon them, disappointed because Bruce holds a number of positions in relation to Deafness, including former trustee and current Vice President of Action on Hearing Loss. Vice President of the National Deaf Children’s Society. He also heads the All Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness and used to appear on See Hear.
Let us be clear what was being asked for here. They were not asking for the suspension or reversing of any cuts, but simply that the impact of all these cuts on disabled people be measured – that is all. If the government is satisfied that they are doing the right thing by disabled people, why would they have any objection to this sort of request? Why would they not want to reassure disabled people who are concerned for their future and well-being?
If that was not bad enough, Bruce and his fellow bullies of disabled people voted in favour of an amendment praising the government’s record on disability. So, basically, they are saying ‘we don’t care what you, disabled people, think about how you are being treated, we have decided that we are treating you very well.’ To put it mildly, the principle of ‘involving disabled people’ seems to have been lost.
I don't know about you, but if I had to cast a vote that directly affected other people - especially people who could be said to be vulnerable and seldom heard - I would want to ask them what they think. Remember they were asking only that the impact of all the cuts on disabled people be measured. Mr Bruce chose not to do that and stuck his nose up in the air and swapped their judgment for his own. Now that takes a particular brand of contempt and arrogance.