Through Deaf Eyes let me really see how the Deaf culture sees the world. The video let me appreciate the deaf culture more and understand it better. Deaf people suffered many hardships through the years but opportunities for them are growing more and more. The way hearing view Deaf culture is becoming more and more accepting. Parents of deaf children have to face many tough decisions on how to help their child succeed in life. When I look at a deaf person or hard of hearing person, I look at them a lot different now than I did growing up.
Through my grade school years our school had special classes for students with handicaps and disabilities. We had one student named Josh (He was hard of hearing), who went to our school for a couple of years. He would go to his special class in the morning and then join the regular class later in the day. Josh was one of the first hard of hearing persons I have ever met.
He seemed normal but I associated him as having a handicap or disability because he went to the “special class”. So from there I always associated deaf people as having a handicap.
Josh would occasionally get special treatment because I think people felt bad for him because he was hard of hearing. I remember him having a portable microphone that had to be passed around to everyone who spoke or else he couldn’t hear. I know you may be wondering where I’m going with this because it is not about the movie, but after watching Through Deaf Eyes, it took me back to elementary school and let me see what life was like through his eyes.
I know Josh struggled through school because he wanted to fit in with the rest of the class that was hearing.
He didn’t want to be treated different than others but he had to be treated special in ways in order to be able to hear the teacher or other students. I don’t ever recall Josh having very many friends in school and I think it maybe because others students were not comfortable being friends with someone who is hard of hearing. As the movie stated, deaf people do not want to be treated differently than hearing people. Deaf people want to let hearing know that they are normal; that they are just like you and me.
They do not want to be looked at as being disabled or handicapped. Just because a deaf person cannot hear, it doesn’t make them much different than hearing people. It does not make them mentally retarded like they once were categorized. Rory Osbrink stated in the movie, “Yes we may some accommodations that need to be made to survive in a society dominated by hearing people, but at the same time if you would come into a room full of deaf people, then you (hearing people) would need the accommodation too. This quote reminded me and going to my first silent dinner. I was in a room filled with deaf people and I felt like an outsider because I was unable to sign very well and I could have a used a little accommodation. Just like deaf people believe that their deafness is a handicap or disability, they also believe that deafness doesn’t stop them from achieving their goals and dreams. Deaf people have the same careers as hearing, including: lawyers, actors, teachers and even film makers. Their deafness also does not change how they live their lives either.
According to the deaf math teacher in the video, he believes that not being able to hear does not keep him from being happy or sad. He does not feel like being deaf is a burden. He has become accustomed to being deaf and accepted it so he feels as if being deaf is normal. The opportunities and successfulness for the deaf however, were much different many years ago (around 1800’s). The possibilities for a deaf person in the 1800’s and into the 1900’s were very slim to none. Being a deaf person was viewed as misfortunate and strongly looked down upon in society.
Deaf people were viewed at the level as retardation. No one knew how to deal with deafness and many deaf people chose to live out in the country away from the hearing and were left to themselves. The deaf struggled to communicate with people and it made it very difficult for them to interact and get jobs like a normal hearing person could do. I believe at the time, the only way the deaf could communicate were through home signs because there was no widely used sign language in the United States. I cannot imagine the struggle deaf people had to deal with in those times. They had to have felt almost helpless.
There were no schools for deaf and you cannot send a deaf student to school because how would they learn. I am sure it would have been very tough for a hearing parent to have a deaf child and know that their child’s possibilities were very little. The struggles of the deaf would soon be reduced and change the deaf culture forever with the help of a man named Thomas Gallaudet and Alexander Graham Bell. Thomas Gallaudet and Alexander Graham Bell really changed the deaf culture forever. Gallaudet opened the first school for the deaf and established American Sign Language.
This was the start of a new revolution in deaf culture and gave the deaf greater possibilities. Alexander Graham Bell also helped improve deaf possibilities like Gallaudet, but some of his ideals like banning sign language in schools I do not agree with. The effort and contributions these men made in the deaf culture brought opportunities to the deaf culture that were once heard of. Sign language and deafness was recognized as culture and sign language was accepted and was acknowledged as a foreign language. A part of this documentary that really stuck out to me is how parents are dealing with their deaf children.
Having a deaf child from hearing parents can be very shocking and overwhelming to the parents. Some parents are taking very risky steps to deal with the deafness and that is having cochlear implants giving to their child at very young ages. The problem I have with the situation is that it is very risky for the child and the child does not have a say in the matter. The operation could cause damaging effects for life to the child and it is irreversible. Parents think deafness is the end of the world for their child and they think if that by getting the implants it will solve all the problem, which we learned it will not.
The route of education parents choose for their deaf children is also another area that I feel unsure about. We saw some different examples of how hearing parents who have deaf children decide to educate their children. The one example I saw that I liked least was the parents sent them to a school where they learn to lip read and do more things to help the children survive better in the hearing world. I think this will help the students adapt easier to hearing people but they don’t have the opportunity to embrace their deaf culture.
The second example which I liked best is the parents sent their child to an all deaf school. The school embraces the deaf culture and the child is able to interact with other deaf students. I loved how the parents wanted to let their son decide if he wanted implants and they would support any decision he made. Watching this video just makes me want to be more involved in deaf culture. I have learned so much and it’s amazing how this video and ASL class has changed my life forever. I will look at deaf people in a new and positive light now, because after all, they are just like you and me.