Hey everyone! Hope you’re all doing well!
I have had another meeting with my mentor and group, where we continued to structure the project and our “curriculum”, as well as learn/practice new signs.
Early on in the meeting, I asked a question that I had come up with a few days before. Previously, I had learned that it is considered more respectful to not use the term “hearing loss”, implying that deaf individuals have lost something, which is not the case. Being deaf or hard-of-hearing is not a disability and it should be treated as such, so “deaf” and “hard-of-hearing” are the preferred terms in the deaf community.
But I had recently come across a hypothetical situation in which the person was able to hear, but over time something caused them to become deaf. This had me thinking, because technically, they have “lost” their hearing. And not in the sense that it is something that they are missing and it’s a detriment, but they had the ability to hear and then that went away, so I was very curious as to what you would call that if not “hearing loss”.
I asked Tori if that was an appropriate situation to use the term, or if there was something else to call it. Unfortunately, I asked this question right before the meeting started recording, so I don’t have her direct quote, but I will paraphrase her basic answer. She mentioned how the medical terms and the social terms are used differently, so medically, in that scenario, it is called hearing loss or something similar. But it’s not always used the same way in a social environment, where it could be used more figuratively as described in the first paragraph, rather than literally as a technical term, such as from a medical standpoint. She brought up a few more things about the technicalities as well:
- How there is a scale of deafness, so that one person could just have trouble hearing, but still be able to, whereas another could be completely deaf. This means that someone could progress along this scale, for example gradually becoming more deaf, which would create different circumstances possibly, than someone born deaf.
- There are different causes and types of deafness, so that must be taken into account when thinking about how the social and medical aspects of deafness differ and come into play
Learning about all this and the proper terms to use, etc. has made me really think about what I’m saying when I’m talking about deafness; I have to adjust so that I am being respectful and accurate. Since beginning this project, my perception on deafness has kind of changed, because I always knew that there was an entire culture behind it, but I never realized just how complex it really is. I find that I see things differently, I notice more when I see or say something pertaining to deafness, and I am often searching to understand it better.
We decided to focus on deaf culture history and current events in our upcoming meetings. Learning the current events and activism relating to deaf culture will be helpful to us because we will be well informed on how it is progressing in our society, giving us a more relevant understanding of deaf culture. We will also learn the history of deaf culture because it will show some of the reasoning behind it, which will not only help us accept it into our learning and our lives, but it will make the current events make more sense.
Before our last meeting, we learned a spattering of signs from the calendar/time and activities categories, seeing as these are good small talk topics and will help us when attempting to communicate in ASL. In our meeting, we reviewed these predetermined signs and learned any we didn’t know to make sure that everyone in the group was on the same page. Some of these signs included the times of day (morning, noon, night, etc.), periods of time, school, study, and many others. To practice them, we had a voice-off period where Tori would finger-spell one of the signs and we would have to sign what it was back to her, and where she would sign something and we would finger-spell it. This helped us not only to remember the signs more easily, but to get better with using and interpreting finger-spelling, which can be very useful to non-fluent ASL speakers.
When we were finished practising, we decided on the signs to learn for next meeting. We chose the categories “people” and “emotions”, which will also be common in conversation because you can say how you are feeling and you can talk about your family, friends, etc. We also came up with questions and sentences using what we have learned so far to use in conversation and that we will practice.
For this in-depth project, we must complete a test of our newly learned skill, which we decided on before starting. But after learning more about deaf culture and what is acceptable, I have found that my original idea will not work, because a hearing person should not use ASL for performance purposes. So I have adjusted my plan so that at the end of the project, my group and I will have a conversation with a deaf individual using what we have learned from our mentor. Leading up to this, we may also get a chance to meet with multiple other deaf people to further our knowledge and gain insight from people who are part of the deaf community, as well as practice conversing in ASL.