Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Disability issues 1

 Okay let me be open here right up-front.  I understand disabilities I am myself differently abled or disabled depending upon how you want to look at it.  I have severe arthritis that I was born with.  I have to use a special keyboard in order to type, and special mouse just to run a computer.  Typing is right up there with hitting your thumb with a hammer for me.  It is easier on a phone IF the phone is in a case that makes it thick enough to hold and these stupid round edge phones make life Hell.  Now add in my mom is legally blind and uses the traditional white stick to find her way through unfamiliar areas, my son is hearing impaired from an accident, and I worked long term care for 25 years.

So thanks to a mutual's post on twitter I am up on my soap box this morning.  The irony that this post is a day after the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA) turned 31 years old is not lost on me.

Let's begin with the original posters point: we should not be forcing deaf children to speak just to make hearing people more comfortable because we are too lazy or indifferent to learn sign language.  Tying a deaf person's hands down to make them speak is as barbaric as tying left handed people's hands to force them to be right handed--this was done to my brother.  So what can we do?

We can insist that our local schools (private or public) teach American Sign Language (ASL) to all students from the beginning of their education.  If all students were trained in 12 years we would have 3.7 million graduates or 1% of our population that knows ASL but that's only if we teach one class group.  If we continue to teach every year by the end of 12 years of education we would have 4% of the US population from age 14 through 18 knowing ASL but a whopping 13% if you count back to Kindergarten at that point.

But Maura only 0.38% of the population is functionally deaf why should we spend the money to train educators and force it on students who can hear?  Well for starters unemployment among hearing impaired persons over 16 years of age is 16.1% and that is a shame.  Also knowing ASL is useful to more than just the hearing impaired.  Noisy work environments are a very good place to use ASL.  Ever been to a construction site?  A lot of communication is done by improvised sign language and only one hand gesture is universal.  Now imagine that same site with a common sign language, much easier and safer for all involved.  Need stealth?  So long as you have line of sight ASL is silent.  Much as naval vessels communicate via semaphore and flags soldiers on a battlefield don't want heard either.  Same for two buddies out hunting.

Well Maura why don't we just put cochlear implants in the deaf people and then we don't need to teach everyone.  Let's start at cost being an average of $40,000 each plus premature failures and upgrades to technology.  The total is a staggering $480,000,000,000 (applying my math is right)  Now I may be wrong but it seems teaching 3.2 million educators ASL to teach over and over again would be a heck of a lot cheaper not to mention much more humane.  Is it morally right to force a deaf person to have an implant?  Now add in that the implants are not suitable for every individual and will not work at all for some.  Implants are a choice between the individual and their physician or in common language "their body, their life, their choice."

There is no impeccably correct answer but their are better choices we as a society can make and teaching ASL seems a small price compared to the torture we have been putting deaf and hearing impaired people through.

And if you're interested this post took me 1:33:28 to write so yeah I get disabilities.


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