Allied Mobility are the UK's leading mobility cars specialist and a Motability Premier Partner. Offering uncompromising service and a wide range of vehicles whatever your needs may be.
Follow Accessibility News International on Twitter
‘I am a Capital D Deaf’
Advocates want better services for the deaf, not just cochlear implants
ALISHA MORRISSEY The Telegram
Jennifer Sooley says she’s deaf, not disabled.
Through a sign language interpreter, the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of the Deaf says society placed the disabled label on her and other deaf people, and not the other way around.
“We function in every day life. We’re not isolated. … We have no limitations. The problem is that society as a whole places the barriers in front of us,” she says, signing rapidly.
“I am a capital D Deaf, which means that I am immersed into deaf culture. Lower-cased d for deaf, means that you’re deaf, but you’re not immersed into deaf culture. It’s their choice. Deafened means that you became deaf later in life,” Sooley says attempting to bring some understanding to her way of life.
Sooley and others recently expressed outrage over an article(http://www.thetelegram.com/index.cfm?sid=245801&sc=79) in The Telegram, which quoted a local ear, nose, and throat doctor on the potential of technology
to end deafness in this province.
Sooley and Stephen Kirby, acting president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Deaf Sports Association, both say they have nothing against the cochlear implant technology that was referred to in the story, nor the idea of giving children the option to hear.
Rather, both say they were disappointed with the way Dr. Tony Batten described “eradicating deafness.”
“He is the best for his patients. I know he has their best interests in mind,” Kirby says, adding that he felt that Batten’s comments were unrealistic.
Kirby says he had an implant, which bypasses non-functioning inner ear hair cells by converting sounds to electronic impulses that stimulate inner ear nerve endings.
“Most of my childhood was taken up with this training and the therapy for the cochlear implant … around 17 or 18 I stopped using it because it was interfering with my life. I mean I couldn’t progress. I couldn’t be involved in sports. It was interfering with school work,” Kirby says with the help of an interpreter.
He says the important thing to remember is that when the implant is taken off or broken, that person is still deaf.
When asked if their children were born deaf, would they consider an implant, both Sooley and Kirby hesitate, but say they would think about it.
“If there’s no implants then I would have to move out of Newfoundland, because there’s not great services for the deaf,” Sooley says. “The education is better obviously, away. The government (here) they’re going backwards in time with relation to services and education for deaf children.”
Kirby agrees saying he’s heard from parents of deaf children that government is turning students away from the provincial school for the deaf.
He says government is pushing for every deaf child to have an implant and be taught at mainstream schools.
“I don’t have anything against cochlear implants if they want it that’s fine, but not to be forced by a doctor or by a government. I mean if the parents decide that they want it for their children that’s fine,” he says.
“Right now, they don’t have the option. That’s our concern the children don’t have an option.”
He says adding sign language to education for children with cochlear implants can only help them.
“Don’t put limitations on them. Give them sign language; give them lip reading, expose them to the deaf community to deaf culture, but the government and the doctors are trying to make these people hearing.”
The province’s official stance is that the School for the Deaf will remain operational as long as it needed.
Meanwhile, to further combat discrimination, Sooley is quick to point out that she’s graduating from university this year, and Kirby is graduating from college.
“There’s many success stories, there’s deaf engineers, there’s deaf plumbers, deaf welders,” Sooley says.
“To us it’s a sense that’s missing,” Kirby says.
“Society has different perspectives on what is and isn’t a disability.”
Reproduced from http://www.thetelegram.com/index.cfm?sid=247948&sc=79